I begun my interest in the outdoors with hiking. I had traditional heavy weight gear, and though I enjoyed the outdoors there was too much discomfort with it. I learned about Ultralight backpacking and gradually reduced my base weight, one item at the time and I did quite a few hiking trips. I found a perfect balance between camp comfort and hiking comfort. This last year, and the trips this year too, has mostly been camping trips though. Trips with heavy gear, focused on comfort, and that’s been really nice too.
I’ve been less inclined to leave my wife with all the kids at home, even though she’s ok with it. And I do love to bring C with me (the only one in the family except me who enjoys the outdoors), but I really miss hiking. The trip with Brian last November was very much needed. Camp comfort and munching on a big fat load of good food is nice, but as a remedy for the soul, hiking does the trick better. I like the monotony of hiking from dawn to dusk, barely stopping to eat, but just snacking on route. Pushing myself, clearing my head and emptying my brain of thoughts. It’s a meditative state and a form of mindfulness I guess. I’ve gone back to watching UL hiking videos on YouTube, and I long to get back into hiking, and I miss the mountains.
I hope I’ll go to Hardangervidda this year, and I’d really like to hike the Arctic Circle Trail soon. We’ll see what the future has in store.
I woke up a few times early in the morning as it was already bright as day outside. I was using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and a thin layer of white, semi transparent Dyneema composite fabric doesn’t do much to block the sunlight. When I looked at my clock, it was only 04.30. I went back to sleep, and we got up at around 09.00 instead. We made breakfast, broke camp and went up to the STF cottage to pay for our stay. A couple of hikers had pointed us to the right cabin. The lady who smoked when we arrived sat on the stairs of the nearby cabin, looking at us.
When we got hold of the hut warden, he told us that it was prohibited to camp where we had pitched the tents. The ground, and the hut near it, did not belong to STF, but to the Swedish Nature Conservation Association. We did not have to pay because we did not camp on STF’s land. However, it felt a little embarrassing to have camped where we weren’t allowed to. But since the woman in the hut didn’t say anything, perhaps it didn’t matter. She had heard us talking about paying and looking for hut warden, both during the evening and during the morning, so I suppose she understood that it was a misunderstanding.
Our goal for the day was to get to Skierffe. A mountain with an almost 700 meter vertical wall right down the Rapadalen.
We got up through the woods, which gradually changed from spruce to birch forests, and then disappeared completely as we reached above the timber line.
Fredrik and I have a different hiking philosophies, where I am a lightweight hiker who like to march on at a fairly good pace, and hardly even want to stay for lunch. Fredrik packs quite heavily, likes to stop more often, and wants to spend more time chilling and just enjoying the moment, instead of trying to get a lot of km behind him.
It was important to me to get back home in time, since my wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Greece and I was to pick them up at the airport when they got back. I realized that we would probably not be able to do our planned hike without having to stress it in the end, so we agreed to skip the plan and instead just go where ever we felt like for the day, take a lot of breaks and not care about the mileage. The only goal was to be back at the car at least 10 days later. It was a bit of a change of philosophy for me, but still felt nice. However, it meant that I had packed way too much food. But it still felt ok, although it meant carrying some unnecessary weight.
When we were coming close to the top of Skierffe we decided to start looking for a camp site, even though the clock was only around 14.00. We passed the trail and continued towards the western side of Skierffe. There we found a really good camp site, with flat ground for both of our tents, and a lot of stones to anchor them. We could have saved weight sharing tents, but both Fredrik and I prefer to have our own space.
The camp site had a very nice view over Sareks snow covered peaks. The wind blew hard when we were setting up camp, so we anchored the tents well. I wanted to go to the top of Skierffe, but Fredrik preferred to stay in camp so I went by myself. When I got up at the top there was a young family there with their child in a child carrier.
The view from Skierffe was amazing. It was uphill almost all the way up to the cliff.Then came the long cliff all the way down to Rapa Valley. It was a majestic view, and well worth the effort to get there.
I walked back to the camp and after a while we made dinner.
We went looking for water, and found a little stream a couple of hundred meters away from the camp. Fredrik went to bed quite early, but I laid on the CCF mat and read for a couple of hours. When the wind stopped, it was almost completely quiet around us. It is not often you get that silence when you live in a town. Traffic, sirens, lawnmowers, people talking, airplanes. There’s always noise, and it was refreshing to hear nothing like that.
I went to bed around 21.00, but went out for a while after 22:00 to check out the sunset. By then it had already disappeared behind the mountains, though it was still bright outside.
I went to bed and sleep pretty well. The new way of attaching the quilt has worked very well, and I have not had any drafts, even though I tossed and turned a lot and it was cold in the morning.
Coast2Coast Sweden was founded by Jörgen Johansson and Jonas Hållén after they met on Fjällräven Classic a few years ago. 2017 is the fifth year anniversary of the hike that goes 400km from Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden, to Varberg on the west coast. Last year Franziska Kaufmann join up as the third guide. There is an emphasis in lightweight gear and hiking in trailrunners is the standard.
I joined up with the other hikers on Friday evening in Moheda. They had been hiking for almost a week, and arrived in Moheda Pizzeria at around 18.00. The day had been one of the hottest this year, with temperatures close to 30°C and not a cloud in the sky.
I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous to join them. It’s always tough to come in to an already established group, especially one that had hiked and lived together for a week already.
When I arrived at the Pizzeria a few of the hikers had already arrived. Jonas, one the founders, Judith from the Netherlands, her colleague Susanne from Sweden and Gudrun from Germany. English was the go-to language whether you were talking to a Swede or not, so that no-one would be excluded from the conversation.
My concerns about joining an established group was unfounded. Everybody where very social and easy going, and with a shared interest in hiking it wasn’t hard to find topics to talk about.
More and more hikers dropped by. Judy, the founder of Lightheart Gear from USA and Alie from the Netherlands. Franziska, one of the guides, joined up, but the heat had got to her so she had to rest in the shade and fill up on electrolytes.
We were still waiting for Göran from Sweden, and Oliver and Henning from Germany. Oliver had hiked Coast2Coast the year before. Göran has hiked C2C every year, and hiked the first year together with his horse Allan.
I left the Pizzeria with Susanne and Judith, to hike the ~4km to Hössjön, where we would spend the night.
Hössjön is a pretty small lake, but it was a nice campsite, and one of the residents nearby let us use his property to fill up on fresh water and charge phones and powerbanks.
A lot of the hikers, who’d been hiking in relentless heat all day, used the lake to cool off. I’m a real coward when it comes to cold water, so I stayed in my tent.
Judy, who’s the founder and lead designer of Lightheart Gear, had brought a new version of the Solong 6. She gave me a tour, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. It was a really cool and well thought out design, and it was really spacious. The big mesh panels and the ability to keep the fly up on one side allows you sleep with a view while still being protected from the elements. I almost wanted to swap tents with her for the night to try the tent.
The mosquitoes where swarming, and soon everybody sought refuge in their tents. I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, without an inner. I only had the polycro groudsheet and my Borah Gear bivy. The shelter didn’t keep all the mosquitoes away, and during the night I had some of them buzzing over my head. I’m still not sure whether to keep the solution I have now in mosquito infested areas or whether to go with a floorless net inner. Campsite selection is of the essence here, as a more exposed area with more wind might have reduced the number of mosquitoes.
I skipped the polestraps and used the sawed off bottom section of a cheap AliExpress hiking pole to connect the poles together. It worked perfectly, and was way easier than using the polestraps. I don’t know which of the polestraps and the “missing link” that gives you the most strength though.
Next morning everybody had their breakfasts separately, at their own tents. Judy and Alie left pretty quickly, and Franziska and Judith got a ride to Broaskog café as they weren’t feeling well. I hiked with Jonas, Görgen, Oliver, Henning and Gudrun. After an hour or so some of us decided to have a break in the shade. Jonas and Gudrun continued to the café though.
Göran explained that Jörgen Johansson had a method of hiking that made sure he could hike long days, and still feel fresh when he came to camp. He hiked for 50 minutes and then took a 10 minute break. Every hour. I’m gonna start using this method myself, as it’s easy for me to just keep going and then end up being really tired once I reach camp.
I had a short break at Broaskog café. It hadn’t opened yet, but the owner filled up my waterbottle before I left. Most of the others waited for it to open, but I went with Jonas to the lake Åbodasjön to have lunch there. Jonas took a swim, but in my usual state of cowardliness I stayed on the shore due to the cold water temperature. A few others joined, and after a while Jonas, Gudrun, Oliver and I started hiking again.
It was a long day of hiking, with the sun burning hot over our heads. The distance this day was pretty long, and therefor they had shortened it a few kilometers to a planned campsite near lake Kalvsjön. When we reached Kalvsjön though, there wasn’t enough space in the public places to set up camp. Most of the flat areas belonged to the local fishing club, and camping was prohibited for others than its members.
The four of us went over our options. There was a campsite nearby, but it would mean going back a bit, and we would also have to buy a membership in the fishing club which would cost 200SEK +20SEK as a camping fee.
We decided to hike the extra ~3km to the old campsite next to lake Rusken, that C2C had used the previous years.
We set up our tents and Jonas went for a swim. This time I actually joined him. There wasn’t much swimming on my part though. More a quick dip, a rinse and quite a lot of cursing over the cold waters. Jonas took a picture of me and posted it on the C2C Facebook page.
We made dinner and then went to bed. Jonas stayed up, as Judith and Susanne where on their way. The others where to tired to go on, and had stopped at the fishing club campsite. After a while Judith and Susanne arrived, and set up their tent. Judith was tired from a cold that was starting to get worse, but they where still in good spirits.
The campsite was prefect in terms of wind and moisture. There was a breeze all night, which kept the mosquitoes at bay, and I had no condensation at all when I woke up.
Susanne and Judith decided to stay behind to take it slow in the morning. Judith was unfortunately still not feeling well.
Jonas, Oliver, Gudrun and I left our campsite at Rusken, and continued north. My destination was the café at Nydala monastery at the north end of the lake, but the rest of the hikers would continue from there. We hiked along the east shore of Rusken, and eventually reached Nydala monastery where we had lunch. I had to get back home, and got picked up at the café and left the others there.
It was a great trip. There was quite a lot of road walking, so one has to be prepared for that. But unlike my solo hikes I didn’t mind the roads this time even though I prefer the trails. I had a great time talking to to the others about hiking, gear and UL philosophy. I am somewhat of a gear nerd, and it’s fun to geek down a bit and look at other peoples gear. I guess the piece of gear that most caught my eye was Judys Solong 6.
The weather was nice to, albeit very hot. It was the first time I hiked in shorts, and that was nice. The ticks where out in full force though, and every time we’d hiked through a brushy area we stopped for a tick-control. I think I picked at least eight or nine ticks off my legs and arms during the weekend. Fortunately none of them had burrowed down yet.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to join for the whole coast to coast hike next year, but I’ll definitely try to join for at least a section like this year.
Sigfridsleden starts in Asa, north of Växjö and goes 88 km south, past Växjö, down to Knapelid south of Åryd where it connects to Utvandrarleden. From Asa to Växjö the trail is approximately 50 km. Trail is the wrong word though, as most of this route is on paved road. The route is part of a 4000 km network of pilgrim routes that goes from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Last Friday I asked my father, whom my son would spend the weekend with, to drive me to Asa, where the trail starts. I’ve been here two times before, in the first week of January 2015 and 2016 on short overnight trips. Those times I only hiked a couple of km before setting up camp. This time though, I planned to hike the trail back to Växjö.
After studying the map I was prepared for a bit of road walking, and I didn’t have high expectations on the “trail”. But I saw it as a chance to get out, and as a workout as I planned to push myself and do high milage. The weather report predicted lows below freezing, so I decided to bring my Cumulus Panyam 600 and my Exped Winterlite, as I hate being cold.
I was dropped off at Asa church at around 18.30. I planned to hike for an hour or so, but I ended up hiking for two hours, and did ~9km. The first part follows a small road, which then turns into a logging road. After that you follow a trail next to the lake Asasjön. This part of the route was great, but short. I saw two roe deers and a crane on a field. They observed me, but as I came closer they left in a hurry.
I either walked through uneven forests or next too fields, so it took me a while to find a good camp site. I had checked the map and planned to set up my tent near Skärsjön. When I came there I saw that there was a shooting range, with the targets in direction of the cape where I had planned to set up my tent. I walked past the shooting range and found some flat ground on the shore of Skärsjön, outside of the danger zone.
The whole evening had been windy, and the wind really picked up after I set up camp. The rain started falling just after I got my shelter up. The ground was loose, so my stakes didn’t get a good grip. I made a quick dinner and then went to bed. I was to tired to even read.
A little before 01.00 I woke up after falling in and out of sleep since I got to bed. I saw that the wind was about to rip a couple of the most exposed stakes. I got up, put on a rain jacket and started looking for big rocks. Wet snow had started to fall. I anchored the most exposed stakes with rocks and crawled back into my sleeping bag. As I laid there I was afraid for the first time while hiking. The trees around me made cracking sounds, and I was afraid that one would crack and fall on me. When the gusts really picked up I actually felt the ground sway. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after a while I realized that it was the roots of the nearby trees that moved beneath me as the wind shocked them. I went to sleep with an image of me being impaled with torn off roots from a falling tree.
I woke up to a beautiful morning with clear skies. But the wind still blew hard, which made it hard to pack down the tent.
I left my campsite and started hiking a gravel road. There were a few short parts with trail, but after that the long, seemingly endless stretch of pavement begun. The route had changed, so my map wasn’t accurate, but I had a newer map in my cellphone.
After I had passed the village Tolg, I saw a strange tower on a hill in the distance. I Googled it, and apparently it was Nykulla Observation Tower, built in the late 1950s. I thought about going up there, but from the sign near the parking lot it looked like it opened in May.
After the tower there was a short section of actual trail through a pine forest.
But then came the paved roads again. Endless paved roads for kilometer after kilometer. My feet cheered the few times they touched actual trail. I was in a bad mood, and thought to myself that the people that made this route must hate hikers, since most of it was on pavement. But I had myself to blame, since no-one forced me to be there.
As always I was looking for the perfect campsite. The route passed many fields and uneven forests, and I had planned to camp near Toftasjön, in Notteryd nature reserve. In the end my feet, calves, knees and thighs hurt. I was really tired as I had hiked nonstop, except for a 30-minute lunch break. I did the hike as a way to exercise and to see how far I could push myself in a day.
When I came to Notteryd I left Sigfridsleden and turned to the Notteryd circle trail. I followed the shore of Toftasjön out to the cape “Tungan” where I found a decent spot in a birch forest. The ground was pretty uneven, but at this point I didn’t care.
I was exhausted, and went to bed right after I had put up my shelter, at 20.00. I didn’t even make dinner. I had hiked somewhere between 37-40 km, which is a new record for me. I fell asleep and slept good the entire night.
I woke up at around 08.00, but stayed in my sleeping bag for a while. After that I took it slow, aired out the sleeping bag and dried out the slight condensation I had on the inside of my shelter.
A little after 10.00 I left my camp site and headed home. I followed the circle trail to the road, and then walked the rest of the way on the road that cuts through Fylleryd nature reserve, and I was back home in less than 2 hours.
I didn’t take a lot of photos on this trip. I saw a lot of small villages, farms, fields and pavement.
Would I recommend this hiking route? No, not unless you have a hiking nemesis that you want to trick into doing a really boring route. Or if you like hiking on paved roads. There may be a target group for a route like this, but for me, who hikes to disconnect from everyday life and to get in touch with nature the route was a disappointment.
As I’ve wrote in previous posts, my big trips this year was planned to be the Arctic Circle Trail between Kangerlussuak and Sisimiut in Greenland. I had really been looking forward to it, and basically everything was planned, except buying the plane tickets. The thing is though that I’m also going on a week-long hike with my childhood friend Fredrik, who hiked with me in Jotunheimen last year. Three weeks away from my family this summer was to much, and I decided to postpone the trip to Greenland. It actually felt like a hard choice to make as I was dead set on getting to Greenland, and my planning had to start from the beginning again. My wife has told me though that we’ll make sure I can go to Greenland next summer instead.
I still wanted to go on a two-week hike, but Fredrik wanted to hike for a week at the most. To make this work, I had to come up with a route that would make it possible for me to start hiking a week in advance, meet up with Fredrik and then continue together. I also needed to make sure there were shortcuts to our meetup point if weather or my physique would keep me from reaching it in time.
If I could make this work, I would still get the solitude I wanted the first week, and then a second week of hiking with a good friend. I started to look at Sarek, but I’ve never been there, and from answers in Swedens largest outdoor forum I came to the conclusion that it would be hard to put together a 1+1 week trip that didn’t include Fredrik flying out with a helicopter to a meetup point. I knew before even asking him that this wouldn’t be an option. I also felt that hiking for the first time Sarek, with no marked trails, shouldn’t be done with a timeschedule like that.
Eventually I looked at Kungsleden, the Kings trail, and the possibility to meet up at Nikkaluokta and hike to Abisko together. My plan was to start south of Nikkaluokta about a week before Fredrik. The starting point had to close enough to reach Nikkaluokta in time even if the weather forced me to have a rest day or I would hike slower than I had planned. But I also wanted to be able to take a longer route if I hiked as fast, or faster than planned.
After looking at the maps and searching for places to get to by bus I planned to start at Vakkotavare, in the lower left corner of the map. I would then follow the green line to Singistugorna. Here, I could turn east and hike to Nikkaluokta (the red line). This route should take approximately 3 day. But my initial plan is to keep following the green line until 2,5-3 km before Sälkastugorna. Here I’ll turn east along Gaskkasjohka. I could turn south again and take a shortcut to Kebnekaise mountainstation and then hike to Nikkaluokta (the orange line), keep hiking to Kaskavagge and there turn south to Kebnekasie mountainstation (the yellow line). But the plan is to hike around the mountain Palkastak and then hike south along Visttasvaggi until I reach Nikkaluokta (where the red and green line meets in the right part of the map).
The planned route, following the green line, should take somewhere between 6-7 days. The rest of the hike, between Nikkaluokta and Abisko should take somewhere between 5-6 days.
I have also done a few gear changes. A few very large gear changes. I did spontaneously bought the Exped Expedition 80 backpack, but I realized that I didn’t want to go the heavier route, but instead will try to fit two weeks worth of gear and food in my Exped Lightning 60 pack. If I come to the conclusion that I’ll need a bigger pack I’ll probably just go with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest instead. A sub-1kg 70l backpack.
But I’ll do my best to get the gear to fit in my 60l backpack. I thought I’d use this summers trip to test it. Otherwise it would be easier to have just one weeks worth of food in the backpack and then post a food cache to Nikkaluokta and restock for the second week. We’ll see how I’ll do it.
Anyways, I’m a bit embarrassed to write about it, but I sold the Expedition 80 pack without even using it. I don’t want do start using heavier gear again, and I think I’ll be fine using the Lightning. I also sold two old backpacks that haven’t been used for a long time, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak.
With this setup my shelter, with polestraps, groundsheet, tent pegs and bivy will weigh ~900g. And it will be large enough to use with my wife or with two of my kids. Hopefully this will subdue my gear ADHD and I’ll stick with what I got.
As I wrote in my last post I’ve been looking for a 1-2 person tent that is light, roomy, and preferably made of Cuben Fiber (or Dymeema Composite Fabric as it is called now.). Cuben is ridiculously expensive, but what I’m after, apart from the material being lightweight and strong is that is doesn’t streach or soak up water like Sil-nylon.
I’ve been looking at the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 and Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid. I’ve also been looking at Zpacks Duplex and almost decided to go with it, but I do want a 2-wall tent for the conditions I’ll be in. Ok, most of my trips will be lowland-trips in boreal forest. But I will do trips in the mountains, above treeline, above the arctic circle in wet, cold and windy conditions, and in those conditions it is nice to have a 2-wall tent.
I didn’t really get sold on either the Ultamid or the Duomid, even though I leaned more towards the Ultamid.
But recently I heard about Locus Gear, a company I hadn’t heard of before, and saw their shelter Hapi. Hapi seems to be the near perfect shelter I’ve been looking for. I like that it has the entrance on the short side, so you don’t have to climb over the other person to get out. I like that it is only 130 cm high, so that a single hikingpole, without connectors can be use as a centerpole. I like that it is 180 cm wide, so it doesn’t have to be so crowded if you are two 90-100 kg guys in the shelter. I also like that it is a sil-nylon floor as I’ve heard that Cuben Fiber might not be the best floor material since it doesn’t handle abrasion that well. To me this shelter seems to be the perfect balance between weight, interior room and shelter from the elements for 1-2 persons.
I’ve contacted Locus gear to hear if it is possible to get a half-solid inner. I do prefer to have more protections from the wind and I think the weight-penalty is worth it. The shelter, with both the tarp and the inner weighs 790g, probably a bit more with a half-solid inner plus ~100g for the stakes, but it would probably still be a sub-1kg shelter for two persons. 1kg has sort of become the upper limit for me when I’ve been looking for a new shelter.
I’ve been planning a future thru-hike of the 440km Kings trail in northern Sweden, and it is likely that this will be the shelter I decide to buy.
The only issue now will be to get the cash to buy the damn thing 🙂 I have a lot of expenses at the moment and I think I would have a hard time convince my wife that this would be a needed purchase at the moment. I hope that Locus Gear will have a sale, or a bloggers discount or something like that soon :-).