A guided tour to the caves in Björkliden
The sound of the fire in the fireplace was present and we were waiting for the guides in the lobby of the hotel in Björkliden. Outside it was a snow storm, and you could not even see the Sport shop across the parking lot. Above the village Björkliden, in the creek “Kåppasjokk”, you find the cave system “Kåppas”.
Today it was time to participate in a guided tour in the caves. The guides was welcoming us and we started the tour with 2 kilometers of snowshoeing up to the caves. The guides had already transported the equipment up with the ski lift, so we didn’t have to carry anything heavy, only our own little backpack with warm clothes. You could hear the crispy sound of snow under the snowshoes. It was an enjoyable feeling of the wind and snow on the skin with goggles to protect the eyes from wind and snow and for a good sight through the storm. At the beginning of the trip, the snowfall and clouds were thick so you could not see anything but around 1 meter ahead of you. Being able to be outside, safe, in the midst of a snowstorm is an amazing experience.
We were being equipped with cave overalls and headlights and with butterflies in the stomach, we hiked the last part down to the frozen creek below the foot of the mountain, where you find the caves. It is possible to visit the caves throughout the year, except when the spring river is in its peak.
The guide attached the rope, to the stone named the “shark fence”. She said that we would use the rope for the first part entering the cave. In the meantime, the other guide took out the shovel and started to dig out the cave entrance which had been covered due to the strong snowfall during the night. Soon the dark hole was visible again and we could feel warm air rising from the cave. Entering the caves was the steepest part of the guided tour. Before we entered, we checked out that our headlights were working and the guides informed us that they were carrying extra lamps and batteries. One guide went first and secured the trail and told us she was going to shout out when it is time to start climbing down. Meanwhile we got the safety instructions and one of the most important thing was always to have three “touch points” when you are spelunking: two hands and one feet or two feet and one hand at the mountain wall or ground.
“You can start climbing! the voice was echoing through the black hole. Jessica, got the honor to start the climb from our group. Kristin pointed out with her headlight some natural stairs in the mountain where we could put down our feet. At the last part, we used the guides knee for an extra stair before landed in an incredibly beautiful large cave hall. The air in the cave has always a temperature of plus 8 degrees and it was very nice to get away from the wind and snow for a while.
“Welcome to the Silver hall!” From the narrow entrance, the cave opened up to a large sparkling hall. The more moisture, the more the water droplets shine on the slate stones. Sometimes this beautiful hall had been lighted with candles on the natural shelves on the mountain walls and is a spectacular environment for weddings.
Crawling in caves requires caution with soft and dynamic movements. You can explore 2100 meter inside the cave, with dramatically beautiful corridors with black and white marble. Yet, no one knows how big the totality of the cave system is.
During our visit, the cave floor was dry, other times it can be a little puddling stream that flows through the way. During those times, you are caving with each foot beside the stream. At the end of one corridor we reach “Ola’s path” where we were asked to put out our lights and be quiet. We could hear the underground waterfall pouring down into a fresh pool. When we turned off the light we could not see the hands in front of us. Standing in total darkness and silence was like a wonderful mystery in another world. It was a nice rest and beautiful moment for the soul entering a world where you leave the time above the ground. The one way you can see that time is existing is by the carved out stones over a long time.
The lower cave system is sheltered due to the stunning drip stone drapes and the richness of the calcite strips. It’s great to see what nature has created when the water has gotten into the cracks and formed the cave system. The different cave corridors felt sometimes like a maze and we felt very safe to have experienced guides with us. In the darkness, all the senses were all more present, and you discovering small delicious details, like the airflow after half of the tour, where you could feel the cold acidic air flow into the cave. If you feel a little bit scared this part of the tour is very refreshing, feeling and breathing the air.
After a while, we return to the Silver hall. Now you notice the daylight sipping down through the natural cave opening. It was time to climb up again and above the ground, the snowstorm had ended and the sun was shining again. It was time for a good lunch buffet at Hotel Fjället and spend the rest of the afternoon in the ski slopes.