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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Summerplans – solo or with company

Every year me and my childhood friend Fredrik use to do a hike in the mountains, and this year we had planned to spend a week in Hardangervidda, Norways largest national park, in mid August.

Unfortunately Fredrik had to cancel this year, and from the looks of it I’ll go on a solo hike. It’s bit sad that he couldn’t join me this year, but I still don’t mind doing a solo hike. I’ve never been on a week long solo hike before, so it’ll be a new experience.

Since I had free hands to go wherever I liked now, I thought about going back to Sarek. But it’s so far away, which means spending a lot of time traveling back and forth, so I’ll probably stick to Hardangervidda.

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Initially my plans are to drive up to Middalsbu in the southwestern part of Hardangervidda, and hike on the marked trails east towards Hellevassbu, and then hike off trail and on unmarked trails for a week, and just see where I’ll end up. I don’t know if I’ll do this when I’m going to hike solo though. I hike faster when I’m on my own, as I tend to take shorter and fewer breaks, which means I can plan a longer route. Maybe I’ll make a route on some of the numerous trails in the park and then try to push myself a bit.

I do want to avoid the most crowded places though, so I’ll probably skip Preikestolen and Trolltunga, despite the amazing views. Hiking on Besseggen felt like hiking on a busy freeway at times, and though the scenery was spectacular, it felt too crowded for my liking. But nothing is carved in stone, and I might change my mind.

I’m looking forward to the trip. If I end up doing it solo it’ll be fine. If someone decides to tag along that would be fun too, as it’s nice to get to know new people.

Now I’m going to go back out in the sun and enjoy the beautiful weather we have here. Next week I’m going on another two-night trip with C. I haven’t decided whether to hike in Skåne or go canoeing in Halen-Raslången-Immeln yet. But I don’t have to decide until Friday.

Second two-night trip with my daughter

I had planned to do an overnighter or a two-night trip with Corinne, my two-year old, in the end of this week, as it’s a holiday on Thursday and I’ve taken time off from work on Friday. The plans changed however, as my wife needed to study last weekend and needed some peace and quite at home. My son was already away, so I decided to take my youngest daughter on the planned trip a bit earlier instead. My oldest daughter wanted to stay home with her mother instead.

I had planned to quit work a bit earlier on Friday, pick C up from kindergarten and then drive to Skåne in the early afternoon. In the end it didn’t work out as planned, and we ended up driving down in the early evening instead.

My planned location was a two hour drive from home, and we arrived at the parking lot at 19.30.

It was still sunny and bright when we arrived, and the fresh green leaves of the beech forest almost seemed like they where glowing.

I was instantly struck by how beautiful the forest was.

We started to follow Skåneleden, but after a short while we took off into the forest instead. We found a nice flat spot and set up our camp. There where blueberry bushes underneath the floor, and old parts of the bushes where really sharp. I was a bit worried about my inflatable sleeping mat, but it did survive the trip.

This was the first time I used my Storminstove system, and I really liked it from the start. It felt really efficient, stable and safe to use around C. I had brought a Toaks frying pan with roughly the same dimensions as my pot, but it didn’t work good. More on this later.

We had bought a couple of burgers on our way down, so I just made tea and we ate snacks when our camp was ready. We explored the area closest to the camp and then went to bed. C fell asleep pretty quickly.

We both slept good and woke up to the birdsong the next morning. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning.

We made a breakfast of tortillas, sausages, cheese and smoothies, and coffee for me.

After breakfast we packed up and left. We where going to hike off trail from now on.

When you’re used to the dark dense spruce forests of Småland, beech forests like these almost feel exotic.

We took a lot of breaks, and C walked a lot on her own. But she likes to ride on the shoulders, and a lot of the times I had her up there.

We hiked until we came to a small stream, where we filled up on water. After our water supply was restocked we searched for a nice place to make lunch. This time I had brought home dried meals, and my West African stew was a success.

I had really hoped that C would take a nap after lunch, because I was really tired myself. Unfortunately she was anything but tired so there was no nap for any of us.

We hiked for a little while longer, but when we found a beautiful spot for a camp at 15.30 we stopped there and set up our camp, despite the early hours.

When our camp was up we had a lot of time left until sundown. We had a lot of snacks and explored the nearby area. C got to set the pace and we walked where ever she felt like.

When it was time for dinner I made falafel with couscous and Ajvar, from a premade falafel mix. I think I had too much water in it, as it got too runny, and the frying pan didn’t really fit the Storminstove, as it was just a bit too narrow, and the frying pan slipped down into the stove.

In the end my falafel became a mash of burned parts mixed with uncooked batter. It still tasted ok, but I won’t try to make it on the Storminstove again. I never seem to be able to get the good at frying stuff on lightweight stoves, and I’ll probably just stick to freezer bag cooking on my hiking trips.

C felt really tired pretty early in the evening, and since she hadn’t had her nap that day I thought it would be good idea to put her to bed. It wasn’t.

When we had changed into our sleeping clothes, and crawled into bed she was anything but tired. She roamed around the tent like a small barbarian about to sack Rome, and had no intention of going to sleep. At first I was super tired, but when she eventually had fallen asleep I couldn’t sleep. I ended up tossing and turning the entire night instead.

The next morning we aired out our gear when we had breakfast. We packed up, and then took another route back to the car.

The forest was almost radiant in the bright morning sun. We passed another family that had been camping a few hundred meters from us, and then continued on a trail back to the car.

The trip had been great, and the forest was really beautiful, with the bright green spring leaves, the countless small hills and and the soft leaf covered ground. And since it was pretty early in spring we weren’t bothered by bugs.

The last morning C said that she wanted to sleep at home next night, so I guess two nights in a row is enough for her. But today when I picked her up from kindergarten she asked if we could sleep in a tent tonight again, so the interest is still there. Next time I’ll probably go out on a solo trip, but I can’t wait to get out with her again. It can be hard work, but it’s rewarding to see how much she enjoys playing and camping in the forest.

Two night trip with a two year old

Corinne has followed me on car camping trips and a few overnighters before. She turned two a couple of months ago, and has spent 12 nights in a tent since last summer.

This weekend I planned for her first two night hiking trip, and tent night 13-14 for her. The weather had turned for the better, and it almost felt like summer during the entire week. It was supposed to be a bit colder during the weekend, but still sunny with temperatures around 16-18°C.

Information

I had looked up Raslångens Ekopark in the border between Blekinge and Skåne. It’s a 1,5 hour drive from home. An Ekopark is sort of like a nature reserve, but they are established by the logging company Sveaskog. Forestry is allowed in the parks, but the focus is made on ecology over economy. The first Ekopark was founded in 2003, and there are now 37 Ekoparks in Sweden. They differ in size, but the average size is 50sq/km. Raslången is a smaller Ekopark, with its 13sq/km.

Trip report

I didn’t know much about the place, other than that it’s a popular place for canoing. Since it was still too cold in the waters, I didn’t want to bring Corinne in the canoe for the first time, so I planned for a hiking trip. There is a cape on the western part of the Ekopark, and I planned to do some exploring of the cape and to let Corinne set the pace.

We drove down on Friday afternoon. We parked at a parking spot marked on the map, and hiked some 500 meters down to a camp site called Västerviks brygga. Corinne was exited about getting out and to sleep in her sleeping bag.

The camp site had a lot of flat ground for tents, several lean-to shelters and a lot of fire places (not everything is marked in the above link). No one else was there, but I do prefer the forest to designated camp sites like this, so we hiked a bit further to see if we could find anything. We didn’t find any suitable grounds anywhere near, and I decided to set up camp in the far end of the camp site.

I set up the tent, and Corinne, always eager to help, handed me the pegs. This was the first time I used the HMG pole straps instead of the dedicated center pole, and it worked great (for now).

Once we had the tent up I put out our sleeping gear. I had bought a Klymit Ultralight V sleeping pad from Massdrop. I’ve thought about cutting it down to a kids size and just use my Exped Winterlite all year around. But I might use this myself, as Corinne sleeps good on a cellfoam mat. Bringing her along also means a LOT of wear and tear on the gear, so having a cheaper sleeping mat for when I’m camping with her feels better.

When we set up our sleeping gear we heard voices. We saw two guys in the other end of the camp site, and walked up to them to say hello. They where from Copenhagen, and had arrived at another place about an hour earlier. They where going to spend the weekend hiking Blekingeleden and Skåneleden, and had taken a detour up to Västerviks brygga.

We made dinner, and afterwards we sat by a small fire eating some snacks. Corinne had fun being out there, and I was happy to bring her along.

Unlike Lerike, where we camped last time, this place was quiet except for the sounds of nature. After sundown black-throated loons cried out across the dark lake. They have a special sound, that feels lonely and desolate, almost ominous. But it’s still a very beautiful sound, and a sound that I very much resemble with the forests and dark lakes of Sweden. You can listen to the sounds on YouTube, but it is a special feeling to sit by a black lake in the dark forest and listen to their cries echoing across the otherwise silent lake. Corinne was fascinated by the sound, and talked about it the entire weekend.

We both slept good the entire night, and woke up early the next morning. There was slight condensation on the inside of the tent, but the sun was shining and the tent soon dried up. It was a long time since I could pack down my gear completely dry.

We made breakfast, and after everything was packed down, we started to hike north. We first walked through the forest, following the shoreline. But soon fallen trees from storms and thin-outs made it impossible to continue.

We made our way out to a logging road, and followed it north instead. There had been a lot of forestry done, where the company had thinned out the forest, and left the dead trees on the ground. My plan was to hike to the end of the road, and then look for a nice spot at the far end of the cape, 2-2,5km from the camp site. Corinne set the pace, and it took the entire morning. When we arrived it was time for lunch.

When the road ended, we continued down to the lake, and followed the shoreline back south again. After a few hundred meters we found a nice spot for lunch. I had brought my Trangia 27, as it’s safer to use around a kid than my regular gas stoves. I haven’t been using alcohol stoves in a few years, and I really liked the silence. I’ll probably use my Storminstove set with Corinne in the future, as it’s very stable too.

Corinne was really tired after lunch. She didn’t hike far before I had to carry her, and she fell asleep on my shoulder. I carried her through the forest and back to the logging road.

After a while I found a nice open spot where I laid out the sleeping mat and put her down. She slept soundly for 1,5 hour. I sat there for a while, listening to the bird song and then laid down beside her. I woke myself up with my snoring several times as I dozed off.

When she woke up we continued back on the logging road. She rode on my shoulders a lot. I stared to look for a nice place to set up camp, and saw a place from the road, on the eastern side of the cape. There was a hint of a trail from the road, and I followed it down to the shore. The place was really nice, and it had a fire place to. Unfortunately it also had a tent. A danish guy and his son had already set up camp there. There was room for another tent too, but I didn’t want to intrude. The danish guy seemed to know the area well thought, and on the map he showed me a nice secret place on the western side of the cape.

We went back to the logging road and walked to where the guy said a trail would be. I guess with good intentions parts of it could be called a trail, but it was soon just rought terrain with cut down trees everywhere. Hiking off-trail with a backpack full of gear and a two-year old on the shoulders was an adventure of its own.

Eventually we found a small cape, with a fireplace and a nice spot for the tent a bit further up. It was really windy though. When we had the tent up we walked down to the fireplace next to the lake where we made dinner. After dinner we walked back up to the tent, only to find that it looked very awkward. I saw that the bottom end of a hiking pole was poking the fabric and hurried inside. Unfortunately I hadn’t tightened one of the pole straps enough, and when the wind picked up it had gotten loose, and the sharp end of the hiking pole had poked a small hole through the fabric. It bummed me out a bit, but it was so small that I think a little dot of silicone might be enough to fix it.

The wind meant another issue though, as the site I had chosen had a lot of loose debris, that blew into the tent. We brushed the floor as good as we could, and got the floor somewhat clean.

The wind calmed down, and we sat in the tent with the door open and watched the sunset and listened to the loons. We played for a bit and then Corinne went to sleep. I didn’t have any battery on my ebook-reader, and no coverage on my cellphone, so I listened to music for a couple of hours before I went to sleep.

I woke up with a headache and with the sky covered in clouds. After the pain-meds kicked in I was ready to break camp. It was a lot colder that earlier that weekend, and Corinnes hands where cold, as I had forgotten to pack mitts for her. She had some premade porridge for breakfast as I packed down our gear.

We hiked out (her on my shoulders) and came back to the camp site where we started our trip. By then the sun had started to shine, and we made second breakfast. We sat on the benches, eating and watching the lake.

After breakfast we walked back to the car, and drove home. It had been a great weekend, and it was fun to bring Corinne with me. Hiking with a two-year old isn’t always relaxing though, and having her along do mean a lot of extra wear on the gear. But it’s rewarding to have her with me, and I’ll keep bringing her as soon as I can. I’ve already begun to plan my next trip with her.

Gear

When it comes to gear I brought my HMG Southwest 4400, that is my go-to backpack now. Corinne had a Haglöfs Corker XS (5l) with a waterbottle, a teddybear and a puffy-jacket.

I used my Tentipi Olivin, that I had shaved weight off, and slept in my Cumulus Quilt 350 on yhr Klymit Ultralight V sleeping mat. I used my HMG stuffsack pillow for the first time, and it was more comfortable than the inflatable one I’ve used before. Corinne slept on my cellfoam mat, that I had folded so she had two layers. She also used her custom Cumulus Junior 250.

We cooked on a Trangia 27 stove set with an alcohol stove. Next time I’ll probably use the Storminstove set instead.

I also brought the MiniFinder Pico GPS-tracker. The Pico allowed me to see details about how we had walked, without draining the battery on my phone. An appreciated feature was that we also could call home with it when I had no coverage on my phone, since the Pico uses a foreign phone number and thus uses which ever company that has the best cellphone coverage in the area.

(Disclaimer: The MiniFinder Pico was lent to me for free for three months, in exchange for feedback to the company. I’m under no obligation to write or post anything about it if I don’t like it)

Here is my ligherpack for a hiking trip with Corinne. It might change a bit from when this post is made though. I’m glad I put an emphasis on lightweight gear, as weight adds up when you carry gear for two (+ the little one on my shoulders).

Friday night car camping

The snow has finally melted in southern Sweden, even though the temperatures drop below freezing during the night, and the lakes are still frozen over.

I wanted to take my youngest daughter on an overnight trip, so she could test her new sleeping bag, the Cumulus Junior 250. I had it customized with 850cuin down instead of 700cuin to add more warmth.

I tried to persuade the rest of the family to come with us, but spending a Friday evening in a tent wasn’t something any of them where interested in. So it was just me and Corinne.

Since it was still cold outside I wanted to have a small fire inside the tent. I brought the big tipi, the Helsport Normarka 6, and a Tentipi Hekla 7 firebox.

For sleeping gear I brought two Multimat Adventure sleeping pads. I didn’t want to use my more fragile (and expensive) Exped mat, since Corinne can roam around the tent like a drunk elephant at times.

I also brought the Aegismax G1 sleeping bag for me, the Cumulus Junior for Corinne and the Wind Hard Tiny quilt for extra warmth for the both of us.

I packed up the car after work, and then drove to the store. We filled up on goodies; candy, chocolate, lemonade, sausages, buns, cheeses etc. then we drove out to Lerike, at the north end of Helgasjön. I thought about going somewhere else, but it was starting to get late, and it’s only a short drive from home. Unfortunate there is a lot of noise from the nearby airport, and a large road across the lake.

When we came there we started to set up the tipi. Corinne was overexcited about sleeping in the new sleeping bag, and hardly wanted to wait until the tent was up.

When we had the tent up I took out the sleeping gear and put thin reflective mats on the floor to insulate a bit from the cold ground.

I started a small fire, and we sat next to it as it slowly grew larger.

When the fire was large enough we stared to grill some sausages. We had the top vent and the lower side vent fully open. The door was halfway open. It did get a bit warmer in the tipi, and we only had trouble with the tipi getting soaked in smoke once, when a piece of firewood started to create a lot of smoke. We opened up the door fully and ventilated the tipi.

After we’d had dinner we sat for a while by the fire and ate all our snacks. But it was beginning to get late, and time for both of us to get to bed.

I dressed Corinne with a thick fleece base layer and then she crawled down into her sleeping bag. She was super exited about sleeping in it. On our earlier trips she’s only been using a quilt, so this was her first time in a sleeping bag.

I put the quilt over both of our sleeping bags, and we quickly fell asleep. She woke up on a couple of occasions, but other than that, we slept good the entire night.

The next morning Corinne woke me up at 06.20. I was did not feel like I was done sleeping, but since she was, apparently I was too. I didn’t mind that much though, since I got to see the sunrise for once. I stayed in my sleeping bag for a while, but Corinne roamed around the tent and laid beside me once in a while, when she felt that she needed to heat up again.

Eventually I got up too, and we made breakfast. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of making a fire, but just heated up water in the Trangia stove instead. We had breakfast, explored the cape a bit and then packed up. We where back home in time for the rest of the family to eat breakfast. It was just a short overnight car camping trip, but it was fun to be out with C again.

Next time I’ll try to bring her on a longer trip. Maybe a two night trip, where we set up a base camp and then go on day trips. I just got a map and a guidebook on trips in Glaskogens nature reserve, so maybe we’ll try that later in spring.

Starting to plan for the summer

I’m slowly starting to plan for the “big” trip this summer. Me and my childhood friend Fredrik go on one longer trip in the mountains each year. We’ve been in Jotunheimen in Norway a few times, and last year we spent 8 days in Sarek, in northern Sweden.

I wrote earlier, on a post about my plans for 2018, that I wanted to do a canoe camping trip in Femundsmarka this summer. Fredrik wasn’t interested in canoe camping though, but wanted to do a hiking trip instead. I can’t get away on two 7+day trips this summer, so I’ll have to postpone the Femundsmarka trip. I’ll try to do a 3-5 day trip in Halen-Raslången-Immeln this spring, so at least I’ll get one longer canoe camping trip done. These lakes are only about an hours drive from home.

The trip with Fredrik wont be as far away as last year (where we spent a total of four days in the car) but we’ve planned to hike for a week in Hardangervidda in Norway.

Hardangervidda is the largest mountain plateau in Europe, and the national park is the largest in Norway.

From what I’ve read, the terrain isn’t as dramatic as Jotunheimen, which is covered with steep mountain tops. Hardangervidda is covered with treeless moorland, and not that much change in elevation, at least on the east side.

There are numerous trails in the park, and I haven’t even begun to plan a route yet. I don’t even know if we’re going to follow any trails, or if we should make a whole new route instead. As I’ve understood, the terrain makes it pretty easy to hike off-trail, and the thought of doing that appeals to me. Maybe we’ll make a route to begin with, but end up just choosing a new direction each day, like we did in Sarek.

This is my Lighterpack for now. I do like to tinker a bit with it, so this might change from when I write this post. (This is my Ligherpack for Sarek last year. Despite a much heavier shelter this year, the base weight doesn’t differ that much.)

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!

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.