First bike touring trip, 82km on Sydostleden

When we lived in Blekinge, and our son was small enough to sit in a bicycle cart we used to go on day trips with our bikes more or less every week. When we moved to Växjö, and he got too big for the bike cart we got out less. Because of his handicap it’s hard for him to learn how to ride a bike by himself. But last year we got a tricycle for him. At the start he just rode it back and forth on the street a couple of times before loosing interest, but this spring we got him to go on a 5km ride without any major problems.

We have biked the 42km Växjö Runt and parts of Sydostleden a couple of times without him, but we both have classic bikes that are heavy, slow and not really meant for touring. But with both our younger kids now being able to bike we got back the interest in doing bike touring trips. For my wife, who’s not too fond of camping, bike touring is sort of a perfect middle ground, where you can alternate between tents, hotels and B&Bs. We have wanted better bikes for touring for a couple of years and started to look around for some that would suite our needs. I ended up buying a Nishiki Rush, and my wife bought a Crescent Femto. Biking with a backpack isn’t very comfortable, and after this trip we decided that we will get both side panniers and water bottle holders to our bikes. So after next trip we might be able to review some panniers.

Info

Sydostleden is part of the three national bicycle trails that together forms a 929 km long route. It starts in our hometown Växjö, goes down to the Baltic sea in Karlshamn where it more or less follows the coast to Simrishamn. Here Sydkustleden starts, and follows the coastline in Skåne all the way to Helsingborg. From Helsingborg you can follow Kattegattleden all the way to Gothenburg. It was named the European cycle route of the year in 2018.

There is a map with a route planner, where each section is estimated to be a suitable day trip. You can download the routes to your GPS as GPX-files. The route goes through the dark spruce forests and lakes in Småland, over the longest bicycle bridge in Europe in Blekinge and along the endless beaches of the coast of Skåne.

Trip report

My oldest daughter and her friend was going to celebrate a friends birthday, and for that they wanted our house for a sleepover. We had promised that they could use our house but as usual we didn’t really plan ahead on what to do. But the youngest kids would stay at my parents house so we could decide on something just for us.

On Thursday we decided that we would drive to Åhus in Skåne and bike south on Sydostleden. The first plan was to drive down on Friday afternoon, sleep in a tent, bike on Saturday and then stay at a B&B on Saturday. It ended up being too late to drive down on Friday afternoon so we drove down on Saturday morning instead. We had booked a B&B in Åhus that had great reviews. The owner wasn’t there when we arrived, but we parked the car, got our backpacks on and started to bike south. Our goal was to bike as far south as we felt like, and then turn back to Åhus and sleep there. We had to get back home right away on Sunday morning, which was the reason for us to have to stay at the same place as we parked the car.

The forecast had changed during the week, from showing strong wind and grey skies, to showing moderate wind and some sun. But once we got out the weather couldn’t be better. Hardly a cloud in the sky and not much of a wind to speak of. And the bikes felt great and really easy to ride.

We did a lot of stops in the beginning, to find geocaches. The whole route is littered with them, and we just choose different ones here and there. If we where to stop at everyone we would get nowhere.

While some of the biking is done on smaller roads, much of the route consists of bicycle lanes. This part of Skåne is really beautiful, and we biked through pine forest with the beaches close to us. The beaches here seems endless, and have the finest whitest sand you can imagine.

After passing Furuboda we left the route and biked down to the beach, made coffee and had some snacks. It was surprisingly warm and really nice to lay in the sand and watch the beach streach as far as you could see. Far in the distance we could see Stens huvud national park.

Instead of biking back to the designated route we biked a while along a trail on the sand dunes. But it didn’t take long for the sand to get too lose for the bikes. So we ended up walking for quite a bit before we got back on solid ground and could bike back to Sydostleden.

We biked for about an hour before we stopped for lunch when the trail turned back to the ocean.

We put the blanket up against a fallen log, and layed in t-shirt and rolled up pants and just enjoyed the surprisingly warm March sun. We had regular Real Turmat freeze dried meal, but I added a lot of parmesan to mine.

We almost didn’t want to leave, but Mia wanted to bike all the way to Kivik to have a solid goal to aim for.

It was a lot of gravel, and tough to bike through. We where starting to get tired so it was nice to get closer to Kivik.

We biked the last stretch down to the harbor in Kivik and discussed on our options. We were pretty tired and hungry, but didn’t look forward to another freeze dried meal. We ended up sharing a pizza at the harbour pizzeria. We had discussions on wheather we should take the bus to Brösarp and bike back to Kivik from there, to skip the worst uphills, but in the end we decided to just push through and bike the 40 km back to Åhus.

There are a lot of hills between Kivik and Brösarp, but in a way I guess it was a good thing to start the return trip with the hardest part. We pushed through the uphills and even had rednecks yelling something at us when they passed us with their shabby EPA-tractors.

In Brösarp we put on the lights on the bikes, as the sun was setting. We saw a lot of rabbits when we passed Brösarps backar. It was getting darker and darker, and I was glad that Mia had bought a front light that felt bright enough to cut through steel. Near Furuboda we saw a bus, and almost wanted to hop on, but we only had a little more than 10 km left.

When we got back to Åhus we looked for the B&B but eventuellt we came to the conclusion that we had missed it. We looked it up on Google Maps, and as it turned out we had to turn back. We laughed about how tired and zombiefied we were to have just biked passed it, since it’s just next to the bike lane. It was wonderful to take a shower and get into a real bed instead of a tent after 82 km of biking.

We had read the reviews of the wonderful breakfast on this B&B, and they sure wasn’t lying. By 9am the hostess knocked on the door and came in with a large tray filled with freshly baked bread, coffee, fresh pressed orange juice, yoghurt, berries, fruits, cheeses, ham, salami and proscuito.

It was a great way to end a really nice trip. It really felt like spring, and when I write this with sleet pouring down outside the window it doesn’t feel like it was just a couple of weeks ago.

First trip of 2022

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition of going camping in the first week of the year. This year though all of the family got Covid by new years eve. But on 14th of January C and I got away on a trip to Stocksmyr-Brännan nature reserve.

Info

Stocksmyr-Brännan is the largest nature reserve in Kronoberg, with its 2313ha. It has trails between 80 meter to 16,2 km long. There are two different shelters, one of them next to a lake in the northern parts. There has been a forest fire here, so there are signs all over the place to be wary of falling trees and the stems where still black. The fires can burn off the roots, and the trees can fall without warning.

Trip report

C and I wanted to use a tent, and it had been a long time since the last time we camped together. But since I’d never been in the reserve I wanted to check out the shelters first, to have a backup plan.

I used Google maps to find the way, but it took us out on a tractor trail, and it was almost too rough for my car to handle. But eventually we found our way through and parked at the shelter near the lake, on the northern part of the reserve. There was a flat area that could house our tent, but since it was pretty close to the parking lot I wanted to check out the other shelter before we decided where to camp.

I drove to the center of the reserve, and we started hiking on a trail south, to reach the southernmost shelter. The trail was really nice, with old pine and spruce forest and mossy grounds. C hiked with a good pace, but did long for the tent. Hiking is ok, but camp life is her favourite.

After a while we came to the southern parking lot, where we turned east back into the forest. After a while we spotted the southern shelter, on top of a small hill. The hill was just large enough to house the newly built shelter. I thought it was really nice, and wanted to stay there, but C was dead set on sleeping in the tent. There was no room what so ever, even for a 1 person tent, so setting up our Ultamid 4 was impossible. We hike back in a circle to the car and drove back to the northern shelter.

When we came there it was already starting to get dark. I set up the tent, got all of our sleeping gear out and C snuggled back in the inner tent with a movie. I sat in the vestibule and started to make dinner. Spaghetti Carbonara. It was delicious, but C didn’t eat too much of it.

After dinner I got into the inner tent with C. The trees creaked a bit ominous, and while I had checked for burned trees nearby I got anxious that I had missed one, and the forecast had predicted quite strong gusts during the night. In the end I realized that it was better to be safe than sorry. I would never forgive myself if a tree fell on the tent and hurt C.

I managed to persuade her to move to the shelter instead. So we moved all of our gear over to the shelter and lit a fire and played “Go fish” together for the rest of the evening. I haven’t been too fond of shelters before, and prefer a tent. But it was really cozy with the fire, and comfortable to spread out our gear all over the shelter. It was Cs first time in a shelter, and while she prefers the tent she still liked it. C fell asleep, but I stayed up a bit longer, before I dozed off to the dying fire. ‘

I slept fairly good that night, and the next morning I forced myself out of my comfortable sleeping bag and started a fire. After the fire got going I got back into the sleeping bag and made breakfast.

When we finally mustered enough energy to get up we packed up the gear and got back to the car. On the way back I checked out the site for our tent, and there where no dead trees nearby, so we could have stayed there safely. But as said, better safe than sorry.

Stocksmyr-Brännan was a nice nature reserve, and I want to explore more of it. I’d love to try the southern shelter too one day, but it might take some persuasion to get C to agree on that.

Kids camping with Outdoor Life Växjö

There’s a Facebook group called Outdoor Life Växjö where we share tips and tricks about gear and sweet spots nearby. The group has meetups every now and then. Since a lot of the members in the group has kids I thought it would be fun to have a meetup with the kids.

In mid September a bunch of us met up on Skälsnäs on the northern side of Helgasjön. Christoffer and E from Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytte also joined, and Christoffer also brought E:s little brother. A couple of the guys who came with their kids only stayed for the evening but four of us camped with our kids.

Skälsnäs is a good place for car camping trips. There’s a shelter, privys, a sandy beach, several fire pits and lots of room for tents.

I had brought the Tentipi with the HeatPal. Since it was a car camping trip I wanted as much comfort as possible. I had also brought a lot of good food, with a couple of beers and tasty cheeses and sausages. But despite having the carriying frame I wouldn’t want to carry this setup any longer distances. It really is heavy.

We had a fire next to the shelter and hung out there most of the evening. The kids where playing, but C was a bit shy until Christoffer and E came. C was very happy that E came and they played together for the rest of the evening. When it was getting darker they went inside the tent with snacks and an iPad to watch a movie. The kids had been soaked from playing near (in) the water and I hung up the clothes to dry and fired up the HeatPal.

The adult stayed by the fire, chatting and eating. It was really nice and relaxing. By midnight it was time to go to bed. Dario, who started the Facebook group, and his daughter and friend used the shelter, while the rest of us used tents.

Next morning Christoffer and I had to leave pretty early, since we where going to Skogsknytte with the kids. It was more important for Christoffer since he is one of the leaders om Skogsknytte.

It was a fun trip, and nice to be out with the kids and meet other patents. I’d love to do it again, but next time I would like to do a hiking- or paddling trip instead of a car camping trip.

Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4

(Disclaimer: Below list contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for purchases made through the links. The gear is bought with my own money though and I have not been asked to review the gear.)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 at Fulufjället National park

I’m going to give a review of my Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4, with the full- and the half inner and go through my likes and dislikes with it. While it’s a great tent, it still has its downsides. I’ve owned the tent for a little less than a year, and used it both below and above the treeline and I have used a lot of different tents before this one.

For those who don’t know, the HMG Ultamid is made out of Dyneema composite fabric, formerly known as Cuben Fiber. The material was originally made to make sails for sail racing boats, but have been widely used by parts of the outdoor business. The pros, as opposed to sil nylon which is the standard material used in tents, is that it is both lighter and stronger. It doesn’t stretch, sag when wet or soak, and is easier to just shake or wipe off moisture. The cons however is that it is less resistant to abrasions and folding. I’ve read that you can expect almost twice the amounts of nights a Sil tent will take before worn out, compared to a DCF tent since the material will wear quicker. Another downside is price. The material itself is expensive, thus making the gear expensive.

I’ve owned gear from Hyperlite Mountain Gear since 2017, and before the Ultamid 4 I had the Ultamid 2. I have the backpack Southwest 4400, pack pods and a stuff sack pillow, and I’m generally happy with the gear I have from them. I’ve used a lot of tent before; Bergans Compact tunnel tent, Hilleberg Enan, Niak and Staika, Luxe Sil Hex Peak, Twin Peak and Tentipi Olivin Light, Olivin BP and Safir 5 BP. My reason for buying the Ultamid 4 was to have one tent that was light enough for solo use, but still large enough for family camping.

The Ultamid is a so called Mid, or Pyramid shelter. It’s easily erected. Lay it on the ground, put the pegs in the corners and make sure the corners are in a 90⁰ angle. I also recommend securing one guy line to a backpack too, to mitigate the risk of it blowing away while you are setting it up or taking it down.

Insert the center pole and adjust the guy lines. Tighten them a little bit at each corner to get even tension and then go around again and tighten them some more if necessary. The half inner gets secured to the fly with hooks, and with pegs in the corners, and then secured to the top with a carabiner.

The tent, with the material and shape, is made to withstand much of what nature can throw at it. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard or read ‘bombproof’ in tent reviews, and while I don’t plan to do any camping in the conflict areas of Syria any time soon, it do tell some about whats expected of it.

Pegging out the full inner before adding the fly. The inner can be left attached to the fly to set up both at the same time

So whats my impression of it then? I’ve had both the Ultamid 4 and the 2 on both low land trails and in the mountains above the treeline. And it do handle wind very well. Despite not having a solid inner it doesn’t get particularly breezy inside, even in hard wind. When it comes to quality it’s OK. It’s not Hilleberg quality, and while I didn’t have any issues with the 2, I had water seeping through the seams and dropping down in my face at night in the Ultamid 4. HMG refunded the shipping cost and sent me a few meters of DCF tape, and I taped up the weak spots. One area in the top was supposed to be covered with tape, but the tape there didn’t cover the seams. This made it possible for water to seep through, and on two trips I frequently had water dropping down on my face at night. I have a lot of other gear from HMG, and I had the Ultamid 2 without any issues, so I could have just gotten a bad one, since it was made when HMG where overwhelmed with orders during peak Covid in late 2020/early 2021.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 with the full inner
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 with the full inner
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 with the half inner
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 with the half inner

When it comes to details it has 8 peg out points along the perimeter, and 7 guy line points half way up. You get a lot of guy line with the tent, but you have to cut it and tie it by yourself. I cut mine in a length of roughly 4 meters, and use a Tautline Hitch at the end, to easily be able to tension the guy lines. With all guy lines pegged, the tent should be able to take quite a beating from the elements. But hard wind will put a lot of pressure on the center pole.

I have a carbon fiber pole from Ruta Loca. It’s lightweight, at 266 grams. I can’t say how well it would fair in extreme weather, but there is also the option to strap two hiking poles together with the HMG pole straps. I use aluminum 4-season poles from Black Diamond, and with a fair share of the poles overlapping the center pole gets really strong.

The tent itself weighs 774 grams for the fly with guy lines, 539 grams for the half inner and 823 grams for the full inner. My pegs weighs 305 gram, and I have a mix of MSR groundhogs, generic Y-pegs and nails.

But the biggest issue probably is the price. In USA the price is $890-$975 for fly, $405 for the half inner and $510 for the full inner. In Europe it’s even more expensive with 1141€-1238€ for the fly, 486€ for the half inner and 624€ for the full inner.

Another downside with a Mid with a full inner is that in a downpour it’s hard to not get a lot of water inside the tent while entering and exiting. When I camped with my daughter with the full inner in 12 hours of torrential rain it was a pain.

But do I like it?

I do, despite some downsides I feel that it’s the best compromise there is for my needs, which is lightweight, large enough for four persons but light enough for one to carry. And despite the downsides with the full inner in rain I do really like the modular approach. I think it really shines when used as a palatial 2-person tent. With the half inner as a fairly large area secured from bugs and the other half as a vestibule with a groundsheet, for cooking and gear. And with only the half inner you could enter and exit without having a swimming pool in your inner tent.

Do I recommend it?

It’s not a tent for everyone. Is a bit more complex to set up than a regular tunnel- or dome tent, it’s very expensive and DCF is bulky and not very resistant to abrasion. But if you prioritize having a large tent that can handle rough weather to a really low weight I do recommend it. For me, the benefits outweighed the downsides, and I would rate it a 4 out of 5 stars.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 at Fulufjället National park

Gear walkthrough from our Fulufjället hike

I’ve tweaked my gear over the years, but the thing that’s changed most of the times is probably the tent, since I never seem to find the perfect one, and still haven’t. Having a lightweight setup felt more important when hiking with my family. I carry most of my daughters gear, and I also wanted to carry more of the shared gear since I wanted Maria to be as comfortable as possible since she’s not as used to hiking as I am.

(Disclaimer: Below list contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for purchases made through the links. The gear is bought with my own money though.)

Backpacks

I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 4400 (int) (SE) with the pack pods (int) (SE). It’s a good roomy pack that’s more or less waterproof. It feels durable, and I’ve had it a few years without any issues. I really like using it with the pods to fully utilize all the space and I like the roomy front pocket.

Maria used the Exped Lightning 60 with the optional front pocket. It was my first lightweight backpack, and it is super comfortable. I seam sealed it on the inside to get it a bit more waterproof. The bungee straps on the front pocket is getting a bit stretched out, but other than that it’s in good shape. It’s a really great pack, and since it has an adjustable back height Maria can use it too.

C used a Bergans Lilletind 12 rolltop. They sell them with top lids too, but I prefer roll tops as it’s a lot easier to compress the pack when you’re not carrying that much. It has a waist belt, but it’s important to remember not to pack too heavy for a kid, even if it fits in the backpack.

Tent

We used Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 4 (int) (SE) with a full inner (int) (SE) and a Ruta Loca center pole. I’ve had quality issues with my tent (probably because it was made when they had a record high demand and was getting behind schedule), and using a mid with a full inner in a downpour means a good likelyhood of getting rain in your inner. But despite the downsides I was very pleased with the tent.

It has a large footprint, but since it is that large, and use a tall center pole it has a lot of usable space inside. It was very welcomed at our second campsite, as it was swarmed by mosquitoes. I like to spread out too, so using it for 2 adults and 1 kid was perfect.

It’s also very lightweight. I haven’t weighted mine, but the official weight is 657g for the fly, 765g for the inner and 271g for the center pole. I think my mix of groundhogs, shepard hooks and nails weigh 200g. It’s a 4 person sub 1900g shelter, and you could save 250g if you ditch the center pole and use pole straps (int) (SE) and hiking poles instead.

When we had our camp set up we used half the inner for mine and Marias sleeping pad, 1/4 of the inner for all of our gear and 1/4 for a CCF-mat for C, where we also could sit, cook etc.

Sleeping pads and pillows

Me and Maria used an Exped Duomat HL LW. It weighs 1155g, so the UL-purists might frown upon the LW-part but it is definitely worth it in my book. It weighs more than two UL pass, but with a size of 200x130cm and two separate air chambers it’s a very comfortable pad, and it takes up half of the inner tent. I think this is as comfortable as it gets when sleeping outdoors.

We brought my Exped Winterlite HL for C, but she kept rolling off, so she used a CCF-mat instead, and preferred that.

As a pillow I used Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuffsack pillow (int) (SE) with my Cumulus Incredilite Endurance downpuffy (int) (SE) and extra socks stuffed in it. It’s fairly comfortable. Maria used a Thermarest Compressible Pillow, that is quite heavy and bulky, but probably one of the most comfortable hiking pillows there is.

Sleeping bags

I used my Cumulus Quilt 450 (int) (SE)and I love it. I had their first generation quilt, but never liked the strap system. With their updated models they fixed the issues I had and I really like it. It’s lightweight, warm and flexible, as it can open up as a square quilt, or strap up a foot box.

My wife used an Aegismax G1. I’ve washed it with Nixwax Downproof to make it more moist proof, and it is well worth it’s money. It’s warm and light and a good choice for someone on a budget, or buying for someone who rarely uses it like my wife. But if that’s not the case I do prefer Cumulus and supporting local high end manufacturers.

C uses a Cumulus Junior 250. Originally they use 750cuin down in their Junior bags, but they make them for order, and I ordered C:s with 850cuin down instead, to get more loft with the same weight. She’s never been cold in it, but when we’re winter camping she sleeps in a fleece base layer and I usually bring a quilt to throw above the back if she would get cold.

Stove set

I have a lot of stove sets, and a nostalgic love for Trangias. I did consider bringing my Trangia 27HA but in the end I didn’t want to carry all that weight. So I used my Toaks 1350ml pot (115g) (int) (SE), an Evernew titanium frying pan (155g) and a Firemaple 117T burner (104g). It’s really lightweight but a large enough pot for us, and a frying pan for pancakes or falafel. Since the hike I bought a Soto Windmaster (int) (SE) that I’ve heard a lot of good things about.

Conclusion

I was happy with the gear we used, and I don’t have any complaints. I do look forward to trying the Soto Windmaster, as I’ve read that its a very efficient stove even in wind. The sleep system is dialed in and I also think it’s hard to get a better setup with the tent, since I like to keep the weight down while still having a lot of room to spread out. In general I’d say my gear is as dialed in as it gets. I have considered a couples quilt, but I don’t know if it would be worth the money, since Maria doesn’t join us that often. I have also considered buying the Thermarest Compressible pillow in the large size for me, but it’s really heavy and bulky, and I think I’ll just stick with the stuff sack pillow.

Fulufjället national park – 3 day hike

Neither C nor my wife have been hiking in the mountains before. My wife likes daytrips, but aren’t too fond of the camping part. She still joins me and C from time to time though. And this year, with Covid stopping our usual trip to Athens we decided to go on a hiking trip in the mountains together. Our oldest daughter preferred to stay at home, and our son was away on camp. I had scouted different areas that would suit beginners that wasn’t several days of driving away. Fulufjället National park was 8-9h drive from home, and seemed to be a fairly easy hike. As always we do things spontaneously, and we didn’t decide that we would go hiking until a couple of days before going.

Info

Fulufjället national park is a mountain plateau situated in Dalarna in the southern parts of the mountain range, next to the Norwegian border. The park has the highest waterfall in Sweden, the 93m high Njupeskär waterfall. Here you can also find the worlds oldest tree, the 9565 year old spruce tree Old Tjikko.

There are several hiking routes, from 2-24km, but you can mix the different trails to a suiting route. The main entrance is at Njupeskär, where you also find Naturum. The park has different sections with different regulations. In most parts of the park you are allowed to camp, but not in the most frequently visited parts.

Trip report

Day 1

We packed the car the day before, and left home at around 04.00 in the morning. Without breaks, it would be an 8-9h drive and we wanted to get there early enough to reach the plateau in the first evening. I had made an own route that would be some 24 km hike, and I expected us to spend three nights in the tent. In the end we only did two nights, since C hiked on in a better pace than we expected. At the end she would be the one with the most energy left.

I didn’t want to start at Njupeskär, since I expected it to be very crowded now that a lot of people where going on Swecations. Instead we would start at entrance at Brottbäcksstugan, south of Njupeskär, hike west to Särnmanskojan, then south to Tangsjöstugan, east to Göljåstugan and then back north, past Klotjärn and back to the car at Brottbäcksstugan. We were not going to use the cabins, but I wanted a route were we would pass cabins and privys every day, to have the option of a little more luxary if we would get tired of camping.

I really looked forward to the trip. I’ve wanted to bring C to the mountains for a long time, and I had really missed them myself. I haven’t been hiking in the mountains since 2017.

We arrived at Brottbäcksstugan around 15.00 and prepared for the hike. There were a few cars on the parking lot, and in the distant I could see the mountains. The first sections went through a forest, but the trail soon turned uphills and the trees became smaller and more scattered. The sides of the mountain plateau is fairly steep, and it didn’t take long for us to get up above the tree line. The views where amazing. It wasn’t the tall sharp snow covered peaks of Jotunheimen or Sarek, but soft and rounded tops. But it was mountains and vast views, and I had really missed that. I felt a rush of joy to be back in the mountains, and I was really happy that I could share it with my family.

Going up
Coming up above the tree line

It took an hour to reach the plateau, and once we reached it the wind kicked in. I didn’t know how far C would want to hike, so I started to look for potential camps sites pretty soon. The ground was very uneven with lots of wet parts, so finding good spots for a large tent wasn’t easy. But I did find a few spots that I marked on the GPS for potential future trips.

But we kept hiking, as both C and Maria wanted to keep going, and eventually we reached Särnmanskojan. It just an emergency shelter, but there where a few people there. It’s also an intersection for several trails, and as we had our break there a lot more people passed and a few of them stopped to set up camp around the cabin.

We considered setting up camp near the cabin, but Maria wanted to keep going after our break. So after a short rest with snacks and a visit to the privy we turned south and started to hike towards Tangsjöstugan.

Near a few ponds, over a small ridge a bit away from the trail we found a nice flat spot for our tent. There were another couple in a tent across the pond/lake, but we didn’t want to go any further and risk not finding a good spot before nightfall. A mistake I made so many times before.

C:s teddy – Ninja Nalle
Our camp on the first night

I gathered rocks to anchor the pegs, since the soil layer was thin and it was hard to get good grip. The pitch was terrible though, but I didn’t see it that night for some reason. The fly flapped like crazy all night. I fixed it in the morning though, just for practice.

When the tent was up we made dinner, and then we just hung out in the tent before going to sleep. I got up once in the middle of the night, and despite not being extremely far north it was still fairly bright outside.

Day 2

After waking up I saw how bad my pitch was, and tightened everything up just for practice. I had only used the Ultamid 4 a couple of times before, and I thought it would be good to work on my weak spots when it comes to pitching.

Ready to head out
A well deserved break

I made Krabbelurer for breakfast and then we packed up. We continued hiking south towards Tangsjöstugan, with a few breaks here and there on the way. C would loose her energy every now and then, but as soon as we started to play something while we hiked she went on like she would never stop. At lunchtime we arrived to Tangsjöstugan. No one was there, and we explored the cabins. It was really nice and I can imagine what a welcome sight it must be for someone coming in from a storm.

Tangsjöstugorna

We made dinner, and several groups came passing by or stopping for breaks. We chatted a bit with a German couple that had hiked for 2 weeks I think, that were heading north.

After the lunch break we turned east towards Göljåstugan, another emergency cabin. We took frequent breaks, and me and Maria was starting to get more tired than C. We thought about stopping sooner, but still wanted to go to the cabin.

Leaving Tangsjöstugorna

The cabin was at a height near a gorge and the view was stunning. There where good places for the tent nearby and we decided to stop. Maria wanted to continue at first, but I thought it was better to camp out there than to try to push our selfs to the limit. We had done calculations on both the map and the GPS, and come to the conclusion that we should be able to reach the car the next day.

Closing in on the gorge for our second camp

I had been starting to feel ill. I’ve had some fluctuating health issues with stomach aches and frequent infections since a year back, and it had started to act up on the drive to Fulufjället. During the second day I was starting to feel worse and it was a bit hard to fully enjoy the trip.

But dropping the backpack and making camp felt wonderful. And this time I got a drum tight pitch of the tent (unfortunately we didn’t have the slightest wind that night).

View from our camp
The Ultamid 4 is a roomy temporary home
A beautiful sunset with the Ultamid 4

We made dinner and chillaxed in the tent. The mosquitoes where abundant so having the roomy full inner of the Ultamid 4 was wonderful. We kept the doors of the fly open until it was time to go to sleep, to enjoy the view.

Day 3

The next morning we packed up and headed out. We had studied the map, and knew that the first section would go through vegetation, and then through a sea of boulders. We would also have a river crossing further on. The sign showed a longer distance back to the car than we had measured on the map and GPS, but with our remeasures we still got the same shorter distance. We hoped it would be okey to hike all the way back to the car without straining our selfs.

Time for breakfast

After the boulders we came up on the plateau again, before heading back down into another gorge. The river was pretty wide, and split up in two with an island in the middle, so we would have to do two crossings to get over.

The second gorge

C had been a champion this whole trip, but the crossing the river really scared her. There were fairly large waterfalls both above and below us. “I can’t do it! I’ll break! I’ll break like a twig!” But she did it. After spending some time persuading her she would let me help her get over. Unfortunately though the got one boot in the water and filled it. She was scared when we came to the last crossing, even though that crossing was a lot easier. But after a while she came over.

The first crossing. It was deeper and wider than it looks

We came up from the gorge and took a break after a while. A German woman came from the opposite direction and stopped for a chat. She asked if we had Compeed, since she was getting blisters. She had left hers in her tent, and was only going for a day hike from her camp. She got a couple from us, and continued south.

Our last stretch above the tree line

The trail started to go downhill for us, and we came down below the tree line. And now we had mosquito paradise. They where out in full force as soon as we stopped. I was getting worse and worse and it really took its toll, and I could barley eat. C was the one who were in the best mood. We regularly measured the distance om the map to the car and understood that we would make it back in a descent time. As we got closer we also got cell reception and I started calling hostels nearby to find a room for us for the night. Neither one of us longed for another night in the tent with a freeze dried meal.

Mosquito paradise below the tree line

We stopped at Klotjärn for lunch and from there I could find a room in a hostel at Särna Camping after calling around to several other places closer to Fulufjället. In the end I think we hit the jackpot in getting there since the food and the staff was amazing.

After booking the room we hiked the last stretch back to the car. In the car we had a bag of vanilla buns in a cooler. And they tasted better than vanilla buns ever tasted before. The bag didn’t last long.

We sat in the car and drove to Särna and the hostel. We checked in, took showers, changed clothes and went down to the restaurant to eat dinner.

I might have had some prejudges against campings and the kind of food they’ll serve. But this camping really ended that prejudiced. They had all sorts of local specialties, with moose, reindeer, local fish and local beer. When we came down to the restaurant we could hear another couple praise the food and exclaim how it exceeded everything they could have expected. As the burger lovers we are we ordered burgers and the local beer Härjebrygd. The food was amazing, and I don’t think it was solely because we had eaten freeze dried meals the days before. We had a dessert of Kolarbotten. Vanilla ice cream with kolbulle (a sort of fried bread), Messmör caramel sause and fried pork. It sounded so weird we just had to try it. But it tasted so good. The waitress came back after a short while, looked at the empty bowl, smiled and asked C: “Did you get to taste anything, or did your patents just devour everything?”

This felt like a wee deserved meal

The hostel was situated next to Klarälven, one of the largest rivers in Sweden, and there was a nice little peninsula with a beach. We had fantastic weather and after dinner we strolled along the beach while C played in the water line.

Freshly showered and fed

We were tired, and as it was getting late we wanted to go to bed. C however wasn’t tired despite hiking 24km. “I’m still so full of energy” she exclaimed, so I stayed up with her a little longer so she could play at the play ground.

We aren’t sponsored or anything by Särna Camping, but I really have to give them a shout out. The food was great and the staff really was super friendly and welcoming.

Day 4

Njupeskär water fall

We had decided to skip Old Tjikko, but still visit Njupeskär waterfall on this last day. We’d had wonderful weather our whole hike but this morning we woke up to torrential rain. We had our packed up, left the hostel and drove to the main entrance. Despite the rain there were already a lot of people there.(a couple of weeks later the lines would stretch several kilometers). We did consider turning back, but since we were here we wanted to see the water fall. A long portion of the 3.9km round trail is accessible with a wheel chair.

Torrential rain on this hike
Njupeskär water fall

After a while we reached the water fall, took a few photos and then headed back to the car. On the parking lot we met a group that was on their way to the water fall and they asked us if it was worth hiking there in the rain. We didn’t really know what to answer as we were wondering that our selfs.

My expensive Montane Minimus jacket had kept me mostly dry except for a few wet spots. My cheapo rain pants though had wetted through completely and I felt like I could as well have gone without them. After the trip to the water fall we headed back home, and spent the rest of the day in the car.

I’ll write about the gear we used on the trip in a separate post.

C:s first thru hike

Ok, so the term thru hike is probably more or less reserved for longer trails, but this was the first time C hiked the entire length of a trail, so I’m calling it a thru hike for her.

My oldest daughter got a gift card for a spa on her 16th birthday, and was going to Kosta Boda Art Hotel with her mother in late June. At the same time my son was staying a couple of days on “Kortis” (a sort of relief home for families with disabled children). This was a perfect time for me and C to go hiking.

I had found a circle trail just outside of Kosta in the nature reserve Visjön. It’s an 8km trail, and I thought it would be a good trail for two days of hiking with C.

We dropped off my wife and oldest daughter at the hotel, and drove north towards Visjön. We parked the car in the west side of the lake, just north of a shooting range. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the forecast showed rain for the next two days. But C was in a good mood. After a short hike along the borders of the shooting range we arrived at the lake. We turned north and hiked along the esker that borders most of the west side of the lake.

After a while we saw the ground sort of moving. With a closer look we saw that the ground was littered with small 1-2cm long frogs. They where everywhere for a long part of the trail. We tried to watch our steps so we wouldn’t step on them. Every now and then we stopped to pick blueberries.

We came to the north side of the lake, and turned down south on the east shore before making dinner. We had noodles with beef jerkey and cheese. So far we hadn’t seen a single suitable place to set up the tent. Eventually we came down to the parking and info sign marked on the map. On a small peninsula nearby we found a perfect spot for our tent, and room for many more too.

The rain had stopped earlier, but we set up the tent right away, and put up the hammock. This time I had brought the half inner, to be able to get in and out of the tent without having rain falling into the inner. On 2/3 of the vestibule I had a polycro groundsheet for the gear. This was actually a perfect setup for me and C. The half inner was large enough for us, without feeling cramped, and we had a large area for the gear.

I made dinner for us, and then we just hung out in the hammock and eat snacks. It didn’t take long before we both fell asleep.

When we woke up it started to rain slightly, so we took down the hammock and retreated to the tent. C watched Vaiana on my phone while I was reading a book writter by a reporter and a photographer who got kidnapped in Syria a few years ago.

After the movie it was time for C to go to sleep. The rain had started to pour down, and once again I had water seeping through, and dropping down on my face. I was pissed. I had carefully taped the insides where the midway corner guylines attatches and where the plastic struts for the vents are, but still water came through. But this time I saw the source. Water kept seeping through the seams on the top hat, and ran down on the inside of the tent before dropping down on my face. I sent a mail to HMG again, and this time I got the $58 i paid for the shipping back. Since then I’ve taped up those seams too, so I think it will be ok now. But then and there I regretted selling my heavier Hillebergs for this. Hilleberg fans can almost be a bit cultist from time to time, but in the end there’s a reason for it. I’ve had three Hillebergs (and a lot of other tents too) and their quality do stand out.

I was a bit annoyed that the super expensive tent didn’t hold up as expected, but I managed to let it go and go to sleep.

The next morning we had chocolate banana oatmeal for breakfast, before packing up. It was raining heavy this morning. C jumped in water pools as we hiked along.

On the southern section of the trail we came to a large open area that probably serves as a pasture from time to time. There weren’t any animals there at that time, so it could have been a nice place for a tent. The place had an abundance of wild strawberries. We ate a lot, and I could barely get C to continue hiking with me.

After that we had a section of road hiking before turning back north on the esker we started with. C was starting to get a bit tired, but it was only a short hike left to the car. When we got to the car we took of our wet rain gear. C was dry as a bone, but my cheapo rainpants had leaked through, and I might as well have skipped them all together.

This was C:s first hike of an entire trail. We’ve done a lot of paddling, camping and off trail hiking but this was the first time she hiked an entire trail. It went really good, even though her favourite part is hanging out in camp. (It’s actually my favourite part too, when I’m not solo hiking)

Camping with “Skogsknytte” friends

C has been going to Frilufsfrämjandet Skogsknytte for 1,5 years. Some of us have talked about going camping with the kids, and in the middle of May we got out on a camp with E and her father Christoffer.

We had scouted suitable areas, and I had found a nice looking oak meadow, just south of a nature reserve close to Växjö. Camping is prohibited within the reserve, but allowed outside through “Allemansrätten”. To be fair, the oak meadow was more beautiful than lots of the reserve. There are pastures around here, so one isn’t allowed to camp here if there are any animals there.

Under the old magnificent oak trees the ground was covered with Wood Anemone and Heath Peas.

C and I arrived first, and found a nice spot for two tents. After a while we heard E and Christoffer coming through the meadow. We set up our tents, and it started raining. We’d had sun and great weather all week, but once we got out we had rain. And it rained a lot. A litteral downpour all evening and all night. Having a Mid with a full inner provided some difficulties in a never endimg downpour, as it kept raining in everytime we entered or exited the tent.

We made dinner, and on the meny this time was tortilla pizza. I liked them, but they weren’t C:s favourite. Perhaps because she just wanted to play with E instead of eating.

The kids played with My Little Ponies in the Ultamid at first, but later in the evening they retreated to E and Christoffers tent, where they watched movies until late in the evening. Christoffer and I stayed outside, eating snacks and having a couple of cold beers. When it was time to put the kids to sleep we asked ourselfs why we had stayed out in the rain instead of just sitting in the tent.

C was super tired when we got back to our tent, and she fell asleep right away. I didn’t though, because I had found out that the tent was leaking. Water seeped through somewhere, and dropped down on the inner, and through the mesh onto the gear. I got pretty upset with it. The tent costs a fortune, and all the reviews holds it up to be some kind of super shelter, and I had water dropping down. I’ve had the Ultamid 2 before and didn’t have this issue. I mailed Hyperlite Mountain Gear right away, and later got a roll of DCF-tape sent, and a description on where the trouble spots usually are. (The story unfortunately will continue in my next post)

The next morning I had to wake C up. It felt like she could’ve slept forever. I made french toast for breakfast and we explored the area around the meadow before packing up.

It was fun to camp with E and Christoffer, and the first time to camp on that place. The rain was unfortunate though, but we’ll definitely come back here again. Christoffer and I talked about bringing canoes the next time.