Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge [Pt 2]: Surviving the Night

Click Here for Part One + How to Get to Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge

It’s been getting dark pretty early, so around 4pm I had no choice but to return to Johanna. She was significantly warmer than the outside but still pretty chilly, so I threw another log on the fire. The fire place is about the size of a safety deposit box so there are only so many logs you can jam in there. I was a little worried.

Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge

For dinner I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and opened a bottle of wine. Before arriving at Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge, I had visions of how my night would go. I’d drink wine and journal, then listen to some inspirational talks and meditate by the fire. 

Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge Forest Huts

Unfortunately, there was nowhere to sit in my hut because the walls are at a sharp angle and the bed fits perfectly inside that angle. Also, Kolarbyn has a few dishes they loan out, but I saw no cups. So 10 minutes into my night, I found myself squatting awkwardly off the edge of my bed, drinking red wine from a white ceramic bowl. It was also getting colder by the half hour. I declined renting a sleeping bag because I’m cheap, but was now regretting that decision. My thin sheets and blanket were no match for the Swedish night air. 


For the next 3 hours I went into a full blown panic, which was only made worse given the fact that I was alone with nothing but the thoughts in my head; and no wifi, therefore no Google. If you know me, you know I Google everything. And it was just SO cold. I was now wearing just about every thing in my suitcase. I had on 3 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of socks and 3 sweaters. I was wrapped in all my blankets, sitting as close to the fire as possible. I stopped drinking the wine because we were in survival mode now. If I leave to pee.. I might not make it back.

Kolarbyn Ecolodge Fireplace - Sweden

I exiled 4 big spiders from the hut and was feeling itchy everywhere because of it.  

At one point in the night, I blocked the gaping hole in the roof to keep the air out, but as the hut began to fill with smoke, I realized that hole was necessary feature. I had to open the door to let the smoke out, and unfortunately tons of cold air in. I began kicking myself for not reading more about fire. Why is my wood burning so fast? Is it even safe to breathe in this smoke all night? I wondered if it would be possible to inhale too much and just never wake up. My thoughts were getting the best of me. 


After what seemed like forever, I decided my best bet was to go to sleep and stop thinking.  Naturally, in perfect timing, two extremely unwelcome things happened. I ran out of wood and I had to pee. That was it, I had to venture into the pitch black forest. What types of animals are out there? If something happens and I yell, will people hear me? I strapped on my headlight and grabbed my wooden basket. 


When I say pitch black, I’m under-exaggerating. I walked extremely cautiously because there are tons of roots coming up from the ground and I’ve been known to trip, fall or hurt myself several times a week. I tried to recall the path to the outhouse but nothing looked familiar under the pathetic illumination of my headlight. Again, my thoughts ran wild. I haven’t used this headlight in 3 years, what if the battery died? In all seriousness, I honestly don’t know what I would have done if that were to happen. I decided to abandon the original plan and go straight to the wood pile. Heat was more important at this point in my life.


I stacked so much wood in my tiny basket that I thought it was going to break. As I passed the other camper’s huts, I smelled the smoke from their chimneys. How were they doing? Are we all losing it behind our individual wooden doors? Or just me?  There was a baby in the hut 3 doors down, did it die?  When I made it back to Johanna, I remembered I still had to pee so I stepped to the side and prayed I didn’t hit any blueberries.


It was now time to ration my wood. I checked the time to see how much longer the fire needed to burn. Turns out my “midnight” forest run didn’t exactly happen at midnight. I looked at the time.. it was only 7:30pm. I wanted to cry, I felt like I’d been at this for hours.

Until about 1am, I laid awake, paranoid my fire would die. Every time I heard a log fall, or when I noticed the flickers on the walls start to fade, I jumped up to check on it. When I started running low on firewood again, I decided I wasn’t going back out there so I was going to have to deal with whatever happened. I looked around the hut and started throwing everything I could find in the fire. I threw my grapes in the fire. I ripped the bandaid from my finger off and that went in as well. Everything.

Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge

Eventually, I gave up and laid my last log down. It was the biggest, and I had saved him for this moment. After that there was nothing I could do. I put on an eye mask so I couldn’t see the light of the fire and I got out my earplugs so I couldn’t hear it’s crackles, then I made myself fall asleep. Once I settled down, I was actually a pretty comfortable temperature underneath the blankets and my 12 layers of clothing. My feet and my face were numb but I looked past it.

IMG_7312Surprisingly, I slept the whole night without waking. It was freezing when I got up and as suspected, my fire was dead. Thankfully I wasn’t awake to witness that moment. I peeked out my hole and saw the family next door.. bright eyed, laughing and cooking breakfast. When I emerged from my hut to brush my teeth, I looked rough. I saw them glance over at me and they knew.  Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge

Fortunately, the daylight makes everything better and the beauty of this place almost makes up for last night. I made a conscious decision to change up my energy and I decided to be grateful for where I was standing. I took a walk into the forest to find the spring where I could fill up my water bottle, and on the way I took it all in and listened to the silence of the forest. At one point I happened to look down and I saw this tiny setup, the size of my hand, complete with mini log piles, an axe, a tent and a lantern. I wasn’t on Kolarbyn’s land anymore so I wondered where it came from. Maybe somewhere in the forest, there is a little gnome girl from California in her leather jacket and Forever 21 scarf, gathering wood and preparing for a night she’ll never forget.

Sweden | Gnomes

*While my night at Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge was not as peaceful as I imagined, I could have definitely prepared a little better. Make sure to pack warm clothes and rent the sleeping bag if you’re visiting during winter or fall. I highly recommend visiting these unique forest huts if you’re in Sweden. 

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