Autumn canoe camping in a canvas tipi

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of November, I went on a canoe camping trip with C. After trying hot tent camping a couple of times, I got really hooked, and upgraded the tipi to a Tentipi Safir 5 BP.

I had looked up an island on Tolgasjön that would be perfect for a camp. Since it was November I didn’t want to paddle too far with C, and this was just a couple of hundred meters of paddling from the campsite on mainland where I had planned to put in the canoe.

I drove to the area, but there was a sign at the private road down to the lake, that said it was prohibited to drive on the road. In the end of the road there was a designated campsite for the hiking trail Sigfridsleden and the canoe route Värendsleden.

I knocked on the house closest to the road where the owners lived, and they told me it was ok for me to drive down to the lake and unload the car.

I put the canoe in the water and packed it with my gear. It got pretty filled up, with a sack of firewood, the stove, a backpack and the large bulky tent. I had expected the tent to be large, but I was still surprised by how bulky it actually was. But this wasn’t a tent intended for hiking or having to carry it any longer distances.

C and I got into the canoe, and paddled out to the island. It didn’t take long, and once there we set up the tent and the stove, to have the camp ready.

We made some lunch, Pepper steaks, fried bell peppers and onions with rice, as usual. It really felt like fall, with the cold damp air around us. It was really nice to hang out in the warm dry tent instead.

After lunch we paddled out to do some fishing. It was a team effort, where I threw in the lure, and C reeled it back in. We did it for a while, but didn’t catch any fish. I didn’t really put much effort into it either, but it would have been nice to catch a pike.

The rest of the day we mostly hung out in the tent. With the damp cold weather outside, C preferred the inside of the tent instead of the cold outside.

When it got dark we lit the oil lamp and my new UCO candle lantern. That, and the light canvas of the tent gave us some really ambient lighting.

For dinner we had burgers, which was C:s choice. But I’m not complaining.

I kept adding firewood to the stove to keep us warm and snug, and eventually it was time for C to go to sleep. This night she was sad though, and it took a long time for her to go to sleep. Eventually she fell asleep next to me, in my sleeping bag. She woke up sad a couple of times, and I gave up the idea of getting her back into her sleeping bag. We ended up having her sleeping bag as a quilt above us.

The next morning C was up and running early. Too early in my opinion. She had used my arm as a pillow, which forced me to lay on one side the entire night. I usually toss and turn a lot, so I didn’t get the best sleep this night.

We fried some pita breads for breakfast and then explored the island. It was a small island, and we had camped at the southern end of it, but there was a nice spot for a tent at the northern end too. Good to know for future trips.

We went out with the canoe again to do some fishing. Same procedure as the day before, with me throwing it out, and her reeling it back. But we didn’t get anything this time either.

After that last attempt to catch something we paddled back to the island and took down our camp. We paddled the short stretch back to main land, packed up the car and drove home.

This had been my first night out with a canvas tent. I actually sold my Bergans Ally to fund the Tentipi Safir instead. It’s heavy and bulky, but roomy, light, comfortable and easy to set up. The quality feels impeccable, and since the fabric breathes you don’t get bothered by condensation. For these kind of trips, where comfort and good food is the main goal, a tent like this is perfect.

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Fjällräven Polar 2018

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It’s that time of the year again. The time where you once again can apply to Fjällräven Polar, a 300km adventure through the arctic north, and the time where I once again shamelessly ask for votes in all ways I can.

So please vote for me, and I’ll be forever grateful -> Vote here

3-day hike with Brian Outdoors

“Didn’t your parents ever told you not to go see strange men you’ve met on the internet” my 13-year old daughter said jokingly with a smile when I told her about my plans.

I’ve been reading Brians blog for a long time, we’ve commented on each others blogs and on Instagram, and we’d talked over the internet about joining up for a trip together. Last weekend we finally met up, to go on a hike together, on a ~33km circle route that Brian had made at Raslången area on the border between Skåne and Blekinge. I’ve done a hiking trip and a canoe trip here with C earlier this year, and I really like the area..

Day 1

I had taken Friday off from work, and left home at around noon. A little before 14.00 I rolled up to the parking lot, and met up with Brian.

It was nice to finally meet in person, and we chatted for a while before we decided to get going. But it didn’t take long for us to miss a turn and loose the route. It’s easy to just follow the blazes, but Brians route was a mix of Skåneleden, unmarked trails and logging roads.

Our first objective was a campsite about 5-6km from the parking lot. Brian has hiked here several times before, and was shown this campsite on a previous group hike.

It was nice to be out on a regular hiking trip again. This last year most of my trips have been with a canoe or with Corinne, which means not a lot of hiking.

We arrived at the planned campsite before sundown. The campsite was next to a lake, hidden away, and hard to find if you didn’t know it was there to begin with. We set up our tents, and I liked seeing the Zpacks Duplex in real life, since it’s one of the shelters I have been interested in getting.

After that we made dinner and chatted for a while. The forest was pretty damp, and none of us bothered to make a fire. Both of us where pretty tired, and we went to bed early. I laid in the tent for a while, watching a documentary on Netflix, before I fell asleep.

Day 2

I woke up the next morning when I heard Brian roaming around camp. I usually wake up early, but go back to sleep again. But today I was going to get up early. Brian told me that my snoring had forced him to use his earplugs during the night. Well, sometimes I wake my self up with my snoring, so I can imagine how it sounds to people nearby.

We made breakfast, but didn’t have that beautiful sunrise we had planned for. Weather reports had shown clear skies, but in the morning it was still partially cloudy.

After breakfast we packed down camp and started hiking. This days route was 18km. We followed a nice trail along the shore of the lake. It was nice to start early in the morning, even for someone like me, who likes to sleep in.

We hiked in a fairly good pace, and chatted about hiking and gear. We made it to a designated campsite, meant for both hikers of Skåneleden and canoeists. We had an early lunch. Brian has a light lunch of crackers and nuts and some nasty looking black goo that apparently only Australians eat, while I made a hot lunch from one of my home dried meals. We had a nice discussion about some of the nasty stuff that’s only eatable for certain nationalities.

We where basically alone there, and was only passed by a couple with a dog. It was a nice break, but the winds where icy cold, so we didn’t stay long after the food was eaten.

After the campsite we passed a beautiful area filled with deciduous trees. I complimented Brian for choosing such a scenic route.

We hiked on in a good pace with basically no breaks, snacking on bars while we where walking. I like camping style trips, canoe camping trips and just taking it slow from time to time, but I also like to just push on with more emphasis on the hiking part. Since most trips this year had been with the canoe and/or with C (which means less hiking) my body wasn’t used to the pace, and I had to push myself a bit in the end.

By 13.30, we left the logging road we where hiking on and set of into the woods for campsite no. 2. We followed the remnants of a trail before it ended, and started to bushwhack.

On the way there I jokingly said to Brian that once we got there we would find a bunch of other people there already, about to have a party. Moments after I said it we heard voices in the woods, and saw a couple with large backpacks between the trees. Not what I expected far from the trail in November. We continued towards the campsite though. Brian told me that he had heard that they where Danes, and asked each other where we had gone. They didn’t follow us though.

When we came to campsite there was a lot of noise from across the water. A bunch of young guys in three or four canoes was having a break on a cape across the cove. If they’re going to camp there we won’t have a still silent evening at all, I thought. Sound travels far across water, and a narrow distance and a group of guys in their early 20th means a lot of noise. Fortunate they had only had a break there, and after a while they packed up and left. Both me and Brian where happy about that. Nature is for everyone, but both of us prefer to find seclude private campsites, far from other people.

We explored the campsite and set up our tents. This night we had planned to have a fire, and Brian had to make sure that his tent was far enough away from the fire ring, not to get any sparks on it. DCF is a great shelter material, but it has a very low melting temperature.

We gathered firewood from the surrounding forest, but we where fortunate enough to have a few fairly large logs next to the fire place. I thought this was a good place to try to make a star fire for the first time. I’ve never tried it before, but it would save us from having to pile up a lot of extra firewood to keep it going throughout the evening.

We made dinner by the fire and watched the sun set across the lake. And the sunset was truly beautiful. The lake was pitch black, with the surface still as a mirror. Sounds faded away, and there was a silence so complete that I’ve only experienced it once before. You could almost hear your own heartbeats.

We stayed by the fire for a few hours, sharing the Whiskey Brian had brought, and talked about everything and nothing. The skies where clear, and stars where everywhere.

Eventually we got too tired to stay up, and went to bed. I watched Netflix for a while and then went to sleep.

Day 3

As usual I tossed and turned quite a bit, and didn’t sleep too good. I woke up when I heard Brian roaming around camp, and got up too.

The weather was worse than the evening before, and the mist was thick enough to cover the other side of the lake. We had breakfast, packed up and left camp and around 08.00. We had ~11km to go.

My body was sore from the previous days of hiking, but soon warmed up. The mist also cleared up a bit eventually.

When we came back to the road we had left yesterday we passed a campsite with two lean-to shelters. Both of them where occupied. I was a bit surprised, since I’ve rarely met people when hiking off-season.

We hiked on, and Brian filmed occasionally. Eventually we reached the parking lot, and packed up the cars.

It had been a nice trip, and it was nice to finally meet Brian face to face. We had a lot to talk about, and I think it’s interesting to see and talk about the gear other people use. We decided to meet up again for more trips. Next time though I’ll plan a canoe trip instead.

Thank you Brian for a nice weekend and a really nice route. Get really for some canoeing next time 😁!

Second time in a heated tent

Last weekend I was out camping with both my daughters. It was the first time I tried hot tent camping, and while the gear was very heavy, I really liked the comfort. For car camping trips, where weight isn’t an issue, it’s perfect.

it turned out that my wife was going to have a girls night at home with a few old colleagues the weekend after, so I was exiled this weekend too. My son was away, my oldest daughter was at her friends place, so the only one joining me this time was C.

We drove to the same place this weekend too, as it’s a great place and pretty close to home.

A couple of cars where already there when we arrived, and though we could hear kids in the distance, we didn’t see anyone. I set up the tipi on the same place as last time, set up the camp and started a fire in the stove. After a short while two families with baskets full of mushrooms passed our camp. They where only day-hiking, and left shortly after.

We started with lunch, and I fried pepper steak, red onions and bell peppers, and had Mediterranean rice to that. It was delicious.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chillin’ in the tipi or exploring the area around camp. We searched for mushrooms. Either chanterelles or Boletus edulis, the only eatable mushrooms I can identify without risk. A fun fact about the Boletus edulis is that in Sweden is mostly knows as Karl Johan mushroom, after the Swedish king (a former french officer) who brought his french habits, and introduced the mushroom to the Swedish kitchen.

We didn’t find any mushrooms that we where looking for, but we did explore the forest, while we both chanted: “Karl Johan, where are you? Come out so we can eat you!”

In the evening we made dinner. C had decided that we where going to have burgers for dinner, so that’s what I fried up. We made pretty simple burgers. Buns, meat, sauce and cheddar. But it tasted great. We just hung out in the tent for the evening, before it was time to put C to sleep.

I stuffed the stove full of firewood, and closed the vent to get a slow burn. It stayed hot for a long time.

But the night was pretty awful though. C woke up time and again, being sad, and wanting to get out to pee. Over and over again she woke up, and by the time she finally slept good, I barely couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned a lot the rest of the night.

By morning rain came, and really poured down. Since I couldn’t sleep anymore I got up early. I had a head ache, and thought about heating up the stove. But that would mean a couple of hours before it was burned out completely, and a couple of hours more to get it cold enough to pack it out. In the end I decided to go with a cold breakfast and then pack down camp. We had a few baby bell cheeses and a couple of mini salamis, before we packed down camp, and left for home.

In general, the trip had been nice, but the lack of sleep, the heavy rain and the headache the next morning made it great to get back home too. But as always, it didn’t take long for me to miss the woods, and I’m already eager to get out again.

Next trip will be in the first weekend of November, when I’m going on a hike with https://brianoutdoor.wordpress.com

I’m really looking forward to it. Both to do a real hiking trip again, and also to finally meat Brian in real life.

First time hot tent camping

It’s been a long time since I last wrote here. Even though I’ve been doing a lot of daytrips with my family, I’ve been to busy to write here. But last weekend I finally got out on an overnighter, and I had a really great time.

For a while now I’ve had my eye out for the Gstove Heat view, a camp stove from a small company in Norway. I’ve wanted to try hot tent camping for a long time, and when I found the stove at a 40% discount I decided to buy it.

Last weekend I tried it for the first time, with my first time doing hot tent camping.

My wife was out of town, and my son preferred to hang out with grandpa this weekend, but both my daughters joined me for this trip.

We drove to the campsite south of Asa that I had stayed at with C in June. It had rained on the way up, but when we got there the rain stopped. It was calm, and no one else was there at the beginning. Soon though a car came by with two guys in it. They walked around for a couple of minutes and the vanished again.

I set up the tent and the stove on the same spot as I had set up my tent last time. This time I used the bigger Helsport Nordmarka tipi, since I was going to use the stove to heat up the tent.

I stared to chop up some firewood and got the fire going. It wasn’t long until the stove was burning hot. We made lunch and hung out in the tent. It was chilly outside, but inside the tent it was almost t-shirt weather.

A mother and two kids arrived at the campsite, and after a while a dad and two other kids arrived too. The families knew each other, and was going to sleep in one of the huts/shelter at the camp site.

I was surprised to see other people, as I’m out camping a lot, but rarely see anyone else doing anything more than day trips. But autumn is my favorite time of the year to be out, with the crisp fresh air, absence of bugs and the beautiful changing colors of the forest, and the mother seemed to feel the same.

We walked around the camp site a bit, but most of the time we just hung out in the tent, eating snacks and enjoying the heat from the stove. As usual, with trips like these, we had packed a lot of food and goodies; different cheeses, salamis, pepper steaks, bifteki, pita bread, potato chips etc.

When evening came, we lit the oil lamp and kept feeding the stove. I really like window in the door of the stove, and it gives out a really ambient cozy light from the fire.

We made dinner, and kept chilling in the tent. M, my oldest daughter, had brought her iPad and downloaded a few movies on Netflix and watched them. C and I killed time by snacking and putting firewood in the stove.

When it was time to sleep C was all winded up, but eventually calmed down enough to sleep. I stopped feeding the stove, but it wasn’t completely burned out before we went to sleep. I had brought a Carbon-monoxide alarm though just to feel a bit safer.

When C had fallen asleep it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep too. I woke up a couple of hour later though, when M accidentally threw her arm in my face in her sleep. After that it took a couple of hours for me to get back to sleep again.

I slept like a log for the rest of the night, but woke up at 08.00 by the sound of C loudly singing the kids song “Björnen sover” (the bear’s asleep) in her sleeping bag next to me. Well, papa bear wasn’t sleeping after that.

We got up, got the stove going and made breakfast. Pita bread fried in a lot of olive oil with a cheese and salami and some hot coffee for me, and hot coco for the kids.

After breakfast I let the fire burn for a while, to drive out any remaining moisture from the tent, before we finally desired to pack down our camp.

It looked like it was about to rain, and I packed down quickly, as I was happy to pack down dry gear, which is somewhat rare in these parts.

After this trip I’m really glad I bought the stove. It’s heavy, and definitely not something for hiking trips. But for car camping trips like these, or canoe camping trips with no portages it’s perfect. The quality is superb, and it really adds to the comfort to have a source of heat in the tent.

I think I’m going to save up to get a Tentipi Safir 5 BP for these types of trips. A canvas tipi would really take the comfort to the next level. I really like hiking, but I think can get used to these comfortable, food heavy camping trips too.

Canoe camping for a week on Isteren i Norway

I had planned to do to a week-long trip in mid August, but I had been going back and forth a lot about where to go – hiking in Hardagervidda or canoeing in or near Femundsmarka.

Eventually I decided to do a week long paddling trip on Isteren, a lake near Femundsmarka National Park in Norway. My plan was to park at Glotbergen, in the southern end of the lake, and then paddle north and just see where I’d end up, without any specific goals.

Day 1 – Saturday

On Friday evening I packed everything after I got off from work. I packed all the gear in my backpack, and had a separate heavy duty drybag for my food. Since I was going canoe camping, I had a lot of heavier foods, like portion packed orange juice boxes, canned chicken etc.

Earlier that week I had also purchased a Bergans Ally canoe. A foldable canoe that fits in the trunk of a car, and is made of a frame of aluminum stays, covered with a durable rubber hull. I had made a test set-up in the backyard, but I hadn’t paddled it yet.

Glotbergen was a 700km drive from home, so I wanted to start early. I set my alarm clock to 03.45, and by 04.05 I was on my way. This would be my first longer canoe camping trip, and my first week long trip alone. I was excited.

I arrived at Glotbergen at 13.00, where I paid for parking and for a one week fishing permit. The drive up to Glotbergen was pretty dull, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be the standard.

 

I assembled the canoe in 30 minutes. The first time I had tried it, it had taken over an hour. I loaded the canoe with the gear in the front, strapped it to the canoe, and set off. I was finally on my way.

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Water levels where low, and I soon hit a rock with the canoe. I could see traces of aluminum on the rock, which showed that I wasn’t the first one hitting the rock. This would be something I would see on rocks for the rest of the week.

Since I had been up very early, and hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, I decided to set up camp as soon as I found a nice spot. I paddled for 1,5km when I spotted a nice sandy beach, where I landed the canoe. There where traces of camp fires and make shift fire rings all over the place. For now there was a fire ban, but fortunately, that didn’t include camp stoves.

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I hiked away from the beach, and found a nice place to set up my tent. I carried my gear and the canoe there, at set up camp. The rain came soon after I had my tent up and I laid in the tent, listening to the sound of the raindrops hitting the fly. The rain soon stopped though and the clouds scattered, and the rest of the evening I tried fishing for a while, and just relaxed in camp. I went to bed early, happy to be out in the wild.

Day 2 – Sunday

When I woke up, the weather was worse than the day before. Skies where gray, and it was windy. The weather report showed winds of up to 7 mps, and of course it was head wind. My goal was to paddle to Steinsundsholmene, a group of small islands, a mere 3 km north of my camp, and after breakfast I set off.

Initially I had loved the portability and pack-ability of the canoe. The low water levels meant that most shores where covered with large sharp boulders, and the canoe had to be carried up on land so that the waves wouldn’t bash the canoe against the rocks. But now I learned about the downsides of this type of canoe. The softness of the hull makes it pretty slow in the water, and the light weight and construction makes it float very high up in the water. This makes it easy for the wind to grab a hold of it, to turn it around. Every gust tried to swing the canoe around, and I had to struggle like crazy just to keep is straight in the water. It was a really slow going, and I got in a pretty bad mood, and cursed my decision to buy it.

Eventually I gave up, took it to shore and decided to portage it north instead. But this proved to be difficult too, as the terrain of large boulders made it hard to pass with the canoe. I sat on a cape for a while, reviewing my options, and wondered why the hell I hadn’t gone hiking in Hardangervidda instead. I decided to put the canoe back in the water and just paddle like a maniac.

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I eventually reached the islands, and set up camp on a cape in the mainland. I wanted to hike up to the nearby mountaintop Bottölen the next day.

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The campsite was beautiful, and had a great place for my tent. I fished for a while, and soon a big Bass bit my little spinner. I’m not really a fisher man, so it was the biggest Bass I had ever caught (which doesn’t say much really). As soon as I got it close to shore it got off my hook though, and swam away.

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The winds had calmed down and the clouds had scettered, and by the evening the weather was really beautiful. I put the canoe back in the water and paddled around for a while. Paddling in calm waters is really nice and relaxing, and now I was glad to have chosen a canoe camping trip. I put my hammock up, and had a nice calm evening.

Day 3 – Monday

I had decided to stay two nights at my campsite, since it was a great location, and also because I wanted to do a day hike to the nearest mountain top – Bottölen. Bottölen is only 905 meters above sea level, but it’s still above the treeline.

After having breakfast I packed my backpack with food, water and cooking utensils, took my map, set a course on my compass and headed out. Just as I left three canoes full of people passed my camp.

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I bushwhacked through the forest in a steady uphill. The top was only a little more than 2km from camp, but it was still enough for me to break out a sweat. There was a small mire between my camp and the top, and I hiked south of it, to avoid getting my feet wet.

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Soon enough I reached the treeline, and despite the pretty low altitude, I had a nice view over the surrounding area. I kept hiking up, and eventually reached the top. The view was great, but I had to change my plans about dinner on the top. The winds blew too hard, so after a few photos and admiring the view, I started to hike back down, to make lunch at a more sheltered place. I had lunch at the mountain side, and then continued back to my camp.

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The rest of the day I just relaxed in camp, hung out in the hammock, fished and paddled around the area. Paddling the canoe in calm waters is really nice. The campsite was great, and I really enjoyed staying there.

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Day 4 – Tuesday

The next day I had decided to keep paddling north. I didn’t have any specific goal in mind, but more or less planned to paddle until I found a nice place and then stay there. There where almost no wind when I set out, and the lake was still as a black mirror. It was a really nice way to start the morning. I paddled slowly north, and really enjoyed the morning. After a while I stopped at a cove, heated up some water and washed my t-shirt and underwear in a zip-lock bag, before I continued again.

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I reached Nysandvika, where there were a lot of tents and canoes. I saw a family take down two HMG Ultamids. It was the first time I’ve seen anyone else use cottage gear in real life.

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I paddled around the cape and then came ashore at the northern side of Nysandvika. The cape had beautiful beaches with white sand, but the water was cold. I took a short break, had some coffee and then set off again.

I followed the shoreline up to the cove Langvika, where I stopped again at a small beach. There where a small hut nearby, and no place for a tent, so after reviewing the map a bit I continued. I had decided to explore the island just west of Langvika and check for descent camp sites.

I paddled to the westernmost side if the island, and found a great place for my tent. It was only 14.00, but I decided to stay there. Signs of previous campers where everywhere around that part of the island. This was great, and I decided that I would stay here for two nights. I had my camp, and my hammock up, and explored the rest of the island on foot.

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The island wasn’t large, but on western side there where good places for tents on both the northern and the southern end. There where fire rings on both sides, and flat grounds for tents. The rest of the island was covered in blueberry- and lingonberry bushes. It had been a great day of paddling with perfect weather, and the little over 5 km of paddling had been easy.

Day 5 – Wednesday

I had planned to keep my camp on the island, and then paddle north with just my food and cooking utensils this day. But I woke up to a windy cloudy day. I paddled almost 1 km north in the morning, just to try the waters, and had a hard time paddling back to the island. I decided to stay there instead, reading, watching Netflix and foraging.

I filled my foldable Kuksa with lingonberries and blueberries, and then went to the shore to do some fishing. I had tried to catch a fish now and then during the entire trip, but it’s not such a big interest of mine. But now I got one, after just a few throws. It was another bass, and the largest one I’ve seen. I was happy to have caught one, since I was really looking forward to spice up the diet with some fresh fish.

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I filed it on a rock and then fried it in tons of butter and olive oil, sprinkled with citrus pepper. It tasted great, and I had the cup of blueberries and lingonberries as desert.

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The rest of the day carried on in a slow manner. Rain came and went, and I spent most of the time reading the book “Idag ska vi inte dö” (We shall not die today), a documentary about the journalist Magnus Falkehed and photographer Niclas Hammarström who got kidnapped in Syria in 2013. The whole trip was just loosely planned, and I liked the calm serenity of camp life.

I went through my plans for the end of the trip. I was going to paddle back to my first campsite, 1 km from the parking lot on Thursday, and then paddle the last stretch on Friday morning. The weather report didn’t look too good though, as the winds for the rest of the week where supposed to be headwinds of 7-10 meters per second (15-22 mph).

Day 6 – Thursday

I woke up on Thursday morning, and just as the weather report had said, the wind blew hard. I knew I would have a hard day of paddling ahead of me. 7km in hard head wind. I had planned a route where I would paddle from island to island, cape to cape, to get protection from the winds and a chance for some rest. Just 30 seconds of rest in the open water could mean being pushed back really far.

I left the island and paddled alongside it, protected from the winds. But as soon as I left it for open waters the struggle was on. The waves had white foam on them, and I had to work really hard to get to the closest island. Waves where up to the gunwales of the canoe, but the waves weren’t the issue. The gusts where. I had to struggle hard to keep the canoe straight. No J-stroke could compensate the wind, that felt like it came from everywhere. I had to switch sides with the paddle all the time.

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I reached one of the closest islands, rested a while for it and looked towards Nysandvika, my next objective. The gusts felt like they where trying to knock me over.

I tried to paddle straight towards Nysandvika, but the wind pushed me more and more east, towards the shore. Eventually I reached Nysandvika, and landed on the northern shore. Today there was only one tent there, with two people and a canoe.

I carried my gear and the canoe over to the southern side. Waters where choppy, to say the least. I thought about calling it quits, stay there and then try to continue the next day. But the weather wasn’t going to improve, so I decided to just give it a go, and hope for the best.

I set off again, but the wind blew harder on this side of Nysandvika. I struggled a lot. On one section I could see the same rock next to me for more than 10 minutes while I paddled like crazy without going forward.

I reached Steinsundholmene where I had a short relive in the wind, before I continued. The closer I got to the beach near Sundholmen, where I would camp, the harder it was to paddle. The wind threw the canoe up against the rocky shore, and pinned it between two rocks, and the waves continued to bash it against the boulders. I kept going for little while more, but halv a km from the camp site I threw in the towel and portaged the last stretch. Winds would increase during the night, and the rain had been pouring down, so I set up the tent immediately, took out food that didn’t need any cooking and laid in my tent for the rest of the evening. There had been a lot of cursing this day, and I was really tired.

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The weather report showed a break in the winds between 04.00-07.00, where winds would go down to 1-2 meters per second. I set the alarm clock to 05.00, and prepared to go to sleep early.

Day 7 – Friday

Trying to go to sleep early didn’t work. I tossed and turned throughout the night. The winds got worse, and relentlessly shocked the tent. At around 02.00 it finally calmed down. I had dozed off for about one and a half hour, but now I couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually I gave up. I always have trouble sleeping when I’ve set the alarm clock very early, and little after 04.00 I started to pack up my gear. The canoe had been upside down, but the winds had knocked it over, and the interior was filled with water and debris.

The weather was calm, with only a slight wind. Sun wouldn’t be up until 05.20, but it was still bright enough to paddle at 04.40, when I left the beach, and my last campsite. It was nice to paddle in calm waters, with silent J-strokes and the red stripes in the horizon, showing that the sun would soon be up.

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I paddled up to the parking lot, unpacked the canoe and disassembled it. A 5-point wash with wet wipes and a change of clothes, and I felt like a new man. 9 hours later I was back home.

I’ve had ups and downs this trip. It was nice to be out for a week, and not really have any plans but to just wing it. But I didn’t meet anyone for a week, and it got a bit lonely in the end.

In retrospect I don’t think I’ll do a canoe trip like this on such a large lake again. The nearby mountains and the open lake makes it very windy, and this canoe isn’t really meant for that. With the canoe a lot of nice desolate places nearby opens up too, so I can get a wilderness feel without having to drive 9 hours. Next year I’ll probably hike in the mountains instead, and do canoe trips on the smaller, narrower lakes closer to home.

Climbing in Småland

Earlier this week, my neighbor Lars asked me if I wanted to join up for short climbing trip in the northern parts of Småland. Lars is pretty active in the local climbing club and he had two different places in mind. We would drive up on Friday afternoon, climb one of the walls and then do some hammock camping. The next morning we would drive to the other wall and climb there before the temperatures got too hot.

Lars posted a note on Facebook, asking if anyone wanted to join up. A couple of guys from Växjö climbing club and a guy from Lenhovda, a nearby town, decided to join on Friday evening.

Lars and I packed up the car after I got off from work, and drove north. We drove to the town Vetlanda, where we would meet up with the others. We stopped by the pizzeria “Hasses” that Lars had been recommended, met up with Alfred and Filip from Växjö and Mikael from Lenhovda. We bought food and then set off towards Rankulla, where we would climb this evening.

We used the app 27Crags to navigate to the parking lot near the wall. The approach went through the forest, which was packed with mosquitoes and moose flies. Either we took a wrong turn somewhere, or the place is not well visited, because it was hardly a trail we followed.

We came up from the backside of the wall, and ended up on top of it. We decided to rappel down the wall, in an attempt to save time. I’m scared of heights, wouldn’t go near the edge, and felt really uneasy when anyone else did too. But I learned that the other guys, despite being experienced climbers, where also scared of heights. My fear of heights diminishes as soon as I get my gear on though, as I trust it to save me.

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Alfred, the climbing instructor, went down first, and I came down as the third guy. It’s quite scary to go over the edge, but once you start rappelling down the fear disappears. In the end it took a lot longer for all of us to rappel down than to just hike down, but it was a fun way of going down.

We had one route where we rappelled down, Mikael climbed another route to get a new rope up next to it, and Alfred and Filip put up yet another rope.

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I haven’t been climbing since last summer, and I’m a real rookie when it comes to climbing. I compensate my lack of technique with brute force though. I’m borrowing gear from Lars, but this is something that I want to continue doing, so I’ve decided to buy my own kit as soon as possible. I like top rope climbing, as my fear of heights makes it a bit scary.

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I fell a couple of times at a (for me) difficult route with a bit of an overhang, and got a couple of trips through the air. We kept climbing until dusk, when we had to pack up. The other guys drove home, but Lars and I headed towards our planned camp site.

We had planned to camp at a beach near the next wall, Skärsjön, which is a new wall. When we came to the beach though it was crowded with a dozen Epa-tractors and a handfull of mopeds. It was obviously the place where the local teenagers hung out. We looked up another place on Vindskyddskartan, a map that shows lean-to shelters across Sweden.

The shelter we found didn’t have a nice view at all, but we continued hiking for a couple of hundred meters and camped at a beach with birch trees perfect for hanging hammocks.

It was almost midnight when we’d got out hammocks up, but we had some snacks, shared a couple of beers and watched the moon come up across the lake. There wasn’t even a breeze, and the silence was almost deafening.

We went to bed, and I used one of my Wind Hard Tiny quilts as an under quilt. It’s not meant to be an under quilt, and it took a bit of fiddling to get it to work.

In the early morning I woke up to the sound of rain. Neither one of us had brought tarps, but I was too tired to do anything else but stay in the hammock. The rain was only a light shower though, and most if it didn’t even penetrate the leaves above us.

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The next morning we packed up and drove to the next wall, Skärsjön. Skärsjön is a Slab, and it was a bit different to climb there than on Rankulla. We took a wrong turn this time too, and ended up bushwhacking our way to the top of the rock.

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Being just the two of us, we decided to hike down instead of rappelling down. We tried three different routes, and I tried to make it a bit more difficult by avoiding some of the largest and most obvious holds. Around lunchtime we decided to drive back home, and packed up all our gear.

It was a nice trip, and I’ve really come to like climbing. The area around Växjö is pretty flat, and there’s mostly bouldering around here, but I do like top rope climbing like this. Sadly for my wallet, I’ve found another outdoor interest that requires new gear purchases.

Sleep system update

When I first started to get seriously interested in hiking, and keeping the weight down, I bought my first down sleeping bag. Changing the sleeping bag from a synthetic bag to a down bag is one of the things that could greatly reduce your weight and bulk.

After a lot of research I choose to go with Cumulus, and bought their Panyam 600. When I bought it my goal was to have it as “The one bag to rule them all”, and use it all year around.

It did however prove to be too warm even for late summer use in the mountains, so I bought a Quilt 350 from Cumulus. It was my first quilt and I had some issues with it at first, but after some tweaking I got it to work good without getting any drafts. The Quilt 350 has a sewn foot box.

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When buying gear for my family I stumbled upon the Wind Hard Tiny quilt from AliExpress. It’s cheap, with sewn-through baffles, but it proved to be better than I expected, and now I use it myself in the summer.

I really liked the rectangular shape of the quilt, without the sewn foot box, and decided to update my sleep system.

I’ve sold the Quilt 350, and bought the updated Quilt 450 from Cumulus instead. With the new model they’ve updated the straps, and they don’t have a sewn foot box, but instead have the ability to open it up like a regular quilt at home. The warmer rating will make it possible for me to use this almost all year around in southern Sweden. If it gets really cold I could use the Wind Hard Tiny over the Quilt 450.

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This will probably make the Panyam 600 a bit redundant, since the rating won’t differ so much between the Quilt and the Panyam. My plan is to eventually sell the Panyam and buy a Teneqa 850 or an Excuistic 1000 as I want to do deep winter travels in the north, either on skis or with snow shoes.

My new Quilt/sleeping bag setup will be the Wind Hard Tiny for summer use, the Quilt 450 for spring, fall and southern winter use and the Teneqa or Excuistic for deep winter use.

Quilts vs sleeping bags

When it comes to reducing your pack weight, reducing weight on the big three often has the biggest impact with just a few items. The big three is the backpack, tent/shelter system and the sleep system (sleeping bag and sleeping mat).

One thing that saves a lot of weight and bulk is to choose a down sleeping bag instead of a synthetic one. Down weighs less for the same insulation, compresses better and have a longer lifespan without loosing loft. A way to save even more weight is to switch from a sleeping bag to a quilt.

In the ultralight community quilts have become more or less the standard. A quilt, as opposed to a sleeping bag, doesn’t have a hood, and is also open in the bottom, where your sleeping pad insulates you from the cold.  This saves weight as it uses less material. For colder weather a down hood can be used, which add warmth but is more flexible than a sewn hood on a sleeping bag. Another great feature with quilts are that it’s easy to regulate temperature and they’re easy to get in and out of.

Quilts come in different versions. There are ones without the sewn in foot box. These can be opened up like a regular rectangular quilt at home, which gives great ventilation and an easy way of regulating temperature. The foot box can be closed with zippers, buckles and draw stings. One negative thing about these quilts is that in theory the foot box doesn’t get as warm as a sewn in foot box since it’s not completely sealed.

The other version is a quilt with a sewn in foot box. The bottom of the quilt looks like a sleeping bag, which makes it a bit warmer than an open quilt, but you also loose ability for configurations and ventilation.

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The quilts can be used as a regular quilt at home, where you just wrap it around you, but for colder weather you’d want to prevent drafts. To do this most manufacturers have straps that you wrap around your sleeping pad and then secure to your quilt. This will make the quilt stay in place when you move around in your sleep.

Quilt modification

I switched to quilts for three season use in 2016, but it took a while for me to get used to it. My quilt was a Cumulus Quilt 350, and I had a hard time getting the straps to work good without getting cold drafts. I was close to selling it and go back to using sleeping bags when I finally found a way that works; Using the lower strap around the pad, with the quilt above it, move the upper strap to the middle of the quilt, securing it under the pad with the quilt down to the sides.

Since I got it to work without drafts I started to really like quilts. Especially since I toss and turn a lot at night, and also like to sleep on my belly. Having a quilt, that doesn’t have a hood and that you don’t get tangled up in, works very well for this.

Manufacturers

Below is a list of some of the most known quilt makers.

Cumulus is a polish brand that makes sleeping bags, quilts and down clothes. They make high quality gear at a reasonable price, and their products are common in Sweden. I’ve bought several items from them over the years and I’m very happy with both the products, the service and the price. They recently (2018) updated their line of quilts, so they now come without a sewn foot box and with an updated strap system.

Katabatic Gear is by many considered to be the best in the industry, with very high quality on their products. There are a number of different configurations you can do, with both width, length and fill. They are, however, a very pricey.

Hammock Gear is another company that often gets recommended. Especially their Econ quilts when it comes to recommendations for getting ultralight on a budget. For us Europeans customs and sales taxes would probably push the price up a level where it’s not price worthy anymore.

Enlightened Equipement is an American cottage brand. Unlike most other companies Enlightened Equipment uses vertical baffles instead of horizontal. I’m not sure if there’s any benefits with the design, but if I remember correctly it’s designed like that to be able to push the down up and down to where you’d want the most warmth. There is a bit of a lead time to get the quilt, but they regularly go on sale on Massdrop.

As Tucas is a small European cottage brand founded in 2013. As Tucas makes both synthetic and down quilts, as well as bivy bags and clothes.

Issues with the canoe hull

I recently decided to wash and wax my canoe. In retrospect I read that you really don’t have to wax canoes with a polyethylene hull since the wax won’t stick anyway, so in one aspect it was unnecessary.

But waxing the canoe exposed what seems to be an issue with the mold. The hull was covered with small air bubbles and holes, most of them in the aft and stern, and less in the middle. The holes got filled with wax, and thus easy to see with the naked eye, and with a closer look I saw that there where air bubbles inside the plastic. Some of the holes where also fairly large.

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I took a couple of photos and asked about it in Reddits caone forum and got the answer that it should definitely not look like that, and that I should contact Mad River about a replacement. I’ve read before about issues with the hull on these models but I thought it had been sorted out.

I’ve contacted the retailer and Mad River, and now I hope for the best. I haven’t heard back from the retailer yet, but Mad River was forwarding the info to the fabric.

Since I was considering selling it I guess the best case scenario would be to get the money back, especially since the shipping alone of a new canoe costs 150€ (should be covered by the warranty but I don’t know). If the manufacturer doesn’t come through, selling it with these issues would mean loosing a lot of money, if it’s even possible.

Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out with Mad River and the retailer as fast as possible. With the never ending heat stroke we have here in Europe I’m more and more leaning towards canoe camping in Femundsmarka rather than hiking in Hardangervidda, to have constant access to the lakes for cooling off. But with a potentially weakened hull I’m not too keen on taking it on a week long trip far out in the wilderness. I hope everything works out before I leave.

Update 31 July

I got in contact with the retailer again, who said that according to Mad River the issue was just a cosmetic one, that doesn’t affect durability or function, and nothing they will return it for. I’ve also emailed their European contact, who forwarded the images to the factory, but said he thought it looked like a cosmetic issue.

If this is accurate it’s nice to not having to hassle with shipping it back to the retailer. My wife and I have been out on more short canoe trips, and now she has started to like canoeing and wants me to keep the canoe as a family canoe. I’ll save up for a more lightweight canoe for solo use in the future though. I’m not all too pleased about having paid full price though, as this probably affects second hand value. I do think that Mad River should offer a partial refund.