Sigfridsleden – for those who love pavement

 General info

Sigfridsleden starts in Asa, north of Växjö and goes 88 km south, past Växjö, down to Knapelid south of Åryd where it connects to Utvandrarleden. From Asa to Växjö the trail is approximately 50 km. Trail is the wrong word though, as most of this route is on paved road. The route is part of a 4000 km network of pilgrim routes  that goes from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

My packlist for this hike

Trip report

Last Friday I asked my father, whom my son would spend the weekend with, to drive me to Asa, where the trail starts. I’ve been here two times before, in the first week of January 2015 and 2016 on short overnight trips. Those times I only hiked a couple of km before setting up camp. This time though, I planned to hike the trail back to Växjö.

After studying the map I was prepared for a bit of road walking, and I didn’t have high expectations on the “trail”. But I saw it as a chance to get out, and as a workout as I planned to push myself and do high milage. The weather report predicted lows below freezing, so I decided to bring my Cumulus Panyam 600 and my Exped Winterlite, as I hate being cold.

I was dropped off at Asa church at around 18.30. I planned to hike for an hour or so, but I ended up hiking for two hours, and did ~9km. The first part follows a small road, which then turns into a logging road. After that you follow a trail next to the lake Asasjön. This part of the route was great, but short. I saw two roe deers and a crane on a field. They observed me, but as I came closer they left in a hurry.

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Asasjön, a couple of hours before sundown

I either walked through uneven forests or next too fields, so it took me a while to find a good camp site. I had checked the map and planned to set up my tent near Skärsjön. When I came there I saw that there was a shooting range, with the targets in direction of the cape where I had planned to set up my tent. I walked past the shooting range and found some flat ground on the shore of Skärsjön, outside of the danger zone.

The whole evening had been windy, and the wind really picked up after I set up camp. The rain started falling just after I got my shelter up. The ground was loose, so my stakes didn’t get a good grip. I made a quick dinner and then went to bed. I was to tired to even read.

A little before 01.00 I woke up after falling in and out of sleep since I got to bed. I saw that the wind was about to rip a couple of the most exposed stakes. I got up, put on a rain jacket and started looking for big rocks. Wet snow had started to fall. I anchored the most exposed stakes with rocks and crawled back into my sleeping bag. As I laid there I was afraid for the first time while hiking. The trees around me made cracking sounds, and I was afraid that one would crack and fall on me. When the gusts really picked up I actually felt the ground sway. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after a while I realized that it was the roots of the nearby trees that moved beneath me as the wind shocked them. I went to sleep with an image of me being impaled with torn off roots from a falling tree.

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I woke up to a beautiful morning with clear skies. But the wind still blew hard, which made it hard to pack down the tent.

I left my campsite and started hiking a gravel road. There were a few short parts with trail, but after that the long, seemingly endless stretch of pavement begun. The route had changed, so my map wasn’t accurate, but I had a newer map in my cellphone.

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After I had passed the village Tolg, I saw a strange tower on a hill in the distance. I Googled it, and apparently it was Nykulla Observation Tower, built in the late 1950s. I thought about going up there, but from the sign near the parking lot it looked like it opened in May.

After the tower there was a short section of actual trail through a pine forest.

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But then came the paved roads again. Endless paved roads for kilometer after kilometer. My feet cheered the few times they touched actual trail. I was in a bad mood, and thought to myself that the people that made this route must hate hikers, since most of it was on pavement. But I had myself to blame, since no-one forced me to be there.

As always I was looking for the perfect campsite. The route passed many fields and uneven forests, and I had planned to camp near Toftasjön, in Notteryd nature reserve. In the end my feet, calves, knees and thighs hurt. I was really tired as I had hiked nonstop, except for a 30-minute lunch break. I did the hike as a way to exercise and to see how far I could push myself in a day.

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When I came to Notteryd I left Sigfridsleden and turned to the Notteryd circle trail. I followed the shore of Toftasjön out to the cape “Tungan” where I found a decent spot in a birch forest. The ground was pretty uneven, but at this point I didn’t care.

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I was exhausted, and went to bed right after I had put up my shelter, at 20.00. I didn’t even make dinner. I had hiked somewhere between 37-40 km, which is a new record for me. I fell asleep and slept good the entire night.

I woke up at around 08.00, but stayed in my sleeping bag for a while. After that I took it slow, aired out the sleeping bag and dried out the slight condensation I had on the inside of my shelter.

A little after 10.00 I left my camp site and headed home. I followed the circle trail to the road, and then walked the rest of the way on the road that cuts through Fylleryd nature reserve, and I was back home in less than 2 hours.

I didn’t take a lot of photos on this trip. I saw a lot of small villages, farms, fields and pavement.

Would I recommend this hiking route? No, not unless you have a hiking nemesis that you want to trick into doing a really boring route. Or if you like hiking on paved roads. There may be a target group for a route like this, but for me, who hikes to disconnect from everyday life and to get in touch with nature the route was a disappointment.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 – First impressions

As I’ve wrote before I made some gear changes this spring. The biggest change was a whole new shelter setup. Before, I had a Hilleberg Enan, a great tent that I was mostly pleased with. But I decided to try Dyneema Composite fabric (former Cuben Fiber) and bought an Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, a polycro groundsheet from Gossamer Gear and a Borah Gear Bivy.

I’ve had a 2014 Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex-peak before, but always used it with an inner. This was my first experience with a floorless shelter.

I’ve only done one test pitch in the garden, and after that, used it for one night in the woods. This is not an in depth review of the Ultamid 2, but more a note of my impressions after using it for the first time.

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Test pitch in the back yard the night I got it

When I first received it I realized that Cuben Fiber is quite bulky. Despite being so light, the bag itself was quite large. I weighted it, and the tent, with the extra 100′ of guy line weighs 663g. The tent with three ~12̈́’ guy lines attached weighs 591g. It was heavier than listed, but it really doesn’t matter.

The first thing I did when I received it was to unpack it and check all the seams. Everything was in order, and the shelter really had a quality feel to it. I also made a test pitch in the garden. It was roomy inside, but I think it will take some practice to get the corners in a perfect 90° angle. I think that I’ll be able to fit three people inside, if I offset the pole a bit.

After I took it down I cut the 100′ of extra guy line into eight ~12′ lines. I made a loop, with a taut line hitch, on each line to easily be able to tighten and loosen the guy line. I tied three guy lines to the center panel guy points using two half hitches. I stored the extra guy lines in a zip lock back. For regular below-tree line hikes I don’t need them. But above tree line, where the wind really picks up, I’ll need all of the guy lines.

On the inside of the shelter there are two D-rings. You could tie a line between them to dry your socks, or use it to strap the shock cord from your bivy to get the mesh off your face, like I did.

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The hiking poles are strapped together using HMG Poles straps
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There are four guy points in each corner, plus three mid paned guy points. One on each side except on the entrance side

The Ultamid 2 was spacious and bright. I guess my preference in general is to have a darker color that matches the forest more, but I liked how bright it was inside when the morning sun shined through the fabric (and the spruce green was to expensive for me).

I use my hiking poles as the center pole. I strap them together using Hyperlite Mountain Gears Pole straps. It worked better than I expected, and I did get the poles tightly together. But I do consider making a “missing link” or something like that to connect the poles easier. I might buy a spare bottom section to my hiking poles, and cut it to an appropriate length and then use that to connect the poles together.

You could buy both an inner with a floor, and a floorless net inner. I plan to try mine in mosquito infested areas without either before I decide if I need one. I’ll probably go for the floorless one if I decide to get an inner.

After one nights use I’m happy with my Ultamid 2. It’s light, bright, spacious and well built. So far I really recommend it. I’ll write a more in depth review once I’ve used it for a while.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if I need to add this, but I buy all of my gear for my own money. There are no affiliation links, but I add the links for convenience of the reader. Should a company offer affiliation links I’ll add information about it in the disclaimer.

Change of plans and change of gear

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.

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My planned route to Nikkaluokta

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.

I did get quite a lot of money for the gear I sold, especially the Hilleberg and the Exped pack, and I used the money to buy new gear. I’ve ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, polestraps and a Gossamer Gear polycro groundsheet from Backpackinglight.dk. They have great service, and if you order for more than 5000DKK you get at 10% discount on your order. I also ordered a Borah Gear cuben bivy with a sidezipper.

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.

No hiking and new gear

I haven’t updated this blog for a while now, simply because I haven’t been hiking for a while now. I’m on vacation in Greece, and has been so for some time. I’d love to hike down here someday, but not now in the middle of summer during the heat. The days now consists mainly of playing in the ocean with the kids or hanging around the house watching hiking-videos on YouTube :-). I’ll probably go for a shorter hike with my daughter in a couple of days though. It’ll be an evening-hike up to the top of the island, witch will be a 40-50 min hike, with a great view at the top, and I’ll update with a post afterwards.

Being in Greece hasn’t stopped me from buying new gear though. I can’t help it, but I really am a gear-junkie. I’ve been looking for another shelter for some time now. Zpacks Duplex, Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid, Locus Gear Hapi and Tarptent Notch are all tents that I’ve decided to buy, but later changed my mind about. I really thought I’d end up with either a Tarptent Notch or a Locus Gear Hapi.

In the end I finally I put down an order for a Hilleberg Enan. I can’t really specify why I choose it over the others. I’ve been reading a ton of reviews on shelters, and looked at a lot of videos on YouTube, and I can’t put it down to more than gut-feeling. It just felt like the right shelter for me. I’ll try it and see how I like it in reality.

The Enan will however up my weight a bit. Outnorth had a deal where they include the foot-print when you buy a Hilleberg-tent, and I intend to use it. I’ve often missed having a foot-print in the vestibule to keep my gear and myself from being wet when sitting there. It’ll also help to prevent condensation. Since I bought the 2016-version of the tent it weighs 1200g, same as my current shelter. But with the foot-print it weighs 1452g.

I also included a Black Diamond Cosmo in the order. It’s a headlamp and I’ll save 33g from my current headlamp. That’s not the main reason I bought it though. My daughter needs a new headlamp for our hikes together as the one she has is a heavy, poorly build, cheapo headlamp I bought of eBay a few years back. I try to lighten her load as well.

I can’t wait to get back home and try out my new tent and get out into the wild again. I’ve promised to bring my son on a short overnighter when we get back (even though it won’t be in the Enan), and in the beginning of August I’ll go on a 3-day hike with a friend. It’ll probably  be either Tiveden or Vildmarksleden. I’ll start a new job when I get back home, but I did have a week-long hike in Norway planned for the beginning of September. I hope I can make it work with the new job since I’ve really looked forward to get to Norway again.

All the best, and I hope you all get to go on some great hikes this summer.

I just found out about Locus Gear

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 found a review on the Hapi on backpackinlight.com

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 :-).