Canoe camping with Friluftsfrämjandet friends

(Disclaimer: Below list contains two affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for purchases made through the links. The gear is bought with my own money though and I have not been asked to review the gear.)

I have gone from camping almost every month of the year a few years back, to barely be out at all this year. I can’t find any specific reason. I love it but I just haven’t had the feeling. I don’t know if it might be because I’ve done so many short overnighters all around here that I want more. More hiking, longer paddles, mountains and multiday trips.

But in July me and C finally got out on an overnighter. We went on a canoe trip with Christoffer and his daughter E, that we met through Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytt and Skogsmulle. Both Christoffer and I are leaders for a Skogsmulle group.

We decided to do the trip on Tolgasjön where C and I usually paddle and camp, since it’s a narrow lake to paddle and short distances. It was E:s first canoe camping trip so we didn’t want to make an expedition out of it.

We had also decided to go with two cars and drop off one car at the end of our route, and drive the other car with the canoe to our starting point. We didn’t want to have to paddle too long back, in case the kids would be homesick.

The paddle wasn’t long though, and in retrospect we could have chosen a starting point further away from the island we had planned to camp on.

Last time we camped together we had one tent each, but this time we shared my HMG Ultamid 4, so I brought the full inner.

We had loads of room, but we had to tell the kids several times that they couldn’t use the carbon fiber center pole for pole dancing.

We fought an uneven battle to stop the kids from tripping over the guy lines. Christoffer put backpacks to block the way, but they would still wrestle through and trip. Eventually he found a big branch with a lot of leaves on it, pushed it down by the guy line (basically planted a tree) to block it. Still they kept running through it and trip.

Since we had brought the tent Christoffer said he could bring the food. He had brought burgers, and I decided to fry some on my pan too, to make the cooking speedier. The kids played and seemed to be content, and me and Christoffer had a couple of beers. I had put mine in the freezer before we went, so it was more or less beer slush. But I liked it. A cold slush beer on a camping trip is still a cold beer.

Most of the afternoon and evening we had good weather, but we did have a couple of rain showers. But it was plenty of room for the four of us in the tent so we didn’t mind much.

The kids had a hard time going to sleep. I read “Frejas första fjällvandring” by Emma V Larsson to get them sleepy, but I had scared them earlier in the evening when I told them the (true) ghost story about the times that me and my father had seen the legendary ghost that roams the road up to the house where I grew up.

Eventually, sometime after 23.00 they both fell asleep. C woke up at 04.00 though and had a really hard time getting back to sleep. I went outside and took a few photos of the sunrise, and I was afraid that C wouldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually she did though, and I dozed of and fell in and out of sleep until it was time to get up.

Christoffer made breakfast to all of us. Toast with bacon and fried eggs. A great way to start the day.

The kids seemed tired, and had a few arguments between them. It was time to go home, so we broke down camp and packed the canoe. The paddle back was very short, just across the lake back to the shore where there’s a campsite for Värendsleden canoe route.

The 400 meter uphill carry of the canoe from the campsite to the parking lot was a pain though. The canoe really isn’t lightweight, but I thought I would try to carry it on my shoulders anyways, while Christoffer took a lot of the other gear.

Once back at the car we drove to our starting point to get my car. I got back and picked up the canoe and all of us got back to the city and got some ice cream.

It was a nice summer trip. We’ve had great weather all summer and it’s perfect for canoe camping trips like this. Next trip will probably be a solo trip though, and I already have a place in mind.

First trip of 2022

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition of going camping in the first week of the year. This year though all of the family got Covid by new years eve. But on 14th of January C and I got away on a trip to Stocksmyr-Brännan nature reserve.

Info

Stocksmyr-Brännan is the largest nature reserve in Kronoberg, with its 2313ha. It has trails between 80 meter to 16,2 km long. There are two different shelters, one of them next to a lake in the northern parts. There has been a forest fire here, so there are signs all over the place to be wary of falling trees and the stems where still black. The fires can burn off the roots, and the trees can fall without warning.

Trip report

C and I wanted to use a tent, and it had been a long time since the last time we camped together. But since I’d never been in the reserve I wanted to check out the shelters first, to have a backup plan.

I used Google maps to find the way, but it took us out on a tractor trail, and it was almost too rough for my car to handle. But eventually we found our way through and parked at the shelter near the lake, on the northern part of the reserve. There was a flat area that could house our tent, but since it was pretty close to the parking lot I wanted to check out the other shelter before we decided where to camp.

I drove to the center of the reserve, and we started hiking on a trail south, to reach the southernmost shelter. The trail was really nice, with old pine and spruce forest and mossy grounds. C hiked with a good pace, but did long for the tent. Hiking is ok, but camp life is her favourite.

After a while we came to the southern parking lot, where we turned east back into the forest. After a while we spotted the southern shelter, on top of a small hill. The hill was just large enough to house the newly built shelter. I thought it was really nice, and wanted to stay there, but C was dead set on sleeping in the tent. There was no room what so ever, even for a 1 person tent, so setting up our Ultamid 4 was impossible. We hike back in a circle to the car and drove back to the northern shelter.

When we came there it was already starting to get dark. I set up the tent, got all of our sleeping gear out and C snuggled back in the inner tent with a movie. I sat in the vestibule and started to make dinner. Spaghetti Carbonara. It was delicious, but C didn’t eat too much of it.

After dinner I got into the inner tent with C. The trees creaked a bit ominous, and while I had checked for burned trees nearby I got anxious that I had missed one, and the forecast had predicted quite strong gusts during the night. In the end I realized that it was better to be safe than sorry. I would never forgive myself if a tree fell on the tent and hurt C.

I managed to persuade her to move to the shelter instead. So we moved all of our gear over to the shelter and lit a fire and played “Go fish” together for the rest of the evening. I haven’t been too fond of shelters before, and prefer a tent. But it was really cozy with the fire, and comfortable to spread out our gear all over the shelter. It was Cs first time in a shelter, and while she prefers the tent she still liked it. C fell asleep, but I stayed up a bit longer, before I dozed off to the dying fire. ‘

I slept fairly good that night, and the next morning I forced myself out of my comfortable sleeping bag and started a fire. After the fire got going I got back into the sleeping bag and made breakfast.

When we finally mustered enough energy to get up we packed up the gear and got back to the car. On the way back I checked out the site for our tent, and there where no dead trees nearby, so we could have stayed there safely. But as said, better safe than sorry.

Stocksmyr-Brännan was a nice nature reserve, and I want to explore more of it. I’d love to try the southern shelter too one day, but it might take some persuasion to get C to agree on that.

Kids camping with Outdoor Life Växjö

There’s a Facebook group called Outdoor Life Växjö where we share tips and tricks about gear and sweet spots nearby. The group has meetups every now and then. Since a lot of the members in the group has kids I thought it would be fun to have a meetup with the kids.

In mid September a bunch of us met up on Skälsnäs on the northern side of Helgasjön. Christoffer and E from Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytte also joined, and Christoffer also brought E:s little brother. A couple of the guys who came with their kids only stayed for the evening but four of us camped with our kids.

Skälsnäs is a good place for car camping trips. There’s a shelter, privys, a sandy beach, several fire pits and lots of room for tents.

I had brought the Tentipi with the HeatPal. Since it was a car camping trip I wanted as much comfort as possible. I had also brought a lot of good food, with a couple of beers and tasty cheeses and sausages. But despite having the carriying frame I wouldn’t want to carry this setup any longer distances. It really is heavy.

We had a fire next to the shelter and hung out there most of the evening. The kids where playing, but C was a bit shy until Christoffer and E came. C was very happy that E came and they played together for the rest of the evening. When it was getting darker they went inside the tent with snacks and an iPad to watch a movie. The kids had been soaked from playing near (in) the water and I hung up the clothes to dry and fired up the HeatPal.

The adult stayed by the fire, chatting and eating. It was really nice and relaxing. By midnight it was time to go to bed. Dario, who started the Facebook group, and his daughter and friend used the shelter, while the rest of us used tents.

Next morning Christoffer and I had to leave pretty early, since we where going to Skogsknytte with the kids. It was more important for Christoffer since he is one of the leaders om Skogsknytte.

It was a fun trip, and nice to be out with the kids and meet other patents. I’d love to do it again, but next time I would like to do a hiking- or paddling trip instead of a car camping trip.

C:s first thru hike

Ok, so the term thru hike is probably more or less reserved for longer trails, but this was the first time C hiked the entire length of a trail, so I’m calling it a thru hike for her.

My oldest daughter got a gift card for a spa on her 16th birthday, and was going to Kosta Boda Art Hotel with her mother in late June. At the same time my son was staying a couple of days on “Kortis” (a sort of relief home for families with disabled children). This was a perfect time for me and C to go hiking.

I had found a circle trail just outside of Kosta in the nature reserve Visjön. It’s an 8km trail, and I thought it would be a good trail for two days of hiking with C.

We dropped off my wife and oldest daughter at the hotel, and drove north towards Visjön. We parked the car in the west side of the lake, just north of a shooting range. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the forecast showed rain for the next two days. But C was in a good mood. After a short hike along the borders of the shooting range we arrived at the lake. We turned north and hiked along the esker that borders most of the west side of the lake.

After a while we saw the ground sort of moving. With a closer look we saw that the ground was littered with small 1-2cm long frogs. They where everywhere for a long part of the trail. We tried to watch our steps so we wouldn’t step on them. Every now and then we stopped to pick blueberries.

We came to the north side of the lake, and turned down south on the east shore before making dinner. We had noodles with beef jerkey and cheese. So far we hadn’t seen a single suitable place to set up the tent. Eventually we came down to the parking and info sign marked on the map. On a small peninsula nearby we found a perfect spot for our tent, and room for many more too.

The rain had stopped earlier, but we set up the tent right away, and put up the hammock. This time I had brought the half inner, to be able to get in and out of the tent without having rain falling into the inner. On 2/3 of the vestibule I had a polycro groundsheet for the gear. This was actually a perfect setup for me and C. The half inner was large enough for us, without feeling cramped, and we had a large area for the gear.

I made dinner for us, and then we just hung out in the hammock and eat snacks. It didn’t take long before we both fell asleep.

When we woke up it started to rain slightly, so we took down the hammock and retreated to the tent. C watched Vaiana on my phone while I was reading a book writter by a reporter and a photographer who got kidnapped in Syria a few years ago.

After the movie it was time for C to go to sleep. The rain had started to pour down, and once again I had water seeping through, and dropping down on my face. I was pissed. I had carefully taped the insides where the midway corner guylines attatches and where the plastic struts for the vents are, but still water came through. But this time I saw the source. Water kept seeping through the seams on the top hat, and ran down on the inside of the tent before dropping down on my face. I sent a mail to HMG again, and this time I got the $58 i paid for the shipping back. Since then I’ve taped up those seams too, so I think it will be ok now. But then and there I regretted selling my heavier Hillebergs for this. Hilleberg fans can almost be a bit cultist from time to time, but in the end there’s a reason for it. I’ve had three Hillebergs (and a lot of other tents too) and their quality do stand out.

I was a bit annoyed that the super expensive tent didn’t hold up as expected, but I managed to let it go and go to sleep.

The next morning we had chocolate banana oatmeal for breakfast, before packing up. It was raining heavy this morning. C jumped in water pools as we hiked along.

On the southern section of the trail we came to a large open area that probably serves as a pasture from time to time. There weren’t any animals there at that time, so it could have been a nice place for a tent. The place had an abundance of wild strawberries. We ate a lot, and I could barely get C to continue hiking with me.

After that we had a section of road hiking before turning back north on the esker we started with. C was starting to get a bit tired, but it was only a short hike left to the car. When we got to the car we took of our wet rain gear. C was dry as a bone, but my cheapo rainpants had leaked through, and I might as well have skipped them all together.

This was C:s first hike of an entire trail. We’ve done a lot of paddling, camping and off trail hiking but this was the first time she hiked an entire trail. It went really good, even though her favourite part is hanging out in camp. (It’s actually my favourite part too, when I’m not solo hiking)

Camping and first canoeing of 2021

It’s been a while since I wrote here. It has been a lot going on this spring and I just haven’t had the time or energy to write. But I do have a few trip reports to post, so I’ll start with No. 1 out of 4.

Trip report

On 30th of April C and I got out on an overnighter together. It was our first overnighter together since our hot tent overnighter in Januaury, and it would be the first time C got to use the new Ultamid 4. I had only used it once before, on my ski trip in February, but that time I used the half inner. For this trip I brought the full inner, to get a chance to test it.

We got away later than first planned, and since we had to get back early the next day drove to our “secret” spot, that is close to home. It’s also C:s favourite place to camp. I brought the canoe too. We didn’t plan to paddle to a campsite, but I wanted to do at least a short paddle.

When we arrived I set up camp right away. The spot where we usually put up the tent was in the danger zone though. A pine tree had cracked about 100cm up, but was still standing. It would have been stupid to put up the tent within falling distance from it, so we cleared out a new spot and set up the tent.

After that we made dinner, chicken paeng red curry with noodles. I loved it, but C prefered the noodles over the paeng.

We paddled for a while and C got to use her new fishing rod. We didn’t catch anything though. But after a while C wanted to get back. It’s neither the hiking nor the paddling that she prefers. It’s playing in the tent.

So we got back to the car, put the canoe back in the roof and went back to the tent.

There where a lot of Canada geese that honked all around us. Their nests are everywhere in these parts. But we also heard the lonely calls from Loons. The sound of their cries cut through everything, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.

As the sun was setting we got out on a rock on the far edge of our peninsula and just sat there, looked over the lake and listened to the sounds of nature.

After a long time we got back to the tent. C slept like a log all night, but I woke up several times when my Massdrop Klymit mat had deflated (I later found a tiny little hole in it.)

The next morning I made french toast from a pancake powder mix I had made at home. It was a pretty nice breakfast.

We packed up after that, and when I started to take down the tent the rain started.

And that’s that. A simple short overnighter, but a nice time spent in nature and hanging out with my daughter.

Canoe camping in Salen

In May spring was in full force in Sweden. Warm temperatures and gazing sun made up perfect conditions for a canoe camping trip. While me and C use to go to Tolgasjön, north of Växjö, I decided to try a new lake this time. Lake Salen, 20 km west of Växjö. We drove to a small power station on Helige Å, to put in the canoe. There where a short portage for a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot to the put in spot. This is part of Värendsleden, the canoe route that passes both Tolgasjön and Växjö.

There’s supposed to be trout in this lake, so I brought fishing gear and bought a one day fishing permit.

The initial paddling through Helige Å was beautiful. I’ll like to paddle more in rivers, but find it too much of a project to find people to pick up us and the canoe down stream. And paddling solo upstream can be too strenuous.

After a very short paddle in Helige Å we came out in Salen. The small town Alvesta borders the lake, which means a lot of people on the lake. With weather like this, and travel bans outside of your medical region a lot of people went to the lake. A lot of motor boats and jet skis drove across the lake as we paddled.

Through a local outdoor forum on Facebook I’d learned of a campsite on one of the islands. We paddled there right away so we wouldn’t have to search for a campsite later in the day when we’d be more tired.

We found one site that was quite nice, but a guy with a kid where there with their boat, so we kept paddling. On the west side of the island we found an even better campsite. There where room for the tent right next to the rocks where we had the canoe, or a short walk up to a rock on higher grounds, with better views.

C got to decide where to put up our camp, and she chose the high grounds. We put up our camp and made a lunch of Krabbelurer (a sort of fluffy sugary pancake). After lunch we paddled around the lake, fishing a bit and looking at the neighboring islands to look for potential campsites for future trips.

I have a list on google maps where I store all the good campsites I come across, even though I’m not camping there that time. As of now I have 60+ campsites on my list. Most of them close to home and many of them are only accessible with the canoe.

We didn’t get any fish, which isn’t surprising. I’m not much of a fisher man, and the middle of the day is the worst time to be fishing. But I mostly brought the fishing gear for fun, as C likes to reel in the lure.

We went back to our camp only to discover that black ants had infested it. In the very small gap between the zippers they had been able to enter the inner tent, and the sleeping pad and sleeping mats where covered in ants.

I shook out all the gear, and decided to move the camp down to the canoe instead. Down there we put up the hammock and made reindeer stew with mashed potatoes for dinner.

After dinner it was time for some quality chillaxing in the hammock. It didn’t last too long though, as 4 guys in their 20:th came up with their motor boats and jet skis, and decided to get to shore 10 meter from us. When they finally had managed to get to shore they went up the hill to drink some beer. It was evening, and I feared that they would be loud and long lasting. Not the kind of relaxing evening with my 4 year old that I had looked forward to.

Fortunately they where calm, and after an hour or so they left. They played around with the jet ski outside the island for a while, and then left.

With weather this nice we slept with the tent door open. During the night it started to rain though, so I got up and closed the door.

When morning came the weather was fine again, and we had breakfast before packing down our camp. We didn’t do any more exploring that morning, but just paddled straight back to the car after breakfast.

It was nice to try a new lake, but the proximity to a town made it too crowded for my liking. Asasjön and Tolgasjön where we usually paddle is a rural area with less people. We probably won’t camp here again, but I’d like to come back to do some trout fishing.

Winter overnighter with my daughter

I haven’t been out camping a lot this year, and the last overnighter I had was in September.

I’ve been longing for the outdoors, but things have come in the way.

Last weekend I finally got out again, on a short overnight trip with C. She too had been longing for some time in a tent, and it was nice to get out together.

It’s became a rather sudden decision, so when we finally got out to our “secret” spot north of Växjö it was already dark. But the sun do set early in the winter up north.

C had fallen asleep in the car, so I set up camp before I woke her up. I had decided to film this trip, and the darkness provided some difficulties to the filming. But filming in the warm light of a candle light or a storm lantern gave its own feeling to the shots.

With darkness already upon us, and a cold windy weather C and I stayed in the warm tent.

With trial and error I’ve finally seemed to have managed how to keep the stove relatively warm for a long period without using up too mush wood.

We made a dinner of fried vegetable , pepper steaks and rice. Sort of out usual dinner while hot tent camping. But it is delicious.

After dinner C kept playing with pine cones. “Mommy pine cone and baby pine cone” She also “found a map” in the magic red light of her head lamp. It was a map of England and Beach Land, that she studied in the red light against the tipi wall.

We had Christmas porridge (rice porridge) before we went to bed.

I used the Exped Synmat Duo UL LW this time too, and I truly love it. It is such an improvement to my sleep. It’s super comfortable, and C always crawled up on my sleeping pad before. This way we can share a 130x200cm pad with lots of room. For camping with a kid this is really an awesome piece of gear.

For other gear I also used my Frost River Isle Royale Jr pack. For hiking I’m a light weight backpacker, but I do love traditional canvas- and leather gear, and for car- and canoe camping like this, I prefer them.

I had aligned the sleeping pad in a different angle than I use to, so when I woke up the next morning I first had trouble figuring out where the door was in my sleep drunken state.

I had chopped up small pieces of firewood last night to quickly get a hot fire burning. We then fried some breads for breakfast that we ate with salamis and cheeses.

C didn’t want to go home, but unfortunately it was time to go home after breakfast. We stayed in the tent while the stove cooled down, and packed down the rest of the gear.

As usual we had a nice time camping. There is less hiking nowadays, but I love camping with C. She longs for the canoe again, and so do I. I can’t wait to get out on a canoe camping trip with her again.

The video from the trip is up on YouTube. Both filming in the dark and filming with a tree year old was challenging. But I’ll try to film more this year. The editing is still rudimentary, but hopefully it’ll improve the more I do it.