River paddling and canoe camping

Since I first bought an old used canoe last fall I instantly got hooked on canoe camping. I wanted to get a better, lighter canoe, more suitable for solo use as well as for tandem use. So I’ve been saving up for a new canoe, and had several different ones in mind. Eventually I ended up with a Mad River Explorer 14TT. It’s not the lightest, but it had a good mix of weight, price, durability and low maintenance.

I received it a couple of weeks ago, and instantly wanted to try it out. Despite being winter in Sweden, the temps had been pending around freezing, and I was hoping to be able to do some lake paddling. But when I finally got out on the weekend the lakes where frozen over. I thought about canceling the trip, and go on a short hiking trip instead. But I saw that the flowing waters where still open, and decided to drive to Korrö, south of Växjö, and see if I could do some river paddling in Ronnebyån.

When I got to Korrö I unloaded the canoe from the car, and packed it with my backpack and a sack of firewood. There were quite a lot of people dressed for a party at Korrö. They might have looked at me a little strange. It’s not that common for people to go canoe camping in the middle of winter.

The water levels had risen a lot, and the river had flooded much of the surrounding areas. I put in the canoe in a flooded field, that looked like a small lake. A thin layer of ice covered the water closest to the beach.

I paddled the canoe reverse, sitting in the front seat. The pitch black water was still in the flooded field, but started to flow as soon as I reached where the river was originally. The river went under a road and then continued with fields and forests around it.

It was hard to see where the river was at times. Much of the area was flooded, and I accidentally paddled both through fields, meadows and forests. I had to turn around several times, where I had missed that the river had turned, and just kept paddling straight.

At times, brushes and fallen trees made the passage so narrow that I had to duck or drag the branches to go forward. At the end it felt like I had half the forest in my canoe, in form of broken branches.

I passed over a few fallen logs, and I was a bit worried that my canoe might tip over. But as I passed them, the logs sank down instead. Once in a while my presence scared off birds swimming in the river.

My goal for the day was a camp site about three km south of Korrö. I had been there before, when I hiked Utvandrarleden 2014. It wasn’t a long paddle, but since this was my first river paddling, and I’m still new to solo paddling, I wasn’t sure how well I would be able to paddle the river back upstream.

When I got to the campsite it had been flooded too. 2-3 dm of water covered almost the entire area. There’s a large roofed area covered with tables and benches, that was above water level, but there wasn’t enough room to set up a tent. The grounds around that area was also covered in a layer of ice, with air underneath, from when the water levels where even higher.

My heart sank a bit. I hadn’t found any other suitable camp ground earlier, and I didn’t want to paddle too far down stream before I knew that I was capable of paddling back home again, against the current. I took a break at the camp ground, made lunch and reviewed my options. Eventually I decided to turn back towards the car. I was mentally prepared to call it quits and go back home, but I would still look for somewhere where I might set up my tent during my way back.

Getting away from the camp ground took some effort. The river was pretty fast flowing here, and I had to paddle like crazy to get far enough upstream for it to calm down. After a while I found a good flow in my paddling, and was able to paddle upstream at a steady, albeit slow, pace.

I paddled through the forest and looked for places to camp several times. Every time the grounds where uneven and covered in a layer of ice from previous floods.

Eventually, when I was about 1km from Korrö, I found a narrow stretch of flat, somewhat dry ground. With the flooded fields around it, the place had become an island.

The grounds where still pretty soaked, but it was the best place I could find. I set up my tent and fixed my sleeping gear. I had brought the cheap AliEpress floor, and I’m glad I did. With the grounds being so wet, the floor could stop at least some of the condensation.

When my home away from home was all set up, I started to prepare the fire. I had brought firewood with me, and chopped a couple of pieces to use as a floor to place the rest of the firewood on. Lighting the fire was easy, as I cheated and used a Vaseline drenched piece of cotton. No bushcraft style elite fire starting here.

For this trip I had prepared a piece of meat, potatoes, carrots, red onions and butter that I copped in medium size pieces, wrapped in tin foil and put in the fire, once I had some glowing coals. I turned the package regularly and let it head for about half an hour. It tasted great, and I had a cold beer with it.

I like the ultralight principles of hiking, even though I’m far from a hardcore ultra lighter, and my base weight keeps pending. I like to keep my weight and bulk down and not bring unnecessary stuff even when canoe camping, but I do like he ability to bring more luxurious food and drinks without having to suffer from the weight penalty of having to carry it.

I laid by the fire for quite a long time before I went to bed. The sleeping bag was cozy, and I laid there, watching Netflix offline. I had downloaded a few different movies and series, but I lost interest in all of them after a few minutes. Eventually I watched “Under the arctic sun”, to feed my need for adventure.

I slept pretty good the entire night. But I do toss and turn a lot. Now that I’ve been able to get the three season quilt to work without drafts I’ve been thinking about switching out my winter sleeping bag for a similar quilt instead. But people seem to recommend mummy bags during winter, even in the UL community, so I might stay with the bag.

The next morning it took all my mental strength to be able to open up my sleeping bag and get out into the could wet world outside. With that much air humidity and wet ground, the inside of the tent was covered with condensation, despite that the top vents and the door had been partially open all night. I hadn’t expected anything else it those conditions though.

I made a small fire for making breakfast, made coffee, fried a couple of eggs and grilled a pita bread.

After breakfast I packed up camp. The sleeping bag was quite wet since it had touched the inside of the tent.

I packed up the canoe again and started to paddle the last stretch back to the car. I took a shortcut and paddled across a flooded field. I felt like a swamp man as I stood up in the canoe and used the paddle as a stake to pull myself forward in the shallow waters.

I got back to the car, packed up and left for home at around noon. It turned out to be a nice trip after all, and I like my new canoe. It’s large enough for me to be able to do canoe camping trips with friends or family members but still light and small enough to be able to handle it alone. It’s also relatively cheap. I’d like to have a beautiful cedar strip canoe from Esker Wood, or a lightweight kevlar canoe from Swift Canoe. But for now this is the prefect middle ground that suits my need.

I’ll keep doing canoe trips like these, and when the weather gets warmer I’ll bring my youngest daughter with me too.

See you on the trail, or in the waters!

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Tresticklan – first trip of 2018

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition to go on a hiking-/ camping trip the first week of the year.

This time I had planned to do a two-night trip, and I really wanted to go to Tresticklan National Park as I really like the place, and hadn’t been there since May 2016.

Tresticklan is a ~29km2 National Park in Dalsland, just at the border of Norway. Together with Lundsneset nature reserve on the Norwegian side you have 55km2 of protected lands. The area consists of rift valleys, with vast pine forests, small lakes and ponds and bogs.

I have been in Tresticklan and Lundsneset two times before, and if you like solitude this is the place for you. It’s far away from any larger towns. The closest town is Ed, 15 km south of Tresticklan, with just under 3000 inhabitants. Apart from the occasional airplane passing by, you don’t hear any man made sounds. Being far away from towns also means that there aren’t that many visitors, at least in my experience.

I had taken a few days off from work, left the youngest kids at my parents and in laws so that my wife wouldn’t be left alone with the young tornadoes but also get some lone time, and left home early on Thursday morning.

The weather changed between rain, sleet and snow, and it was a 6 hour drive to get there. I can’t say I enjoy having to drive so far alone, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be common (and affordable).

I got up to Tresticklan around 14.00. There was a small uphill from the main road to the road leading to the parking lot. The uphill was covered in ice, and my car slid down on the main road again. But with enough gas, and having the left wheels a bit in the ditch, I could get enough grip to get up the hill. The road wasn’t plowed though, and I almost ended up in the ditch a couple of times, even though I drove carefully.

When I came to the parking lot my car was the only one there. It was cloudy and snowing, and there was quite a lot of snow on the ground. The temperature was just below freezing, so the snow was quite wet. I put on my rain gear before I left the parking lot.

I knew from my earlier trips that it’s hard to find campsites for tents here. The rift valleys makes it hard to find level ground, and when you do, the ground is often to shallow to peg a tent, with rocks just underneith.

I hiked the trail west towards Lundsneset, and then turned south on western end of the circle trail in the middle of the park. I had camped here during my last trip, but I couldn’t find the location in the snow. I lost track of the trail several times, since it was covered in snow, and wet snow had stuck to the trees, covering the trail markings.

It was getting dark fast, and eventually I felt that I couldn’t keep hiking any longer, and had to set up camp somewhere. I left the trail and hiked straight up a hill, and found what looked like a somewhat flat place, with lots of undergrowth. I tried to compress the snow and the undergrowth to make it somewhat level, and set up the tent. It wasn’t level by any means. I had to put my sleeping pad in the wrong (shorter) direction in the tent, and stow my backpack and clothes under one side of the sleeping pad to make it level enough not to roll off it.

There was a heavy snow fall with wet snow, and I started to make dinner. I’ve seen one of the people I follow on Instagram bring premade rice porridge on her trips, and I had to try it, and brought it with me this time. I was a bit tired since I had barely slept the night before, and made just rice porridge and glüewine for dinner.

I had brought a twig stove with me. There is a fire ban in the park, but I had asked the authorities about it before the trip, and a twig stove was ok. But you’re not allowed to break any branches from neither living nor dead trees, which left me with already fallen twigs laying on the ground. Since everything was covered in wet snow I didn’t even bother. I used my gas canister stove, but since I had brought cheap gas it didn’t work well in the cold, and I had to hold the canister in my hands to keep it warm enough to give a flame. Next time I’ll be smart enough to bring either Primus Winter gas or my Multifuel stove.

Bringing rice porridge is far from UL, but it was super delicious. After dinner I crawled into my sleeping bag and watched Bright on Netflix. I didn’t sleep well, as the sleeping pad still wasn’t level, and it was pretty uncomfortable. I also think I might have set up camp on, or near someone’s toilet. There was a slight smell of… poop. But I was too tired and it was too dark and snowy outside for me to wanna move camp.

Next morning I tried to find the source of the smell after I broke camp, but didn’t find it. I was prepared for a nasty surprise under my floor, but fortunately it was clean.

After breakfast I kept hiking south. In the southernmost part of the circle trail there is another trail that leads down to the southern end of Tresticklan. I hadn’t been in the southern parts before, and decided to go as far south as I could before 13.00, and then turn back. I had planned to get back home early on Saturday, and wanted the next camp to be pretty close to the parking lot.

It was a lot of snow here, and sometimes it was knee deep. It was hard to follow the “trail” and I lost track of it several times.

At around 12.30 I made lunch at the shore of the lake Stora Pylsan. I took my time, enjoyed the solitude, and then turned back north. The forest was beautiful, with snow covered trees, freshly formed ice on the lakes and the tranquility you get when no other humans are around. I walked around with a big smile on my face, and really enjoyed my time there.

When I came back to the circle trail I followed my foot steps back towards the trail to Lundsneset, and then back towards the parking lot. When I came to a section between the lakes Lilla- and Stora Tresticklan i left the trail and hiked up a hill. There I found a perfect campsite, and was able to make a perfect pitch of my tent (unlike the night before).

It had been getting colder during the day, and I put on my fleece, down jacket, wind jacket and my down booties. Boiling water was a pain, and my fingers got numb from trying to heat up the gas canister. Despite me having under my jacket to keep it warm. I was however able to make dinner eventually. I also boiled water to keep in a bottle wrapped in socks as a radiator in my sleeping bag.

I went to bed and slept quite well during the night. As so often, I woke up around 4-5 o’clock, feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and went back to sleep. I think the temperatures dropped down to around -7 to -8°C during the night.

When I woke up I really had to struggle mentally to make myself leave the comfortable warm sleeping bag and get outside in the cold. I did it gradually, and boiled coffee while still in the sleeping bag. I had brought Growers Cup coffee, which tastes really good, and can be reused. I had brought one, and the refilled it with regular coffee during the trip.

I left camp around 9.30, and hiked through the forest in beautiful weather. I could see the sky for the first time this trip, and the air was really crisp and cold.

I walked the last stretch back to the car, and at the parking lot I met three peoplewith a dog, that was going to do a short day hike. My footsteps had been the only once I’d seen in the park, which means that during my time there I’d had 55km2 of beautiful forest all to myself. I really wish I could get back here more and I would have loved to stay here a couple of more nights.

It was a great start of the year, and I hope it only gets better.

A summary of 2017

In a post in December last year I wrote about my plans for 2017.

I had a plan to get out on at least one overnighter each month of the year. I almost made it, but stumbled on the finish line, as I didn’t get out in November. But I did get out on a total of 16 trips, with car camping trips, canoe camping trips and hiking trips combined. I also tried social hiking for the first time , with the C2C Sweden, and really enjoyed it.

Another plan for 2017 was to spend 10% of the nights (36-37 nights) in a tent. I didn’t make this goal either, but I did spend 29 nights outside, which is a record for me so far.

I’ve made a few day hikes with my youngest daughter, and also a few overnighters, both with her alone and with the rest of the family. She has spent 11 nights outdoors during the summer and early fall.

When it comes to food, I did try a few other things than the regular freezer bag cooking. But much of the change came with me starting to do canoe camping trips, where weight wasn’t an issue. While hiking I wont be carrying that much heavy fresh food.

Buying a canoe was also a goal of mine, which I succeeded with. I bought a used, cheap heavy fiberglass canoe, and I loved canoe camping from the start. Since I’ll be paddling solo 99% of the time I needed a lighter canoe. The one I bought weighted 45kg and didn’t have a carrying yoke. I sold it, and got all my money back. With the new canoe I went back and forth between many different options; foldable, cedar strip, aluminum etc. But in the end I decided to buy a Mad River Explorer 14TT. I do love the cedar strip canoes from Esker, but they’re too expensive for me, and I think this one will be a great priceworthy canoe. I’ve prebooked it, and will order it in January.

Other than these goals I also had plans to be more active on the blog, to start making movies and to work on getting a hiking trail around Helgasjön.

  • The blog has gotten a lot more readers, but I haven’t been as active as I want to be. Especially this fall.
  • When it comes to movies I actually made a short one from an overnighter that I didn’t publish. And I thought that it took to much effort and focus from enjoying the serenity of nature while hiking, so I didn’t follow through with it.
  • When it comes to getting a hiking trail around Helgasjön, I’ve contacted local authorities a couple of times, and tried to get a public interest by writing about it at the local outdoor Facebook group. But so far it’s been a dead end. I haven’t given up yet though, and plan to contact other organizations to see if I can get it done through volunteer work and donations.

Despite not reaching my goals I’m happy with the outdoor year 2017. I’ve been out a lot of trips. I’ve changes tents two times and finally found “the one” with the Tentipi Olivin. I finally bought a canoe.

I hope next year will bring a lot more for me and I can’t wait for the outdoor year 2018 to start.

Happy new years everyone!

First canoe camping trip

A few weeks ago I finally took the plunge and bought a canoe. As I’ve written before I have a crush on the Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga. I think that it’s a work of art, and I really want to buy one in the future. I’ve also thought about buying a Bergans Ally, a foldable canoe, since I hardly have room to store a canoe at home, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But to be able to get out right away I bought a cheep used fiberglass canoe. It’s heavy, and doesn’t look nearly as good as the Esker Wood, but I was able to buy it right away and it will get me out paddling until I can buy a better canoe.

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First time with my canoe, with the island Lilla Jägareås in the middle of the photo
Last weekend I took it on a trip for the first time. I drove out to Helgö in Helgasjön, where I’ve camped a lot of times before. I put the canoe in the lake on the eastern shore of Helgö, near the parking lot at the edge of Jägaregap nature reserve.

Getting the canoe up on the roof of my car by me self was an adventure on it’s own. But I was able to get it both up and down without damaging the canoe or my car.

At Helgö I put the canoe in the water and packed it with my gear. I had heavier gear than when I’m hiking, with firewood and a lot more food. I might as well, since I wasn’t going to carry it.

I didn’t know how good I’d be at paddling by my self, but I had watched a lot of YouTube clips before I went out, and used the J-stroke to be able to paddle straight.

It was really nice to get out paddling, even thought the weather wasn’t great. Skies where covered in clouds, and eventually it started to rain slightly.

I paddled along the eastern shore of Helgö / Jägaregap, and passed the cape where Corinne and I had camped with the Outdoor life Växjö Facebook group.

Jägaregap nature reserve continues past the cape, on a long narrow island called Lilla Jägareås. I passed the island on the eastern side and reached the northern shore of Helgasjön on the cove Skräddareluckan. This was where I had camped in January, and I had planned to set up camp here now too.

I couldn’t find it at first, since I had walked on foot from the opposite direction last time, but eventually I got to the right place.

In January, when it was -10°C to -19°C, without leafs on the trees, the place was beautiful. In September, on a wet rainy afternoon, not so much. Everything was wet, and the dense vegetation would make it a condensation nightmare. Not the best if you’re using a single wall tent.

I got back in the canoe and paddled on. I kept paddling east along the northern shore of the lake, and eventually I came upon a small beach, with a fire ring and lots of flat grass covered ground to pitch my tent on.

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My camp on Ferön
But just before I got to shore I looked towards the island Ferön, east of the beach. It looked like there was a campsite there, with a nice open area to pitch a tent on. I’d rather sleep on an island than on a public beach, even though no one would be there, so I took aim for Ferön.

On Ferön I found a fire ring and a few logs to sit on. There was a nice place to set up my tent too. I had bought a Tentipi Olivin recently, and this was the first time I used it.

I set up the tent and started a fire. I had brought fire wood from home, so starting a fire was easy, despite everything being wet around me. But once the fire was going I collected some more firewood from the fallen trees in the forest.

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Dinner with a view
I started to make dinner, and I had brought Bifteki that I fried in a pan. I fried a Somun bread too, and filled it with Ajvar, cream fraise and Bifteki. I’m glad no one was with me, because I didn’t look pretty when I devoured it, but it was really delicious.

I kept collecting firewood and sat by the fire for the rest of the evening. Eventually I went into my tent and laid under my quilt watching a downloaded episode of Narcos on Netflix.

When I laid there, relaxed and at peace, I felt a little tickle on my arm. I saw something (big!), brushed it off, and saw it laying on my CCF-mat. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was, but then I saw that it was a European Garden Spider. To me it looked huge and I killed it with a mad frenzy. As I’ve written before I have a bug phobia. I thought I had gotten past it but apparently not. I kept looking at it and I started to feel tickles all over my body. I used my head lamp to search through the entire tent to make sure nothing else was crawling around near my sleeping mat.

I’m not proud of it, but for a while there I thought about packing up and paddle back home. Or to stay up by the fire for the rest of the night. But then I pulled my self together. If I was to cave in now, I might never get rid of my phobia. And I thought of all the bushcrafters who sleep under a tarp in these woods, and of Ashely Hill, who even sleeps in the desert without a bivy or a bug net, and thought to my self that I really had nothing to worry about. And it worked. I slept soundly throughout the night.

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Breakfast for champions

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Making breakfast

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My Tentipi Olivin
The next morning I stayed in bed for a long time before I finally got up. When I got up I chopped up a piece of birch that I had brought from home and started the fire again. I made bacon and eggs, and ate the last Somun bread with it.

Once I had eaten I let the fire die down while I packed up my gear. I put out the rest of the fire with water from the lake, packed the canoe and headed back home again.

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Going back home
It was a great trip. I really liked canoe camping. You can pack heavier items without reducing comfort, and it’s really nice to be out on a lake and to be able to camp on an island that you’re alone on.

When it comes to gear I used the Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny quilt that I wrote about in my Ultralight and ultracheap post. I bought for my family, but I wanted to try it by my self, and it was warm an cozy enough for a September trip. I think they’re well worth the money. I also used the Tentipi Olivin for the first time. I really liked it. It’s heavier than my Ultamid, but it has a really nice venting system, I like the snow mats and I like the possibility to use a fire inside (with caution off course). I guess it doesn’t make sense to keep both the Ultamid and the Olivin, so I might end up selling one of them. My wife just rolls her eyes when she hears me talking about a new tent 😄.

When it comes to the canoe, I have mixed feelings. I like the fact that it is a canoe, and that it’s my canoe. But I think it’s too heavy since I’ll be using it by my self most of the times. And to be honest, I don’t really have enough room at home to store it well. But we’ll see what the future brings. I’ll buy either a Bergans Ally or an Esker Wood canoe.

A food heavy overnighter

The week after me and Corinne had joined Outdoor Life Växjö on their overnighter on Jägaregap, we went on another overnighter with my friend Tomas and his two kids. They’re a couple of years older than Corinne, but they seemed to get along ok anyways. Even though the other kids saw Corinne as the “baby”.

Tomas often camp out with his kids, either in a tent or in a caravan. We had decided to go to Lerike/Skälsnäs, and I drove first to show the way. The far edge of Lerike had been my starting point for a couple of my earlier trips. This time though there wouldn’t be any bushwhacking involved, but instead we would use the open area next to the lean-to shelter for our tents.

Spacious living for one adult and a small child

Wise from the week before I packed a lot of food this time. Sausages, buns, Krabbelur-batter, brie, chevacici, bread-mix etc.

We pitched our tents and started a fire in the fire ring next to the shelter. The kids where really enjoying themselves, running around, climbing on the shelter or throwing rocks into the lake.

Frying Krabbelurer

I started to make Krabbelurer. They’re sort of like American pancakes, and after you’ve fry them you cover them with sugar and cinnamon.

After eating Krabbelurer Tomas and his kids went fishing. I put some sausages on the grill for Corinne, and some Chevapcici for me. Corinne had rain boots on, but she pulled them off every chance she got. Eventually she filled them with water when she walked too far out into the lake.

A campfire and a tipi tent. Doesn’t get much better than that

The week before Dario, the founder of the outdoor group made Cevapcici with Ajvar, cream fraise and chopped onion in Somun bread. It looked delicious, so that’s what I made for me this evening. It was ok, but I didn’t like the seasoning on the Chevapcici, and decided to bring Bifteki next time instead.

Corinne looking over Helgasjön during the blue hour

The kids where running around in full speed during the evening. Eventually I thought it was time to put Corinne to bed. I put her down on her sleeping mat and stayed next to her for a while. I left the tent while she was still awake. She called for me a couple of times, but stayed in bed and fell asleep quietly.

Tomas and his kids watched a Disney movie on the iPad in their tent while I sat by the fire. When Tomas’s kids had fallen asleep too, he came out and joined me by the fire. He had brought a couple of beers, and we both sat by the fire, drinking the cold beers.

It was really nice and soothing. Tomas went to sleep and I stayed up a while. It was really nice to sit alone by the fire, with a cold beer and no sounds other than the once from the fire and the lake.

It was really nice to chill by the fire when the kids had gone to sleep

When I woke up the next day Tomas was already up, and the fire was already going.

Tomas boiled coffee and I made flatbread

I fried eggs and bacon, made a couple of Krabbelurer from the left-over batter, had a Growers cup coffee and made flatbread from my bread-mix. It was a nice breakfast. A lot better than the porridge-mix I usually have on the trail. I felt like I really could get used to this kind of camping. We stayed for a couple of hours after breakfast to let the fire die down and the condensation dry out from the tents. A short but great trip, and I can’t wait to get back out again.

Overnighter with the local Facebook outdoor group

The last weekend in August I brought Corinne with me on an overnighter with the local Facebook outdoor group.

I’ve been a member of this group for a while, and they do overnighters together, but every time I’ve planned to join something came up.

This overnighter was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip, and I thought that it would be perfect to bring Corinne to this. The location was Jägaregap nature reserve, on the far edge of Helgö, just north of Växjö.

I had a hard time deciding which tent I should bring, but eventually I brought the Helsport Nordmarka 6. It’s less than a kilometer from the parking lot to the far edge of Jägaregap, and with Corinnes history of being rough on gear I’d rather take the cheaper and more abrasive resistant Nordmarka.

Since we didn’t have to worry to much about weight I also brought a bag of firewood, real coffee and sausages and buns.

When we arrived there where already three guys there. They where the once who usually hike together during the group hikes.

Our camp (look closely and you’ll see our Nordmarka behind the trees)

More people joined during the evening, even though they weren’t going to spend the night there. Dario, the founder of the outdoor group, brought his wife and his daughter too.

We had a fire, and spent most of evening chatting and eating. I’m more used to hiking style camping than “fat camping” as the other guys called it. I had brought too little food, but the other guys shared both good beverages, food and cheese. It was a big difference from my usual trips, where I hike solo all day long, eats homedried food straight out of the bag and then just passes out in the tent with acing muscles. But I liked it. I usually never have a camp fire, but a fire really adds to the comfort.

It’s always fun to throw rocks into the lake

Corinne was exited about everything, and it took a long time for her to wind down and be ready for sleep. Eventually she fell asleep in my arms when I left the fire and walked back and forth on the trail in the dark. I put her down on her sleeping mat and wrapped the quilt around her. She slept soundly the entire night.

One of the guys had brought “Varm och kall” (Hot and cold), that you could serve either cooled or heated. He heated it over the fire and shared it with everyone. It was really nice on the chilly evening.

Eventually we all went to sleep. I had left the top vent open on the Nordmarka. Unfortunately it started to rain during the night. It took a couple of heavy downpours for me to wake up enough to realize that I had to close the vent.

When I woke up the next morning I saw that a lot of water had rained in before I closed the vent, and I had a big puddle on the floor. Fortunately though, the floor leaned away from our sleeping gear, so nothing had gotten wet.

We had breakfast and I tried Growers cup coffee for the first time. It was a lot better than the freeze dried instant coffee I use to have. A good thing is that you can dry the bag, fill it up with new coffee and reuse it again. Good for both the environment and the wallet. After breakfast we packed up and left, as we had to be back home early.

It was nice to get out on a trip and meet some new people. It was also nice to try new ways of hiking and camping. And I think I really like this food heavy “fat camping”. But I’ll try to combine it more with canoe camping, as the canoe makes it possible to pack heavier if you’re not going to do any portages.

 

Summer of car camping – West coast and Scania

West coast and Norway

After Gotland we went on another car camping trip to the west coast, and also spend a day on the roads in Norway.

Our first stop was at the ski resort Isaberg, in Hestra in Småland. It’s a small hill, but they still have some slopes and get their fair share of tourists. During the summer months they have mountain bike trails, an obsticle course 10 meters up in the trees and other stuff like that. We took a break there for a few hours so the kids could play.

After that we continued west. We used Vindskyddskartan to search for campsites. It’s a map that shows lean-to shelters in Sweden.

We found a place at Hyssnaleden that we could drive all the way up to. It was a really well tended campsite, with a lean-to shelter, several fire rings, firewood and a lot of flat ground to pitch our tent.

Campsite at Hyssnaleden

We pitched our Lavvu and started a fire. Just moments after the shelter was set up it got covered with flying ants. They were really crawling all over the place. Some of them managed to get inside the tent too, despite the mosquito net.

It was nice to have a fire, but once I started it I remembered that there might be a fire ban, which is common during the summer months. We searched high and low but couldn’t fin any info about it. But just to be safe we led the fire die out.

The next day we drove past Tjolöholms castle, and then drove to Marstrand. Marstrand was a really well tended place just north of Gothenburg, below the old fortress Carlstens fästning. It felt like a place for sailing enthusiasts.

Marstrand from the boat

After Marstrand we drove to the island Tjörn to try to find a place to set up camp. We drove down a lot of roads, but there were houses everywhere, and eventually we gave up. We looked at Vindskyddskartan and found a place outside Ljungskile that looked promising. It was a 500 meter walk from the parking lot, but it was a nice place just next to a lake. After we’d set up the camp I drove to Ljungskile and bought pizzas. It was glamping at it’s finest.

Skärsjön near Ljungskile

The next day we drove to Norway to look at Heddal Stave church. From the pictures it looked amazing, sort of like something from Rohan in Lord of the rings. When we finally got there though, we where disappointed by how small it was. Nevertheless, it was still beautiful.

Heddal stave church
Heddal stave church

We found a nice campsite next to a river near the church, but thought it was too early to set up camp so we kept going to find another place. We ended up not finding anywhere to camp, and finally we decided to go back home instead. All of us where starting to get a cold, and it felt like the best plan. The family slept in the car and I drove back. By 03.30 we were back in Växjö.

The camping was nice, but it is harder to find good spots with your car than it is when you’re hiking.

 

Scania

A few days after we were back from the last trip we went to Scania. We where going to Ven, a small island in Öresund between Sweden and Denmark. The danish scientist Tycho Brahe built a castle and an observatory on the island in the 16th century. Ven is a popular place for bicycle tourists. But it is a small island, and you bike through everything in less than a day. Most visitors rent bikes on Ven, and you’ll see their yellow bikes all over the island.

We drove to Landskrona harbor where we got on the ferry. We had pre-booked tickets, but there was a long line of people waiting for the boat.

Ferry to Ven

When we arrived we walked up a steep road to get the renal bikes.

A bicycle path on Ven

We spent the day biking around the island and looking for Geocaches. We couldn’t find all of them though.

The weather turned for the worse during the day

It was a beautiful island, and a nice bicycle trip. But I don’t think we’ll get back here again. You get to see most of the island in just a couple of hours, and it was packed with tourists.

After we took the ferry back to the mainland we drove north of Helsingborg to look for a place to sleep. Using Vindskyddskartan we found a place near the ocean. There was a “No camping” sign at the parking lot, but no information that it would be forbidden on the Skåneleden website that otherwise has info on campsites where it’s forbidden to pitch a tent. We met a few people at the lean-to shelter, who said more people had asked about the sign that evening. They had called the local authorities and apparently it was OK to camp near the shelter. The sign was more intended for motor-homes on the parking lot, she explained.

A really nice view to fall asleep to

We put up our tent and had a nice evening overlooking the sunset and the ocean. A few other tents where pitched around us, one of them a Helsport Nordmarka just like ours.

The next morning we took the ferry to Helsingør on the Danish side of Öresund. We had planned to spend the day there, but the rain was really pouring down, so we soon ended up driving home instead.

This was the last car camping trip for the summer. What I like about car camping is that you can bring heavier gear, bigger tent and better food with you. The downside is that it can be hard to find good places to set up camp.

Summer of car camping – Gotland

In my post about my hiking plans this year I had loosely planned to go to Femundsmarka this summer, hopefully with my family. We never ended up doing that, but we enjoyed some nights in a tent anyways, as we went on a few car camping trips during the summer.

Before the first trip we decided to upgrade from our old, broken, butt ugly four person camping tent to a six person tipi. XXL had a sale on tents just before we went, and we bought the Helsport Nordmarka 6, which is a relatively cheap Lavvu that Helsport makes specifically for XXL. It’s spacious with 250cm of head room and a diameter of 450cm. And you could even have an open fire inside. We bought a floor to it too. I thought my wife would have issues with it since it’s not an enclosed two wall tent, and she has an even worse bug phobia than I do. But in the end she was the one who pressed on about buying it instead of our old one to get more space since we’re a family of five now.

Trip one – Gotland

This was a pretty spontaneous trip, and we bought the boat tickets just a couple of days before our trip. Gotland’s is Swedens largest island, and located in the Baltic Sea. The island capital is Visby, an UNESCO world heritage site. A lot of the houses from the middle ages are still well preserved, and the ring wall still surrounds the old parts of the town.

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Waiting to get on the boat

We took the boat from Oskarshamn, and buying the tickets late meant going on the night boat. The boat left at around midnight, and arrived in Visby at 03.00 in the morning. Despite being at an unholy hour the boat was still packed with people. Gotland is a popular place for tourists. I had planned to sleep on the boat over, but my youngest daughter refused to go to sleep, so I stayed awake the entire trip.

When we arrived to Visby we started driving north, towards the nature reserve Hall-Hangvar. It was the only nature reserve I could find that allowed wild camping, and I had looked up a spot before our trip.

It was a 40 minute drive, and we found a nice spot with a great view a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot. When we arrived the sun had already come up. There were steep cliff near the camp site, so we knew we had to keep an eye on the youngest kids.

I set up the Lavvu and we all went to sleep. It was really quick and easy to set it up. Unfortunately there was an ants nest nearby, and my wife had some ants crawling on her face during the night (morning). She was cool about it though.

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Just set up the tent, with a great view of the ocean
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My kids enjoying flat bread for breakfast

We slept for six hours and packed up again. I wanted to check for a place to stay the next night, and we drove further up north in Hall-Hangvar to find a spot, before we continued. My wife wanted to do a lot of Geocaching, so we spent a lot of time on the trip to do that.

After driving around the norther part of the main island we went back to Hall-Hangvar in the evening. We had found a nice spot just by the ocean, where we could park the car just next to our tent. By now the good weather had turned for the worse, and by the time we set up our tent it started to rain. There wasn’t anything blocking the wind either, so the wind blew hard. I used all the guy lines on the tent, and also put some rocks on the storm mats to keep the breeze out.

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The ocean wasn’t as idyllic as the first night
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View from our tent

It rained a lot during the night, so we had to keep the top vent closed. But the wind kept condensation at bay, and we had a dry night inside.

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We had better weather the next day

This day we went to the Blue lagoon, an old water filled limestone quarry. The water was really beautiful, and it was packed with people. But it was cold and really windy when we arrived, so we decided that we wouldn’t bathe there.

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The blue lagoon

We also took the boat to Fårö, an island just north of Gotland. It’s a short boat trip, and the boat is free of charge. We drove around the island and stopped in the north at a field of “raukar” in a nature reserve. Raukar is a form of lime stone formations that are spread out on Gotland and Öland.

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Fårö
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A rocky beach, with raukar in the background

This night we drove to an organized camping in Slite, on the eastern side of Gotland. We wanted to take showers and freshen up, so we thought it would be worth the money to pay for a camp site.

The day after we drove around to different spots and did some Geocaching. We saw a lot of beautiful old churches, and basically all of them had Geocaches nearby.

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Lärbro church

We also went to Bunge museum. It wasn’t a traditional museum, but rather a large open space outside where they had built farms from the bronze age up to the 19:th century, and the kids could roam free there. I was amazed that most of the tools could lay open in the houses without people steeling it. One of the staff told me that they fortunately had only had a few things stolen over the years, but most stuff was allowed to be left alone. She told me that there was a similar museum in UK where they had to glue everything to the tables and shelves to keep them from getting stolen.

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Melissa made traditional flat bread at Bunge museum

In the afternoon we stopped at another field of raukar, but when we were going to leave the car wouldn’t start. Electricity in the car worked fine, but nothing happened with the engine. Not even with start cables.

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Melissa and Midas at the field of raukar

Eventually we able to pull-start the car with the help of a passing car with a tow-line (I have a manual gear box). We then drove back to Visby where we parked the car outside a Toyota workshop, left a note in the wind shield and dropped the keys in the key-slot. After a lot of calling we finally found a hotel that had an emergency apartment that we could rent for the night. Apparently we had gone to Gotland during the Stockholm-week. The annual week when all the rich and famous from Stockholm travel to Visby to party, so basically all hotels where fully booked.

The next morning the mechanics called, and told us that the start engine had gotten stuck somehow. . He also showed us how to sort of jump start it, if it was to happen again. We spent the end of the last day on a beach, and camped in Hall-Hangvar again during the night. We parked at the same place as the first night, but carried our gear down to the nearby beach instead. We had a nice camp in the sunset.

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A nice ending to the trip

I would have liked to see more of Visby, but the car trouble had brought too much stress on my son, who has Downs syndrome and is very sensitive to sudden changes like these. We decided to drive around a lot instead, as the car and the tent was his familiar place.

The morning after we woke up early and took the morning boat back to the mainland. We really liked Gotland, and will get back here in the future. Finding good camp sites with the car was harder than we thought though since theres a lot of houses everywhere. But Hall-Hangvar had a couple of nice places.

Gear

When it comes to gear I was really satisfied with our Lavvu, except a couple of small details. The pegs where regular folded tin, which is heavy and bends easily. The 18 pegs weighs in at almost a kilo. I ordered 18cm aluminum tripegs on AliExpress instead, that weighs 300g in total. The center pole is also made of regular steel, and weighs a whopping 1,8 kg. I’ve ordered one in aluminum for one of Helsports more expensive tents. It’s five cm to long, but I will saw it down to the right size. In only weighs 1 kg. Even though we only plan to use the tent on car-, bike- or canoe trips I still like to keep the weight as low as possible. Other than the things mentioned above I liked the tent. It’s really roomy, handles wind well, feels durable  and is easy to set up. It’s also fairly cheap.

For sleeping we had self inflatable sleeping mats, except me, who had a CCF-mat. I didn’t want to use my expensive fragile Exped mat when camping with the kids, since they are pretty rough on the gear. My wife and oldest daughter had comfortable 38mm thick mats, but the younger kids had old uncomfortable 20mm thick mats. My youngest daughter and my wife used the Wind Hard Tiny quilt and the Aegismax G1 sleeping bag. We liked them, so we ended up buying two more so we would have light down bags and quilts for the entire family. We also ordered two more self inflatable sleeping mats, Multimat Adventure 38, and sold the two uncomfortable “self inflating” 20mm mats.

For food and water we had a large Trangia 25 stove set that we’ve had ages, a cooler that you could connect to the 12v outlet in the car and a 20l water can with a tap. It was nice to be able to bring heavy canned food, instead of just dried food like when you’re backpacking.

I’ll soon post more trip reports from the two other car camping trips we did this summer.

 

Sarek in August; Part 7

Day 8

We woke up early, and by 08.30 we were almost done packing. This days planned route was over the plains, hiking north of the mountain Njunjes and then camp near Gidátjårro, just above the timber line. After a rough calculation I figured it would be something like 15km.

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There’s something special about snow covered mountains

After an hours hike, we took a break. By then we had hiked approximately 4km. We took aim at Bastoajvve, a mountain just north of Skierffe, and hiked across the plains. Our goal was to cross the stream Ábbmojåhkå before it became too wide and fast flowing. As we came closer, the ground became more and more wet, and eventually my feet were soaked.

We came to Ábbmojåhkå just before 11.00, and I found a place that looked shallow, and the currents didn’t look so bad. I started to ford Ábbmojåhkå, but the water was deeper and the currents more powerful than I thought. When I was halfway over the water was up on the upper half of my thighs, and the currents was about to knock me over several times. Fredrik just shook his head, and decided not to go over there, but proceeded up Ábbmojåḧkå to find a better place to cross instead. After crossing the stream we were back in Sarek.

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Fording Ábbmojåhkå (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)
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It’s getting deeper (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We continued up to Njunjes, and ate lunch on the mountainside after we passed a locked Sámi hut as we exited Sarek again.

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Ábbmojåhkå

After we’d lunch, we continued to go, and after a while a herd of around 60 reindeer came in front of us on the ridge line above us. They started to walk towards us, and when they were 10-20 meters away, they split up in a half circle and passed us on both sides and closed the circle behind us. It was a cool feeling to be in the middle of the herd as it passed us. I thought I was filming but I had accidentally double clicked my phone so I ended up with one second when they were closing in, and just filmed as they had already passed us.

We continued upwards towards Njunjes, and since we had hiked faster than we anticipated we decided to continue all the way to the car.

We walked straight up on the top Doaresoajvve, and even though it’s not a large top, it still offered some great views.

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Not the highest peak, but still great views
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Fredrik on Doaresoajvve

The hike up on the north western side was a piece of cake. The way down on the east side, however, was much steeper. There was also snow that we needed to get through to get down. I kicked in footsteps into the snow, but ended up with my ass down and slid straight towards the sharp stones below. I managed to get down without damage. However, the snow was covered with reindeer poop. When I looked up I saw a two meter long ass-shaped poop-brown track that went down towards the rocks. I had reindeer poop over my pants, backpack and hiking poles. I heard Fredrik saying a silent “Hell no” to himself, and he looked for another way down.

After the steep passage with the snow we had some easy walking again. We were soon to cross Kungsleden, and could see a group of hikers having a break on the trail.

We crossed Kungsleden and continued east. After a while we turned north to reach the trail that was just below the timber line in Ultevis fjällurskogs naturreservat. We reached the trail and thought that it would be an easy quick hike back to the car. It wasn’t. In the end it felt like a death march, and we were both tired and sore. We regretted that we hadn’t stopped on Doaresjoajvve instead of forcing our selfs like this. But once you’ve set your mind into going home, and eating real food, it’s hard to change it.

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Down below timer line for the first time in a week

When we finally reached the car at around 18.30, we filled up on water, and changed clothes. I was able to get somewhat clean with water and wet wipes. When I draw our route on my Fjällkartan app it turned out that we had hiked approximately 40km.

We drove to Jokkmokk and bought chicken- and gyros rolls. I’m sure they weren’t the best ones out there, but right then they tasted like heaven.

We kept driving for a few hours, and around 22.00 we just settled for the first open space we could find. A gravel spot in a clear cut. It was the worst camp site ever, and we would have been flooded if it had rained. It was a bad end to a good trip. First hiking like we were escaping death, and then end up camping on in a gravel pit.

The next day we drove to Bollnäs and enjoyed the hospitality of Fredriks grandmother, before driving the last ~700km back home the day after that.

Final thoughts

I had a really great trip, and I definitely have to come back to Sarek again. Was I disappointed that we didn’t go the route we had planned? Yeah, maybe a little. It was nice to do more of a camping than hiking type of trip. And I really needed to learn how to take breaks, since I often push myself hard while hiking. But I did get a little bored with camp life after a while. And I would have liked to see more of the inner Sarek.

In the end I’m pleased with the trip and I had a great time. I’m also glad that I finally got the quilt to work without having cold drafts, and it was nice to try the HMG Ultamid in harsh conditions.

I hope this trip report has been interesting, and I’ll post a post-hike gear review later on.

Sarek in August; Part 6

Day 7

I slept relatively well all night long, despite the hard winds outside the tent. I woke up every now and then, and noticed that there was less and less air left in the sleeping mat. I thought it might be a small hole in it, but was too tired to get up and check for it. In the end it had leaked so much air that I had to check it. When I looked at the valve, I saw that the inflate valve was open, and remembered that the straps for the quilt had stuck when I put it on the sleeping mat. The check valve was the only thing that had prevented the air from leaking too quickly. I inflated it again, closed the valve and went back to sleep. It kept the air for the rest of the night.

We got up before 08.00, and at 09.30 we left the campsite after restoring the camp site and dismantling the stone walls we built around our tents as wind blocks.

We hiked back over Alep Válak and passed the Sámi hut again. A large herd of reindeer were grazing near the hut, but slowly moved south when we where closing in. As soon as we came below Alep Válak, the wind died down. The weather also improved, even though we saw dark clouds beyond the mountains.

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Hiking in the outskirts of Sarek
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Me in the outskirts of Sarek (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We hiked on the slopes of the mountain Tjålle, on the eastern side of the stream that marks the border to Sarek. We had now exited Sarek, and from what I can gather, the lands we where in now were neither a national park nor a nature reserve.

We planned to round Tjålle, and look for a camp site between Tjålle and Skämmabákte, but with a view over the lake Sitojaure.

The sun was shining occasionally, but when we sat down for lunch, on the southern side of Tjålle, it started to rain heavily. We took out our rain clothes and ate in the rain. It continued to rain while we walked, but eventually the clouds disappeared and the sun warmed us again. The weather in the mountains does change quickly, and it feels like you can have all four seasons of the year in just a few hours.

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We had lunch here, but despite the seemingly blue skies it started to rain

We had a beautiful easy hike, on soft green grounds that was pierced by several streams of different sizes.

We talked about the route we would take on our way back to the car, and decided to camp one night more after this, and then go home. We would then drive for a few hours and pitch our tents, to avoid having to drive 12-13 hours the following day to reach Fredrik’s grandmother in Bollnäs.

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The plains were beautiful, and easy to walk on (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

This meant that the trips would be shorter than the 10-12 days we had planned, but when we did not go the planned route I also had difficulty keeping my motivation up for more days. I missed talking to my family, and really missed my kids. Since they left for Greece this day, I knew I had to settle with seeing them on FaceTime.

We found a nice flat place overlooking Sitojaure and close to a larger stream, and camped there. The time was only 14.00, so it was early for us. Even though it wasn’t as windy as in our last camp site, we still had quite a bit of wind in the beginning. We secured the tents with rocks on the pegs, although we did not feel the need to build a massive wall around the tents as we had the night before.

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A nice camp site outside of Sarek

Throughout the day we had seen and heard a lot of grouses near us. In the afternoon one of them sat close to our camp and chirped endlessly.

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Our camp (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

It was Saturday evening. The last time we saw anybody else was on Tuesday evening, with the people that set up their tents on the other side of Nammásjjåhkå. It’s really desolate here. At least in the places we chose to hike in.

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Making a more luxurious dinner than usual; Flying Jacob

We planned the route for the next day, and estimated that it would be a 15km hike in fairly easy-going terrain. I was glad that it would be a bit longer than our previous days, since I’m starting to get a little bored of staying in the camp so much. I like to hike, and would like to go all day just to camp, eat, read an hour and then sleep. I did like to have a change of pace, hike slower and take more breaks, but eventually I felt like hiking more. I like to hike long days, and go to bed with a tired sore body.

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Planning the last leg of the trip

I read a lot, lying or sitting, inside or outside the tent. The wind had blown quite hard earlier when we had set up our tents, but it had died down during the evening. The lack of wind caused mosquitoes and flies to emerge. Some of them came in under the fly, while many of them sat on the outside of the fly. The weather had been fantastic this day, but every time we looked over the border into Sarek, it looked like it was the end of days over there, with almost pitch black clouds covering the area.