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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Surprisingly, 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.
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.
*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.