A food heavy overnighter

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

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

Spacious living for one adult and a small child

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

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

Frying Krabbelurer

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

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

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

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

Corinne looking over Helgasjön during the blue hour

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

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

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

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

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

Tomas boiled coffee and I made flatbread

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

Sarek in August; Part 2

Day 2

I woke up a few times early in the morning as it was already bright as day outside. I was using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and a thin layer of white, semi transparent Dyneema composite fabric doesn’t do much to block the sunlight. When I looked at my clock, it was only 04.30. I went back to sleep, and we got up at around 09.00 instead. We made breakfast, broke camp and went up to the STF cottage to pay for our stay. A couple of hikers had pointed us to the right cabin. The lady who smoked when we arrived sat on the stairs of the nearby cabin, looking at us.

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My Ultamid 2 and Fredriks Bergans Trollhetta 4 in the background
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My gear: In the bottom of the pack I have an Exped Schnozzle bag (the yellow one) with my sleep gear. After that two large Pack pods with food. Above those I have toiletries (neon bag) and electronics (zip lock bag). Tent (white bag) and extra clothes + down jacked (red one) next to each other and at the top I have a small Pack pod with my stove set and food for the day. All packed in a HMG Southwest 4400

When we got hold of the hut warden, he told us that it was prohibited to camp where we had pitched the tents. The ground, and the hut near it, did not belong to STF, but to the Swedish Nature Conservation Association. We did not have to pay because we did not camp on STF’s land. However, it felt a little embarrassing to have camped where we weren’t allowed to. But since the woman in the hut didn’t say anything, perhaps it didn’t matter. She had heard us talking about paying and looking for hut warden, both during the evening and during the morning, so I suppose she understood that it was a misunderstanding.

Our goal for the day was to get to Skierffe. A mountain with an almost 700 meter vertical wall right down the Rapadalen.

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Me, on our way towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We got up through the woods, which gradually changed from spruce to birch forests, and then disappeared completely as we reached above the timber line. 

Fredrik and I have a different hiking philosophies, where I am a lightweight hiker who like to march on at a fairly good pace, and hardly even want to stay for lunch. Fredrik packs quite heavily, likes to stop more often, and wants to spend more time chilling and just enjoying the moment, instead of trying to get a lot of km behind him.

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The snow covered mountains of Sarek

 

It was important to me to get back home in time, since my wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Greece and I was to pick them up at the airport when they got back. I realized that we would probably not be able to do our planned hike without having to stress it in the end, so we agreed to skip the plan and instead just go where ever we felt like for the day, take a lot of breaks and not care about the mileage. The only goal was to be back at the car at least 10 days later. It was a bit of a change of philosophy for me, but still felt nice. However, it meant that I had packed way too much food. But it still felt ok, although it meant carrying some unnecessary weight.

When we were coming close to the top of Skierffe we ​​decided to start looking for a camp site, even though the clock was only around 14.00. We passed the trail and continued towards the western side of Skierffe. There we found a really good camp site, with flat ground for both of our tents, and a lot of stones to anchor them. We could have saved weight sharing tents, but both Fredrik and I prefer to have our own space.

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One of our best camp sites ever

The camp site had a very nice view over Sareks snow covered peaks. The wind blew hard when we were setting up camp, so we anchored the tents well. I wanted to go to the top of Skierffe, but Fredrik preferred to stay in camp so I went by myself. When I got up at the top there was a young family there with their child in a child carrier.

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The river delta in Rapa valley

The view from Skierffe was amazing. It was uphill almost all the way up to the cliff. Then came the long cliff all the way down to Rapa Valley. It was a majestic view, and well worth the effort to get there.

I walked back to the camp and after a while we made dinner.

We went looking for water, and found a little stream a couple of hundred meters away from the camp. Fredrik went to bed quite early, but I laid on the CCF mat and read for a couple of hours. When the wind stopped, it was almost completely quiet around us. It is not often you get that silence when you live in a town. Traffic, sirens, lawnmowers, people talking, airplanes. There’s always noise, and it was refreshing to hear nothing like that.

I went to bed around 21.00, but went out for a while after 22:00 to check out the sunset. By then it had already disappeared behind the mountains, though it was still bright outside.

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The sun had just disappeared behind the mountains


I went to bed and sleep pretty well. The new way of attaching the quilt has worked very well, and I have not had any drafts, even though I tossed and turned a lot and it was cold in the morning.

Sarek in August; Part 1

General info

Sarek is a national park in Lapland, in northern Sweden, and is one of the oldest parks in Europe. It’s part of Laponia, which consists of 9400 sq/km of protected land, in the national parks Sarek, Stora Sjöfallet, Padjelanta and Stubba, as well as the nature reserves Stubba and Sjaunja.

Sarek is a popular place to hike, but since there are no marked trails, nor any cabins it might not be the place for beginners. There are some bridges inside Sarek, but most streams and rivers has to be forded.

Trip report

Day 1

I went on this hike together with my friend Fredrik, whom I hiked together with in Norway last year. We left Växjö on Saturday morning and drove up to Bollnäs, where we spent the night at his grand mothers place. We left there early on Sunday morning and drove the last ~1000km up to Sarek. We where planing to enter Sarek from the south, and use a free parking lot about 10km south of Kvikkjokk.

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Loaded, and ready to go

We arrived at the parking lot at the bridge over Sitoälven, just before 20:00 on Sunday evening.  There were many cars in the parking lot. Much more than we thought there would be. But this place seemed to be a popular starting ground.

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Sitoälven

We parked and switched to our hiking clothes. The sign showed that it was 16 km to Aktse Mountain hut from the parking lot. We planned to hike just for a little while, and then set up the tents a bit from the parking lot, as soon as we found a good spot. The forest was too dense to find anywhere to set up camp, and the mosquito swarmed around us as soon as we took a break, so we kept on walking at a fast pace.

After a while we arrived at a small pier, where you could rent boat rides to Aktse Mountain hut. After the pier there was a bog. We were looking for the trail but did not find it. After a while we found the foot bridges through the bog, and saw that it was 6 km left to Aktse. The clock was now ~22.00.

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View from the pier, looking towards Sarek

We decided to go on. However, it went much slower, and the trail went through dense forests and marshes. We found an descent place, but when I read the map, I thought we where only about 0.5km to the cottage and so we went on. It turned out to be 3km left instead, as I had miscalculated our position.

We arrived at Aktse sometime between 24.00-01.00 at night and pitched our tents. We saw a sign that we should contact the hut warden, but since it was late, we decided not the wake up the warden, but do it the day after instead. The price to camp near the cabin was 200SEK.

A woman came out from one of the nearest huts, looked at us and took a smoke. We wondered if it might be the hut warden, but since she didn’t contact us we thought that it probably was someone renting one of the STF cabins. We went to bed immediately after we had pitched our tents. I used my Sea to Summit nano bug net, but I wouldn’t have had to. My shelter did a good job keeping the mosquitoes out. I didn’t really like the bug net, and didn’t use it any more on the entire hike.

Corinnes first overnighter

In June I finally got out on an overnighter with my youngest daughter. I’ve thought for a long time that I would bring her out, but it wasn’t until now that I actually got around to it.

I had several different places in mind, but in the end we ended up driving to Helgö, very close to home. Being her first overnighter I thought it was better to play it safe, and don’t drive to far away if it wouldn’t work out.

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The weather was great when we got out. We drove out in the late afternoon, and the sun was shining. It was very windy though. I parked the car on the far edge of Helgö, near the nature reserve Jägaregap. I didn’t bring the child carrier for this trip. Corinne walked by herself, and at such a short distance there was no need for a child carrier. This was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip. A chance to get out, and to let her get used to sleeping in a tent.

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After a while we came to a nice flat area and I started to set up camp. Camping with a small child was a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’ve camped with my oldest daughter, and tried it with my son. But I found my outdoor-passion pretty late, and when I first started taking my older daughter out she was eight or nine years old, and at that age she was old enough to help me setting up camp. I’ve never camped with a one year-old before.

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It was like she had been pumped full of Red Bull or something. She was all over the place all the time in full speed. Ramming through the tent, running on the fly, running into the fly when it was set up, wrestling with the guy-lines.

Cooking dinner was a similar experience, as she wanted to help, and the stove was super interesting. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to get it all together safely after all.

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We had dinner, washed the dishes, brushed our teeth and went to bed. The ground was soft, and it was windy, so I used rocks to anchor the tent pegs.

It wasn’t time to sleep yet, so we layed in the tent, looking at stuff and playing music. I had brought a mosquito net for her, but we didn’t need one. Since it was windy we didn’t have any issues with bugs. Both her and I slept without any bug protection. This is new to me, and slowly but surely I’m getting rid of my bug phobia. Hopefully getting her used to sleeping in a floor-less shelter from the start will make sure she never gets any bug phobia at all. As a sleeping bag for her I used the Aegismax Windhard quilt, and it worked good.

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She tossed and turned for a long time before she finally fell asleep. No wonder, since it was her first time in a tent, with all those new impressions.

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I slept pretty bad though. I woke up a lot, worrying about her being to cold or to hot, but she slept soundly through the entire night. By morning she woke up, crawled up on my sleeping pad, and fell asleep again for an hour, burrowed down next to me.

After we both woke up, we made breakfast and packed up. This time she didn’t want to walk, so I had to carry her back to the car.

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It was nice to get out again, and fun to bring her with me. But it took a lot more effort than I thought to camp with such a young curious child. But hopefully she’ll keep enjoying the tent-life.

Another change of plans

In an earlier post I wrote about the hiking plans for this summer, with a two-week hike in northern Sweden. The initial route was planned for me hiking solo the first week, and then my friend would join me for the second week.

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However plans have changed, since my friend was able to get away for two week. Our first plan was to hike Kungsleden together, according to my route. We found out though that during our second week Fjällräven Classic occured, which meant that we would meet thousands of hikers on our way to Abisko. It would not be as lonely and pristine as we’d like. That, and the fact that there probably would be fresh poop under virtually every rock on the path from Nikkaluokta to Abisko made us look elsewhere.

We had always talked about going to Sarek, which is part of the UNESCO world heritage site Laponia. Laponia is 9400 sq/km of protected lands in the arctic north, consisting of the national parks Muddus, Sarek, Padjelanta and Stora Sjöfallet, as well as the nature reserves Sjaunja and Stubba.

Kungsleden passes through the southern part of Sarek, but other than that there are no marked trails and very few bridges. There are some unmarked trail, but hiking in Sarek means finding your own route, and fording streams.

None of us have hiked in Sarek before, so I bought the book “På fjälltur; Sarek” by Claes Grundsten. There are several different routes described in the book.

None of them fitted us perfectly, as we wanted a circle hike for 10-12 days. But I used the book to make a route from parts of 11 different described routes.

Sarek1The plan is to drive to the parking lot next to the dam at Måhkkål, and hike the trail from there to the mountain hut Aktse. From Aktse we would hike up on the mountains north of Rapavalley. This way we get less mosquitoes and also (if the weather is good) get some nice views over Rapavalley.

We’ll then use a trail from the mountainside down to Rapavalley along Alep Vássjajågåsj, and follow that trail to Mikkastugan, where there’s a bridge. From there we follow Álggavágge down to Niejdariehpvágge. Then we’ll follow Sarvesvágge to the east before we round the mountain Noajdde. From there we’ll hike south west until we’ll find the trail to Pårek. Once on the trail, we’ll use that trail down to Kungsleden, hike Kungsleden back to Aktse and then back to the car at Måhkkål. From a rough calculation it should be somewhere around 180km. I am planning for exit routes and alternatives if we get delayed, hike slower than anticipated or otherwise need to leave faster for some reason.

The route is planned to get the most out of the trip. There is a mix of trails and off-trail hiking. We’ll see Rapavalley both from the mountains and down in the valley itself. While we’ll hike both high and low it still shouldn’t be too much elevation to handle.

My planned gear list for this trip

I really like planning trips like these. I think that the preparations is a major part of the fun of hiking. Studying maps and areal photos, planning routes, prepping food and looking through the gear. I can’t wait to get out again.

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.

Day-hike on Söderåsen i April

General info

Söderåsen national park is a 1625 acre national park close to Ljungbyhed in Skåne. The area has deep rift valleys and beautiful deciduous forests. There are lots of trails in the park, and SL3, section 4 and section 5 of the 1000 km long Skåneleden goes through the park.

In the park you’re not allowed to camp other than on the designated campsites at Liagården and Dahlbergs, where there are huts with beds, free of charge. There are also toilets and fireplaces scattered throughout the park.

Trip report

Last weekend I drove to Söderåsen with my wife and daughters. Our first plan was to do a car camping trip, where we would hike in a circle and then set up camp near the car. The forecast predicted lows around freezing, and my wife didn’t want to have the first tent night with our youngest in those temperatures, so we ended up doing a day-hike instead of an overnighter.

The weather report had switched back and forth between sunny and rainy the entire week, but when we drove the two hours from home to the national park, the skies where covered in clouds. When we had only 15 minutes left it started to rain, and by the time we got to the parking lot it was pouring down. We thought about keep on driving to Kullaberg nature reserve instead, but after a short while, the rain subsided.


We put on our packs and started hiking. The skies cleared up fast, and by the time we had climbed the first hill, the sun was shining. We had lunch on the ridge and tried three different flavors of Knorr Spaghetteria. On their new ones you only have to add boiling water, as opposed to the old ones where you had to boil them for 7 minutes. For a price of 15 SEK /$1,5 they were a lot cheaper than your regular freeze-dried meal. You need two of them though, as the portions are rather small but it’s still a lot cheaper.


Despite being relatively close to home, I’ve never been in Söderåsen national park. There was quite a lot of elevation, and the highest peak in Skåne is here, at the modest height of 212 meters. It doesn’t sound like much, but in a relatively flat landscape it feels higher.


We followed the ridge along the edge all the way until we dropped down between two ridges. Our trail connected to Skåneleden and we passed a bridge over a creek that runs through the park.


We did some Geocaching, but didn’t pass that many on our hike. We followed the creek for a while before we crossed the creek again and hiked up on another ridge and passed Liagården shelter area. It was only April, but there where tents scattered over the entire area. The fireplaces were burning, and the lean-to shelter filled with gear. In peak season it could be hard to find room for your tent.

We didn’t stop at Liagården, but continued on the ridge back to towards the car. We where all starting to get tired, and hiked back to the parking lot without many breaks.

Söderåsen was a beautiful place, but its proximity to the Malmö/Copenhagen-area makes it an well visited area, and even in April it felt crowded at times. I will get back here though, as I’d like to see the area in autumn colors. But I’ll probably try to find a campsite outside of the parks, where you could get more privacy.

The trip also served as a test run of my wifes 3F Ul Gear backpack that we bought from Aliexpress. It worked good, but using a frameless pack do require more care when packing. But it should be good for weekend trips.

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.

Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo on Madeira

General info

The week before Easter the whole family on my wifes side went on vacation to Madeira. Madeira is a small island located in the Atlantic ocean, off the west coast of north Africa. It’s an autonomous region of Portugal. The island is relatively small, but it’s full of mountains, and the capital Funchal is built on the mountainside. The highest point of the island is Pico Ruivo, at 1862 meters above sea level. Madeira is a mecka for day hikers, as the island has a system of more than 2,170 km of levadas, accompanied with a walking trails. Levadas are aqueducts made to carry water to the agricultural regions.

Trip report

The trail between Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo offers some stunning views, as you hike on the top of the island. The round-trip is about 12 km. On Pico do Arieiro theres a big parking lot, and the road to Pico do Arieiro is in good shape.

As me and my wife drove from the house we rented in Funchal, we left the 20°C and palm trees for colder weather. As we came higher up the mountain we first drove through Eucalyptus forests. Even higher than that the Eucalyptus trees got replaced with a really old-looking spruce forest. It didn’t feel like we were close to the equator, but we could just as well have been in an old forest in the Nordic. The spruce forest was a lot more beautiful than I’m used to though, since most of the spruce forests in the south of Sweden consists of dense plantations.

Even higher than that bushes and grass replaced the spruces. We saw a man and his teenage son hitchhiking and picked them up. They were on their way to Pico do Arieiro and was going to hike the same trail as we did.

When we came to the parking lot it was full. We dropped our passengers off and drove down the road and parked at the side of it.

The skies were partly clouded, and the air was cool. I was glad that I had brought my synthetic puffy.

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The wind blew hard, and the trail was narrow at places, with steep sides. My wife has a fear of heights, and that fear was even bigger than she knew before this hike. But she overcame it and hiked the entire trail, despite the the height.

Almost the entire hike we had clouds around us, or just above our heads. On most parts of the trail there was wires as a fence from the cliffs. But in several places the poles had come lose, and the wires hung outside of the cliffs.

After a few km there is an intersection. The right trail is supposed to be a harder trail than the left one. But it was closed, so we took the left one instead, which goes through a series of tunnels.

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When we came near Pico Ruivo we passed a dead forest. The trees, with branches that had been twisted by wind, had died from a fire. The boles where pale and white, with the cracks painted black by soot.

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Just under the top of Pico Ruivo there is a cabin. We were hungry, and hoped it would be a cabin that sold food, but unfortunately it was closed. We rested for a while and ate the snacks we’d brought and then hiked the last 500 meters up to the top of Pico Ruivo. The top was covered in clouds so we didn’t get any spectacular views.

We found a geocach on the top, and after we logged it we turned back towards Pico Arieiro. As we hiked back we saw two pigeon-sized birds next to the trail. They were probably quite used to humans as they sat still while we photographed them.

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On the last stretch back to the car the trail was covered in fog, and the wind blew hard. We had brought too little food and were both very hungry. The fog made the parts on the image below feel almost magic. It felt like the trail was floating in the clouds.

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When we came back to the parking lot we stopped by the restaurant there and bought my new favorite fast food. A Portuguese steak sandwich. Two slices of Portuguese bread with garlic butter, a steak and a fried egg (plus cheese and ham, if you like the special). It was both cheap and delicious, and well needed after the hike.

Tomorrow evening I’ll be back on the trail, as I’ll hike Sigfridsleden from Asa to Växjö. It’ll be great to get a couple of nights under the stars again.

Österlen circle trail in March

General info

Österlen circle trail is a part of Skåneleden, and the trail goes through beautiful deciduous forests outside village Brösarp in the south east of Skåne. The circle trail is 34 km long, and it’s connected to the rest of Skåneleden, both in south east from Piraten parking lot, north from Agusta shelter area and south from Verkasjön.

You get here by following road 19, and the trail goes straight through Piraten where you could leave your car. There are smaller roads that you could use to drive closer to the shelter areas at Agusta, Verkasjön or Vantalången.

Much of the trail goes through the nature reserves like Drakamöllan and Verkeåns nature reserve. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to camp inside the nature reserves, other than on the designated camp sites.

My packlist

Trip report

I have to thank Brian for recommending this trail. He wrote a trip report from his hike here a couple of weeks before I did the hike.

My first plan was to drive down to Brösarp on a Friday evening, and set up camp pretty close to the car and then spend the Saturday and Sunday hiking. But when it was time to get to the trail I ended up driving down early on Saturday morning instead.

It was roughly a two hour drive from home, and I parked my car at Piraten parking lot, just north of Brösarp, at 09.30.

The weather couldn’t be better. The sun was shining and it really felt like spring was in the air. I decided to hike the trail counter clockwise, a decision I came to regret later.

The first section of the trail went through a really beautiful deciduous forest. This section was not a nature reserve, and if / when I get back to this trail I’ll probably camp here.

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Coming from the dark spruce forests of Småland, this felt almost exotic 🙂
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Drakamöllan nature reserve

After this section of deciduous forest I entered Drakamöllan nature reserve which to a large degree consists of pasture and heath on hills of sand and gravel formed during the ice age.

Just before the trail turns west, out of Drakamöllan, it crosses a stream. I sat down and decided to have a coffee break.

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First real test of my DIY windsheild. The water quickly came to a boil

After the break I continued down the trail, and after a short while I came to a road. The trail follows the road for about 2,5 – 3 km before it turned back into the woods. It crossed an interesting landscape filled with junipers before it passed Hörröd church and back into a nature reserve. Despite being in Skåne, the flattest part of Sweden, there was some great views. I had lunch in a beautiful forest with tree covered hills.

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A stream cut through the forest

Eventually I came to Agusta shelter area. It had a lean-to shelter and a lot of places to set up your tent. The shelter area was bordering an enclosed area with boars and deers. The trail follows the fence for a while. I didn’t see any deers, but I saw two flocks of boars, that started to run in the opposite direction once I came close.

After hours of walking through very scenic environment I came to the only boring section of the trail. First, a stretch of spruce forest, and after that a stretch passing a clear cut just north of Alunbruket.

My initial thought was to set up camp at Verkasjön shelter area near Alunbruket. It was getting late, and I was tired. When I came to Verkasjön though I didn’t find any good spot to set up my tent, and after looking at the map and satellite photos I decided to keep going and try to find a nice spot just outside the border of the nature reserve. This proved to be harder than I thought as the parts just outside the nature reserve was dense spruce forest. After a while I was to tired to keep looking for a better spot, and ended up in the spruce forest after all. I wasn’t happy about it. After hiking a whole day in really old beautiful deciduous forests I ended up in dark spruce forest after all.

The sun had already begun to set when I got my tent up. It was the first time I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 and my Borah Gear Bivy. Earlier in the week I had cut the extra guy lines in appropriate lengths to the guy points. I used a taut line hitch for the loops, to be able to easily tighten and loosen the guy line.

Once I got my tent up I made dinner. At first I felt to tired, but I made dinner after all. After that I cut some shock cord and tied it to a mitten hook and to the bivy to be able to strap it to the D-ring in the top of the Ultamid to get the mesh of my face.

I went to sleep early and slept fairly good. I woke up with the sun shining through my tent, and a chorus of bird songs. The disappointment I had felt over my site selection last night was gone.

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My palatial home for the night

There was some slight condensation on the inside of the tent, but it vanished quickly when I opened up the doors.

After breakfast I got back to the trail. I had somewhere between 8-10 km left to hike. The trail followed Verkeån for most of the time. I passed Vantalången shelter area. There where a couple of newly built lean-to shelters in the area. There was a group of campers there, that was airing out their tent and their sleeping bags.

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Verkeån
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The last forest before Brösarps backar

I left the forest behind me and came to Brösarps backar. The last stretch of the hike was on the hills, with nice views of the surrounding area.

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Brösarps backar

I came back to the car around noon. Not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures around 15°C. It was great, and I could easily have stayed for one more night.

I definitely recommend hiking the Österlen Circle trail. Except for the road section, and the short section through the spruce plantation and clear cuts, the trail went through idyllic fairy tale forests.