A freezing overnighter

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The ice was just setting on Thursday morning

On Thursday I finally got away on an overnight trip. Last time had been in mid-November, and I had really missed having some quality time alone in nature. Spending a night out in the woods the first week of the year has become a sort of tradition. It was the third year in a row, and the coldest one yet.

Temperatures where down to -10°c when I left home. My sleeping bag had a comfort value of -6°c and a limit value of -13°c. My personal limit lies somewhere between those numbers. But I thought I’d be fine, and if it got cold I could just sleep with my fleece jacket on. This proved to be wrong though, as temperatures dropped down to -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. But more about this later.

After I got up on Thursday morning I drove out to Lerike. I hadn’t decided where to go until the last minute. But Lerike is beautiful, close to home, and I still had lots of parts to explore.

I got out to Lerike at 10.30, and parked at the same place as last time, at the far edge of the cape. But this time I decided to follow the shoreline north east instead of west, as I did the last time.

The air was really cold, and the skies where clear with just a few scattered clouds. After 20 minutes or so I stopped at a gravel beach. I decided to roll out my cellfoam mat and relax in the sun. I laid there for about half an hour, listening to the wining and singing sound the ice made as it was setting on the lake. The sun warmed me, and it didn’t feel like -10°c.

After a while I rolled up the mat and continued north along the shore. Parts of the time I was able to hike near the shore, other times the dense vegetation forced me to hike further inland. There aren’t any marked trails here, but every once in a while I stumbled on what looked like animal trails that I followed for a while. The route I took would have been challenging if it hadn’t been freezing. I hiked over marshes and parts covered with reed that would have been impossible to pass without being soaked if the lake hadn’t frozen over.

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The reed in the middle of the picture was taller than me

After a while I came to a small beach. There was a fire ring on the beach but I didn’t try to make a fire. I wanted to try my multi fuel stove and it was time for dinner.

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My first use of the Trangia Multi Fuel X2

I set up my stove and made dinner. I tried Knorr spagetteria, Pasta bolognese, and it tasted great. A lot better than I expected, and affordable with a price of ~15 SEK. I’ve never used a multi fuel stove before, and it takes some getting used to, to get a perfect flame that burns efficiently. As soon as I put the pot in windshield the blue jet flames turned yellow and produced a lot of soot and I had to fiddle a lot with the valve to get a good flame.

I continued my hike along the shore line. After a while I came to a road and passed three houses. After I passed them I turned back into the woods and followed the shore, this time going south out on another cape. I thought I’d start looking for a place to set up camp, But at the far edge of the cape there wasn’t enough open space with flat ground to set up the tent. I carried on further along the shore and finally found a great place to make camp. It was in a deciduous forest with a few scattered really old pine trees.

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My home for the night

I set up my tent, forcing the tent pegs into the frozen ground. After that I made a half assed attempt to make a fire. I had collected tinder along the way, dry grass and birch bark from fallen dead birches. A couple of times I actually thought I’d get the fire going, but it died out, and I gave up. I used my stove instead to boil water for the coffee. I took the water from the lake, and by the time I’d got the stove burning a thin layer of ice had already formed on water.

After I had my coffee I discovered a 7 cm rip in my pants. I guess it’s one of the hazards of hiking off-trail. I laid in my sleeping bag fixing the rip. It was the first time I had to use anything from my repair kit. The end result might not be pretty, but it does the job. When I got home I waxed the thread to make it more durable.

A risk of hiking off-trail

I read for a while and then made dinner. By now it was really cold, and I heated up some water and put it in my pet bottle to have with me in the sleeping bag as a radiator.

I’ve always thought Nalgene bottles to be a waste of money. Pet bottles are both cheaper and lighter. But after this trip I’m actually considering buying a Nalgene bottle for winter trips. Pet bottles, however great they are for three season use, does have a serious weakness. They can’t handle warm water well without deforming. Because of this I made sure not to heat the water too much, but the bottle still deformed from the heat. Nalgene bottles can take boiling water, and with that warm your sleeping bag for a longer time.

I went to bed, read for a while and also watched parts of Beasts of no nation as I downloaded it before to try Netflix new offline mode. But at 20.30 a started to fall asleep. I woke up at 22.30, already feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and fell asleep again. I woke up on and off, feeling cold. Outside the tent I heard something screaming once in a while. I don’t know what kind of animal made the sound, but I haven’t heard anything screaming like that before. I woke up later with it screaming louder, and with the sound of a fight. I guess what ever was screaming, it got eaten by a fox or something. Is was silent after that. At around 4 in the morning I was really cold and had trouble falling asleep again. Eventually I decided to fire up the stove and reheat the water in the bottle. I did this, and went back to sleep.

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It was a great morning to wake up to

I got up around 8.30 and made breakfast. It was really cold and I was freezing a bit, despite wearing two fleece jackets. I made bannock for breakfast and then packed up and left camp. I walked back to the car in a faster pace than when I hiked out. I had to be back home rather quickly, and didn’t stay for any breaks, despite the weather being perfect. The hike back to the car only took roughly 75 minutes, and I was soaking in sweat when I got to the car.

When I got back home I found out that the temperature had dropped down to between -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. No wonder I was feeling cold and had slept bad the entire night.

Despite being cold I’m glad I got out. I learn a little every time. I could have had a comfortable night even with the temperatures being below the sleeping bags rating, if I had brought a silk liner, a pair of thick wool long johns to wear over my thin base layer and a water bottle that handles boiling water. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

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The hiking year 2016

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The New Years Eve is closing in, and it’s time to sum up the past year. My goal for the year was to get out on at least one overnight trip every month of the year.

I didn’t succeed with this though, but I did get out on quite a few trips.

January:

Februari:

  • My third child was born, so hiking was not a priority in Februari.

March:

  • A two night trip on John Bauerleden north of Jönköping in the beginning of March, that nearly ruined my feet.
  • An overnighter again in the end of March on Vildmarksleden near Åseda. I got sick during the hike and spent the next few days in bed after this hike.

April:

  • I didn’t get away on a hike this month.

May:

June:

  • No trip this month either.

July:

August & September:

  • A two night hike on another trail called Vildmarksleden, this time east of Gotherburg. It was a wet rainy experience and not a trail I’ll visit again.
  • The “big” trip this year begun in late August and ended in the beginning of September and was a week-long hike in Jotunheimen in Norway. It was a great trip with mostly good weather. It was very windy though. But I can’t wait to get back to some real mountains again.

October:

  • In late October I finally got out on a trip. I had planned for a two night hike in Tiveden, but really poor weather made me change my mind, and despite the long drive I ended up with a short overnighter.

November:

  • In the beginning of November I got out on an overnighter on Helgö, just outside Växjö. It was one of the first cold nights, and I woke up to a white layer of snow. I did have some serious condensation on this trip.
  • In the middle of the month I got out again. This time on an overnighter in Lerike, at the north end of the lake Helgasjön. Everything was covered in a thick layer of frost, and the nature was absolutely stunning. I tried to make a short video of the trip, but it got quite short since I had forgotten to bring a larger memory card. I haven’t decided if I’m going to publish it or not.

December:

  • No trip this month, but in the first week of January I plan to be out in the wild again.

When it comes to gear I both added and changed a few things. My biggest purchase was the Hilleberg Enan. I actually like it better than I thought I would. I was afraid I’d find it too small and cramped, but it felt a lot roomier than expected.

I also bought a down quilt from Cumulus. This was my first time using a quilt instead of a sleeping bag, and I’m still not sure if I like it. I might end up selling it, and buying a Liteline 400 instead.

I also bought an Exped Winterlite sleeping pad. I really like my Synmat 7 UL, but as soon as the temperatures drop below freezing I find it too cold. It was comfortable and warm, but the mummyshape takes some getting used to.

During the fall I started to stock up gear for my planned ACT hike. After the trip to Jotunheimen I realised that I would have a hard time fitting 12-14 days worth of food in my 60l backpack (it’s not like it can’t be done, but I’d have a hard time making it work). The hike takes somewhere between 9-11 days, but I might also start at the Ice cap, with will add 40 km to the trail. I also want to do some more advanced outdoor cooking than just eating my freezer bag meals. It also seems to be really hard to get gas canisters in Greenland and a multi fuel stove seems to be the best way to go. For this I purchased an Exped Expedition 80 backpack, a Trangia 27 ULHA and the multi fuel burner X2 to the Trangia. I did put some thought down before I bought the Trangia, considering it’s weight and volume. But in Norway, where I was constantly above timberline and with really strong winds most of the time I did miss having a sturdy stove with a better windshield. Cooking was a pain in the ass when the windshield almost blew away and much of the heat escaped because of the wind.

I’m constantly trying to improve my gear and find the perfect gear for me and for the designated trip. I try to conserve my shopping in my everyday life, but when it comes to outdoor gear, I think I have a problem. 🙂

All things considered, I had a great hiking year. I do want to get out a lot more than I do. But it is a balance between familylife, work and my need to get out on hikes.

Next year I’d really like to buy a pair of Åsnes Sondre and get out on a winter trip. I also have loosely planned to buy a canoe, and if so, it’ll most likely be an Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga. It was love at first sight, and I’ll go to their showroom next year and look at one up close. There aren’t that many good hiking trails close to Växjö (if you don’t like dark spruce forests), but Småland is littered with lakes, and with a canoe I can do a lot of trips in beautiful scenery close to home. It’s a really big investment though and I don’t know if I can prioritize the cost.

I wish you all a happy new year, and I hope that you have a lot of great trips in 2017!

A cold night at Lerike

I decided to get out this weekend too. I had just purchased an Exped Winterlite sleeping mat, and I wanted to try it. The weather report predicted lows of around -5º C and it seemed like a good time to try it out.

I had planned to go to Lerike, at the north end of the lake Helgasjön. It’s a short drive from home, and the nature is beautiful there. There aren’t any marked trails, but I planned to hike off-trail and just see where I ended up.

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The trees were covered in frost

At around noon, I parked as far out on Lerike as I could get. There is a lean-to here, but I don’t like to camp on spots like these, but prefer to get away a bit. I hiked out on a cape, that becomes an island when the water rises. It’s just a small cape and I followed the shoreline around it and got back again. On the far edge of the cape there was a homemade lean-to covered in branches and leaves. I remember going here as a boy-scout when I was a kid, so may it was made by scouts.

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Yeah, thats what Småland Outdoor looks like

I kept hiking the shoreline westbound. I’ve mostly hiked on trails, and it is somewhat constricting to just follow the trail, and have a designated goal to reach. Hiking off-trail gives you more freedom to explore, and without a trail to follow, even smaller areas can take time to explore. I didn’t put many kilometers behind me, but that wasn’t the goal with this trip. I just wanted to get outside and enjoy nature.

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Hiking, with the lake Helgasjön to the left

As I hiked I looked for good places to set up my tent. There were good places everywhere on the first streach, so I planned to get back there later if I didn’t find any other spots.

After a while I came to a beach. There was a fire ring there, and I made a poor attempt to make a fire. But I really didn’t put much effort into it. I don’t have any mad firemaking skills, and I didn’t take the time needed to find dry firewood, and as I didn’t want to get a lot of sand in my gear I continued and found another great place to make lunch.

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Another view of the beautiful forest

After my lunch I continued along the shoreline. The forest changed, and eventually the forest consisted of mainly spruce and pine.

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Frost covered basically every branch, pine needle and leaf in the forest
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Despite the mist, I had a great view overlooking Helgasjön

I went on for a while, but then came close to a farmhouse. I didn’t really hike far, but since I took it slow, and hiked off-trail, it took some time. I went through the forest and back to the shoreline on the side that I first hiked. I’d like to hike around the entire lake someday, but today I cut it short, and with the sun setting it was time to get the tent up.

I found a good spot that I had passed earlier and set up my Hilleberg Enan. It was starting to get colder and around 17.00 I made dinner, Mint-couscous with feta. It was delicious.

Wise from last weeks wet experience with condensation I decided to sleep with the fly-door open. And I didn’t have any problems with condensation, but it did get colder that with a closed door.

I wish I could say that I slept good, but I had a bad pain in my upper back even before I went out. And it got worse during the night. I toss and turn quite a lot at night, and every time I changed position I had to brace myself for the pain of moving. But despite the poor sleep I was glad to be out there.

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It was a wonderful morning to wake up to, with clear skies

When I woke up the skies were clear and the air was cold. I laid in my sleeping bag for some time before I got up and made breakfast.

This trip I brought my 120g cellfoam sleeping mat to use on breaks. In an effort to praise the UL god I had skipped it on most precious trips. But it was perfect to have one a cold trip like this. It was very comfortable to roll out the mat, and lay on it as the water was coming to a boil. I’ll definitely bring it on trips in the colder season, and probably on other trips to. It’s tricky to balance weight vs comfort as too much emphasis on either one of them will reduce comfort.

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Ready to leave

After breakfast I packed up and left. It was around 10.30 and it was only a short hike back to the car.

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Winter hikes does have its perks

I was considering hiking a while longer, but eventually I decided to get back home.

On this hike I did try to make a short hiking movie. Unfortunately I didn’t bring a large enough SD-card so I didn’t film a lot. But I’ll try to put something together from the clips, and put it on Youtube.

 

Short overnighter on Helgö

My last hike, in Tiveden a couple of weeks ago, didn’t go as planned so I still had the need to get out again shortly. So this weekend I decided to take the Friday off and do a short overnighter on Helgö, just north of Växjö.

The weather report predicted nice weather on Thursday evening and snow during Friday morning. Perfect weather for a night outside in other words.

I got off work early on Thursday and hurried home. I still had summer tires on my car and quickly changed them for winter tires. My backpack was already packed so all I had to do was to take a quick shower and then jump in my pants and drive the short distance to Helgö.

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The sun was already on its way down when I started hiking

I parked at the entrance of the nature reserve at around 15.00. There were two other cars parked there, but I didn’t see any people. The sun was low, but I hiked for a while.

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I was on Helgö the weekend before with the family and a lot of leaves had fallen in just a week

I followed the southbound trail from the entrance for a couple of hundred meters and then left it and bushwhacked instead. (No worries Länstyrelsen, I didn’t whack anything). Being a relatively small nature reserve and so close to Växjö it was nice to get off the trail and just hike through the forest. I first hiked through a deciduous forest and then left it for a forest with old pine trees.

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There are lots of different types of forests on Helgö. This patch had mostly pine and a few sprouse trees and a lot of moss.

I had no special goal, but just hiked where I felt like. Another good thing about leaving the trail. I hiked around for about an hour before I turned back to the deciduous forest where I had passed a nice open area where I could set up camp.

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Great camp spot with a lot of flat surfaces to choose from.

The area had lots of open spaces and I choose a nice one and set up my tent. I had my Exped Synmat 7 Ul sleeping pad, but I think it’s too cold when it gets below freezing so I brought a thin cellfoam mat to have on top of it. I have ordered an Exped Winterlite but it hasn’t arrived yet. I also used my winter sleeping bag, the Cumulus Panyam 600, for the first time of the season. It’s a great sleeping bag and now that the temperatures drop below freezing it’s time to store my quilt until next spring.

I made dinner and sat in the tent watching the forest. There’s an airport nearby, so every now and then the tranquility got ruined by passing planes. But for the most part it was calm and relaxing. I continued reading Chris Townsend’s Out There but was soon to tired to continue. A little after 19.00 I fell asleep.

I woke up at 01.00 when I heard loud noises. I head the sound of hooves in the leaves, and something heavy jumping and then a thump as if it threw itself down in the leaves. This was just outside my tent. At first I was a bit worried that it would be a boar. There are lot’s of them in Småland, and they can be dangerous. But as the animal was outside my tent I heard a roe deer bark in the distant, so I came to the conclusion that it was most likely a deer outside my tent too. I wanted to take a peek outside, but I didn’t want to startle it. Eventually I fell asleep again and woke up at around 07.00.

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The view I woke up to
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The snow transformed the forest

When I woke up I saw snow in the small gap between the foot-print and the fly. I opened up both the inner- and the outer door to get a view of the forest. I wasn’t ready to get up yet, but laid in my sleeping bag for more than an hour just looking at the forest and the snow falling.

It had been a great night, but there hadn’t been even a breeze the entire night. This, combined with wet leaves made a perfect match for condensation. Despite the fact that I had both short-end vents open the inner roof was filled with water drops from condensation.

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There are worse places to spend the night

Eventually I got up and made breakfast. I boiled water for coffee and had a few tortillas with peanut cream and hazelnut cream. I took it slow and enjoyed the solitude and the tranquility of the forest. I packed up, left camp and headed back towards the parking lot. After a few hundred meters I heard branches breaking, and then I saw a roe deer that came jumping towards me. It stopped when it was 50 meters from me, stood still, started walking in one direction , stopped again and then changed back to the other direction and quickly disappeared into the woods again. It was a nice way to end the short trip.

Long drive – short hike

So last weekend I was finally able to get away on a trip. The weekend before it had been very nice weather, and now in the upcoming weekend it’ll be very nice weather. The weather last weekend was, well, not so nice. I saw on the weather report that it would be rain the entire weekend, but decided to go anyways. I’m fully booked this weekend and I couldn’t wait two more weeks to get out. So last Friday I drove to Tiveden, a national park located between Vänern and Vättern, the two largest lakes in Sweden.

I drove from home a little before 16.00, and I had three hours in the car ahead of me. It rained until I had approximately one hour left to the park.

I arrived around 19.00 and by then it was dark outside. I drove to the park entrance near Vitsand and parked the car there. The moment I parked the car, the rain started falling. I saw a campfire nearby, and met a couple with a dog that had left the fire. (It was in a concrete circle with no risks of spreading).

The park entrance is being rebuilt, and it’s being prepared for an expansion of the park. By spring 2017 the park will be 50% bigger than it is today. This is both good and bad. I like that they will make the park bigger, but since you’re not allowed to camp inside the park the new borders will make me have to choose new camp spots next year.

But by now it was ok to camp near the lake Stora Trehörningen. I hiked out of the park and found a nice camp spot to set up my tent. There was a fireplace there, but no firewood. I decided to just put up the tent and start the stove as I was to tired to try to find dry firewood.

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My camp-spot with a view over Stora Trehörningen. (photo taken the next morning)

I had mashed potatoes with smoked gammon and a cup of tea and then got to bed. I read Chris Townsend’s “Out There” for about an hour before going to sleep at around 21.00. I woke up sometime early in the morning when I heard a rustle. I thought it might be mice eating up my tent. It took me a while to figure out that it was the sound of the wind in my trash-bag that I had hung up in a tree. Bears, even though we have them, aren’t a big problem in Sweden. However mice can be a problem and wise from experience I hang up the trash-bag outside the tent to minimize the risk of having them inside the tent at night.

 

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Vitsand

As soon as I understood where the rustle came from I could sleep again. I slept until 9.00 and didn’t get up until 9.30. The rain had stopped during the night, but by the time I got up the rain had started again. It was also really cold outside and the rain mixed with snow. It rained quite heavily. I made a quick breakfast and then broke camp. I couldn’t decide if I was going to stay the entire weekend or not. The weather was awful with a lot of rain, the temperatures around freezing, and the weather report showed that it would rain even more the next day and the temperatures would stay around freezing. I didn’t really feel like staying any more. I hiked a few of the trails, but around 13.30 I decided to cut it short and get back home.

It felt bad to get back early, but at the same time I felt that if I would have stayed, it would only be for the sake of it.

I’ll get back to Tiveden again. I don’t know if it’ll be again this year, but it’ll be nice to see the expanded park and the new trails next spring.

Post-hike gear review

Most of the gear I used during the Jotunheimen-hike have been used for a few trips now. The frying pan and the pillow got used for the first time. I’ll do a short review of the gear, and my thoughts of it after the trip. I feel that I’m close to getting the perfect gear for my needs.

Backpack – Exped Lightning 60 + flash pack pocket
This is a great pack that weights just over 1000g. It has one large storage with a roll-top closure and waterproof fabric. The pack isn’t waterproof though since the seams aren’t sealed.

Inside there is a mesh pocket where I store first aid kid and the repair kit. Underneath it there is a solid pocked that is reachable from the outside through a zipper. I store electronics and extra batteries here. There are also two mesh pockets one the side of the backpack and on the side of the waist belt. I also bought the flash pack pocket which is a bigger mesh pocket to have on the outside of the pack.

The pack is dimensioned to handle up to 24kg. I’ve had it up to 15kg and it is super comfortable. You hardly feel the weight on your back. I really love this pack and would definitely recommend it

Tent – Hilleberg Enan with foot-print
This was only the second trip that I used my Hilleberg Enan. I’ve said in earlier posts that I’ve been looking for the perfect shelter, and considered  a lot of different tents. I finally ended up with the Enan. It might not be the perfect shelter (I don’t know if there is one) but it turned out to be a very nice tent. It first launched in 2015, with a fabric called Kerlon 600, developed just for this tent. Hilleberg changed the fabric to the stronger (and heavier) Kerlon 1000 in 2016, partly because Kerlon 600 turned out to be very hard for the seamstresses to handle.

I bought the 2016 version. It weights 1200g (1452g with the foot-print). The fabric feels very thin, but it very strong. It’s a tunnel-tent with one 9mm DAC Featherlite pole in the center. The design is built on Hilleberg Akto but is a lighter 3-season version. It is also similar to Tarptent Moment. It has built in ventilation in the short-ends, with sil-nylon flaps that can be used to close the vents in poor weather.

I really liked the tent. I thought I might find it to small, but with the footprint and the big D-shaped door open I had a lot of usable floor-space. It was also strong, and handled severe conditions with rain and strong winds in exposed areas. I would recommend it, but I know many lightweight hikers prefer mids. I for one is happy to not have to crawl around the center-pole anymore. I might change my mind again though and end up with a mid again sometime.

Sleeping bag – Cumulus Quilt 350
I bought the Quilt earlier this spring. I had never used a Quilt before but only used sleeping-bags before. I still can’t make up my mind on what I think about it. On one hand, I think it’s a bit of a hassle setting it up with the straps around the sleeping mat and getting it tight enough, without being to tight. It’s also had to not get a gap where cold air get in when I toss and turn at night. On the other hand I love the lower weight (585g) and how easy it is to get in or out of it (just push it down). I have a Panyam 600 from Cumulus that I use when I hike in the winter, and I’m really pleased with the sleeping bag. It hardly leaked any down. The Quilt however leaks quite a lot of down. I don’t know how much is normal, and I’ve understood that some down products leak a bit in the beginning, when the feathers comes out. I’ll see after a few more uses if the leaking stops. The quilt had only been used 4 nights before this trip, and it appeared to leak less in the end of the trip. I do recommend Cumulus, but if I were to buy a new Quilt I’d probably try Enlightened Equipment since I like their strap-system to fasten the Quilts.

Sleeping mat – Exped Synmat 7 UL
I’ve had this sleeping mat for a couple of years. It was the first UL product I bought, and actually the thing that got me in to UL and interested in lightening my pack weight. It weights 450g and it’s 7cm thick. I had cellfoam mats and inflatable 2cm pads before, but this sleeping mat is a dream to sleep on compared to those. It is super comfortable and I wouldn’t want to sleep on a cellfoam mat again. When it’s time to get a new one I’ll probably go for the Hyperlite and save a 100g more. I definitely recommend this mat.

Pillow – Exped UL Airpillow
This was the first trip that I used a pillow. Before this trip I’ve just used my fleece-jacket piled up. It only weights 45g and I like to have a designated pillow so I can wear my clothes on my body if it would be to cold in the Quilt. At first I inflated it to hard and it wasn’t that comfortable to sleep on. After that I let some air out and it was a lot better. There are two points on the pillow where you can tie shock-cord, and I’ll probably do that to get it to stay on the sleeping mat. I like the pillow, but it was still less comfortable than I thought it would be.

Exped Schnozzle pumpbag UL M
I use this bag, both as a drybag to protect my sleeping gear from water, and to inflate my sleeping mat. It works great for both things and I really like it.

Sleep baselayer
Just a regular cheap synthetic baselayer. I use it so that I always have a dry fresh layer of clothes to wear when I go to sleep.

Stove set – Fire maple 117T and Toaks Titanium pot
Both the burner and the pot is made of titanium. I’ve had both for a while now and they work without any issues. I like that the burner is made of titanium. It’s light, 98g, and it cools down fast after you’re done using it. I prefer using a spider burner instead of a top mounted burner. I think it gives me more control and stability.

The pot I use got a bail handle. When I bought it I planned to do more bushcraft style trips and wanted the bail handle for times when I have a campfire. Haven’t been a lot of those, but I do like the pot. It’s light, 133g, and large enough for coffee and water to the food.

The windscreen is a cheap titanium windscreen bought of eBay. Very light and does what it should. Not much to say about it.

Baby wipes
I can’t say enough good things about it. I can’t remember which forum I read about using it, but nowadays I bring them on every trip. Before putting on my sleep baselayer I clean my body with baby wipes to clean off the days sweat and dirt.

Headlamp – Black Diamond Cosmo
It’s a light headlamp that only weights 87g, but I’m not entirely happy with it. The hatch to close the batteries seems flimsy and I wonder if it would be waterproof in hard rain. It also tuned on accidentally in my legpocket several times. It was ok, but I’ll keep looking for a better one that’s still very light.

Battery pack –  Brunton Revolt 4000
It’s a good battery pack that does what it should at 139g. It feels sturdy and has enough juice to keep my cellphone charged.

E-book reader – Adlibris Letto
My luxury item. I always bring it, and I really like to lay in the tent and read after dinner. It’s light, and can store countless books. Definitely recommend an E-book reader if you like to bring books on your hikes.

Camera – Canon Powershot S95
I bought this camera used for only 600SEK. It’s small and light, but I expected more from the camera in terms of image quality. But it’s ok and I’ll keep bringing it.

Camp socks – Sealskinz
I brought these to have dry waterproof socks to wear at camp. My feet stayed dry almost the entire trip though. They were a little wet one time after we set camp, and that was the only time I used the Sealskinz on the Jotunheimen trip. They do their job, and it’s nice to have warm dry socks on if the shoes are wet.

Fleece jacket – HH Workwear
At 500g it might not be the lightest option out there. But it is super warm and keeps you warm even in wet conditions. The weight is almost the same as if I should pack a down jacket and a thinner fleece.

Rain gear – Montane Minimus & Itab packaway pants
Lightweight and a small pack size. I haven’t tried it in hard driving rain yet, but so far it’s done it’s job without any issues. I recommend it. The rainpants are cheap, but lightweight. I’ve heard good things about them, but I haven’t used them that much so I can’t say much about how waterproof they are in the long run.

Gloves – Hestra work glove
A thin leather glove that only gets better with age. I’ve had my pair for a long time, and after every use I saturate them with leather balm to keep the leather soft and waterproof. I can fill a bottle of water in an ice cold lake without getting my hands wet. I bought a pair that was large enough to wear a pair of thin knitted wool gloves under them when the weather is cold. I really recommend these gloves. They’re great.

Hiking poles – Black Diamond Expedition 3
When I was looking for a new tent I expected to buy a tent that used the tent poles to erect, and wanted to have sturdy poles. I also plan to buy skis, and these poles are 4-season poles that can be used with skis to. They are sturdy and easy to use with the flick-locks and Black Diamond costumer service is great.

Wind jacket – Karhu Ultrarun
It weights nothing and cost nothing but still blocks wind to keep you warm. I bought it for less than 200SEK (~20€) and it’s great. The only downside is that there are no strings for the hood. Other than that it’s a great jacket at a great price.

Knife – Buck 327 Carbon fiber
I’ve had this knife for a few years now. I basically only use it to open food bags so I can’t review any harder use. It’s very sharp and very light.

Trailrunners – Inov8 Roclite 295
This was my first longer trip using trailrunners instead of hiking boots. It was great, and with the weather being good most of the time I kept my feet dry for the most part. When they got wet it only took about an hour of hiking to get them dry again. In the sections of the trail where there was a lot of sharp boulders I would have wanted thicker soles, but other than that they were great. I used Inov8 gaiters to keep dirt from getting into the shoes. I really like my boots, but for hikes in the snow free season I’ll probably keep using trailrunners.

Shemagh
I bought a shemagh on eBay and use it instead of a buff on my hikes. It’s lightweight, and works as a substitute for a buff, but also like a towel to wipe off condensation on the tent.

I didn’t review every single gear I used, but this is a summary and short review of most of the things I used. In general, I’m really happy with the gear I  have today.

Jotunheimen, Thursday

Day one

Day two

Day three

Day four

As I wrote in the last post the night was awful. Neither one of us slept good. I was up one time during to check the guy lines and despite the wind the skies were clear and the stars were beautiful. I didn’t stay outside long though considering how cold and windy it was. By morning the wind was still strong, but not as strong as it had been during the night.

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Fredriks Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak getting hammered by the wind

We had breakfast and then packed up and left our campsite. Fredrik was thankful that he had used two hiking poles for the tent, considering that the wind had bent his pole when it blew a lot less than during this night. We hiked up the ridge and enjoyed the view. We’ve hiked Besseggen once before, in 2010. That time it was fog the entire day and we didn’t see much of the view. This time though we had mostly good weather and could see for miles.

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View from the ridge

We knew from the start that this was a popular trail. And even now, in low season it was crowded. The views from this trail is spectacular, but you can’t expect to have any privacy. I’m kind of a loner and prefer solitude while hiking and this is not something you get on Besseggen.

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Clouds were moving in

We were happy that the weather turned out good and that we got a chance to see the views instead of just fog, like in 2010. Clouds rolled in though, but apart from some drizzle it didn’t rain much, and we had mostly good weather.

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View over Gjende

Eventually we came down to the lake Bessvatnet. There is a ridge here with Bessvatnet on one side at the same elevation, and on the other side there is a drop of about 400 meters down to the lake Gjende.

We stayed here and had lunch. The place was pretty crowded, and on the narrow ridge leading up to the top om Besseggen we saw a lot of people.

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Lots of people about to ascend the top of Besseggen

We started hiking, and immediately I felt that something was wrong with my stomach. I’m lactos intolerant, abut most of the times small amounts of lactos isn’t an issue. This time though the lactos in the mashed potatos might have been to much. There was nothing to do about it since the pathway was narrow, and had lots of people coming both up and down. The path is steep at times, and you have to do actual climbing to get up. Many people send their backpacks with the boat between Gjendesheim and Memurubu and just carry day packs. By now the wind blew hard again. Fortunately it blew in our backs, pushing us against the mountain while climbing up. We saw a guy with jeans, a leather jacket and vans passing us on a flatter passage with his hands in his pockets and a bored look on his face. The climb was sort of an adventure for us, but I guess you don’t need any mountaineering equipment to make it.

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Overlooking Gjende and Bessvatnet

When we got closer to the top the clouds rolled in and we were covered in fog. There was still a lot of people, but it was more distance between them and you couldn’t see that far any longer because of the fog. The area was very flat though. I realized that I couldn’t keep walking any more because of my stomach, and took the opportunity of the fog to “release the beast”. I walked of the trail, found a pretty large boulder and got to it. While I sat there I heard voices closing in on me. At the same time I saw the sun, and saw that the fog was disappearing at an alarming pace. Despite the boulder I wasn’t that sheltered since the area on top of Besseggen is very flat. I was very quick to finish my business.

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Looking down at Gjendesheim at the shores of Gjende. You can see people on the cliff to the left

We carried on, but after a while my stomach started acting out again. This time there was no fog around so I just had to keep hiking.

Eventually the trail started to descent towards Gjendesheim, and around 15.30 we got down to the hut.

The hike had been strenuous and we were both tired. We rested for a while in the hut, used the bathrooms and then walked to the parking lot. On the way to the parking lot there was a sound of rain on our clothes. But it turned out to be countless flies. Hundreds of them. They covered our packs, jackets and pants. It felt like something from the movie The Mummy.

When we got to the parking lot the plan had first been to pitch our tents and then drive back to Sweden the next day. But since we got back so early we decided to drive back right away.

I drove to Oslo where we changed drivers and Fredrik drove the last stretch to Gothenburg. We got there at around 23.30. I still had 2,5-3h to drive though, and was envious of Fredrik that could go to bed. I was really tired, especially since I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. Fredrik offered me his couch, but I wanted to get back home. I bought the largest coffee Mc Donalds had to offer and stayed awake without issues.

The trip had been great. The views were spectacular and the weather was mostly good. All of our gear worked out the way it should. I feel that I’m starting to get close to having the perfect gear for me, and it makes hiking that much more enjoyable. I can’t wait to get back to the mountains again. I’ll go to Jotunheimen on my own sometime to. I really like hiking with others, but I also like hiking on my own.

This was the last post from the hike. I’ll write about my packlist and my thoughts of the gear I used in a future post.

Jotunheimen, Wednesday

Day one

Day two

Day three

The night between Tuesday and Wednesday was quite windy, but we slept ok. We woke up to a great morning with only scattered clouds in the sky. We were glad that we had decided to change our route and skip Spiterstulen and Gjendebu. It would be one day less of hiking, but we would feel more relaxed and enjoy the hike more. While we were doing our morning chores two women passed us on their way up towards the ridge. The evening before we had seen three guys in a tent a couple of hundred meters away from our campsite. They had left too by the time we got up.

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The view I woke up to on Wednesday

The underwear I had washed in my zip-lock bag were still wet. I didn’t care much though, but put them on to let them dry on my body. We filled up our water bottles, made breakfast and then broke camp.

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We finally saw the top of Glittertind

This morning was the first time we actually saw the top of Glittertind. The other days it had been covered in clouds, but this morning the weather was excellent and the top was visible.

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Nice weather while hiking back up the ridge

We started to hike back towards the ridge. From time to time we saw the two women that had passed our camp earlier in the morning. We saw that they met someone, and after a while we met him to. It turned out to be a Swede with his dog, hiking down towards Glitterheim. He had planned to hike basically the same way we had planned, apart from the fact that he actually would try to reach the summit of Glittertind. Something we didn’t prioritize.

We chatted for a while and then continued up, back to the boulders. The trail felt shorter going back, and we passed the ridge and got to the trail intersection. This time we turned towards Memurubu.

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Descending towards Russvatnet

The trail crossed a rather large stream, but when we came to the bridge it was broken. The wires were there, but nothing more. There was a sign pointing us in the direction of the new bridge, that was places further down the stream, a lot closer to Russvatnet.

We came down to the bridge and found the two women there, so we stopped and talked to them. It turned out they were Swedes too. We then continued on the trail from the new bridge, but quickly lost the trail. We had a good notion on where the old trail should be, and bushwhacked through the landscape to get there (no bushes were whacked though). It took a lot longer than we thought it would, and we saw the two women following the shoreline far below us, and they were a lot faster than us.

Eventually we saw two girls further up, and thought they were on the trail so we set course towards them. Apparently they weren’t on the trail, and had set course towards us. We chatted a while and the asked about the directions towards the bridge, and gave us the directions towards the trail.

After about 45 minutes we reached the trail as it was heading down towards the shoreline of Russvatnet.

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It was windy when we walked alongside the shores of Russvatnet

We hiked a lot faster when we reached the trail. The women we talked to earlier were now far ahead of us. I guess their way from the bridge was a lot better.

By now it was really windy. My beanie almost blew of my head and I had to keep wear the hood of my wind jacket for it to stay on my head.

We had set a goal to reach the ridge above Memurubu before nightfall and set up camp there. The next day we would hike Besseggen, and we didn’t want to start the morning with a long ascent. We were quite tired as we had hiked far in headwind.

Eventually we came close to the ridge, and found a somewhat sheltered place with water where we could set up camp. In reality it wasn’t sheltered at all, but the other flat surfaces near was even worse.

While Fredrik started to set up his tent I started to hike the last stretch up to the ridge, to see the views overlooking the lake Gjende. Halfway up though it started to rain, and I turned back.

I set up my tent in horizontal rain. The wind was really powerful. We anchored our tents with at least two rocks in each peg, and double poled Fredriks tent with two hiking poles, as the wind that had bent the pole a couple of nights earlier had only been a fraction of the wind this evening.

When we had set up camp and anchored the tents we hiked up to the ridge. But the wind was almost strong enough that you could lean forward without falling so we turned back down to our tents.

The wind blew hard, and I was really afraid that one, or both of our tents would rip in a seam. I had set up my tent in the correct direction, with the foot end against the wind. The wind kept compressing that half of the tent, but the pole stood strong, without moving a lot.

I could hardly sleep that night. The wind kept blowing with the same force. It howled and roared and the whole tent shocked from the force. Halfway through the night the wind shifted direction and became a straight side wind. Not the best thing for tunnel tents. The tent fabric massaged me the whole night, but the pole kept staying strong and didn’t move much despite the hard winds.

I’ve never slept outside in winds like that before and it wasn’t the most relaxing experience. But in retrospect I’m glad I did it, and got to test my test my new Hilleberg Enan in bad conditions. It handled it without any problems, and I think it was unnecessary for me to worry from the start. I trust the tent do keep me save, even in harsh conditions.

Stay tuned for the last part of the trip report. I’ll also post a short post-hike gear review.

Jotunheimen, Tuesday

Day one

Day two

When we woke up at Tuesday morning in was raining and the wind was blowing like crazy. Fredriks hiking pole, that he used as a center pole in his Sil Hexpeak bent from the force of the wind. We had bad experiences from last year hiking in foul weather, and decided to wait out the bad weather in our tents. We saw one hiker passing our tent on his way to Spiterstulen, and he had a grim look on his face while forcing his way forward in the rain and wind.

Eventually we heard more and more voices. A lot of people came from Spiterstulen heading towards Glitterheim. The rain stopped to, and a little after lunch we decided to break camp. By then we saw kids who couldn’t be more than fourteen years old hike alone in jeans and sweatshirts while playing on their iPhones with bored looks on their faces. It felt wrong to hunker down in our tents any more.

We changed our plans and decided to skip Spiterstulen. Our initial plan was to hike to Spiterstulen and then continue to Gjendebu, Memurubu and then back to Gjendesheim over Besseggen. This was a bit longer than we had time to, so with the weather looking bad, and half a day spent in a tent, we decided to hike back to Glitterheim, back over the ridge and then reach Memurubu from there. This route would be one day shorter than our initial route, but it felt more relaxed than having to race forward to get back to Gjendesheim in time to be back in Sweden by Saturday.

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Glitterheim, with Glittertind covered in clouds

We hiked back to Glitterheim, were we only stopped for a few minutes using the toilets and throwing trash. I also used a payphone to call my wife. We hadn’t had reception since mid Sunday and I had sent her a text with our planned route, and that we would be out of reception for a day or two as I thought Glitterheim would have reception. This was not the case so I thought it would be wise to call her so she wouldn’t worry. She didn’t answer though, so I left a message on her voice mail.

We carried on and passed the bridge over the stream below Glitterheim, and were back on the trail leading towards Memurubu. We didn’t hike far though, but set up camp with views over Glitterheim, and the cloud covered Glittertind.

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Our campsite for the night

The campsite had a good flat surface to pitch the tents, lots of rocks to anchor the guy lines and was close to a stream. The bad thing was that the place was littered with dried cow dung. I managed to pitch my tent in a clear space, but Fredrik complained that he had poop in his vestibule.

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My Hilleberg Enan. In the zip-lock bag I tried to wash my underwear. It worked great

Since we put up our tents relatively early in the evening I took this time to try to wash my underwear in a zip-lock bag as I had read on a forum that you could do that.

I used water from the stream, a pinch of washing powder and some of the hot water left over from dinner. Then I just shook and squeezed the bag for a while before pouring the water out (not in the stream of course). Then I filled it with fresh water a couple of times and squeezed the bag a bit more. I hung them in a guy line to get the worst moisture out, but I knew the underwear wouldn’t be dry the next day. I planned to walk with them on anyways, to let them dry from my body heat. This night it was windy to, but not as much as the night before.

Stay tuned for the last two days of the hike.

Jotunheimen, Monday

Day one.

As I wrote in my pre-hike post I had started to get a cold the week before the trip. I had used everything I could find to make the effects of the cold as mild as possible. By Monday I was starting to feel a lot better.

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It was cloudy, but gradually the skies cleared up a bit

We woke up to better weather than the day before. I was really happy to be up in the mountains. Especially since last years failed trip (more of that in some future post). I was worried that the trip would be canceled or postponed considering my new job and the cold just before the trip. There is something special about the mountains that’s hard to explain in words. But I feel kind of like Bilbo when he says to Gandalf that he needs to see mountains.

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Fredrik packing up before we leave the campsite

We started to hike towards Glitterheim, and soon reached the bridge we had set as a goal the day earlier.

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The bridge over the rapid

The bridge consisted of two steel wires with a net on which wooden boards laid loosely. The boards weren’t fastened to the sides of the rapid, but the bridge hanged loosely over it. It was somewhat scary to walk across it as it wobbled a lot.

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View over the lake Russvatnet

After the bridge the trail turned up and we gained altitude. After a while most of the vegetation disappeared and only scattered patches of grass remained. The whole area, including the trail, was covered in boulders. The higher up we got, the more boulders there were. It was strenuous on the feet to keep balancing on boulders. I had set a goal to reach the ridge before we had lunch and had really underestimated how long it would take for us to walk up there. Fredrik was silent, but I could see that he wished we would have had the lunch earlier. I asked him several times but he said that if the goal was the ridge we would wait until we reached it.

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View near the ridge
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The boulders got worse the higher up we got

We finally got to the ridge and had a nice view over the valley beneath Glittertind. We had a short lunch break. At this altitude it was both windy and cold. We packed up again and started our decent towards Glitterheim.

We filled up water in a stream that had its source near the trail and then continued down the mountain.

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Glittertind, with the top covered in clouds. If you look closely you’ll see Glitterheim

We sat down and had a coffee break before we reached Glitterheim. While sitting there we met a German who was going the same way as we did. He stopped and we chatted for a while. He had planned to go to Slovenia, but ended up taking his VW Campervan to Norway instead. In Norway it had broken down and he then hiked between the cabins.

Fredrik is by no means a lightweight backpacker. Nothing wrong with that, since we all hike the way it suits us. But the German guy saw our packs and said that he thought it was unfair that Fredrik had to carry all the load. He thought we had shared gear, but we explained that we had separate gear but I just liked to keep it light and small. He wasn’t the only one to comment on it though.

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A picture taken the day before, showing our packs

We hiked with him to Glitterheim where we stayed for a short break. He would sleep there, and we would continue towards Spiterstulen. We said good bye and then continued. We hike for while longer and when we found a good spot near a stream we decided to make camp there.

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Another campsite with great views

The weather was really nice, but windy. The campsite was by no means sheltered and the wind blew hard. It was exiting though to set up the tent in windy conditions. I did want to test the tent and see how it did under these circumstances. We made dinner and then went inside our tents. I finished reading Mitt år som nomad and started to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read it before, but I liked it, and I like to read books about hiking while hiking.

I listened to music when I read and I felt really at peace. Hiking is the best way I know to recharge my batteries and relieve myself of stress.

Posts about Tuesday to Thursday will be up shortly.