3-day canoe camping on Immeln

In the borderlands between the regions Blekinge and Skåne there’s a canoe route between the lakes Halen, Raslången, Immeln and a few smaller lakes. Me and C have both been hiking and paddling around Raslången, and in November 2018 I was hiking there with Brian from Brian Outdoors.

This time my wife Maria would join me and C. My son was away this weekend, and my oldest daughter wanted the house to herself. We decided to paddle in Immeln, as there where a lot of Geocaches there that my wife wanted to find. Immeln is the largest of the lakes, and in the lake system there are two canoe outfitters that rents out canoes. One in Olofström next to Halen, and one in the southern parts of Immeln. There are several designated campsites throughout the lakes, with lean to shelters, fireplaces and privys.

Day 1

We drove the ~1,5h down to Breanäs, where we would park and put in the canoe. There’s a beach and a small harbor there, and when we arrived in the afternoon there where quite a few people on the beach. We put the canoe in the water and loaded it with our backpacks before setting off. We found a Geocache just across the bay, and then continued south.

We stopped again at Prästön, and explored it for potential campsites. Since we arrived in the late afternoon we wanted to check out campsites right away. In the southernmost parts of the island we found a flat spot for a tent, but it had just been occupied by another family. When we headed back to the canoe three other canoes came to the island to look for a place to camp. We would discover that this lake was extremely crowded, with canoe campers on basically every island in the lake.

After getting back to the canoe we paddled south towards Kvinnoöarna, two islands close together with designated campsites on both of them. We had strong headwinds with large waves that crashed over the stern of the canoe. I’m used to solo paddling, so it was a joy to be two paddlers battling the waves and winds.

We came down to the northern part of Norra Kvinnoön, and found a place to get to shore. There, under the tall lush trees, we found a perfect campsite. We pulled the canoe up, set up the tent and the hammock and had the camp ready. After that we took a nice dip in the water to cool off. The shores where very steep and the water dark, so C had to wear her life jacket in the water. We also thought it would be good for her to try it in the water in a safe manner, in case she’d fall in someday.

After the camp was up we decided to explore the rest of the island. A short walk uphill took us to a fireplace with quite a lot of room for tents, and a privy. Further down there where another fireplace and room for yet another tent. On the southern side of the island was a pier, and one canoe was tied to it. On the western side was a cliff, where another couple had set up their camp. We stopped to chat with them, as we passed back to our campsite. The island is relatively small, but the campsites where scattered across it, so it was still possible to get some kind of privacy and feeling of being secluded.

Back in camp we made dinner, and Mia and I took a glass (foldable kuksa) of wine, as the food was simmering. All three of us spent the rest of the evening tucked together in the hammock, watching the sun go down. A family with a lot of kids had set up camp uphill, and across the lake someone was blasting techno for the whole lake to hear. Despite this we had a relaxing time. We also spotted a couple of hazel dormice running across the campsite. We thought that the sides of the canoe would be to slippery for them to climb on, so we flipped the canoe up and put the food inside.

When it was almost midnight we decided to go to sleep for real, and headed to the tent. We used the Hilleberg Staika, which is a 2 person tent. It was ok to use with a 4-year old between us, since we had the Exped Duo HL LW, which is 130cm wide and covered most of the floor. But it was a bit cramped though. With the warm weather and the good forecast we slept with the door open, falling asleep to the views of the lake and the forest, and the sound of waves and distant techno.

Day 2

C was the only one sleeping good that night. I have insomnia that always gets worse during the summer, and I tossed and turned more than usual that night. I got up around 4 o’clock and walked over to another side of the island to watch the sun come up. It was nice to watch the sun come up across the lake, but that early in the morning it was a bit chilly. I went back to camp, took out my quilt and laid in the hammock for a while, before getting back into the tent. For summer use I have an Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny quilt, that I bought from AliExpress. It’s light and compact, relatively cheap and perfect for summer use.

By 6 o’clock both Mia and I got up, and while I was boiling water for coffee C woke up too. We had hoped that she would sleep longer, since she stayed up quite late the other evening.

I fried Krabbelurer for breakfast, that we rinsed down with orange juice, a few mini salamis and some cheese. We packed up our camp and loaded up the canoe. We discovered that the mice indeed could climb up the sides of the canoe, since there was a hole in the trashbag and they had eaten some of the trash. Fortunately though they had left our foodbags alone.

My wife had come up with a route to paddle to get the most Geocaches in the most effective manner. First we paddled north, to a small skerry where there would be one cache. We didn’t find it though, but saw a perfect, and occupied, campsite on a neighboring island. I added it to my list of campsites on google maps. I would come to add a lot of places this trip, since the lake had numerous good campsites.

After the failed attempt to bag a cache at the skerry we went back south. We got ashore on the southern end of Södra Kvinnoön to get the next one. This too was a failed attempt, and after a long and hard search we gave up. But I did take the time to explore the island and mark all the potential campsites it had.

We continued south, to almost the southernmost end of the lake, where there where two caches. One was in a bay that habited the endangered Red Waterlily (Nymphaea alba f. rosea). A family had stopped nearby to swim, so we logged the cache fast and then went on our way. We stopped at another beach nearby to cool off in the water. The sand was a mixture of what I think was quartz, and with the humus colored water it almost looked like gold. When we walked in the water and stirred up the sand the water glittered like someone had sprinkled it with gold dust.

After a short cooling bath we continued back north. Once again we stopped by an island without finding the cache. We continued north and got to shore on a cape with nice places for tents. Here we made a dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce with lots of Parmesan. It was really tasty, and a dried meal I’ll be making again. Mia and C picked a lot of blueberries while I made dinner. After dinner we took a quick dip, and then sat on a cliff and ate the blueberries as dessert. We dropped a couple of them, and the rolled down the cliff into the water. We watched them float away when a couple of fishes suddenly came out of the water and took them.

We continued our trip, stopping once in a while to check out potential campsites, or looking for caches. We found one cache on a skerry that wasn’t more than a few rocks sticking up through the water. The cache was inside a box encased in a concrete cast. It looked like it would survive anything, and with its exposed location it would have too. After that cache was logged we headed towards Abborröarna where we would be looking for a place to spend the night. On Norra Abborrön we found a nice place. It had been regularly used, as we found a lot of flat grounds for tents, and at least three fire rings in a relatively small area. There was also a small, but very nice, sandy beach. On the neighboring Södra Abborrön we saw that other paddlers had set up camp.

When the camp was up Mia and C took a bath while I paddled to Norra Björkö to grab the last Geocache of the day. That was an adventure in itself, as the wind blew quite hard on that side of the island, and the cache was hanging up in a fallen tree that hung out in the water. But I managed to paddle close, secure the canoe with a rope to the tree and then climb up the tree and log it.

I paddled around the island and found yet another campsite. Smaller than the one we’d chosen, but on the wrong side of the island, which made it both windy and in shade. I paddled back to our camp, took a quick dip and then got started with dinner. Falafel, couscous and Ajvar was on the menu for our last camp dinner. On this island too, there where hazel dormice. A LOT of them, and they weren’t shy at all. They came for our trash bag as we where sitting there. We tried to chase them away but they just kept coming. I guess a lot of camper who leave trash behind, and no natural predators makes the population explode. Eventually we just threw a line over a branch an hung up everything eatable in a tree away from our tent.

We had our dinner and then went down to the water to chill on a rock in the sunset. We where all more tired than last evening, and decided to get to bed early. Sometime during the night I heard mice running past the tent but none of them came very close, and I slept better than the night before.

Day 3

We woke up feeling quite tender, after a couple of days with hard paddling in the blazing sun. I had burned my back, and with the life jacket on it looked like tan lines from a really wide sports bra. Sexy look on a man like me. Mia woke up before me, and did some morning yoga on a rock. I got started with breakfast and eventually C woke up too. A lot of paddlers seemed to be early birds, and paddled past the island. The paddlers in Södra Abborrön had already left the island.

After breakfast we packed up all our gear and loaded up the canoe. We paddled to the now empty Södra Abborrön to log the last geocache for the trip. It was quickly found, and we paddled north towards the beach where we had started our trip. We had tailwind for this last part of our trip, which was nice, since both of us where a bit sore.

We got up to the beach, and Mia took C for a quick dip while I packed the car.

I both liked and disliked paddling on Immeln. The lake itself was nice to paddle in, and unlike other lakes I’ve paddled it had an abundance of possible campsites. But the abundance of mice on the islands was quite a downer, and it was too crowded for my liking. The nature was great though, and I might come back here. But I think I’ll stay in Raslången, that’s at least a bit less crowded.

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.

Second canoe camping trip of 2020

I’m way behind in writing trip reports, but here comes a report from my trip in April with C.

We have found our perfect lake to paddle and camp by, so as usual we drove north of Växjö to our designated putin.

Weather was great, but we paddled straight to “our“ island, as that’s what C wanted. When we arrived I set up our camp, and quickly got the hammock up. The hammock has turned out to be an essential piece of gear while camping with C, and we both really enjoy just hanging out and munching on all of our good food.

For the first time ever I was going to fry pancakes for lunch. I’ve never done it on a camping stove before, and I had a home made mix with powdered eggs and powdered milk. It didn’t work out good at all. It mostly turned out to be either a burnt mess, or a raw mess. But at least I tried (I altered the recipe for the next trip, and that worked great. So practice gives results).

During the afternoon we paddled to the cape where I filmed my canoe movie last year. There’s a mini island just outside the cape, and we paddled to check it out. When we rounded it we found a Canada goose nesting on it, so we quickly left to let it be alone. The lake has a lot of Canada geese, and we had seen both nests, eggs and eggshells.

We paddled back to the island and got started with dinner. On our menu was falafel with couscous and Ajvar. I used a premade falafel mix, mixed with water and fried it in a generous amount of olive oil. The meal was really good, and easy to make.

After dinner we got back to hanging out in the hammock, before it was time to get to sleep. I had a plan to stay awake and watch the stars with C, but I was too tired. I have insomnia, but when I’m tucked in it’s still hard to get out of the warm cozy quilt to get outside.

Next morning we set up the hammock again, on another spot, to be able to warm up in the morning sun. I boiled water for coffee and hot coco, to rinse down the tortillas and varieties of cheeses and salamis.

After breakfast we spend a while just relaxing in the hammock, looking and the birds and enjoying the sounds of small waves crashing against the shore.

Eventually we had to get back home, and packed down our camp. The canoe got loaded up again, and we headed back towards the car. This time we had a lot less wind than last time, and had no problem getting back. We had the lake mostly to our selfs this time, but with all the Corona related travel restrictions abroad I suspect finding a campsites this summer will be harder.

First canoe camping trip of 2020

In late March it was finally time put the canoe in the water for the first time this season. I had really longed to get back into the lakes, and the weather reports looked promising.

The lake was like a mirror when we first set off

I took C with me to our usual spot at Tolgasjön, loaded up the canoe and set off. I had planned to paddle to the northern parts of the lake, and check out the narrow passage between Asasjön and Tolgasjön.

C tried to grab reeds as we passed through the passage

We found it, but when we had paddled for a while dark clouds formed ahead of us, and we turned back. We paddled to a small island in the northern parts of Tolgasjön. We have camped here before, and it’s a nice spot.

We set up our camp, hung up the hammock, and had lunch. The rest of the day we mostly just hung out in the hammock and enjoyed the serenity of nature.

The Trangia stove set really isn’t UL, but there something nostalgic about it that just makes me want to use it.

For dinner we had macaronis and meat sauce. I’ve started to use my Trangia 27 HA stove set again. For hiking I prefer my Storminstove set, but I really like the Trangia. It might come down to nostalgia, from using it as a kid, but it is great for more advanced outdoor cooking. I made quite easy meals on this trip, but I have started to experiment with more recipes.

We went to bed, and once again I praised my Exped Duo mat LW. I sleep a lot better now that I don’t have to wrestle with C for space on my narrow HL mat.

We woke up to a sunny, but windy morning, and had a breakfast of tortillas, different cheeses and mini salamis.

We packed up camp and left the island. Unfortunately we had a strong head wind, and the canoe rocked quite a bit. C got really scared, so I decided to get to shore closer to the island, and the walk back to the car instead.

I walked along the shore, and at first there was a trail. But the terrain got more and more rough, and eventually I had to carry C. Finally I tripped on a stick, and while trying to fall in a way that kept C safe I twisted my knee. I could walk back to the car, and we drove back to the canoe to pick it up. When I picked it up I hurt my back. I felt like a broken old man on my way back home.

It was a nice first trip first trip, despite the back pain, and having to walk with a limp for a couple of weeks. And we got back to the island only a couple of weeks later.

Long absence and a few trips

I haven’t written here in a long time. Things piled up, and I just didn’t have the energy to write for a while. But I haven’t been totally idle, and actually done a couple of trips since my last trip report.

Canoe camping in June

In mid June I went on a canoe trip on Tolgasjön. Corinne joined me, and for the first time my wife also tagged along.

The weather was ok during our stay, but it was overcast a lot of the time. We paddled to my usual spot, on the cape with the scattered oak trees.

I brought the stove, despite being on a trip in June. While the heating wasn’t needed during the day, it did make it easy to cook. I made chocolate chip pancakes with the dry goods prepared at home, mixing it with eggs and coconut milk in camp. They where delicious.

When evening came I was actually glad I had brought the stove. It started to rain, and got a bit chilly. Having the stove to drive out the cold and damp air was nice.

Next day started with sun, but we packed up pretty quickly since rain was on the forecast.

It was a nice short trip, but I still don’t think outdoors stuff like this is my wife’s cup of tea.

Insomnia overnighter in July

For those who follow me on Instagram my insomnia is old news. I’ve struggled with poor sleep since as long as I can remember. It often gets worse during summer. Maybe because of the short nights and the warm temperatures.

I had a lot of nights this summer where I barely slept at all. In the beginning of July I had one of those nights, where I just tossed and turned without being able to get even a moments sleep so I went camping instead.

When I gave up trying to sleep the clock was 03.30. I packed my backpack with a water bottle, some instant coffee, my Hilleberg Niak, a quilt and a sleeping pad.

I drove to Helgö, a nature reserve 15 min from home, parked the car, hiked a couple of hundred meters into the deciduous forest and set up my camp.

There I was actually able to get a few hours of sleep, before I woke up and made some coffee before heading back home.

Canoe camping with C in late August

In late August me and Corinne was going to explore a new lake, Innaren. A friend of mine have bought a home close to the lake, and his father had talked about an island where he and his wife had camped that summer.

I packed the car with all the regular stuff: My Tentipi Safir 5, my Fjällräven Duffel with the GStove and cooking supplies, a bag of firewood and for the first time, my Frost River Isle Royale Jr backpack, with our sleeping gear. I’ve had my eye on this beauty for a long time, and when a pre owned but unused one showed up on a sales site for half price I had to get it. These things aren’t lightweight, but I love it for canoe camping.

We drove to Rottne, where we put in the canoe at a beach. There was just one guy there with a wet suit, who was exercising.

The day was perfect. Barely any wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Everything was set for a prefect outing.

We paddled to the island where we where told there’d be a camp site, but couldn’t find any suitable place. In the northern end there was a flat spot, suitable for a freestanding tent, but not for a tipi. The rest of the island was covered in brush, uneven ground and fallen trees.

This would be the theme of the day, and we paddled from island to island to search for good places to camp, without finding anything. It was hard to even get on to the shore at times.

We paddled for some 20km in our search for a campsite. Corinne wanted to help, which meant paddling backwards. Eventually I gave up, and decided to paddle back to the car and drive to our “secret” spot at Tolgasjön. Corinne fell asleep in the canoe on our way back.

When we packed up the gear the beach was filled with people. We met a guy who had a Tentipi of his own. We packed up the rest and drove towards Tolgasjön.

We where both tired and hungry, since we’d only been snacking in the canoe all day, and it was really nice to get the tent up and get some food going.

The rest of the evening we just played around the tipi. It was a beautiful evening and a fisherman circled the cape, and put in crayfish cages.

The next morning the fisherman came back to check the cages. We talked a bit, and then he asked if it was ok to check out our camp. He came ashore and asked questions about the tipi and the stove, and was interested in buying something similar.

We packed up after breakfast, and after the stove had cooled down. Even though the canoeing didn’t go as planned, we had a nice time out there.

Hiking and camping at Store Mosse in September

Last time I took Corinne to Store Mosse National Park she was a bit disappointed we didn’t camp there. I always planned to remedy this, and finally in September we got out on a hiking / camping trip.

We parked at the entrance near Lövö and hiked a circle trail from Lövö called Blådöpet runt, a 5,2km trail.

C hiked on in a good pace, but occasionally wanted to ride on my shoulders.

After the old houses at Lövö there’s a bird watch tower before the trail enters the mire.

We met a few people on our hike. The weather was quite chilly, but still very nice with sunshine and only a few clouds.

When we entered the woods again the forest was covered in blueberry brushes, filled with berries. At home it’s too late in the season for blueberries, but here they where plentiful.

We took a couple of Geocaches on the way, but when we came back to Lövö it was already getting late, and time for dinner.

We walked the last stretch to the campsite and set up our tent.

I have a Hilleberg Staika, that I bought to have a winter tent for future ski trips in the mountains, and also that it’s wide enough for two adults and a small child to sleep in. I also wanted a tent without a center pole to be able to use my latest purchase. The Exped Duomat HL LW, that I used for the first time. It took up almost all the floor space of the tent.

Corinne usually crawls up on my sleeping pad each night, and sharing a regular size HL mat is way too narrow for a comfortable sleep. I truly recommend this mat to anyone camping with a small kid or a spouse. It was super comfortable and I loved it from the start.

We had a descent nights sleep, even though Corinne woke up quite a lot of times. By morning we made breakfast and broke camp.

On our way back to the car we met a lady that had camped at another spot, and was going to hike north. We chatted for a short while, before getting on our way, and driving back home.

Summary

There’s been some nice short trips these last few month. I don’t know really what lies ahead in the future, but I would like to get out more. I do love fall, and I really want to get out on a hot tent canoe camping trip soon. We’ll see. I’m on parental leave for a few weeks in October, and if it works for the rest of the family I’ll bring my favorite outdoor buddy with me for some new adventures. I’ll try to get the blog back to business again, and write more in the future.

Spring canoe camping trip

Spring is finally here, and I’ve been longing to get out on a canoe camping trip again.

Last weekend was the first one for 2019, and I had a wonderful time.

At first I had planned to bring C with me, but she wanted to stay at home. My wife also thought I might need some alone time, so I went on a solo trip instead.

This was also the first time I filmed a trip, and I came back with almost 3h of video, that I edited down to a 37 min film.

Trip report

I started driving before noon on Saturday, and drove to Tolg, north of Växjö where I put in the canoe. The weather was great for paddling. Just a few clouds, barely any wind and comfortable temperature to paddle in.

Filming was a new experience, and though it was fun to film, it did take away some of the relaxation of being in nature.

I paddled slowly south, while enjoying the sounds of the birds singing. My goal was the little meadow where I had camped last summer.

Every once in a while I stopped paddling, just to sit still in the canoe and listen to everything around me. The lake was beautiful, and I really enjoyed being out on the lake again.

I paddled slowly past dead trees, laying in the water, but roots still attached to the shore.

Slowly but surely I was getting closer to the meadow where I would put up my camp.

I paddled to the shore, unloaded the canoe and put up my tent, the stove and the rest of the gear.

I was getting hungry, so I stared a fire right after the camp was up. I made a lunch of potatoes and reindeer stew. Unfortunately I forgot the lingonberry jam this time too.

While the food was cooking I set up the hammock between two trees.

I ate lunch while hanging in the hammock and enjoying the view. A lot of the afternoon was spent in the hammock.

When evening came I took the canoe out for a paddle around the area. I paddled to another cove, across the lake from my camp. It was really nice to paddle on the still silent lake. I paddled slowly, and just enjoyed the serenity.

Once back in camp I made a dinner of pepper steaks, fried vegetables, mushrooms and rice.

After sunset the calm was broken by two Canada geese that kept quacking really load. They kept at it endlessly, but eventually I fell asleep.

I woke up to the same sound of the geese at around 6 o’clock, but managed to get back to sleep again. When I woke up the next time, the geese had stopped.

I got up, started a small fire in the stove and fried some pita bread and made some coffee.

After breakfast I packed up camp and paddled back to the car.

I had a nice time out, and I really like canoeing in weather like this. I can’t wait to get back out again.

Autumn canoe camping in a canvas tipi

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of November, I went on a canoe camping trip with C. After trying hot tent camping a couple of times, I got really hooked, and upgraded the tipi to a Tentipi Safir 5 BP.

I had looked up an island on Tolgasjön that would be perfect for a camp. Since it was November I didn’t want to paddle too far with C, and this was just a couple of hundred meters of paddling from the campsite on mainland where I had planned to put in the canoe.

I drove to the area, but there was a sign at the private road down to the lake, that said it was prohibited to drive on the road. In the end of the road there was a designated campsite for the hiking trail Sigfridsleden and the canoe route Värendsleden.

I knocked on the house closest to the road where the owners lived, and they told me it was ok for me to drive down to the lake and unload the car.

I put the canoe in the water and packed it with my gear. It got pretty filled up, with a sack of firewood, the stove, a backpack and the large bulky tent. I had expected the tent to be large, but I was still surprised by how bulky it actually was. But this wasn’t a tent intended for hiking or having to carry it any longer distances.

C and I got into the canoe, and paddled out to the island. It didn’t take long, and once there we set up the tent and the stove, to have the camp ready.

We made some lunch, Pepper steaks, fried bell peppers and onions with rice, as usual. It really felt like fall, with the cold damp air around us. It was really nice to hang out in the warm dry tent instead.

After lunch we paddled out to do some fishing. It was a team effort, where I threw in the lure, and C reeled it back in. We did it for a while, but didn’t catch any fish. I didn’t really put much effort into it either, but it would have been nice to catch a pike.

The rest of the day we mostly hung out in the tent. With the damp cold weather outside, C preferred the inside of the tent instead of the cold outside.

When it got dark we lit the oil lamp and my new UCO candle lantern. That, and the light canvas of the tent gave us some really ambient lighting.

For dinner we had burgers, which was C:s choice. But I’m not complaining.

I kept adding firewood to the stove to keep us warm and snug, and eventually it was time for C to go to sleep. This night she was sad though, and it took a long time for her to go to sleep. Eventually she fell asleep next to me, in my sleeping bag. She woke up sad a couple of times, and I gave up the idea of getting her back into her sleeping bag. We ended up having her sleeping bag as a quilt above us.

The next morning C was up and running early. Too early in my opinion. She had used my arm as a pillow, which forced me to lay on one side the entire night. I usually toss and turn a lot, so I didn’t get the best sleep this night.

We fried some pita breads for breakfast and then explored the island. It was a small island, and we had camped at the southern end of it, but there was a nice spot for a tent at the northern end too. Good to know for future trips.

We went out with the canoe again to do some fishing. Same procedure as the day before, with me throwing it out, and her reeling it back. But we didn’t get anything this time either.

After that last attempt to catch something we paddled back to the island and took down our camp. We paddled the short stretch back to main land, packed up the car and drove home.

This had been my first night out with a canvas tent. I actually sold my Bergans Ally to fund the Tentipi Safir instead. It’s heavy and bulky, but roomy, light, comfortable and easy to set up. The quality feels impeccable, and since the fabric breathes you don’t get bothered by condensation. For these kind of trips, where comfort and good food is the main goal, a tent like this is perfect.

Canoe camping for a week on Isteren i Norway

I had planned to do to a week-long trip in mid August, but I had been going back and forth a lot about where to go – hiking in Hardagervidda or canoeing in or near Femundsmarka.

Eventually I decided to do a week long paddling trip on Isteren, a lake near Femundsmarka National Park in Norway. My plan was to park at Glotbergen, in the southern end of the lake, and then paddle north and just see where I’d end up, without any specific goals.

Day 1 – Saturday

On Friday evening I packed everything after I got off from work. I packed all the gear in my backpack, and had a separate heavy duty drybag for my food. Since I was going canoe camping, I had a lot of heavier foods, like portion packed orange juice boxes, canned chicken etc.

Earlier that week I had also purchased a Bergans Ally canoe. A foldable canoe that fits in the trunk of a car, and is made of a frame of aluminum stays, covered with a durable rubber hull. I had made a test set-up in the backyard, but I hadn’t paddled it yet.

Glotbergen was a 700km drive from home, so I wanted to start early. I set my alarm clock to 03.45, and by 04.05 I was on my way. This would be my first longer canoe camping trip, and my first week long trip alone. I was excited.

I arrived at Glotbergen at 13.00, where I paid for parking and for a one week fishing permit. The drive up to Glotbergen was pretty dull, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be the standard.

I assembled the canoe in 30 minutes. The first time I had tried it, it had taken over an hour. I loaded the canoe with the gear in the front, strapped it to the canoe, and set off. I was finally on my way.

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Water levels where low, and I soon hit a rock with the canoe. I could see traces of aluminum on the rock, which showed that I wasn’t the first one hitting the rock. This would be something I would see on rocks for the rest of the week.

Since I had been up very early, and hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, I decided to set up camp as soon as I found a nice spot. I paddled for 1,5km when I spotted a nice sandy beach, where I landed the canoe. There where traces of camp fires and make shift fire rings all over the place. For now there was a fire ban, but fortunately, that didn’t include camp stoves.

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I hiked away from the beach, and found a nice place to set up my tent. I carried my gear and the canoe there, at set up camp. The rain came soon after I had my tent up and I laid in the tent, listening to the sound of the raindrops hitting the fly. The rain soon stopped though and the clouds scattered, and the rest of the evening I tried fishing for a while, and just relaxed in camp. I went to bed early, happy to be out in the wild.

Day 2 – Sunday

When I woke up, the weather was worse than the day before. Skies where gray, and it was windy. The weather report showed winds of up to 7 mps, and of course it was head wind. My goal was to paddle to Steinsundsholmene, a group of small islands, a mere 3 km north of my camp, and after breakfast I set off.

Initially I had loved the portability and pack-ability of the canoe. The low water levels meant that most shores where covered with large sharp boulders, and the canoe had to be carried up on land so that the waves wouldn’t bash the canoe against the rocks. But now I learned about the downsides of this type of canoe. The softness of the hull makes it pretty slow in the water, and the light weight and construction makes it float very high up in the water. This makes it easy for the wind to grab a hold of it, to turn it around. Every gust tried to swing the canoe around, and I had to struggle like crazy just to keep is straight in the water. It was a really slow going, and I got in a pretty bad mood, and cursed my decision to buy it.

Eventually I gave up, took it to shore and decided to portage it north instead. But this proved to be difficult too, as the terrain of large boulders made it hard to pass with the canoe. I sat on a cape for a while, reviewing my options, and wondered why the hell I hadn’t gone hiking in Hardangervidda instead. I decided to put the canoe back in the water and just paddle like a maniac.

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I eventually reached the islands, and set up camp on a cape in the mainland. I wanted to hike up to the nearby mountaintop Bottölen the next day.

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The campsite was beautiful, and had a great place for my tent. I fished for a while, and soon a big perch bit my little spinner. I’m not really a fisher man, so it was the biggest perch I had ever caught (which doesn’t say much really). As soon as I got it close to shore it got off my hook though, and swam away.

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The winds had calmed down and the clouds had scettered, and by the evening the weather was really beautiful. I put the canoe back in the water and paddled around for a while. Paddling in calm waters is really nice and relaxing, and now I was glad to have chosen a canoe camping trip. I put my hammock up, and had a nice calm evening.

Day 3 – Monday

I had decided to stay two nights at my campsite, since it was a great location, and also because I wanted to do a day hike to the nearest mountain top – Bottölen. Bottölen is only 905 meters above sea level, but it’s still above the treeline.

After having breakfast I packed my backpack with food, water and cooking utensils, took my map, set a course on my compass and headed out. Just as I left three canoes full of people passed my camp.

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I bushwhacked through the forest in a steady uphill. The top was only a little more than 2km from camp, but it was still enough for me to break out a sweat. There was a small mire between my camp and the top, and I hiked south of it, to avoid getting my feet wet.

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Soon enough I reached the treeline, and despite the pretty low altitude, I had a nice view over the surrounding area. I kept hiking up, and eventually reached the top. The view was great, but I had to change my plans about dinner on the top. The winds blew too hard, so after a few photos and admiring the view, I started to hike back down, to make lunch at a more sheltered place. I had lunch at the mountain side, and then continued back to my camp.

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The rest of the day I just relaxed in camp, hung out in the hammock, fished and paddled around the area. Paddling the canoe in calm waters is really nice. The campsite was great, and I really enjoyed staying there.

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Day 4 – Tuesday

The next day I had decided to keep paddling north. I didn’t have any specific goal in mind, but more or less planned to paddle until I found a nice place and then stay there. There where almost no wind when I set out, and the lake was still as a black mirror. It was a really nice way to start the morning. I paddled slowly north, and really enjoyed the morning. After a while I stopped at a cove, heated up some water and washed my t-shirt and underwear in a zip-lock bag, before I continued again.

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I reached Nysandvika, where there were a lot of tents and canoes. I saw a family take down two HMG Ultamids. It was the first time I’ve seen anyone else use cottage gear in real life.

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I paddled around the cape and then came ashore at the northern side of Nysandvika. The cape had beautiful beaches with white sand, but the water was cold. I took a short break, had some coffee and then set off again.

I followed the shoreline up to the cove Langvika, where I stopped again at a small beach. There where a small hut nearby, and no place for a tent, so after reviewing the map a bit I continued. I had decided to explore the island just west of Langvika and check for descent camp sites.

I paddled to the westernmost side if the island, and found a great place for my tent. It was only 14.00, but I decided to stay there. Signs of previous campers where everywhere around that part of the island. This was great, and I decided that I would stay here for two nights. I had my camp, and my hammock up, and explored the rest of the island on foot.

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The island wasn’t large, but on western side there where good places for tents on both the northern and the southern end. There where fire rings on both sides, and flat grounds for tents. The rest of the island was covered in blueberry- and lingonberry bushes. It had been a great day of paddling with perfect weather, and the little over 5 km of paddling had been easy.

Day 5 – Wednesday

I had planned to keep my camp on the island, and then paddle north with just my food and cooking utensils this day. But I woke up to a windy cloudy day. I paddled almost 1 km north in the morning, just to try the waters, and had a hard time paddling back to the island. I decided to stay there instead, reading, watching Netflix and foraging.

I filled my foldable Kuksa with lingonberries and blueberries, and then went to the shore to do some fishing. I had tried to catch a fish now and then during the entire trip, but it’s not such a big interest of mine. But now I got one, after just a few throws. It was another perch, and the largest one I’ve seen. I was happy to have caught one, since I was really looking forward to spice up the diet with some fresh fish.

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I filed it on a rock and then fried it in tons of butter and olive oil, sprinkled with citrus pepper. It tasted great, and I had the cup of blueberries and lingonberries as desert.

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The rest of the day carried on in a slow manner. Rain came and went, and I spent most of the time reading the book “Idag ska vi inte dö” (We shall not die today), a documentary about the journalist Magnus Falkehed and photographer Niclas Hammarström who got kidnapped in Syria in 2013. The whole trip was just loosely planned, and I liked the calm serenity of camp life.

I went through my plans for the end of the trip. I was going to paddle back to my first campsite, 1 km from the parking lot on Thursday, and then paddle the last stretch on Friday morning. The weather report didn’t look too good though, as the winds for the rest of the week where supposed to be headwinds of 7-10 meters per second (15-22 mph).

Day 6 – Thursday

I woke up on Thursday morning, and just as the weather report had said, the wind blew hard. I knew I would have a hard day of paddling ahead of me. 7km in hard head wind. I had planned a route where I would paddle from island to island, cape to cape, to get protection from the winds and a chance for some rest. Just 30 seconds of rest in the open water could mean being pushed back really far.

I left the island and paddled alongside it, protected from the winds. But as soon as I left it for open waters the struggle was on. The waves had white foam on them, and I had to work really hard to get to the closest island. Waves where up to the gunwales of the canoe, but the waves weren’t the issue. The gusts where. I had to struggle hard to keep the canoe straight. No J-stroke could compensate the wind, that felt like it came from everywhere. I had to switch sides with the paddle all the time.

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I reached one of the closest islands, rested a while for it and looked towards Nysandvika, my next objective. The gusts felt like they where trying to knock me over.

I tried to paddle straight towards Nysandvika, but the wind pushed me more and more east, towards the shore. Eventually I reached Nysandvika, and landed on the northern shore. Today there was only one tent there, with two people and a canoe.

I carried my gear and the canoe over to the southern side. Waters where choppy, to say the least. I thought about calling it quits, stay there and then try to continue the next day. But the weather wasn’t going to improve, so I decided to just give it a go, and hope for the best.

I set off again, but the wind blew harder on this side of Nysandvika. I struggled a lot. On one section I could see the same rock next to me for more than 10 minutes while I paddled like crazy without going forward.

I reached Steinsundholmene where I had a short relive in the wind, before I continued. The closer I got to the beach near Sundholmen, where I would camp, the harder it was to paddle. The wind threw the canoe up against the rocky shore, and pinned it between two rocks, and the waves continued to bash it against the boulders. I kept going for little while more, but halv a km from the camp site I threw in the towel and portaged the last stretch. Winds would increase during the night, and the rain had been pouring down, so I set up the tent immediately, took out food that didn’t need any cooking and laid in my tent for the rest of the evening. There had been a lot of cursing this day, and I was really tired.

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The weather report showed a break in the winds between 04.00-07.00, where winds would go down to 1-2 meters per second. I set the alarm clock to 05.00, and prepared to go to sleep early.

Day 7 – Friday

Trying to go to sleep early didn’t work. I tossed and turned throughout the night. The winds got worse, and relentlessly shocked the tent. At around 02.00 it finally calmed down. I had dozed off for about one and a half hour, but now I couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually I gave up. I always have trouble sleeping when I’ve set the alarm clock very early, and little after 04.00 I started to pack up my gear. The canoe had been upside down, but the winds had knocked it over, and the interior was filled with water and debris.

The weather was calm, with only a slight wind. Sun wouldn’t be up until 05.20, but it was still bright enough to paddle at 04.40, when I left the beach, and my last campsite. It was nice to paddle in calm waters, with silent J-strokes and the red stripes in the horizon, showing that the sun would soon be up.

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I paddled up to the parking lot, unpacked the canoe and disassembled it. A 5-point wash with wet wipes and a change of clothes, and I felt like a new man. 9 hours later I was back home.

I’ve had ups and downs this trip. It was nice to be out for a week, and not really have any plans but to just wing it. But I didn’t meet anyone for a week, and it got a bit lonely in the end.

In retrospect I don’t think I’ll do a canoe trip like this on such a large lake again. The nearby mountains and the open lake makes it very windy, and this canoe isn’t really meant for that. With the canoe a lot of nice desolate places nearby opens up too, so I can get a wilderness feel without having to drive 9 hours. Next year I’ll probably hike in the mountains instead, and do canoe trips on the smaller, narrower lakes closer to home.

River paddling and canoe camping

Since I first bought an old used canoe last fall I instantly got hooked on canoe camping. I wanted to get a better, lighter canoe, more suitable for solo use as well as for tandem use. So I’ve been saving up for a new canoe, and had several different ones in mind. Eventually I ended up with a Mad River Explorer 14TT. It’s not the lightest, but it had a good mix of weight, price, durability and low maintenance.

I received it a couple of weeks ago, and instantly wanted to try it out. Despite being winter in Sweden, the temps had been pending around freezing, and I was hoping to be able to do some lake paddling. But when I finally got out on the weekend the lakes where frozen over. I thought about canceling the trip, and go on a short hiking trip instead. But I saw that the flowing waters where still open, and decided to drive to Korrö, south of Växjö, and see if I could do some river paddling in Ronnebyån.

When I got to Korrö I unloaded the canoe from the car, and packed it with my backpack and a sack of firewood. There were quite a lot of people dressed for a party at Korrö. They might have looked at me a little strange. It’s not that common for people to go canoe camping in the middle of winter.

The water levels had risen a lot, and the river had flooded much of the surrounding areas. I put in the canoe in a flooded field, that looked like a small lake. A thin layer of ice covered the water closest to the beach.

I paddled the canoe reverse, sitting in the front seat. The pitch black water was still in the flooded field, but started to flow as soon as I reached where the river was originally. The river went under a road and then continued with fields and forests around it.

It was hard to see where the river was at times. Much of the area was flooded, and I accidentally paddled both through fields, meadows and forests. I had to turn around several times, where I had missed that the river had turned, and just kept paddling straight.

At times, brushes and fallen trees made the passage so narrow that I had to duck or drag the branches to go forward. At the end it felt like I had half the forest in my canoe, in form of broken branches.

I passed over a few fallen logs, and I was a bit worried that my canoe might tip over. But as I passed them, the logs sank down instead. Once in a while my presence scared off birds swimming in the river.

My goal for the day was a camp site about three km south of Korrö. I had been there before, when I hiked Utvandrarleden 2014. It wasn’t a long paddle, but since this was my first river paddling, and I’m still new to solo paddling, I wasn’t sure how well I would be able to paddle the river back upstream.

When I got to the campsite it had been flooded too. 2-3 dm of water covered almost the entire area. There’s a large roofed area covered with tables and benches, that was above water level, but there wasn’t enough room to set up a tent. The grounds around that area was also covered in a layer of ice, with air underneath, from when the water levels where even higher.

My heart sank a bit. I hadn’t found any other suitable camp ground earlier, and I didn’t want to paddle too far down stream before I knew that I was capable of paddling back home again, against the current. I took a break at the camp ground, made lunch and reviewed my options. Eventually I decided to turn back towards the car. I was mentally prepared to call it quits and go back home, but I would still look for somewhere where I might set up my tent during my way back.

Getting away from the camp ground took some effort. The river was pretty fast flowing here, and I had to paddle like crazy to get far enough upstream for it to calm down. After a while I found a good flow in my paddling, and was able to paddle upstream at a steady, albeit slow, pace.

I paddled through the forest and looked for places to camp several times. Every time the grounds where uneven and covered in a layer of ice from previous floods.

Eventually, when I was about 1km from Korrö, I found a narrow stretch of flat, somewhat dry ground. With the flooded fields around it, the place had become an island.

The grounds where still pretty soaked, but it was the best place I could find. I set up my tent and fixed my sleeping gear. I had brought the cheap AliEpress floor, and I’m glad I did. With the grounds being so wet, the floor could stop at least some of the condensation.

When my home away from home was all set up, I started to prepare the fire. I had brought firewood with me, and chopped a couple of pieces to use as a floor to place the rest of the firewood on. Lighting the fire was easy, as I cheated and used a Vaseline drenched piece of cotton. No bushcraft style elite fire starting here.

For this trip I had prepared a piece of meat, potatoes, carrots, red onions and butter that I copped in medium size pieces, wrapped in tin foil and put in the fire, once I had some glowing coals. I turned the package regularly and let it head for about half an hour. It tasted great, and I had a cold beer with it.

I like the ultralight principles of hiking, even though I’m far from a hardcore ultra lighter, and my base weight keeps pending. I like to keep my weight and bulk down and not bring unnecessary stuff even when canoe camping, but I do like he ability to bring more luxurious food and drinks without having to suffer from the weight penalty of having to carry it.

I laid by the fire for quite a long time before I went to bed. The sleeping bag was cozy, and I laid there, watching Netflix offline. I had downloaded a few different movies and series, but I lost interest in all of them after a few minutes. Eventually I watched “Under the arctic sun”, to feed my need for adventure.

I slept pretty good the entire night. But I do toss and turn a lot. Now that I’ve been able to get the three season quilt to work without drafts I’ve been thinking about switching out my winter sleeping bag for a similar quilt instead. But people seem to recommend mummy bags during winter, even in the UL community, so I might stay with the bag.

The next morning it took all my mental strength to be able to open up my sleeping bag and get out into the could wet world outside. With that much air humidity and wet ground, the inside of the tent was covered with condensation, despite that the top vents and the door had been partially open all night. I hadn’t expected anything else it those conditions though.

I made a small fire for making breakfast, made coffee, fried a couple of eggs and grilled a pita bread.

After breakfast I packed up camp. The sleeping bag was quite wet since it had touched the inside of the tent.

I packed up the canoe again and started to paddle the last stretch back to the car. I took a shortcut and paddled across a flooded field. I felt like a swamp man as I stood up in the canoe and used the paddle as a stake to pull myself forward in the shallow waters.

I got back to the car, packed up and left for home at around noon. It turned out to be a nice trip after all, and I like my new canoe. It’s large enough for me to be able to do canoe camping trips with friends or family members but still light and small enough to be able to handle it alone. It’s also relatively cheap. I’d like to have a beautiful cedar strip canoe from Esker Wood, or a lightweight kevlar canoe from Swift Canoe. But for now this is the prefect middle ground that suits my need.

I’ll keep doing canoe trips like these, and when the weather gets warmer I’ll bring my youngest daughter with me too.

See you on the trail, or in the waters!