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.

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.

October overnigher

With the Corona restrictions the outdoors have gotten more attentions. This is especially obvious when I’ve been on day trips near the city, and it’s been difficult to find unoccupied fire places, and at times difficult to even find somewhere to park the car.

We’ve been on a lot of day trips this fall, but somehow I’ve never got away on any overnighters. But in late October C and I got away on a short overnight trip. My first plan was to paddle to an island we discovered on a day paddle in Asasjön, the lake bordering Tolgasjön where we usually paddle and camp. The weather forecast didn’t look too good though, and with headwinds and rain on our way home I decided to do a car camping trip instead. I want to keep it comfortable for C, so she doesn’t get put of from camping.

We drove to our usual spot at Tolgasjön where we set up our camp. We brought a small Tentipi and a firebox. I had bought the previously owned, but barley used tipi on a whim earlier this fall, and was eager to try it out. I do like gear too much, and have bought and sold quite a few tents this decade.

The sun sets early, and we got away a little later than expected, so I set up the camp as soon as we arrived. It was more of a bushcraft camp than a hiker camp, with the canvas tipi, the firebox and the cozy sheep pelts to rest on. We also brought the Feuerhand- and the UCO lanterns.

I got the fire going pretty quickly, and we fried a couple of burgers for lunch. By dinner time we weren’t really that hungry, but I still made some rice, fried veggies and and a steak.

The rest of the evening we just chilled by the fire. Eventually C went inside the tent and played there while I laid by the fire and just enjoyed the moment.

When it was time to sleep I read C:s new book; Det stora tältäventyret (The great tent adventure). By the third chapter she was asleep.

The tent door was open, and the fire burned outside in the firebox. I stayed in the sleeping bag and listened to C:s heavy sleeping next to me, and the sounds of the fire outside the tent. I felt fully at peace. Being in the outdoors like this really reduces all the stress and is the best way for me to recharge.

As usual C woke up earlier than me, and eventually woke me up. I got the fire going again, and started to prepare breakfast. I had made a bag of krabbelurmix with egg- and milkpowder, and added water an let the mix sit for a while. When it was ready I fried up krabbelurer to us, that we ate with honey on top. It was a great start of the day. We didn’t stay long though, and after breakfast we drove back home.

Canoe camping in July

Me and the family have been on a road trip through Europe the last two weeks, and got back home on Tuesday morning. It was a nice trips, where we stayed in Venice for two nights and then spent a lot of time in Croatia.

I loved the sun and the crystal clear water of the Adriatic Sea, but soon I started to miss the forests and the dark lakes of Sweden.

So when we got back home I went on a short overnight canoe trip.

There is a 120 km canoe route, called Värendsleden that passes through Växjö and I decided to explore the northern parts of it. It starts in Asa, in the northern end of Asasjön, but I drove to Åby at the northern end of Helgasjön, and paddled north from there.

I came to the canal lock that separates the lakes Helgasjön and Skavenäsasjön, parked the car and put the canoe in the water. A German family pulled up from the lake just as I was about to enter.

I paddled north, and in the beginning I had houses on both sides, as I paddled through Åby. But it’s a small village, and soon there was forest on both sides.

I followed the shoreline and once in a while stopped to look for suitable camp grounds. Not because I planned to stop right away, but as a reference for future trips. I started a list on Google maps earlier this year, where I save all the possible campsites that I find.

My goal was the island Ferön in Tolgasjön. Despite knowing about the the canoe route, I didn’t know this place actually was so popular for canoing. During my short trip I saw a lot of canoes on the lake, and many in groups of three or four canoes.

I found one of the designated campsites, and checked it out. There was a lean-to shelter and a fireplace next to a large field. At first I thought the field wasn’t part of the campsite, but then I spotted a fireplace with benches in the middle, and in the far end of the field there was a water tap, trash bins and outhouses. It was enough room for tents to house a small festival. I prefer more secluded places though, and continued.

I didn’t make it all the way up to Ferön, but decided to stop at a cape south of the island. The cape had very old oak trees and pine trees scattered across it, with bushes and small trees on the shores that gave privacy and a lot of flat grounds for the tent. With such a perfect place I just had to stop.

I set up the tent, inflated my sleeping mat and puffed up my quilt. This time I decided to go with my Wind Hard Tiny quilt, as it was very warm outside. It worked perfectly as a summer quilt. I also found two trees that was suitable for setting up the hammock.

When everything was set up, I made lunch and then I just chilled in camp. Sunbathing on the sleeping mat, or chillaxing in the hammock. A boat with a seemingly nude couple headed towards the cape, but when they spotted my camp they turned back again.

(The current fire ban didn’t include camping stoves at the time, but I did soak the ground in water before I used it. Since then the authorities have issued an extended fire ban, which includes camping stoves too.)

I thought about going for a paddle later in the afternoon and evening, but it was so nice to just relax in camp.

The weather got worse in the late afternoon though, and soon the sky was more or less covered in clouds. I made dinner, and then laid in the hammock reading War and Peace on my phone. Apparently I had already read all the books on my eBook reader. Some of the twice.

In the evening the skies cleared up, and the weather was beautiful again, albeit a bit chilly. A boat with a couple of guys anchored just off the cape and spent a couple of hours fishing. They didn’t disturb the peace at all. What did disturb the peace though was the guys running circles on their Jetski a few hundred meters south of my camp. Sounds travel far across the lake, and they just kept at it for a long time. But I don’t have any exclusive right to access the wilderness, so I guess I shouldn’t be annoyed. And eventually they quit and the lake was calm and silent again.

I thought about watching a movie or series on Netflix before I went to bed, but I was too tired and went straight to bed instead. I didn’t sleep too well though, as I have trouble sleeping where ever I am.

The next morning I woke up to clear skies. This was my first solo trip since my winter hike in Stora Mosse in March. I love to bring C along, but I also really value the solitude and the time to just put the brain on pause. I didn’t want to leave the lake, as it was so nice to just chill there.

I made breakfast, and left the camp to explore the lake north of the cape. I found another somewhat suitable campsite, and then paddled to Ferön. There where a bunch of canoes and a lot of tents there, as one or more of the groups that had passed me had set up camp there last night. The island seemed to be great for camping, and I’ll come back here to camp there sometime in the future.

I paddled back to my camp and then took a swim, and packed up. I hesitated to leave, so I took another swim and made lunch before I paddled back. I tried to use my hammock as a sail, but there wasn’t enough wind so it ended up in the lake instead.

I got back to the parking lot, put the canoe on the roof of the car and drove back home.

As for the canoe I’m considering saving up for a different canoe. I’m not too pleased with this one for solo use (and paddling with C is almost like solo use). It’s great for family trips, but it was a lot heavier than advertised by the seller so I didn’t save as much weight as expected when I bought it. Despite being lighter than the old 45kg canoe, and easier to handle with the carrying yoke, I still deem it too heavy for solo use.

I’m still considering the Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga or a Bergans Ally. The Ally has the benefit of being easy to store, and easy to fix if something breaks on a trips. It’s also a lot cheaper than the Saga, since they use to go for around 1000€ in the end of the season. The Saga still ticks all of my boxes though, but it’s too expensive for me. But I still have a picture of it taped on the inside of my bathroom locker (with a list of my goals for visualization ).

In conclusion I had a great trip. The weather we’re having now is perfect for canoe camping trips.

Canoe camping turned car camping

It’s vacation time, and I wanted to take Corinne out for a short canoe camping overnight trip.

Weather had changed for the worse in the last couple of weeks, and there where no more days of 30°C and endless sun. Now the days where filled with clouds, and the temperature rarely exceeded 20°C.

My plan was to drive to Asa, north of Växjö, and paddle for the day in Asasjön and then look for a camp for the night. I planned to start at a camp site that I had found when I hiked Sigfridsleden last year. I drove up pretty early, and we arrived before noon.

Unfortunately this day proved to be really windy. It had been windy in Växjö too, but when I arrived to the lake I realized that I wouldn’t want to paddle with Corinne in those conditions. The waves where pretty high, and the gusts would mean a lot of work to get the canoe to go straight while paddling solo.

I decided to set up a base camp at the camping grounds instead, make short trips on foot in the nearby area, and if the wind died down, paddle a bit later in the afternoon/evening.

20180619_132238893_iOS

We found a nice spot a bit away from the structures on the camp site, where the tent was hidden from the camp site by young trees and bushes. We set up the tent, and this was the first time I used my Tentipi Olivin with an inner.

Once I had the tent up I saw that I had gotten the lines to the top vent tangled when I strapped the inner to the tent, and it took some effort to get it right. My plan at first was to use the inner when I’m camping with Corinne, and only the fly and perhaps a bivy when I’m camping solo. But the top vent adjustment makes the process of adding the inner a very tedious process, and now I think I’ll just leave it as it is.

20180619_142944790_iOS

When the tent was up, and our sleeping gear was unpacked, I put up the hammock closer to the water. But the wind made the hammock act like a sail every time we left it, so I had to unhook it in one end and put it back in the back every time, to not risk damage from the strong gusts.

20180619_112254727_iOS

We fried a few sausages for lunch, and then hung out in the hammock for a while. It was quite cold, and the wind made it even worse. We had our puffy jackets and wind jackets on. It didn’t look like we where going to be able to paddle today.

20180619_123424077_iOS

We started to explore and old trail that followed the shore south from the camping grounds. Sigfridsleden now follows the road away from the place, but I think the overgrown trail is a remnant of the old Sigfridsleden. We crossed a broken down old bridge over a little stream, and came to a nice open area where we sat by the lake for a while, and Corinne passed time by throwing pine cones into the lake.

After a while we hiked back, but stopped once in a while to eat blueberries and wild strawberries that grew at the sides of the trail.

20180619_173958245_iOS

The rest of the day continued with a lot of hammock time, and we both fell asleep in the hammock on one occasion. During the evening we hiked along the shore north of the camping ground, and came to the place where I had camped before a couple of times, and the place where I had my first solo camping.

20180619_183208027_iOS

When we came back to our camp we made dinner by the lake, hung out in the hammock and eventually went inside to go to sleep. Corinne was too exited to sleep though, and didn’t fall asleep until after 22.30.

20180619_194404925_iOS

I’ve been using different types of floorless shelters for over a year now, and have gotten used to it. But I have to say that an inner really adds to a cozy feeling, and it’s nice to get the added wind block in conditions like these. I really don’t like how much weight it adds, but I think I can get used to having an inner. The problem I did see though, with a tipi-style tent, is that there isn’t a vestibule to cook in when it rains. But I think I could just unbuckle the inner on the two sides of the door and move the inner back to get a vestibule for cooking in bad conditions.

The next morning we woke up, had breakfast and then packed up. I hadn’t even unstrapped the canoe from the car roof.

Despite us not being able to paddle anything I was happy with the trip. It’s always nice to get out and to get a night in a tent. Corinne loves the outdoors, and I feel that this is a really good way to bond with the kids, without a lot of distractions.