Fulufjället national park – 3 day hike

Neither C nor my wife have been hiking in the mountains before. My wife likes daytrips, but aren’t too fond of the camping part. She still joins me and C from time to time though. And this year, with Covid stopping our usual trip to Athens we decided to go on a hiking trip in the mountains together. Our oldest daughter preferred to stay at home, and our son was away on camp. I had scouted different areas that would suit beginners that wasn’t several days of driving away. Fulufjället National park was 8-9h drive from home, and seemed to be a fairly easy hike. As always we do things spontaneously, and we didn’t decide that we would go hiking until a couple of days before going.

Info

Fulufjället national park is a mountain plateau situated in Dalarna in the southern parts of the mountain range, next to the Norwegian border. The park has the highest waterfall in Sweden, the 93m high Njupeskär waterfall. Here you can also find the worlds oldest tree, the 9565 year old spruce tree Old Tjikko.

There are several hiking routes, from 2-24km, but you can mix the different trails to a suiting route. The main entrance is at Njupeskär, where you also find Naturum. The park has different sections with different regulations. In most parts of the park you are allowed to camp, but not in the most frequently visited parts.

Trip report

Day 1

We packed the car the day before, and left home at around 04.00 in the morning. Without breaks, it would be an 8-9h drive and we wanted to get there early enough to reach the plateau in the first evening. I had made an own route that would be some 24 km hike, and I expected us to spend three nights in the tent. In the end we only did two nights, since C hiked on in a better pace than we expected. At the end she would be the one with the most energy left.

I didn’t want to start at Njupeskär, since I expected it to be very crowded now that a lot of people where going on Swecations. Instead we would start at entrance at Brottbäcksstugan, south of Njupeskär, hike west to Särnmanskojan, then south to Tangsjöstugan, east to Göljåstugan and then back north, past Klotjärn and back to the car at Brottbäcksstugan. We were not going to use the cabins, but I wanted a route were we would pass cabins and privys every day, to have the option of a little more luxary if we would get tired of camping.

I really looked forward to the trip. I’ve wanted to bring C to the mountains for a long time, and I had really missed them myself. I haven’t been hiking in the mountains since 2017.

We arrived at Brottbäcksstugan around 15.00 and prepared for the hike. There were a few cars on the parking lot, and in the distant I could see the mountains. The first sections went through a forest, but the trail soon turned uphills and the trees became smaller and more scattered. The sides of the mountain plateau is fairly steep, and it didn’t take long for us to get up above the tree line. The views where amazing. It wasn’t the tall sharp snow covered peaks of Jotunheimen or Sarek, but soft and rounded tops. But it was mountains and vast views, and I had really missed that. I felt a rush of joy to be back in the mountains, and I was really happy that I could share it with my family.

Going up
Coming up above the tree line

It took an hour to reach the plateau, and once we reached it the wind kicked in. I didn’t know how far C would want to hike, so I started to look for potential camps sites pretty soon. The ground was very uneven with lots of wet parts, so finding good spots for a large tent wasn’t easy. But I did find a few spots that I marked on the GPS for potential future trips.

But we kept hiking, as both C and Maria wanted to keep going, and eventually we reached Särnmanskojan. It just an emergency shelter, but there where a few people there. It’s also an intersection for several trails, and as we had our break there a lot more people passed and a few of them stopped to set up camp around the cabin.

We considered setting up camp near the cabin, but Maria wanted to keep going after our break. So after a short rest with snacks and a visit to the privy we turned south and started to hike towards Tangsjöstugan.

Near a few ponds, over a small ridge a bit away from the trail we found a nice flat spot for our tent. There were another couple in a tent across the pond/lake, but we didn’t want to go any further and risk not finding a good spot before nightfall. A mistake I made so many times before.

C:s teddy – Ninja Nalle
Our camp on the first night

I gathered rocks to anchor the pegs, since the soil layer was thin and it was hard to get good grip. The pitch was terrible though, but I didn’t see it that night for some reason. The fly flapped like crazy all night. I fixed it in the morning though, just for practice.

When the tent was up we made dinner, and then we just hung out in the tent before going to sleep. I got up once in the middle of the night, and despite not being extremely far north it was still fairly bright outside.

Day 2

After waking up I saw how bad my pitch was, and tightened everything up just for practice. I had only used the Ultamid 4 a couple of times before, and I thought it would be good to work on my weak spots when it comes to pitching.

Ready to head out
A well deserved break

I made Krabbelurer for breakfast and then we packed up. We continued hiking south towards Tangsjöstugan, with a few breaks here and there on the way. C would loose her energy every now and then, but as soon as we started to play something while we hiked she went on like she would never stop. At lunchtime we arrived to Tangsjöstugan. No one was there, and we explored the cabins. It was really nice and I can imagine what a welcome sight it must be for someone coming in from a storm.

Tangsjöstugorna

We made dinner, and several groups came passing by or stopping for breaks. We chatted a bit with a German couple that had hiked for 2 weeks I think, that were heading north.

After the lunch break we turned east towards Göljåstugan, another emergency cabin. We took frequent breaks, and me and Maria was starting to get more tired than C. We thought about stopping sooner, but still wanted to go to the cabin.

Leaving Tangsjöstugorna

The cabin was at a height near a gorge and the view was stunning. There where good places for the tent nearby and we decided to stop. Maria wanted to continue at first, but I thought it was better to camp out there than to try to push our selfs to the limit. We had done calculations on both the map and the GPS, and come to the conclusion that we should be able to reach the car the next day.

Closing in on the gorge for our second camp

I had been starting to feel ill. I’ve had some fluctuating health issues with stomach aches and frequent infections since a year back, and it had started to act up on the drive to Fulufjället. During the second day I was starting to feel worse and it was a bit hard to fully enjoy the trip.

But dropping the backpack and making camp felt wonderful. And this time I got a drum tight pitch of the tent (unfortunately we didn’t have the slightest wind that night).

View from our camp
The Ultamid 4 is a roomy temporary home
A beautiful sunset with the Ultamid 4

We made dinner and chillaxed in the tent. The mosquitoes where abundant so having the roomy full inner of the Ultamid 4 was wonderful. We kept the doors of the fly open until it was time to go to sleep, to enjoy the view.

Day 3

The next morning we packed up and headed out. We had studied the map, and knew that the first section would go through vegetation, and then through a sea of boulders. We would also have a river crossing further on. The sign showed a longer distance back to the car than we had measured on the map and GPS, but with our remeasures we still got the same shorter distance. We hoped it would be okey to hike all the way back to the car without straining our selfs.

Time for breakfast

After the boulders we came up on the plateau again, before heading back down into another gorge. The river was pretty wide, and split up in two with an island in the middle, so we would have to do two crossings to get over.

The second gorge

C had been a champion this whole trip, but the crossing the river really scared her. There were fairly large waterfalls both above and below us. “I can’t do it! I’ll break! I’ll break like a twig!” But she did it. After spending some time persuading her she would let me help her get over. Unfortunately though the got one boot in the water and filled it. She was scared when we came to the last crossing, even though that crossing was a lot easier. But after a while she came over.

The first crossing. It was deeper and wider than it looks

We came up from the gorge and took a break after a while. A German woman came from the opposite direction and stopped for a chat. She asked if we had Compeed, since she was getting blisters. She had left hers in her tent, and was only going for a day hike from her camp. She got a couple from us, and continued south.

Our last stretch above the tree line

The trail started to go downhill for us, and we came down below the tree line. And now we had mosquito paradise. They where out in full force as soon as we stopped. I was getting worse and worse and it really took its toll, and I could barley eat. C was the one who were in the best mood. We regularly measured the distance om the map to the car and understood that we would make it back in a descent time. As we got closer we also got cell reception and I started calling hostels nearby to find a room for us for the night. Neither one of us longed for another night in the tent with a freeze dried meal.

Mosquito paradise below the tree line

We stopped at Klotjärn for lunch and from there I could find a room in a hostel at Särna Camping after calling around to several other places closer to Fulufjället. In the end I think we hit the jackpot in getting there since the food and the staff was amazing.

After booking the room we hiked the last stretch back to the car. In the car we had a bag of vanilla buns in a cooler. And they tasted better than vanilla buns ever tasted before. The bag didn’t last long.

We sat in the car and drove to Särna and the hostel. We checked in, took showers, changed clothes and went down to the restaurant to eat dinner.

I might have had some prejudges against campings and the kind of food they’ll serve. But this camping really ended that prejudiced. They had all sorts of local specialties, with moose, reindeer, local fish and local beer. When we came down to the restaurant we could hear another couple praise the food and exclaim how it exceeded everything they could have expected. As the burger lovers we are we ordered burgers and the local beer Härjebrygd. The food was amazing, and I don’t think it was solely because we had eaten freeze dried meals the days before. We had a dessert of Kolarbotten. Vanilla ice cream with kolbulle (a sort of fried bread), Messmör caramel sause and fried pork. It sounded so weird we just had to try it. But it tasted so good. The waitress came back after a short while, looked at the empty bowl, smiled and asked C: “Did you get to taste anything, or did your patents just devour everything?”

This felt like a wee deserved meal

The hostel was situated next to Klarälven, one of the largest rivers in Sweden, and there was a nice little peninsula with a beach. We had fantastic weather and after dinner we strolled along the beach while C played in the water line.

Freshly showered and fed

We were tired, and as it was getting late we wanted to go to bed. C however wasn’t tired despite hiking 24km. “I’m still so full of energy” she exclaimed, so I stayed up with her a little longer so she could play at the play ground.

We aren’t sponsored or anything by Särna Camping, but I really have to give them a shout out. The food was great and the staff really was super friendly and welcoming.

Day 4

Njupeskär water fall

We had decided to skip Old Tjikko, but still visit Njupeskär waterfall on this last day. We’d had wonderful weather our whole hike but this morning we woke up to torrential rain. We had our packed up, left the hostel and drove to the main entrance. Despite the rain there were already a lot of people there.(a couple of weeks later the lines would stretch several kilometers). We did consider turning back, but since we were here we wanted to see the water fall. A long portion of the 3.9km round trail is accessible with a wheel chair.

Torrential rain on this hike
Njupeskär water fall

After a while we reached the water fall, took a few photos and then headed back to the car. On the parking lot we met a group that was on their way to the water fall and they asked us if it was worth hiking there in the rain. We didn’t really know what to answer as we were wondering that our selfs.

My expensive Montane Minimus jacket had kept me mostly dry except for a few wet spots. My cheapo rain pants though had wetted through completely and I felt like I could as well have gone without them. After the trip to the water fall we headed back home, and spent the rest of the day in the car.

I’ll write about the gear we used on the trip in a separate post.

Spring canoe camping trip

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

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

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

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

Trip report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring overnighter in Skåne

A couple of weeks ago C and I got out on a trip in Skåne, near Söderåsen National Park. We stayed outside of the park though, to be able to camp freely.

Söderåsen is a two hour drive from home, and we arrived around noon. Weather was great, and though there still wasn’t any leaves on the trees, it felt like spring was in the air.

When we arrived at the parking lot, we met another couple that was going on a day hike. We started to hike down the trail, but they soon passed us, since we hiked in C:s pace.

We came down the canyon, passed a stream and then continued up on the ridge on the opposite side of the canyon. When we reached the top we left the trail and hiked off-trail along the ridge instead.

The forest was really beautiful, filled with really old deciduous trees. Even though we hiked on the ridge it was hilly. On one small valley the ground was pierced with rabbit holes and tunnels. It was interesting for both of us to find the different entrances and imagine what the vast network of tunnels beneath us looked like. The forest was also filled with lots of dead trees, with fungus growing on it.

Camping is still more important to C than hiking, and after a couple of hours she wanted us to set up camp. We found a beautiful spot, where we had nice views, and somewhat close to water.

Once again I’ve bought a new tent, in my never ending chase for the perfect shelter. Basically everything else in my gear is dialed down to be almost perfect for me, but when it comes to shelter I never seem to find the perfect balance between weight, size, comfort and the more subjective “homey” feeling.

This trip was my first try of the Hilleberg Niak. Considered a 1,5 person tent, it’s aimed at solo travelers who wants a lot of space, someone bringing a dog, or a parent with a kid. At 1700g everything included it’s an acceptable weight for a gram geek like me, while offering a lot of protection from both weather and bugs.

C was less than impressed though. All of fall and winter we’ve been camping with a big tipi and a wood stove to keep us warm. A small 2 person backpacking tent didn’t impress her.

We made lunch, put up the hammock between two trees and just hung out.

Below us in the canyon, a stream was flowing. I wanted to resupply our water, and in a valley next to our camp there was a way down the canyon that wasn’t as steep as on all the other places.

Getting down to the stream was an adventure though. The ground was covered in slippery leaves, that also hid rocks and holes. After a slow and controlled descent we finally reached the stream and filled up on water.

I was a bit worried about how we’d be able to get up again. But after a lot of work we managed to get back up to our camp.

The rest of the afternoon was spend around camp and in the hammock.

When it was time to go to bed we made dinner, brushed our teeth and crawled inside. It sure was more cramped than we where used to, but I think this will be a good backpacking tent for us.

C had a restless night, and wanted to sleep on my sleeping pad. My sleeping pad is a narrow Exped Winterlite HL M. I can’t say it was a comfortable night, as it felt like she was trying to push me out of the tent.

We woke up to bird song the next morning. C wanted to get up and play, but I preferred to stay in my quilt and continue sleeping. But you can’t really control a three year old who’s filled with energy, so it was time for me too to get up. But I did stay under the quilt when I boiled water for coffee and prepared the tortillas for breakfast.

When we where done, we packed down camp. I wanted to hike some more, but C wanted to get back to the car. But I managed to persuade her that we would hike back on the opposite side of the canyon, instead of taking the shortest route back.

We continued along the ridge to find a better route down to the canyon than the one we used to get water.

When we came across a crest we startled a group of 30-something fallow deers in a valley. They run up the next hill, stopped to watch us, and then left over the next crest. It was an impressive sight, and they had been pretty close to us.

We continued along the ridge, and when we reached the place where we had camped last year, we stumbled upon the herd of deers again. This time they didn’t see us, and we slowly sneaked closer to watch them. Eventually they saw us, and ran away across the ridge. When they had come pretty far from us they turned down on a trail leading to the canyon, and one by one they passed between the trees. It was like something from a Disney film.

We took a closer trail down to the canyon. We then crossed the stream on a fallen log, and continued on a trail. We walked up to the opposite ridge and continued back towards the car. The trees where even larger on this side. The place felt magical.

C was beginning to get tired on the last stretch, and wanted me to carry her at first. But with a little play and admiring the surroundings she continued to hike back to the car.

It was a great trip, and I really love this place. I want to get back here soon again.

Stora Mosse in March 2018

Last weekend I drove to Stora Mosse National Park for an overnight trip. I hadn’t planned to be out this weekend, but my wife had seen how stressed out I was from work lately (lots of co-workers have quit or gotten burn outs which leaves an ever increasing work load for us that are still there), and thought that I might need some hiking time to wind down. She knows the outdoors is the best way for me to reduce stress and recharge.

Right up until the point where I sat down in the car it was still undecided where I should go. Stora Mosse National Park, Norra Kvill National Park or Raslången Eko Park was the places I had in mind. Eventually I decided to go to Stora Mosse, as I had only been there on a day hike before, and wanted to do an overnighter there.

Stora Mosse National park is located just north west of Värnamo, about an hours drive from Växjö, and was formed in 1982. Almost the entire park consists of mire, and it’s the largest untouched mire in Sweden, south of Lappland. Together with Brokullen och Långö Mosse it’s almost 8000ha of protected land. There is a system of pine forest “islands” within the mire, and there are 40 km of hiking trails in the park. Some of them are possible to use with wheelchairs or a baby stroller, while other trails cross the mire on 30cm wide foot-bridges. If you want to leave the foot-bridges it’s possible to use snow-shoes to hike in the mire. From 2013 it’s also allowed to camp in certain areas in the park. Detailed maps can be found here. If you’re lucky you might spot one of the White-tailed eagles or Golden eagles living in the area. You get here by road 151 between Värnamo and Gnosjö, and the road cuts right through the park. In the middle of the park there is a visitors center, but be sure to check the opening hours before you get there.

I drove up pretty early and arrived there a little before 11am. It was roughly a 1 hour drive from home. I decided to hike in the southern parts of the park, and had planned to camp near Lövö.

The temps where slightly below freezing, and it had been cold and snowy for a few weeks. This meant that the mire was frozen over and I didn’t have to walk on the foot bridges. I did however follow the trail. There where ski tracks on the foot bridges and I walked beside them to not ruin the tracks. I worked up a good sweat while hiking in the deep snow. I turned right at the first intersection of the trail, which meant that I would be hiking through the forest instead of going through the mire. Hiking in the forest was effortless, compared to the sometimes knee deep snow in the mire. I hiked for about 1,5 hour before I stopped for lunch. It felt good to be out in the forest again, and I was really enjoying myself.

After lunch I kept hiking south, but stopped once in a while, rolled out my cell foam sleeping mat and just laid down, watched the trees and enjoyed the silence. The forests here reminds me a bit of Tresticklan national park, with the old scattered pine trees. After a while the ski tracks stopped, and I kept hiking on the trail. There where no other foot prints, so I was alone in these parts of the park.

After a while I passed the campground near Lövö on my left, but continued south to hike in a circle. I hiked the circle trail, past the hut at Lövö and then came back to the camp site from the other direction. It was only around 14.00 but I set up my camp anyways.

It took a bit of effort to flatten out the deep snow, but eventually I got it flat enough to set up my tent. I inflated my sleeping mat, rolled out the sleeping bag and made cup of coffee.

After that I decided to keep exploring the park. I went back to Lövö and hiked the trail towards Anderstorp.

I came to an observation tower at the edge of a forest, and climbed up. For being in the middle of Småland, the views where amazing, and you could see for several km.

I kept hiking south for a short while, but quickly lost track of the foot bridges.

I turned back to my campsite and made dinner once I got back.

I slept with the top vent and the door fully open, and had no condensation at all. I had a pretty good nights sleep, even though I toss and turn a lot.

As usual, it took some mental effort to get out of the sleeping bag. I like winter, but now I’m really looking forward to the warmer seasons.

I made a nice breakfast of chili Brie and salami in tortillas. It was delicious.

After breakfast I packed up and left my camp site.

I hiked back towards the car, but stopped once in a while to lay down on the sleeping mat, look at the tree tops waving in the wind and enjoy the last silence before I got back to the city.

On the parking lot I met the first people since I left home on Saturday morning. A group of maybe 10 Danes where preparing for a day hike.

As usual, I had a great time in the outdoors. I really like the simplicity of hiking life, the serenity of the silent empty forest and the monotony of hiking. My mind wanders as I move silently through the trees. It was a great trip, and I can’t wait to get back out on another trip soon.

Exped Lightning 60 – review

I bought the Exped Lightning 60 in October 2015, and it was my first lightweight backpack. I bought it as a replacement for my previous backpack, a traditional pack that weighted around 3kg.

Exped Lightning

This pack is made from a 210D ripstop nylon with a 1500mm water column. It’s not considered to be waterproof, but water repellent. The seams aren’t sealed either, so you need waterproof stuff sacks or a waterproof liner, like a track bag. You could also use Mcnetts seam grip to seal the seams.

img_8587
The pack turned inside out for seam sealing

The Exped Lightning is a clean backpack without many bells and whistles. It has a large main compartment, with a small mesh pocket inside. On the opposite side of the mesh pocket there’s a pocket with solid fabric that can be accessed from the outside, through a waterproof zipper. There are also two hip belt pockets and two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides. That’s it. Exped also offers an optional shove-it bag that can be strapped in the outside of the pack. It’s got one mesh side and one solid side, and is attached to the pack through four bungee cords with hooks. I use this for rain gear, toiletries and other stuff that I like to have easily accessible. I like the simplicity of the design, and I wouldn’t want or need more pockets than this.

John Bauerleden 2016
Compression straps, adjustable load lifters, and the optional Flash pack pocket.

The pack has a roll top opening, which means you open and close it like a regular water proof stuff sack. Compression straps goes zig zag from both sides of the pack to a strap in the middle. This, and the roll top closure, makes it really easy to expand or compress the size depending on your pack volume. The straps are also long enough to be able to be used for strapping larger gear on the outside of the pack, like snow shoes or a shovel etc.

This is a framed pack, and it uses what’s called a T-Rex suspension system. It has one aluminum stay in the middle. The shoulder pads are attached to the stay, and you can adjust the back length with sliding it up and down if you open up the lumbar pad.

The pack weighs 1170g, which should only deter the most hardcore ultra lighters. The design of it though makes it able to haul loads comfortably up to 24 kg. The size, the ability to strap large bulky gear on the outside, and the capacity to carry heavy loads makes it suitable for longer unsupported trips, and trips that require special bulky gear.

It comes in two sizes, 45l and 60l. I’d recommend buying the 60l, since it gives you the possibility to pack more if you’d need it, but you could still easily compress the pack when you pack less.

I’ve had this pack since late 2015, and used it on a number of trips, both long and short. This is my favorite pack, and it is the most comfortable pack I’ve used. It’s durable, lightweight and has great capacity. I highly recommend it.

A food heavy overnighter

The week after me and Corinne had joined Outdoor Life Växjö on their overnighter on Jägaregap, we went on another overnighter with my friend Tomas and his two kids. They’re a couple of years older than Corinne, but they seemed to get along ok anyways. Even though the other kids saw Corinne as the “baby”.

Tomas often camp out with his kids, either in a tent or in a caravan. We had decided to go to Lerike/Skälsnäs, and I drove first to show the way. The far edge of Lerike had been my starting point for a couple of my earlier trips. This time though there wouldn’t be any bushwhacking involved, but instead we would use the open area next to the lean-to shelter for our tents.

Spacious living for one adult and a small child

Wise from the week before I packed a lot of food this time. Sausages, buns, Krabbelur-batter, brie, chevacici, bread-mix etc.

We pitched our tents and started a fire in the fire ring next to the shelter. The kids where really enjoying themselves, running around, climbing on the shelter or throwing rocks into the lake.

Frying Krabbelurer

I started to make Krabbelurer. They’re sort of like American pancakes, and after you’ve fry them you cover them with sugar and cinnamon.

After eating Krabbelurer Tomas and his kids went fishing. I put some sausages on the grill for Corinne, and some Chevapcici for me. Corinne had rain boots on, but she pulled them off every chance she got. Eventually she filled them with water when she walked too far out into the lake.

A campfire and a tipi tent. Doesn’t get much better than that

The week before Dario, the founder of the outdoor group made Cevapcici with Ajvar, cream fraise and chopped onion in Somun bread. It looked delicious, so that’s what I made for me this evening. It was ok, but I didn’t like the seasoning on the Chevapcici, and decided to bring Bifteki next time instead.

Corinne looking over Helgasjön during the blue hour

The kids where running around in full speed during the evening. Eventually I thought it was time to put Corinne to bed. I put her down on her sleeping mat and stayed next to her for a while. I left the tent while she was still awake. She called for me a couple of times, but stayed in bed and fell asleep quietly.

Tomas and his kids watched a Disney movie on the iPad in their tent while I sat by the fire. When Tomas’s kids had fallen asleep too, he came out and joined me by the fire. He had brought a couple of beers, and we both sat by the fire, drinking the cold beers.

It was really nice and soothing. Tomas went to sleep and I stayed up a while. It was really nice to sit alone by the fire, with a cold beer and no sounds other than the once from the fire and the lake.

It was really nice to chill by the fire when the kids had gone to sleep

When I woke up the next day Tomas was already up, and the fire was already going.

Tomas boiled coffee and I made flatbread

I fried eggs and bacon, made a couple of Krabbelurer from the left-over batter, had a Growers cup coffee and made flatbread from my bread-mix. It was a nice breakfast. A lot better than the porridge-mix I usually have on the trail. I felt like I really could get used to this kind of camping. We stayed for a couple of hours after breakfast to let the fire die down and the condensation dry out from the tents. A short but great trip, and I can’t wait to get back out again.

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.

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.

Seam sealing the backpack

I’ve had my Exped Lightning pack for over a year now, and I really like it. Lightweight, waterproof fabric, comfortable and able to handle somewhat heavy weights. My main concern with it though is that it isn’t seam sealed. Even though the fabric is waterproof water still gets in through the seams.

I sent an e-mail so Exped last spring, asking them if it was possible to seam seal the backpack. They responded and said that I could use seam grip to seal the seams.

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The backpack turned inside out, and put on the backrest of a child car seat

I turned the backpack inside out, and put seam grip on all the seams on the inside. It wasn’t a pretty job, but since it’s on the inside of the back I really don’t care. I hope I got enough seam grip on the seams to make sure no water comes through. I did do this process last summer, but that time I didn’t use enough seam grip, and water still came through.

I always use dry bags for my sleeping gear and for my spare clothes / extra layer. But I still want the backpack to be waterproof so I don’t have to deal with the added weight of getting water inside the backpack. With the seams sealed I think I’m starting to get close to having a perfect backpack.

 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.