Camping or hiking

I begun my interest in the outdoors with hiking. I had traditional heavy weight gear, and though I enjoyed the outdoors there was too much discomfort with it. I learned about Ultralight backpacking and gradually reduced my base weight, one item at the time and I did quite a few hiking trips. I found a perfect balance between camp comfort and hiking comfort. This last year, and the trips this year too, has mostly been camping trips though. Trips with heavy gear, focused on comfort, and that’s been really nice too.

I’ve been less inclined to leave my wife with all the kids at home, even though she’s ok with it. And I do love to bring C with me (the only one in the family except me who enjoys the outdoors), but I really miss hiking. The trip with Brian last November was very much needed. Camp comfort and munching on a big fat load of good food is nice, but as a remedy for the soul, hiking does the trick better. I like the monotony of hiking from dawn to dusk, barely stopping to eat, but just snacking on route. Pushing myself, clearing my head and emptying my brain of thoughts. It’s a meditative state and a form of mindfulness I guess. I’ve gone back to watching UL hiking videos on YouTube, and I long to get back into hiking, and I miss the mountains.

I hope I’ll go to Hardangervidda this year, and I’d really like to hike the Arctic Circle Trail soon. We’ll see what the future has in store.

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Winter camping with a three year old

I’m on parental leave for all of February, and I had planned to do a lot of trips with C. But it wasn’t until last weekend that I actually got out on an overnighter with her.

Since it’s still cold outside I wanted to use the stove. But with the lakes frozen over and no snow on the ground to be able to bring the heavy gear with either a canoe or a pulk, I had to choose a place that was fairly close to the car. So I got back to our new favorite spot at Tolgasjön.

The first half of February had rained away, but this day we had great weather, with the sun shining and the temperature a few degrees above freezing. It felt like spring.

As usual, C had fallen asleep in the car, and I carried the gear out to the peninsula before I woke her up. We then set up the tent and the stove, and got our sleeping gear out.

I’ve bought a Fjällräven Duffel no. 6 for the stove and the cooking gear. The reason I choose this one and not the one from GStove was the retractable shoulder-straps, that makes it possible to carry the bag as a backpack. I also like the look of it better.

I had brought some firewood, but I wanted to harvest some from all of the fallen trees around. I had recently bought an Eka Viking foldable saw for occasions like this, and wanted to try it out. It worked a lot better than my Bacho Laplander copy from Kershaw that I’ve used before. We didn’t take a lot of firewood though, but just enough to keep the fire going.

I sawed the branches in appropriate sizes and C carried them back to the tent and put them in a pile. I worked up a good sweat and had to remove a couple of layers of clothes.

Once the firewood was done we got the fire going and got a nice warm temperature in the tent. C mostly want to hang out in the tent and play, so we did that, with the door open.

Eventually it was time for dinner. This time I had chosen to do a beef stroganoff with rice. I cooked the rice in my Toaks 750ml pot, and fried the pre-cut beef in my frying pan. I’ve bought a Ronneby Bruks UL cast iron frying pan. It’s not UL by any means, but lighter than a regular cast iron pan. When I hike I like to use Ultralight principles and I have a fairly light base weight of roughly 6kg. After a lot of trying I’ve found that this gives the perfect balance between hiking comfort and camp comfort. But when I go on trips like these, where I don’t have to carry the gear any longer distances I like to go all in on the luxury, like cooking real food on a cast iron pan, on a heavy stainless steel woodstove, in a comfortable heavy canvas Lavvu.

Once the beef was fried I added cream fraise, ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, salt and pepper and let it simmer for a while. It tasted great, even better than when I do it at home.

Outside the ice kept singing and cracking. We saw a couple ice fishing on the lake, but I have a phobia about being out on the ice, and wouldn’t dare to get out there.

As dusk fell, the moon came up, and lit up our campsite through the trees. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the stars where everywhere. We heard some screaming across the lake, and I couldn’t hear if it was human or from an animal. I screamed back a couple of times: “Is it someone who need help!” but once I’d screamed back the sound stopped. Maybe it was an animal, and the day after we found a pile of feathers from where we had heard the screaming.

We mostly stayed in the tent, since C like to play in the warm cozy tent. As usual we had a lot of snacks with us.

When it was time to sleep, C fell a sleep pretty quickly. I stayed awake for a while longer, reading and listening to the sounds of nature.

Both of us slept good through the night. I woke up a couple of times, and listened to the ice. It was making sounds almost constantly.

By morning I woke up before C for once. Most of the times she wakes me up with a: “Is it morning now?” and I just want to keep sleeping. Since she was still asleep I decided to get up and get the fire going before she woke up.

We fried some pita breads for breakfast and then put on all our clothes. It was time do do some exploring.

The stove was going to take a while to burn out and cool down, and I wanted to explore the area around the peninsula.

We followed a logging road to the end, and then we walked down to the lake. The small peninsula is on one end of larger cape, and we followed the shoreline to get back to our campsite. There had been a lot of logging in the area, and the surroundings consisted of different patches of clear cuts or young birch forests, but down by the shoreline the trees where left mostly untouched.

Now and then we stopped to play. A fallen tree became a bus, and a tree stump was a bus stop. The sun was shining in full force, and the shift in temperature from the freezing night made the ice sing and crack constantly. It was a fascinating sound, and I really enjoyed listening to it, while my little bus driver was going from station to station behind me.

We slowly came back to our campsite, where the stove had cooled down completely. At first, C didn’t want to get back home, but by now she was ready. I’ve gotten a good routine now, and quickly got the camp packed. We left the unused fire wood in a nice pile next to the existing fire ring and headed back to the car.

I had a great time, and it’s always fun to be out with C. I miss hiking, and I miss canoe camping, but these trips are great too.

We’ll probably get out in a two-night trip from Thursday to Saturday this week. My oldest daughter is in Athens, and my son is going to visit his grandparents, so if we’re lucky, my wife will join us too on Friday after work. She’s not that outdoorsy though, so maybe she’ll just enjoy the peace and calm of having the house to herself for once.

First 2019 camping with my 2-year old.

I really hadn’t planned to get out last weekend, and at first I didn’t really feel like it. But my wife needed to study and wanted the house to be a bit calmer, so she asked me if I wanted to take C on a camping trip.

C was excited to get out in the woods again, since it’s been two months since she spent a night outdoors.

I had decided to go to Tolgasjön again, to the “secret” spot that I had discovered a couple of weeks earlier.

I packed up the car with a bag of firewood, my canvas tipi – the Tentipi Safir 5, a backpack with the sleeping gear and other stuff and my duffel bag with the stove and the cooking gear. I go all in on luxury on trips like these.

We stopped by the store on the way and bought snacks and ingredients for our dinner. Then we set off toward the camp site. C fell asleep in the car, and I carried the gear out to the peninsula and set up the tent before I woke her up. When I was back at the car to get her two cars slowly passed us, and we waved to them. One of the cars had a brand name on them, and I think it might have been the land owner. I hope they don’t put up a gate at the beginning of the road but let us still have access to this place.

When they had passed we walked out to the end of the peninsula together. C made herself comfortable inside the tipi while I chopped up some wood and made some feather sticks. We loaded the stove with fire wood and quickly got a hot fire going.

Temperatures outside the tent was below freezing, but it didn’t take long for us to get sweaty, and we had to remove layer after layer.

C barely wanted to leave the tent, but just wanted to stay inside the cozy warm tent, play and eat snacks. So that’s what we did for most of the afternoon and evening.

When it was time for dinner I boiled potatoes in the pot and made reindeer stew in the frying pan. We ate it in flat bread rolls. This time I remembered to bring the lingonberry jam. It tasted delicious.

The rest of the evening we just played and relaxed in the tent, before it was time for her to sleep.

She fell asleep pretty quickly, and I spent a couple of hours reading and watching Netflix.

I slept pretty good, and C just woke up once to go out to pee. I woke up a couple of time, and listened to the sound of snow falling on the tipi.

The next morning C woke me up, and wanted us to get up and make some breakfast. I didn’t want to leave the warm sleeping bag, but I got up and quickly made a fire with the pre chopped small pieces of wood I had.

The skies where covered in clouds at first, but after a breakfast of fried pita breads with cheese and salamis, we got out again. This time the sun had come out, and it was really beautiful outside.

C didn’t want to get back home, and neither did I. The weather was perfect, with snow, sun and a couple of degrees below freezing. But we had other obligations so we had couldn’t stay too long. While we waited for the stove to cool down I packed up the rest of the gear.

When the stove was cold enough we packed it down, packed down the tent and headed back home. Once again it had been a short overnighter, but a great time outside. I got one more week at work before I got four weeks of parental leave. I’m planning on spending a lot of the following weeks outside with my little rug rat.

First trip of 2019

I’ve been pretty idle here lately, and in December I didn’t get out on any trip at all. But the first weekend in January I finally got out again, on my traditional camping trip the first week of the year.

The temperature here had been pending around freezing for a a couple of weeks, and I thought the lakes might be ice free and that maybe I could make one last canoe camping trip for the season.

My plan was to drive up to Tolgasjön, and put the canoe in on the same place as my last trip with C. But when I arrived there the road was closed off with a gate, and I couldn’t pass with the car.

I kept driving, and found a small logging road that wasn’t marked on the map. I followed it, hoping for the best, and eventually it ended up next to the lake, with a nice place to park the car too.

Once there I saw that the lake was already frozen over. There would be no canoeing for me. At first I thought about driving to Asa, where I’ve camped a few times before. But then I saw that there was a trail out to a peninsula next to where I had parked the car.

The peninsula turned out to be a prefect campsite, with a fire ring and a couple of makeshift benches. This was probably used by the people that lived nearby, or by the landowners.

I carried my gear out to the peninsula and set up my camp. I haven’t had a bag for my Gstove before, but recently I bought a Fjällräven Duffel no. 6 medium. This was perfect for the stove, heat shield and the more voluminous cooking gear I bring on hot tent camping trips. The main reason I choose this was that it has shoulder straps and can be carried like a backpack.

The weather was perfect. Sunny and below freezing with crips cold air. I had liked to do some paddling, but the campsite was great.

I set up the tent and the stove, inflated my Exped Winterlite, fluffed up my sleeping bag and got the fire going in the stove.

There was a large partly downed tree hanging over the trail on the peninsula, and it hung loosely on a thin tree at the end. Just touching it made it rock a lot, and it was dangerous to keep it there. It could fall any time, and maybe while someone was walking on the trail. I put some more pressure on it, and the whole thing crashed to the ground. At least no one will have to have that tree falling on their heads now.

For lunch I made pepper steaks with rice and fried bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. It was delicious, as always. The rest of the afternoon I just relaxed.

I had brought a spoon knife, and planned to do some wood carving, but I ended up making a fire in the fire pit, and reading by the fire instead. The where a lot of larger pieces of wood laying around, and I made a star fire to not having to spend a lot of time collecting firewood.

I’m reading “One bullet away, the makings of a marine officer” by Nathaniel Fick. In the HBO-series Generation Kill, he’s one of the few officers that are portrayed in a good light. I found the book is well written, and well worth reading.

When the sun set I returned to the tipi and heated up the stove again. I laid in the tent, and kept reading with the warmth of the stove keeping me comfortable.

When it was time for dinner I made Reindeer stew with potatoes that are eaten in rolled up flatbreads. Unfortunately I had forgotten the parsley and the lingonberry jam, but it still tasted great.

I read for a while longer before I retreated to my sleeping bag and let the fire in the stove burn out. I watched Netflix for a short while, before going to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of snow falling on the tipi. It’s always hard to get out of the warm cozy sleeping bag when it’s freezing outside. I mustered all my willpower to open up the zipper and crawl out into the cold.

I had a bunch of smaller sticks prepared from the previous day, and quickly got a hot fire going in the stove. Soon it was warm enough for me to start ditching my layers. I boiled some coffee and had a breakfast of salami, Brie and the left over bell peppers and flatbread.

The world outside had changed during the night. The brown ground covered with pine needles, and the icy blue lake had both turned white, covered with a thin layer of snow. The clear blue skies had turned grey. I prefer the weather I had the day before, but I do long for some real winter weather, and the possibility to do some snow shoe hiking. I plan to gradually upgrade my gear with more winter gear.

After breakfast I packed up, and headed back home.

It was a short trip, like most of my overnighters are now, to fit in with the rest of the everyday life. But these short breaks, with the possibility to just wind down, relax and enjoy the silence, solitude and beauty of nature is really valuable. For me it’s one of the best way there is to recharge energy and to keep my spirit up.