Ever since The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn entered America’s collective consciousness, the notion of lazily drifting down a river has come to represent the very essence of childhood escapism. However this highly romanticized image of life on the river has captured the minds of many adults as well – an open ended adventure for anyone willing to kick up their heels and see where the current takes them.
While the Mississippi River may be a little congested these days to recreate such an voyage, there is an operation in Sweden that hits very near the mark. The Klarälven River (Clear River), which runs through the heavily forested Värmland, has been used to transport timber for over 400 years. Recently timber operations have been switched over entirely to railways which has opened the river up for recreational use.
Then outdoor travel outfit called Vildmark offers self-guided river rafting trips along the Klarälven during the summer months. This is a very hands-on trip, and the 5-8 day journey begins with the construction of your raft. Under the guidance of an Vildmark instructor you will lash together a raft from readily available timber, complete with free standing tent. After a brief overview of the river’s course you’ll be sent out to explore. You can also rent mountain bikes, fishing supplies, and a canoe to bring along with you.
The raft drifts along at about normal walking speed, so there is plenty of time for fishing, swimming, and conversing as you enjoy the scenic riverside. At night you can put ashore to camp or anchor in one of the many protected coves. After a few days, the ebbs and flow of life on the river will become a steady rhythm. At the end the rafts are broken down and you’re obliged to put your shoes back on and return to civilization. A sad day to be sure.