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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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).

Joining Coast2Coast Sweden in May

General info

Coast2Coast Sweden was founded by Jörgen Johansson and Jonas Hållén after they met on Fjällräven Classic a few years ago. 2017 is the fifth year anniversary of the hike that goes 400km from Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden, to Varberg on the west coast. Last year Franziska Kaufmann join up as the third guide. There is an emphasis in lightweight gear and hiking in trailrunners is the standard.

My packlist for the weekend

Trip report

I joined up with the other hikers on Friday evening in Moheda. They had been hiking for almost a week, and arrived in Moheda Pizzeria at around 18.00. The day had been one of the hottest this year, with temperatures close to 30°C and not a cloud in the sky.

I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous to join them. It’s always tough to come in to an already established group, especially one that had hiked and lived together for a week already.

When I arrived at the Pizzeria a few of the hikers had already arrived. Jonas, one the founders, Judith from the Netherlands, her colleague Susanne from Sweden and Gudrun from Germany. English was the go-to language whether you were talking to a Swede or not, so that no-one would be excluded from the conversation.

My concerns about joining an established group was unfounded. Everybody where very social and easy going, and with a shared interest in hiking it wasn’t hard to find topics to talk about.

More and more hikers dropped by. Judy, the founder of Lightheart Gear from USA and Alie from the Netherlands. Franziska, one of the guides, joined up, but the heat had got to her so she had to rest in the shade and fill up on electrolytes.

We were still waiting for Göran from Sweden, and Oliver and Henning from Germany. Oliver had hiked Coast2Coast the year before. Göran has hiked C2C every year, and hiked the first year together with his horse Allan.

I left the Pizzeria with Susanne and Judith, to hike the ~4km to Hössjön, where we would spend the night.

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My Ultamid 2, with Görans shelter to the left, and Judith and Susannes tent to the right

Hössjön is a pretty small lake, but it was a nice campsite, and one of the residents nearby let us use his property to fill up on fresh water and charge phones and powerbanks.

A lot of the hikers, who’d been hiking in relentless heat all day, used the lake to cool off. I’m a real coward when it comes to cold water, so I stayed in my tent.

Judy, who’s the founder and lead designer of Lightheart Gear, had brought a new version of the Solong 6. She gave me a tour, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. It was a really cool and well thought out design, and it was really spacious. The big mesh panels and the ability to keep the fly up on one side allows you sleep with a view while still being protected from the elements. I almost wanted to swap tents with her for the night to try the tent.

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Judys Solong 6 showing the awning (photocredit Judy Gross)

The mosquitoes where swarming, and soon everybody sought refuge in their tents. I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, without an inner. I only had the polycro groudsheet and my Borah Gear bivy. The shelter didn’t keep all the mosquitoes away, and during the night I had some of them buzzing over my head. I’m still not sure whether to keep the solution I have now in mosquito infested areas or whether to go with a floorless net inner. Campsite selection is of the essence here, as a more exposed area with more wind might have reduced the number of mosquitoes.

I skipped the polestraps and used the sawed off bottom section of a cheap AliExpress hiking pole to connect the poles together. It worked perfectly, and was way easier than using the polestraps. I don’t know which of the polestraps and the “missing link” that gives you the most strength though.

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I bought the Southwest 4400 to use for the two weeks unsupported trip in Sarek this summer. It arrived just before I left, so I decided to use it on this trip. It’s a 70l pack, but the roll-top compresses well, down to an estimated size of 40-45l

Next morning everybody had their breakfasts separately, at their own tents. Judy and Alie left pretty quickly, and Franziska and Judith got a ride to Broaskog café as they weren’t feeling well. I hiked with Jonas, Görgen, Oliver, Henning and Gudrun. After an hour or so some of us decided to have a break in the shade. Jonas and Gudrun continued to the café though.

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There was quite a lot of road walking, but I didn’t mind since I had great company

Göran explained that Jörgen Johansson had a method of hiking that made sure he could hike long days, and still feel fresh when he came to camp. He hiked for 50 minutes and then took a 10 minute break. Every hour. I’m gonna start using this method myself, as it’s easy for me to just keep going and then end up being really tired once I reach camp.

I had a short break at Broaskog café. It hadn’t opened yet, but the owner filled up my waterbottle before I left. Most of the others waited for it to open, but I went with Jonas to the lake Åbodasjön to have lunch there. Jonas took a swim, but in my usual state of cowardliness I stayed on the shore due to the cold water temperature. A few others joined, and after a while Jonas, Gudrun, Oliver and I started hiking again.

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View from Lyåsa, a small village with a few scattered very well tended houses and cottages. Lyåsa had a nice view, and this photo doesn’t do it justice

It was a long day of hiking, with the sun burning hot over our heads. The distance this day was pretty long, and therefor they had shortened it a few kilometers to a planned campsite near lake Kalvsjön. When we reached Kalvsjön though, there wasn’t enough space in the public places to set up camp. Most of the flat areas belonged to the local fishing club, and camping was prohibited for others than its members.

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Following Jonas along the shore of lake Kalvsjön

The four of us went over our options. There was a campsite nearby, but it would mean going back a bit, and we would also have to buy a membership in the fishing club which would cost 200SEK +20SEK as a camping fee.

We decided to hike the extra ~3km to the old campsite next to lake Rusken, that C2C had used the previous years.

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Our campsite at the shore of lake Rusken with Jonas Trailstar, my Ultamid, Olivers Six Moon Designs and Gudruns Double Rainbow

We set up our tents and Jonas went for a swim. This time I actually joined him. There wasn’t much swimming on my part though. More a quick dip, a rinse and quite a lot of cursing over the cold waters. Jonas took a picture of me and posted it on the C2C Facebook page.

We made dinner and then went to bed. Jonas stayed up, as Judith and Susanne where on their way. The others where to tired to go on, and had stopped at the fishing club campsite. After a while Judith and Susanne arrived, and set up their tent. Judith was tired from a cold that was starting to get worse, but they where still in good spirits.

The campsite was prefect in terms of wind and moisture. There was a breeze all night, which kept the mosquitoes at bay, and I had no condensation at all when I woke up.

Susanne and Judith decided to stay behind to take it slow in the morning. Judith was unfortunately still not feeling well.

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View from our campsite at lake Rusken
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Hiking along the shore of Rusken

Jonas, Oliver, Gudrun and I left our campsite at Rusken, and continued north. My destination was the café at Nydala monastery at the north end of the lake, but the rest of the hikers would continue from there. We hiked along the east shore of Rusken, and eventually reached Nydala monastery where we had lunch. I had to get back home, and got picked up at the café and left the others there.

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Loosing the trail means bushwhacking

It was a great trip. There was quite a lot of road walking, so one has to be prepared for that. But unlike my solo hikes I didn’t mind the roads this time even though I prefer the trails. I had a great time talking to to the others about hiking, gear and UL philosophy. I am somewhat of a gear nerd, and it’s fun to geek down a bit and look at other peoples gear. I guess the piece of gear that most caught my eye was Judys Solong 6.

The weather was nice to, albeit very hot. It was the first time I hiked in shorts, and that was nice. The ticks where out in full force though, and every time we’d hiked through a brushy area we stopped for a tick-control. I think I picked at least eight or nine ticks off my legs and arms during the weekend. Fortunately none of them had burrowed down yet.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to join for the whole coast to coast hike next year, but I’ll definitely try to join for at least a section like this year.

Sigfridsleden – for those who love pavement

 General info

Sigfridsleden starts in Asa, north of Växjö and goes 88 km south, past Växjö, down to Knapelid south of Åryd where it connects to Utvandrarleden. From Asa to Växjö the trail is approximately 50 km. Trail is the wrong word though, as most of this route is on paved road. The route is part of a 4000 km network of pilgrim routes  that goes from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

My packlist for this hike

Trip report

Last Friday I asked my father, whom my son would spend the weekend with, to drive me to Asa, where the trail starts. I’ve been here two times before, in the first week of January 2015 and 2016 on short overnight trips. Those times I only hiked a couple of km before setting up camp. This time though, I planned to hike the trail back to Växjö.

After studying the map I was prepared for a bit of road walking, and I didn’t have high expectations on the “trail”. But I saw it as a chance to get out, and as a workout as I planned to push myself and do high milage. The weather report predicted lows below freezing, so I decided to bring my Cumulus Panyam 600 and my Exped Winterlite, as I hate being cold.

I was dropped off at Asa church at around 18.30. I planned to hike for an hour or so, but I ended up hiking for two hours, and did ~9km. The first part follows a small road, which then turns into a logging road. After that you follow a trail next to the lake Asasjön. This part of the route was great, but short. I saw two roe deers and a crane on a field. They observed me, but as I came closer they left in a hurry.

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Asasjön, a couple of hours before sundown

I either walked through uneven forests or next too fields, so it took me a while to find a good camp site. I had checked the map and planned to set up my tent near Skärsjön. When I came there I saw that there was a shooting range, with the targets in direction of the cape where I had planned to set up my tent. I walked past the shooting range and found some flat ground on the shore of Skärsjön, outside of the danger zone.

The whole evening had been windy, and the wind really picked up after I set up camp. The rain started falling just after I got my shelter up. The ground was loose, so my stakes didn’t get a good grip. I made a quick dinner and then went to bed. I was to tired to even read.

A little before 01.00 I woke up after falling in and out of sleep since I got to bed. I saw that the wind was about to rip a couple of the most exposed stakes. I got up, put on a rain jacket and started looking for big rocks. Wet snow had started to fall. I anchored the most exposed stakes with rocks and crawled back into my sleeping bag. As I laid there I was afraid for the first time while hiking. The trees around me made cracking sounds, and I was afraid that one would crack and fall on me. When the gusts really picked up I actually felt the ground sway. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after a while I realized that it was the roots of the nearby trees that moved beneath me as the wind shocked them. I went to sleep with an image of me being impaled with torn off roots from a falling tree.

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I woke up to a beautiful morning with clear skies. But the wind still blew hard, which made it hard to pack down the tent.

I left my campsite and started hiking a gravel road. There were a few short parts with trail, but after that the long, seemingly endless stretch of pavement begun. The route had changed, so my map wasn’t accurate, but I had a newer map in my cellphone.

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After I had passed the village Tolg, I saw a strange tower on a hill in the distance. I Googled it, and apparently it was Nykulla Observation Tower, built in the late 1950s. I thought about going up there, but from the sign near the parking lot it looked like it opened in May.

After the tower there was a short section of actual trail through a pine forest.

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But then came the paved roads again. Endless paved roads for kilometer after kilometer. My feet cheered the few times they touched actual trail. I was in a bad mood, and thought to myself that the people that made this route must hate hikers, since most of it was on pavement. But I had myself to blame, since no-one forced me to be there.

As always I was looking for the perfect campsite. The route passed many fields and uneven forests, and I had planned to camp near Toftasjön, in Notteryd nature reserve. In the end my feet, calves, knees and thighs hurt. I was really tired as I had hiked nonstop, except for a 30-minute lunch break. I did the hike as a way to exercise and to see how far I could push myself in a day.

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When I came to Notteryd I left Sigfridsleden and turned to the Notteryd circle trail. I followed the shore of Toftasjön out to the cape “Tungan” where I found a decent spot in a birch forest. The ground was pretty uneven, but at this point I didn’t care.

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I was exhausted, and went to bed right after I had put up my shelter, at 20.00. I didn’t even make dinner. I had hiked somewhere between 37-40 km, which is a new record for me. I fell asleep and slept good the entire night.

I woke up at around 08.00, but stayed in my sleeping bag for a while. After that I took it slow, aired out the sleeping bag and dried out the slight condensation I had on the inside of my shelter.

A little after 10.00 I left my camp site and headed home. I followed the circle trail to the road, and then walked the rest of the way on the road that cuts through Fylleryd nature reserve, and I was back home in less than 2 hours.

I didn’t take a lot of photos on this trip. I saw a lot of small villages, farms, fields and pavement.

Would I recommend this hiking route? No, not unless you have a hiking nemesis that you want to trick into doing a really boring route. Or if you like hiking on paved roads. There may be a target group for a route like this, but for me, who hikes to disconnect from everyday life and to get in touch with nature the route was a disappointment.

Vildmarksleden outside Gothenburg in August

This post wasn’t easy to write. Mainly because I didn’t like the trail and didn’t know what to write.

As I said in an earlier post I promised myself not to walk trails like these again, but instead drive the extra hours I need to get to national parks and more remote places where the scenery is better. But in a weak moment my friend Fredrik and I decided to hike Vildmarksleden (New Wilderness trail) just outside of Gothenburg. After the hike we decided to slap each other the next time any of us got the idea to hike trails like this.

On Friday morning I got off work at 7 am. I slept for a few hours and then drove to Gothenburg to meet Fredrik. We stayed at his place for a couple of hours before heading off at around 17.00. He lives in walking distance from the trail head Skatås, on Delsjö nature reserve. Delsjö area connects to Knipeflågsbergens nature reserve.

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Fredrik about to climb a hill

These areas had great nature and was beautiful to walk in. The downside was that it was a very crowded area because of the proximity to the city.

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Me, at the top of the hill.

We walked for about 10-12 km and stopped at around 21.00. We found a spot in the forest. Work had been done in the forest and cut down branches were all over the place. We cleared a spot and set up camp. I used my Hilleberg Enan for the first time. The setup was easy, and I was surprised how roomy it felt. I had lend Fredrik my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak, but the weather was good so he used a bivybag instead.

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My Hilleberg Enan pitched for the first time in the woods. In feels like a great tent after my first night of using it

I didn’t sleep so good that night. I have been working nights for three weeks since I got back from my vacation and I have a hard time turning back into sleeping at night again. I tossed and turned quite a bit despite being very tired.

We woke up at 9 am and had breakfast. Tortillas with nutella of course :-). We packed up camp and started hiking again.

There was a slight rain that came and went. Every time we started to take out our raingear it stopped though. We went to the midpoint of the trail and had lunch. We met two guy who dayhiked the trail from Hindås. They said that the trail was beautiful on the half they had hiked already.

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This was kind of weird. 30 meters from the trail, in the middle of the forest, we found this table with flowers and champagne-glasses with what looked like newly poured champagne. We didn’t see anyone around though.
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Tuna with rice and sambal olek. A really boring dish. I’ll try to mix in some sort of powder soup in the future.

We went on again, and this time the rain kicked in for real so we put on raingear. The rain kept falling until we stopped walking at the end of the day.

The forest we walked through was spouse plantations and, of course, marshes. We tried to keep our spirits up, but both of us felt that this wasn’t our cup of tea. As said, next time we’ll take the extra time to get to a more beautiful place.

We took a shortcut on an old section of the trail. Since it wasn’t maintained it was wet and we had to walk straight through marshes. But our feet were already wet from the rain and the wet grass. I still use my Inov8 and the feet will get wet.

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Fredrik in the marsh with the rain pouring down.

We walked for about 25 km and was looking for a spot to set up our tent. But we came across a newly built lean-to shelter before we found a good spot. It was really nice, with a view over a small pond. There was dry firewood stacked on the inside, and a fire ring and benches in front of the shelter. Neither one of us wanted to walk any further, and even though I wanted to try my Hilleberg a bit more the thought of drying out the clothes and warming up in front of a fire was more appealing.

We packed up our sleeping mats and sleeping bags and then started a fire. No bushcrafty fire starting, but cardboard, paper towels and denatured alcohol to get it going. We just wanted a fire quick and the wood was a bit damp from the humidity in the air.

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Fredrik having drying out by the fire

We dried our clothes and ate dinner. The clouds scattered and we saw the sun for the first time that day. Despite the rain, and the lack of scenery on the trail, the evening turned out pretty good. A camp fire makes wonders for the moral, and we sat for a while and just watched the fire.

We went to bed early. Unfortunately I slept bad this night to. The hike that was supposed to give me new energy just made me more tired. But I’m still glad we got out.

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View from the shelter

We hiked for about an hour to Hindås where Fredriks fiancée picked us up and drove us back to Gothenburg.

Despite the boring scenery, the rain and the lack of sleep I’m still glad I got out.

On another note, I started my new job this week. I have already checked with my new boss if I could take vacation on week 35 so that I could go on my planned trip to Jotunheimen. This was not a problem, so in 2,5 week I’ll be off to the mountains in Norway as I’ve longed for during the entire year.

I’ll probably write a pre-hike post before I go, and I’ll definitely write a trip report about it when I get back. Me and Fredrik have also loosely planned a hike in Tresticklan i October. I’ll try to get out once on my own some time in September to. It’ll just be an overnighter though. Hopefully I’ll feel that I’ve used my tent enough after that to do at least an initial review of my thoughts of it.

 

Tresticklan and Lundsneset in May

Finally, after almost two month without a night outside, the schedule and life at home allowed me to get out again. I had been watching hiking movies on YouTube, read blogs and scrolled through Instagram photos a lot during these months. My feet were itching to get out again, and my mind craved solitude and the peace you only get in nature.

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My gear for this trip

As said in my Pre-hike post, I planned to hike with my buddy. Things came up for him, and I ended up hiking solo after all. I didn’t mind though, since I like my solitude. I’ve been stressed out lately, and I really looked forward to disconnect from everything and just relax in nature without cellphone reception 🙂

It was roughly a 5h drive to Tresticklan and I left home a bit after 08.00. The car GPS showed me all sorts of different routes, one longer than the other, but I had a pretty good notion on how to drive since I was there with my daughter last October.

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Entrance to the park

I arrived there a little after 13.00 and set of. 6-7 cars where already parked there. There is a trail that goes straight through the park to the cabin Budalsvika on the Norwegian side of the border. In the middle of the park there is a 5km loop trail that goes around the park and back to the trail to Budalsvika.

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Lunch with a view over Stora Tresticklan

I had lunch at a rock overlooking the lake Stora Tresticklan and then started walking the loop trail. A couple with a dog day hiked a bit ahead of me. We passed each over a couple of times. When I reached the southern end of the loop trail I continued along a trail that wasn’t marked on the map. I went on until I reached a march with no foot-bridge across and then turned back. I didn’t see the couple again.

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On the loop-trail

When the trail started to go back north again I followed another trail about 1km south. That trail goes all the way to the southern border of the park, and was the one I planned on hiking north-bound if I had hiked with my friend. I turned back, finished the loop trail and headed towards Budalsvika and the Norwegian border.

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I really love my Exped Lightning

I didn’t have anywhere special to go, or any time limits, except that I should be back home sometime on Sunday. When I reached the Norwegian border I started looking for a spot to set up my tent. It was late in the afternoon, too early to set up camp, but still late enough to start looking.

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The Swedish-Norwegian border

 

The ground in Tresticklan and Lundsneset consists of rift valleys and the soil is very shallow on many places. On most places with deeper soil the ground is covered with blueberry bushes or calluna witch makes it hard to find camp spots. The rift valleys also makes hiking in east-west direction harder than north-south since it’s a lot of ups and downs. The park consists mainly of pine trees. The trees are old, and there are a lot of dead standing trees all over the place. The dead trees, and the shallow soil makes a lot of trees falling, and you see both live and dead trees fallen over the trail. Something worth taking into notion when choosing a spot to set up your tent.

 

I found a good spot on the Norwegian side of Boksjön, a litte bit south of Budalsvika. But I still thought it was too early to set up camp and started hiking a trail going south. I had the first camp spot in mind if I wouldn’t find a better one. After a while, up on a ridge, I found a good spot to set up camp. The soil was pretty shallow, but there were some rocks to anchor the pegs that didn’t get stuck in the dirt.

I made dinner and laid in the tent and listened to the birdsong. The weather had been shifting between sunny and cloudy, but had mostly been good. I guess the temperature were around 15C. Kind of the perfect temperature for hiking.

I read “A walk in the woods” on my ebook reader for a couple of hours before going to sleep. This was my first night using a Quilt and I had been looking forward to trying it out. I’m not completely sold yet, but it was nice. I did have trouble getting it to stay in position when I tossed and turned though. I really want to try it again when the temperatures are close to freezing to see how it does in those temps.

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Airing out the Cumulus Quilt 350

I slept really well. I was happy to be out there, and I felt peaceful. I woke up to a choir of all sorts of birds. The weather was a bit better than the previous day. It was still cloudy at times, but the sun was out more that yesterday.

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It’s hard to get a picture of the view but this was a nice place

I kept walking on the ridge and found a spot with a great view over Boksjön. I hadn’t walked far from my camp site but I stayed there for over 20 min just looking at the scenery and listening to the birds singing.

I kept walking the trail. It was steep decline down to the lake. The trail continued straight through a marsh and into a forest. Halfway in the marsh I lost the trail. I had to check my map several times and bushwhacked through the forest until the trail was visible again. Apparently I was on the trail all along, but it was poorly marked and I don’t think these parts were used a lot since it was grown over. The maps for Lundsneset were pretty good though. The marked trails had km-marks on them so I had a good notion on how far and how fast I was walking.

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Great way to back-flush the filter

I found a great spot at Boksjön to filter my water. I used a sports water-cap to back flush the filter witch worked out great. The cap is a lot smaller and weighs less than the included syringe, and it works just as well. The water was incredibly  clear and with no evident taste at all Every time I filtered lake water before it’s always been at least a little taste and color of humus. But the water here was as clear and tasteless as tap water.

I hiked the trail until I came to a road, and then turned back again. I went back to the lake and had my lunch there. After lunch I hiked back towards Budalsvika. I had hiked parts of a loop trail, and took the other way back to Budalsvika.

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My camp on the second night

I went back to Sweden. It was a bit early to set up camp, so I started hiking the loop trail on the Swedish side again, in the opposite direction. I found a great spot about 30 meter of the trail. It was shallow ground on some places, but fortunately there were rocks scattered to anchor the tent. I guess other hikers had used them for the same purpose.

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A nightly visitor

It was a truly wonderful evening. The weather was perfect, and it was warm outside. I sat on a rock reading for a couple of hours before turning in. The night wasn’t wonderful though. It started raining a lot during the night, and the sound woke me up several times. Condensation (I hope) dropped down in my face. I saw a slug climbing the outside of my tent. Two more were on my shoes and then two more inside my pack. I flicked them away and got up.

I had a breakfast of tortilla with sausage and tortilla with Nutella. I didn’t bother with coffee since it was raining pretty heavily, and I didn’t want to use the stove inside the tent. I packed up and left the campsite.

I had managed to keep my feet dry for the most part of the trip, but this morning during the walk back to the car they got wet instantly. The rain stopped, but the trail was really wet. It was less than an hour walk back to the car. I packed up and left Tresticklan. On my way home I stopped by Burger King and filled my body with delicious fat-food. A tradition I have to keep after every hike 🙂

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Healthy? Nah, but good for your spirit

I’m really glad that I got away on this trip. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and really needed the solitude and to disconnect from work and everything that occupied my mind. I felt really peaceful and relaxed while out hiking and it was a trip that gave me new energy. The scenery is beautiful, and I don’t think I’ll do any more hikes through spouse-plantations just because they are conveniently close to home. It’s well worth the drive to get to more interesting places.

When it comes to gear I think I’m pretty close to a perfect pack. I can’t say enough good things about my backpack. I really like it more and more. The thing I’ll change will probably be the tent. I want to get a sub 1kg tent, and as said in earlier posts I’m looking at the Locus Gear Hapi, with a solid inner. The Tarptent Notch is also on my list, witch is cheaper, lighter and with a smaller footprint. We’ll see what I’ll end up with.

Next hike will probably be in Tiveden Nationalpark.

Multiday on John Bauer-trail in March

For different reasons I didn’t get out on a trip in Februari. Since I did have my plan for 2016 to get out at least once a month I thought I’d take two trips in March to compensate. So in the beginning of March I took the car to Jönköping to the southern trailhead of the John Bauer-trail, witch is a ~50km long trail between Jönköping and Gränna and goes somewhat parallel to the lake Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden.

When I left my home, about 1,5h drive from Jönköping it had been above freezing and no snow for quite some time. Therefore I didn’t expect any snow, and thought this would be a great opportunity to try hiking in trailrunners. Up until now I’ve used these big boots, and I love them. I never had a blister, and I’ve been running about 9km in them (when I forgot my gloves at a lake on the Norwegian side of Tresticklan national park.) and they felt as comfortable to run in as running shoes.

I did however want to try what it’s like to hike in trailrunners. Even though I love the boots, I wanted to try the “wet feet” thing where you know your feet will get wet, but you dry them in camp, and you have light shoes that dries quickly. I wouldn’t have to worry about rivercrossings and trying to keep my boots dry this way. From what I read about trailrunners you wouldn’t have to worry about blisters and breaking them in. I was stupid to think that I didn’t have to take the necessary preparations (like thin double socks etc).

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My Inov-8 Roclite 295

I parked the car, and started walking. It was a layer of a few cm of snow, and quite quickly it started to melt through the mesh on the top of the shoe. After a while I got to the trailhead of John Bauer trail. Apparently I had walked a stretch of the South Vättern Trail.

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Jönköping, and the southern tip of Vättern. Snow and grey skies.

I only walked about 4 km the first afternoon, before I found a nice meadow to set up camp. It was starting to get dark. For this trip I used the Luxe Outdoor Sil Twinpeak. I’ve been looking for a light 2-person tent and this was kind of cheap. I don’t know if I’ll keep looking or not. I do have my eye set on the HMG Ultamid 2 with a halfsolid inner from Bearpawwd. This however is a much to large investment at the moment. The Twinpeak has a full mesh inner, and I do prefer to have at least 1/3-1/2 solid inner to block the wind while sleeping.

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My home for the night. I kicked away 10-15 cm of snow to get it down to the ground.

 

I had to kick away snow to get the tent down a bit in the snow. It was fairly easy to pitch, and I inflated my mattress and fluffed up my sleepingbag. After that I started with dinner. I make my own dinners, and my favourite is risestew. Instant-rice, dried tomato-basil soup, crushed peanuts and oliveoil.

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Making dinner

One foot had already gotten a blister at the heel. I forgot my Leukoplast, but had a little piece of blister-tape. I did realise that I should have had better socks, and use double socks as I do with boots.

I was a bit cold that night. I don’t know the temperature, but the cold didn’t come from the top, but from the sleepingpad not insulating enough. I’ll probably buy a Winterlite or something similar for the next winter.

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Airing out the sleepingbag
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Full-mesh inner, not my favourite. But the tent has lots of room for one person wintercamping

I started walking after a breakfast of tortillas with nutella and coffee. The nutella had frozen over night so I had to put the bag down in the coffee-water to make it soft enough to spread it on the tortillas.

I had a plan to walk for about half the day, and then turn back towards the car. This was a multidaytrip and I had one more night on the trail planned.

My feet hurt though. I had now gotten a blister on the other foot. Since I didn’t have gaiters (something I use now) snow kept getting inside my shoe. My socks were to rough and also worn, witch made a lot of friction. I should have stopped, but I was just stubborn and kept walking. The snow got deeper the further into the trail I got, and this made it quite an effort to hike. Especially when my feet hurt the way they did.

After a few hours of walking I had lunch and started to go back. At this point all I could think about was how much my feet hurt. I felt stupid for not taking my boots, even though I really didn’t expect snow. I felt stupid for not using better socks, and two pairs of them. I didn’t want to use my sleeping-socks while walking since I wanted a dry pair to sleep in. Same goes with the socks dedicated as “camp-socks”.

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The snow was really deep on many places
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My pack, the Exped Lightning 60. I really like it.

It was starting to get dark when I got to my designated camp-spot. I had walked about 25km this day. The camp-spot was in a meadow a few hundred meters from where I camped the first night. I thought about keep going till I reached the car, and head back home. My feet were numb at this point so I could walk somewhat painless. I did however want to be out on a multiday-trip and therefore decided to set up camp for another night. In this meadow the snow was even deeper than the first one.

I set up camp, ate dinner and then went to sleep. I didn’t really enjoy myself at this point. My feet hurt, they were cold and I felt miserable. I boiled water and filled one of the waterbottles with it and put it in my sleepingbag. It took a long time before my feet started to feel warm again. The bottle helped though, and I didn’t feel chilled like I did the night before.

The next morning I skipped breakfast, packed up camp and started walking. Or really, it was more limping than walking at this point. I did manage to get to the car though. I had my usual craving for fatfood and stopped at Mc Donalds on my way home to have a burger breakfast. My heels looked awful at this point. I’ve never had so large and deep blisters on my feet before and it hurt wearing shoes for days afterwards.

In all, I liked the trail. I’ll try it again when there’s no snow. Even though it was far from a pleasant experience I got to try my pack for a real hike, and I really loved it. It was supercomfortable and lightweight. I got to try the tent, witch I only pitched once before, and I got to try hiking in trailrunners, and learn what I should do different.

My packlist for the trip.