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.

Advertisements

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.

20180811_121045955_iOS

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.

20180811_165146221_iOS

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.

20180812_132257162_iOS

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.

20180812_180603731_iOS

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.

20180812_180731541_iOS

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.

20180813_090051530_iOS20180813_100214303_iOS

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.

20180813_101521776_iOS

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.

20180813_102933632_iOS

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.

20180813_162255793_iOS

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.

20180814_082205277_iOS

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.

20180814_094531909_iOS

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.

20180814_180647554_iOS.jpg

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.

20180815_115604476_iOS

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.

20180815_123053707_iOS

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.

20180816_075106829_iOS.jpg

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.

20180816_125853190_iOS

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.

20180817_025904938_iOS.jpg

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.

img_1561

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.

img_1565img_1569

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.

img_1571

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.

img_1573

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.

img_1574

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.

Canoe camping in July

Me and the family have been on a road trip through Europe the last two weeks, and got back home on Tuesday morning. It was a nice trips, where we stayed in Venice for two nights and then spent a lot of time in Croatia.

I loved the sun and the crystal clear water of the Adriatic Sea, but soon I started to miss the forests and the dark lakes of Sweden.

So when we got back home I went on a short overnight canoe trip.

There is a 120 km canoe route, called Värendsleden that passes through Växjö and I decided to explore the northern parts of it. It starts in Asa, in the northern end of Asasjön, but I drove to Åby at the northern end of Helgasjön, and paddled north from there.

I came to the canal lock that separates the lakes Helgasjön and Skavenäsasjön, parked the car and put the canoe in the water. A German family pulled up from the lake just as I was about to enter.

I paddled north, and in the beginning I had houses on both sides, as I paddled through Åby. But it’s a small village, and soon there was forest on both sides.

I followed the shoreline and once in a while stopped to look for suitable camp grounds. Not because I planned to stop right away, but as a reference for future trips. I started a list on Google maps earlier this year, where I save all the possible campsites that I find.

My goal was the island Ferön in Tolgasjön. Despite knowing about the the canoe route, I didn’t know this place actually was so popular for canoing. During my short trip I saw a lot of canoes on the lake, and many in groups of three or four canoes.

I found one of the designated campsites, and checked it out. There was a lean-to shelter and a fireplace next to a large field. At first I thought the field wasn’t part of the campsite, but then I spotted a fireplace with benches in the middle, and in the far end of the field there was a water tap, trash bins and outhouses. It was enough room for tents to house a small festival. I prefer more secluded places though, and continued.

I didn’t make it all the way up to Ferön, but decided to stop at a cape south of the island. The cape had very old oak trees and pine trees scattered across it, with bushes and small trees on the shores that gave privacy and a lot of flat grounds for the tent. With such a perfect place I just had to stop.

I set up the tent, inflated my sleeping mat and puffed up my quilt. This time I decided to go with my Wind Hard Tiny quilt, as it was very warm outside. It worked perfectly as a summer quilt. I also found two trees that was suitable for setting up the hammock.

When everything was set up, I made lunch and then I just chilled in camp. Sunbathing on the sleeping mat, or chillaxing in the hammock. A boat with a seemingly nude couple headed towards the cape, but when they spotted my camp they turned back again.

(The current fire ban didn’t include camping stoves at the time, but I did soak the ground in water before I used it. Since then the authorities have issued an extended fire ban, which includes camping stoves too.)

I thought about going for a paddle later in the afternoon and evening, but it was so nice to just relax in camp.

The weather got worse in the late afternoon though, and soon the sky was more or less covered in clouds. I made dinner, and then laid in the hammock reading War and Peace on my phone. Apparently I had already read all the books on my eBook reader. Some of the twice.

In the evening the skies cleared up, and the weather was beautiful again, albeit a bit chilly. A boat with a couple of guys anchored just off the cape and spent a couple of hours fishing. They didn’t disturb the peace at all. What did disturb the peace though was the guys running circles on their Jetski a few hundred meters south of my camp. Sounds travel far across the lake, and they just kept at it for a long time. But I don’t have any exclusive right to access the wilderness, so I guess I shouldn’t be annoyed. And eventually they quit and the lake was calm and silent again.

I thought about watching a movie or series on Netflix before I went to bed, but I was too tired and went straight to bed instead. I didn’t sleep too well though, as I have trouble sleeping where ever I am.

The next morning I woke up to clear skies. This was my first solo trip since my winter hike in Stora Mosse in March. I love to bring C along, but I also really value the solitude and the time to just put the brain on pause. I didn’t want to leave the lake, as it was so nice to just chill there.

I made breakfast, and left the camp to explore the lake north of the cape. I found another somewhat suitable campsite, and then paddled to Ferön. There where a bunch of canoes and a lot of tents there, as one or more of the groups that had passed me had set up camp there last night. The island seemed to be great for camping, and I’ll come back here to camp there sometime in the future.

I paddled back to my camp and then took a swim, and packed up. I hesitated to leave, so I took another swim and made lunch before I paddled back. I tried to use my hammock as a sail, but there wasn’t enough wind so it ended up in the lake instead.

I got back to the parking lot, put the canoe on the roof of the car and drove back home.

As for the canoe I’m considering saving up for a different canoe. I’m not too pleased with this one for solo use (and paddling with C is almost like solo use). It’s great for family trips, but it was a lot heavier than advertised by the seller so I didn’t save as much weight as expected when I bought it. Despite being lighter than the old 45kg canoe, and easier to handle with the carrying yoke, I still deem it too heavy for solo use.

I’m still considering the Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga or a Bergans Ally. The Ally has the benefit of being easy to store, and easy to fix if something breaks on a trips. It’s also a lot cheaper than the Saga, since they use to go for around 1000€ in the end of the season. The Saga still ticks all of my boxes though, but it’s too expensive for me. But I still have a picture of it taped on the inside of my bathroom locker (with a list of my goals for visualization ).

In conclusion I had a great trip. The weather we’re having now is perfect for canoe camping trips.

Canoe camping turned car camping

It’s vacation time, and I wanted to take Corinne out for a short canoe camping overnight trip.

Weather had changed for the worse in the last couple of weeks, and there where no more days of 30°C and endless sun. Now the days where filled with clouds, and the temperature rarely exceeded 20°C.

My plan was to drive to Asa, north of Växjö, and paddle for the day in Asasjön and then look for a camp for the night. I planned to start at a camp site that I had found when I hiked Sigfridsleden last year. I drove up pretty early, and we arrived before noon.

Unfortunately this day proved to be really windy. It had been windy in Växjö too, but when I arrived to the lake I realized that I wouldn’t want to paddle with Corinne in those conditions. The waves where pretty high, and the gusts would mean a lot of work to get the canoe to go straight while paddling solo.

I decided to set up a base camp at the camping grounds instead, make short trips on foot in the nearby area, and if the wind died down, paddle a bit later in the afternoon/evening.

20180619_132238893_iOS

We found a nice spot a bit away from the structures on the camp site, where the tent was hidden from the camp site by young trees and bushes. We set up the tent, and this was the first time I used my Tentipi Olivin with an inner.

Once I had the tent up I saw that I had gotten the lines to the top vent tangled when I strapped the inner to the tent, and it took some effort to get it right. My plan at first was to use the inner when I’m camping with Corinne, and only the fly and perhaps a bivy when I’m camping solo. But the top vent adjustment makes the process of adding the inner a very tedious process, and now I think I’ll just leave it as it is.

20180619_142944790_iOS

When the tent was up, and our sleeping gear was unpacked, I put up the hammock closer to the water. But the wind made the hammock act like a sail every time we left it, so I had to unhook it in one end and put it back in the back every time, to not risk damage from the strong gusts.

20180619_112254727_iOS

We fried a few sausages for lunch, and then hung out in the hammock for a while. It was quite cold, and the wind made it even worse. We had our puffy jackets and wind jackets on. It didn’t look like we where going to be able to paddle today.

20180619_123424077_iOS

We started to explore and old trail that followed the shore south from the camping grounds. Sigfridsleden now follows the road away from the place, but I think the overgrown trail is a remnant of the old Sigfridsleden. We crossed a broken down old bridge over a little stream, and came to a nice open area where we sat by the lake for a while, and Corinne passed time by throwing pine cones into the lake.

After a while we hiked back, but stopped once in a while to eat blueberries and wild strawberries that grew at the sides of the trail.

20180619_173958245_iOS

The rest of the day continued with a lot of hammock time, and we both fell asleep in the hammock on one occasion. During the evening we hiked along the shore north of the camping ground, and came to the place where I had camped before a couple of times, and the place where I had my first solo camping.

20180619_183208027_iOS

When we came back to our camp we made dinner by the lake, hung out in the hammock and eventually went inside to go to sleep. Corinne was too exited to sleep though, and didn’t fall asleep until after 22.30.

20180619_194404925_iOS

I’ve been using different types of floorless shelters for over a year now, and have gotten used to it. But I have to say that an inner really adds to a cozy feeling, and it’s nice to get the added wind block in conditions like these. I really don’t like how much weight it adds, but I think I can get used to having an inner. The problem I did see though, with a tipi-style tent, is that there isn’t a vestibule to cook in when it rains. But I think I could just unbuckle the inner on the two sides of the door and move the inner back to get a vestibule for cooking in bad conditions.

The next morning we woke up, had breakfast and then packed up. I hadn’t even unstrapped the canoe from the car roof.

Despite us not being able to paddle anything I was happy with the trip. It’s always nice to get out and to get a night in a tent. Corinne loves the outdoors, and I feel that this is a really good way to bond with the kids, without a lot of distractions.

First canoe camping with my two-year old

My oldest daughter was going to have a party last weekend, and wanted to have the house mostly to herself. My wife was going to be home and supervise, but the rest of us would leave the house. My son went to the best place he knows – his grandparents, and I decided to take Corinne out for a canoe camping trip. This was her first canoe camping trip, but her third two-night trip. I was excited to get out, and to try canoe camping with her.

I had decided to get back to Raslången, where I had camped with Corinne in late April. The three lakes, Halen – Raslången – Immeln is a Mecca for canoeists, and there’s a system of several designated campsites with outhouses, fireplaces, lean-to shelters and firewood. There is a service fee of 50SEK per canoe and night to use it.

I wasn’t to keen on using the designated campsites, as I prefer more secluded areas and more of a wilderness feel than you get on a designated campsite. I didn’t know if I would find anywhere to camp, but I decided to pay afterwards if I’d have to use any of the campsites in the system.

We drove down to Raslången on Friday evening, and parked the car in the southern end of the lake at 17.30. As usual I had planned to get away earlier, but as usual there’s a lot of stuff that need to be done that takes more time than planned.

I parked the car in the shade under a tree, and scouted the area. It was just a short distance to carry the canoe, and I unloaded all the gear before I took Corinne with me down to the lake. We put in our life vests and left the beach.

20180608_154515064_iOS

The weather was beautiful, and it was a warm evening. Pretty soon we came to a narrow area with rocks on both sides, and a bridge across. The bridge is part of Skåneleden/Blekingeleden. The area under the bridge was just wide enough for the canoe to pass.

After the bridge the lake opened up, and we soon came to a cape. Since it was quite late already, I decided to look for a campsite right away. The cape had a prefect place for a tent, and lots of trees to set up the hammock.

20180608_162010396_iOS

I put the tent up, pulled out all of our sleeping gear and hung up the hammock in front of the tent. I have to say, that after this trip I’m really happy with purchasing the hammock. It was worth every cent.

When our camp was all set, we went down to the beach and made dinner. There has been a drought, and there is a fire ban in many areas of the country. This doesn’t include picnic stoves though. I had brought a lot of snacks, but unfortunately I had too much UL-hiker mentality left, so I just brought the Storminstove and homedried food. In the future I’ll bring the Trangia and more canned food when I’m canoe camping and doesn’t have to mind the weight. But we did have a lot of goodies anyways.

20180608_164302260_iOS20180608_165011040_iOS

After dinner we laid in the hammock, watched the sunset, listened to the birds and had a lot of snacks. Life was good. It was really nice to be out in the warm weather, and since this area is far away from both large towns and large roads, it was quiet. No traffic, no sirens or even motorboats. The hammock was a perfect addition to camp life with kids.

20180608_174243574_iOS

We stayed up for quite a while, but eventually went inside to go to sleep. But then we heard a lot of voices, and the sound of paddles baning against aluminum. We opened up the tent, and saw two canoes with four persons passing below us. They seemed pretty young, and where quite loud. Fortunately they continues, and it got quiet again.

Corinne fell asleep at around 22.00, and I fell asleep shortly after. But at 02.00 she woke up, sad and angry, and claimed that the sleeping bag was covered in poop. She had probably had a nightmare, and stood beside the sleeping mat, shaking with frustration and said that she wouldn’t get back into the sleeping bag since there was poop in it. It took half an hour to get her back to sleep, and she fell asleep under my quilt. While we where out on a bathroom break we heard heavy thumps and the cracking of branches behind the tent. We had heard similar sounds throughout the evening, so something probably lived behind us. We never saw what it was though.

Corinne woke up at 05.20 and wasn’t interested in going back to sleep. So it was time to get up for the both of us. We hung out in the hammock for a while before making breakfast and breaking camp.

We continued north on Raslången. Since we had started the day early we took an early break. We found a nice place at a narrow stretch of the lake, and set up the hammock there. We where pretty close to a designated campsite and saw a family that had their camp there.

20180609_070948394_iOS

After the break we continued north again. We passed a few tents here and there. We also heard the Black throated loom cry out across the lake. Corinne is really fascinated by their sounds, so it was nice that we got to hear it again.

When we where closing in on the campsite Västerviks brygga there was a lot of noise and a lot of canoes around the site. The area was completely covered with tents, and a lot of families where camping there. Across the lake was another campsite with lots of people and lots of canoes. This was the least quiet area we passed during the entire trip.

We passed Västerviks brygga and continued along the shore. I scouted for possible campsites for the night, but didn’t find anything. But it was still beautiful to look at the forest from the lake. Corinne, who had slept too little during the night, fell asleep on the sleeping mat in the canoe.

20180609_081640413_iOS

When we came to the northern end of the lake it was time for lunch. We set up our lunch spot right next to a nest of black ants. They where all over the place, but we enjoyed watching them carry our crumbs into their nest. Corinne crumbled pieces of potato chips close to their nest so she could watch them work.

After lunch we continued south again. I hadn’t found any good places at the northern end, and decided to either use a designated campsite in the southern end, or as a very last resort stretch the right of public access and camp at the same cape as last night.

20180609_081711640_iOS

Fortunately though we came across a nice little cape where we could set up our camp. It had a perfect place for a tent, but finding suitable trees for the hammock was a lot more difficult. The trees where either too thick, to close or too far apart. I finally found a place a bit further from the tent than the night before.

20180609_135824194_iOS

When the camp was ready we paddled out to explore the nearby area. We stopped at a few places, and I’ve found a few descent campsites for future trips. We paddled back to our campsite, had dinner and then hung out in the hammock for several hours.

Corinne wanted to know the names of all the trees around us – pine, spruce, birch, oak and juniper. Over and over she asked me, and eventually she remembered the names. The next morning she still remembered all of them except pine. But it might be more due to their location than their characteristics.

20180609_171917125_iOS

When we laid in the hammock two families of Canada geese passed us. They forgot one of their ducklings though, and it swam back and forth in the cove, squealing for its parents for a long time. Eventually the parents heard it and made call sounds, and the little duckling swam to them. One of the families started to make a camp for the night at the beach below our tent. The ducklings crawled up in the bushes, and the parents swam back and forth near the beach. We stood there quiet and watched them for a while. But the parents spotted us and decided follow the other family, so they left our beach.

The place for our campsite was nice, except for the bugs. There where a lot of mosquitoes, and it was swarming of black flies. We went to bed, but now I learned the hard way about the downsides of a floorless shelter in bug season. I started using shelters like these in March last year, and had never had a problem before, but now mosquitoes kept entering the tent, despite me closing the vents. Corinne slept soundly, but I spent the night chasing mosquitoes. I have ordered an inner tent after this.

I felt like a wreck the next morning, and I took a bath to freshen up and to wake up. We had a slow morning, with breakfast and some time in the hammock. Then we packed up and left for the car.

20180610_074420087_iOS

Corinne wanted to paddle more, and got sad when we got to the car. It had been a wonderful weekend, and the canoe is really a perfect way to travel and experience the nature. Especially with a kid since you effortlessly can bring a lot of gear.

Raslången is very popular for canoe camping. The area is beautiful, and even though it’s a bit too crowded for me I’ll come back here again this summer. But next time I’ll bring a stove more suitable for cooking, more food and an inner tent for the Olivin. I’ll also want to explore the larger neighboring lake Immeln.

Family daytrip with the canoe

This year the spring has been better than in a long time. I don’t think I even remember such  warm sunny spring as this.

Almost the entire May the weather has been sunny, with temperatures around 25-30°C. It has only rained on a couple of occasions last month, despite us living in one of the rainiest cities in the country.

Me and my wife decided to go on a canoe trip on the nearby lake Helgasjön. We wanted to be close to water, but do something more than just to lay on the beach. We even got our thirteen year old to join us, which we where happy about.

We drove to Helgö/Jägaregap, where I’ve parked before on the canoe trips I made in September and October last year. When we arrived another family just left the beach in their canoe.

I got the canoe off the roof of the car, we packed it with our food and then left Helgö. My wife sat in the front, I sat in the back and our daughters sat in the middle.

20180603_092511039_iOS.jpg

It was quite windy,  and the waves rocked the canoe a bit. The lake was also filled with motorboats, sailboats and jetskis that created even larger waves as they passed us.

Our destination was Ramsö, where I had camped in October. I knew that there was a small beach in a cove, and we hoped that it wouldn’t be occupied.

As we closed in, we saw a boat slow down, and then leave after a couple of minutes. When we where close enough to see the beach we saw that three girls where already at the beach. We decided to paddle around the island and search for another beach, but we circled the entire island with no luck. Eventually we decided to invade the beach anyways.

20180603_104024987_iOS.jpg

We landed the canoe on one side of the beach and put out our picnic blanket and our food. We started to chat with the girls, and they told us that they had been dropped off earlier, and the guys in the boat where fishing somewhere north of the island.

We had a lunch of baguettes, cream cheeses and cherry tomatoes. Kind of our standard picnic food when we’re too lazy to make real food to bring.

20180603_104611670_iOS.jpg

After a while the boat came back with three guys, and they tied the boat to a tree nearby.

The water was pretty cold, so we didn’t swim, but we did bathe our feet and legs a bit. C was the only one brave enough to dip.

We stayed there for a little more than an hour, and then decided to paddle back, as we had some chores to do. On the way back the soothing waves rocked C to sleep, and she slept in her big sisters arms.

20180603_114332441_iOS.jpg

It was a short but nice trip. The weather is great for canoeing, and I’m glad that both my wife and my oldest daughter joined me.