Family daytrip with the canoe

This year the spring has been better than in a long time. I don’t think I even remember such  warm sunny spring as this.

Almost the entire May the weather has been sunny, with temperatures around 25-30°C. It has only rained on a couple of occasions last month, despite us living in one of the rainiest cities in the country.

Me and my wife decided to go on a canoe trip on the nearby lake Helgasjön. We wanted to be close to water, but do something more than just to lay on the beach. We even got our thirteen year old to join us, which we where happy about.

We drove to Helgö/Jägaregap, where I’ve parked before on the canoe trips I made in September and October last year. When we arrived another family just left the beach in their canoe.

I got the canoe off the roof of the car, we packed it with our food and then left Helgö. My wife sat in the front, I sat in the back and our daughters sat in the middle.

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It was quite windy,  and the waves rocked the canoe a bit. The lake was also filled with motorboats, sailboats and jetskis that created even larger waves as they passed us.

Our destination was Ramsö, where I had camped in October. I knew that there was a small beach in a cove, and we hoped that it wouldn’t be occupied.

As we closed in, we saw a boat slow down, and then leave after a couple of minutes. When we where close enough to see the beach we saw that three girls where already at the beach. We decided to paddle around the island and search for another beach, but we circled the entire island with no luck. Eventually we decided to invade the beach anyways.

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We landed the canoe on one side of the beach and put out our picnic blanket and our food. We started to chat with the girls, and they told us that they had been dropped off earlier, and the guys in the boat where fishing somewhere north of the island.

We had a lunch of baguettes, cream cheeses and cherry tomatoes. Kind of our standard picnic food when we’re too lazy to make real food to bring.

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After a while the boat came back with three guys, and they tied the boat to a tree nearby.

The water was pretty cold, so we didn’t swim, but we did bathe our feet and legs a bit. C was the only one brave enough to dip.

We stayed there for a little more than an hour, and then decided to paddle back, as we had some chores to do. On the way back the soothing waves rocked C to sleep, and she slept in her big sisters arms.

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It was a short but nice trip. The weather is great for canoeing, and I’m glad that both my wife and my oldest daughter joined me.

Canoe camping in October

There’s been a month since my last camping trip. My last trip was my first canoe camping trip ever, and I instantly got hooked.

As so often before, when it’s been a while since I’ve been out, the need to get out again grew stronger every day. It was great to get back out.

I took the Friday off from work, and left home at around 11.00. I had packed my Exped Lightning full of gear and food. As I’ve written before, a nice thing about canoe camping is the ability to bring lots of heavy food, since you don’t have to carry it on your back.

Just as the previous trip, getting the canoe on and off the roof of my car by myself was an adventure on its own. The canoe is an old 4,5m fiberglass canoe that weighs a ton. Now that I know I’ll continue with canoe camping I’ll save up to buy a lighter canoe, that’s better for solo use, and won’t make me break my back every time.

I drove to Helgö, loaded the canoe full of gear and started to paddle. My goal for this trip was Ramsö, a larger island a bit east of Ferön where I camped last month.

It was a bit windy, and I had head-wind the entire time. But I think I’m starting to get the hang of the J-stroke, and paddled with a descent pace.

It was hard to take a straight photo when the waves kept rocking the canoe

The wind made the canoe turn as soon as I stopped paddling. It made navigation with the compass a bit harder since the canoe kept turning.

Eventually I came closer to Ramsö, and I found a small beach with a fire ring on the southern end of the island.

At first I had planned to paddle around the island to see if there where other good places to set up camp, but since the beach was so perfect I stopped there.

The southern end of Ramsö had a perfect spot to camp

I took a short walk around the beach, to search for the best place to set up my camp, but the best place to set up camp was just next to the beach.

I put up my Tentipi Olivin, and my sleeping gear before I started the fire. I had brought fire wood, but I also collected some more fire wood from the island since there where a lot of fallen trees.

Starting the fire was pretty easy since I used my own dry birch wood.

I wasn’t sure I did the right thing when I bought the Tentipi Olivin, but after these two trips I really like it. I just hope Tentipi will start selling a floor to it too.

I fried a couple of sausages for lunch, and then spent the rest of the afternoon chilling by the fire.

It was nice, but windy. I tried to set up a tarp to shield me from the wind, but somehow I got it wrong and made a smoke trap with it, that also turned the smoke around and made the entire area close to the fire covered with smoke, so I put it down again.

My smoke trap

The skies where covered in clouds most of the day, but just before sunset the clouds scattered and I had a little bit of sun. I decided to make dinner and put some extra firewood on the fire to get the heat up. I made bifteki with Somun bread this time too. It was delicious, and I had brought a couple of beers to drink with it.

My home for the night

I sat by the fire for a couple of hours before I went to bed. I watched an hour of Gangs of New York on Netflix before I went to sleep.

The wind picked up during the night and really shocked the tent. I considered pegging the guy lines too, but I thought that 12 ground pegs should be enough, and stayed in bed.

When I woke up the next morning the wind still blew hard, and it rained on and off. I stayed in my sleeping bag until 9.30 before I finally got up.

I got the fire going after several tries. The wind blew so hard that I had trouble keeping the fire going. When I finally got it going I made my morning coffee, fried some bacon and a couple of eggs that I ate with the left-over bread.

Making breakfast

I started to pack up after breakfast, but just before Inwas going to take down the tent it started to rain heavily. I layed in the tent for 10 minuets before it stopped. I took the tent down, packed up the canoe and left for Helgö.

Unfortunately I had head-wind today too, but with stronger winds and larger waves than yesterday. The weather report said 9 m/s, which isn’t that much, but enough to be a challenge for a rookie paddler like myself. The waves where large enough to flush over the bow, and they  kept trying to turn the canoe around. I had to paddle like crazy just to keep the canoe straight in the water, and my arms where sore when I reached calmer waters.

I finally came close to Helgö and the waves calmed down. I paddled the last stretch back to the car without effort.

Back at the parking lot I once again had to get the canoe back up on the roof of my car. And again it felt like I would either break the canoe, my car or my back.

I’m back home now, but I can’t wait to get back out on another canoe trip. I’ll get back to Ramsö again, but I also want to explore Åsnen, Smålands largest lake, and Halen in Blekinge.

First canoe camping trip

A few weeks ago I finally took the plunge and bought a canoe. As I’ve written before I have a crush on the Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga. I think that it’s a work of art, and I really want to buy one in the future. I’ve also thought about buying a Bergans Ally, a foldable canoe, since I hardly have room to store a canoe at home, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But to be able to get out right away I bought a cheep used fiberglass canoe. It’s heavy, and doesn’t look nearly as good as the Esker Wood, but I was able to buy it right away and it will get me out paddling until I can buy a better canoe.

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First time with my canoe, with the island Lilla Jägareås in the middle of the photo

Last weekend I took it on a trip for the first time. I drove out to Helgö in Helgasjön, where I’ve camped a lot of times before. I put the canoe in the lake on the eastern shore of Helgö, near the parking lot at the edge of Jägaregap nature reserve.

Getting the canoe up on the roof of my car by me self was an adventure on it’s own. But I was able to get it both up and down without damaging the canoe or my car.

At Helgö I put the canoe in the water and packed it with my gear. I had heavier gear than when I’m hiking, with firewood and a lot more food. I might as well, since I wasn’t going to carry it.

I didn’t know how good I’d be at paddling by my self, but I had watched a lot of YouTube clips before I went out, and used the J-stroke to be able to paddle straight.

It was really nice to get out paddling, even thought the weather wasn’t great. Skies where covered in clouds, and eventually it started to rain slightly.

I paddled along the eastern shore of Helgö / Jägaregap, and passed the cape where Corinne and I had camped with the Outdoor life Växjö Facebook group.

Jägaregap nature reserve continues past the cape, on a long narrow island called Lilla Jägareås. I passed the island on the eastern side and reached the northern shore of Helgasjön on the cove Skräddareluckan. This was where I had camped in January, and I had planned to set up camp here now too.

I couldn’t find it at first, since I had walked on foot from the opposite direction last time, but eventually I got to the right place.

In January, when it was -10°C to -19°C, without leafs on the trees, the place was beautiful. In September, on a wet rainy afternoon, not so much. Everything was wet, and the dense vegetation would make it a condensation nightmare. Not the best if you’re using a single wall tent.

I got back in the canoe and paddled on. I kept paddling east along the northern shore of the lake, and eventually I came upon a small beach, with a fire ring and lots of flat grass covered ground to pitch my tent on.

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My camp on Ferön

But just before I got to shore I looked towards the island Ferön, east of the beach. It looked like there was a campsite there, with a nice open area to pitch a tent on. I’d rather sleep on an island than on a public beach, even though no one would be there, so I took aim for Ferön.

On Ferön I found a fire ring and a few logs to sit on. There was a nice place to set up my tent too. I had bought a Tentipi Olivin recently, and this was the first time I used it.

I set up the tent and started a fire. I had brought fire wood from home, so starting a fire was easy, despite everything being wet around me. But once the fire was going I collected some more firewood from the fallen trees in the forest.

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Dinner with a view

I started to make dinner, and I had brought Bifteki that I fried in a pan. I fried a Somun bread too, and filled it with Ajvar, cream fraise and Bifteki. I’m glad no one was with me, because I didn’t look pretty when I devoured it, but it was really delicious.

I kept collecting firewood and sat by the fire for the rest of the evening. Eventually I went into my tent and laid under my quilt watching a downloaded episode of Narcos on Netflix.

When I laid there, relaxed and at peace, I felt a little tickle on my arm. I saw something (big!), brushed it off, and saw it laying on my CCF-mat. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was, but then I saw that it was a European Garden Spider. To me it looked huge and I killed it with a mad frenzy. As I’ve written before I have a bug phobia. I thought I had gotten past it but apparently not. I kept looking at it and I started to feel tickles all over my body. I used my head lamp to search through the entire tent to make sure nothing else was crawling around near my sleeping mat.

I’m not proud of it, but for a while there I thought about packing up and paddle back home. Or to stay up by the fire for the rest of the night. But then I pulled my self together. If I was to cave in now, I might never get rid of my phobia. And I thought of all the bushcrafters who sleep under a tarp in these woods, and of Ashely Hill, who even sleeps in the desert without a bivy or a bug net, and thought to my self that I really had nothing to worry about. And it worked. I slept soundly throughout the night.

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Breakfast for champions
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Making breakfast
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My Tentipi Olivin

The next morning I stayed in bed for a long time before I finally got up. When I got up I chopped up a piece of birch that I had brought from home and started the fire again. I made bacon and eggs, and ate the last Somun bread with it.

Once I had eaten I let the fire die down while I packed up my gear. I put out the rest of the fire with water from the lake, packed the canoe and headed back home again.

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Going back home

It was a great trip. I really liked canoe camping. You can pack heavier items without reducing comfort, and it’s really nice to be out on a lake and to be able to camp on an island that you’re alone on.

When it comes to gear I used the Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny quilt that I wrote about in my Ultralight and ultracheap post. I bought for my family, but I wanted to try it by my self, and it was warm an cozy enough for a September trip. I think they’re well worth the money. I also used the Tentipi Olivin for the first time. I really liked it. It’s heavier than my Ultamid, but it has a really nice venting system, I like the snow mats and I like the possibility to use a fire inside (with caution off course). I guess it doesn’t make sense to keep both the Ultamid and the Olivin, so I might end up selling one of them. My wife just rolls her eyes when she hears me talking about a new tent 😄.

When it comes to the canoe, I have mixed feelings. I like the fact that it is a canoe, and that it’s my canoe. But I think it’s too heavy since I’ll be using it by my self most of the times. And to be honest, I don’t really have enough room at home to store it well. But we’ll see what the future brings. I’ll buy either a Bergans Ally or an Esker Wood canoe.

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.

Overnighter with the local Facebook outdoor group

The last weekend in August I brought Corinne with me on an overnighter with the local Facebook outdoor group.

I’ve been a member of this group for a while, and they do overnighters together, but every time I’ve planned to join something came up.

This overnighter was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip, and I thought that it would be perfect to bring Corinne to this. The location was Jägaregap nature reserve, on the far edge of Helgö, just north of Växjö.

I had a hard time deciding which tent I should bring, but eventually I brought the Helsport Nordmarka 6. It’s less than a kilometer from the parking lot to the far edge of Jägaregap, and with Corinnes history of being rough on gear I’d rather take the cheaper and more abrasive resistant Nordmarka.

Since we didn’t have to worry to much about weight I also brought a bag of firewood, real coffee and sausages and buns.

When we arrived there where already three guys there. They where the once who usually hike together during the group hikes.

More people joined during the evening, even though they weren’t going to spend the night there. Dario, the founder of the outdoor group, brought his wife and his daughter too.

We had a fire, and spent most of evening chatting and eating. I’m more used to hiking style camping than “fat camping” as the other guys called it. I had brought too little food, but the other guys shared both good beverages, food and cheese. It was a big difference from my usual trips, where I hike solo all day long, eats homedried food straight out of the bag and then just passes out in the tent with acing muscles. But I liked it. I usually never have a camp fire, but a fire really adds to the comfort.

It’s always fun to throw rocks into the lake

Corinne was exited about everything, and it took a long time for her to wind down and be ready for sleep. Eventually she fell asleep in my arms when I left the fire and walked back and forth on the trail in the dark. I put her down on her sleeping mat and wrapped the quilt around her. She slept soundly the entire night.

One of the guys had brought “Varm och kall” (Hot and cold), that you could serve either cooled or heated. He heated it over the fire and shared it with everyone. It was really nice on the chilly evening.

Eventually we all went to sleep. I had left the top vent open on the Nordmarka. Unfortunately it started to rain during the night. It took a couple of heavy downpours for me to wake up enough to realize that I had to close the vent.

When I woke up the next morning I saw that a lot of water had rained in before I closed the vent, and I had a big puddle on the floor. Fortunately though, the floor leaned away from our sleeping gear, so nothing had gotten wet.

We had breakfast and I tried Growers cup coffee for the first time. It was a lot better than the freeze dried instant coffee I use to have. A good thing is that you can dry the bag, fill it up with new coffee and reuse it again. Good for both the environment and the wallet. After breakfast we packed up and left, as we had to be back home early.

It was nice to get out on a trip and meet some new people. It was also nice to try new ways of hiking and camping. And I think I really like this food heavy “fat camping”. But I’ll try to combine it more with canoe camping, as the canoe makes it possible to pack heavier if you’re not going to do any portages.

 

Corinnes first overnighter

In June I finally got out on an overnighter with my youngest daughter. I’ve thought for a long time that I would bring her out, but it wasn’t until now that I actually got around to it.

I had several different places in mind, but in the end we ended up driving to Helgö, very close to home. Being her first overnighter I thought it was better to play it safe, and don’t drive to far away if it wouldn’t work out.

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The weather was great when we got out. We drove out in the late afternoon, and the sun was shining. It was very windy though. I parked the car on the far edge of Helgö, near the nature reserve Jägaregap. I didn’t bring the child carrier for this trip. Corinne walked by herself, and at such a short distance there was no need for a child carrier. This was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip. A chance to get out, and to let her get used to sleeping in a tent.

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After a while we came to a nice flat area and I started to set up camp. Camping with a small child was a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’ve camped with my oldest daughter, and tried it with my son. But I found my outdoor-passion pretty late, and when I first started taking my older daughter out she was eight or nine years old, and at that age she was old enough to help me setting up camp. I’ve never camped with a one year-old before.

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It was like she had been pumped full of Red Bull or something. She was all over the place all the time in full speed. Ramming through the tent, running on the fly, running into the fly when it was set up, wrestling with the guy-lines.

Cooking dinner was a similar experience, as she wanted to help, and the stove was super interesting. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to get it all together safely after all.

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We had dinner, washed the dishes, brushed our teeth and went to bed. The ground was soft, and it was windy, so I used rocks to anchor the tent pegs.

It wasn’t time to sleep yet, so we layed in the tent, looking at stuff and playing music. I had brought a mosquito net for her, but we didn’t need one. Since it was windy we didn’t have any issues with bugs. Both her and I slept without any bug protection. This is new to me, and slowly but surely I’m getting rid of my bug phobia. Hopefully getting her used to sleeping in a floor-less shelter from the start will make sure she never gets any bug phobia at all. As a sleeping bag for her I used the Aegismax Windhard quilt, and it worked good.

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She tossed and turned for a long time before she finally fell asleep. No wonder, since it was her first time in a tent, with all those new impressions.

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I slept pretty bad though. I woke up a lot, worrying about her being to cold or to hot, but she slept soundly through the entire night. By morning she woke up, crawled up on my sleeping pad, and fell asleep again for an hour, burrowed down next to me.

After we both woke up, we made breakfast and packed up. This time she didn’t want to walk, so I had to carry her back to the car.

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It was nice to get out again, and fun to bring her with me. But it took a lot more effort than I thought to camp with such a young curious child. But hopefully she’ll keep enjoying the tent-life.

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.

Preliminary planning for 2017

I’ve gradually started to make plans for the hikes this year. I had a plan to spend 10% of the nights outside, and do at least one hiking/camping trip every month.

This is how far I’ve come in my plans, but they may change during the year.

Januari: Helgasjön – Lerike (2 days)
Februari: Helgasjön – Helgö (2 days)
March: Sigfridsleden från Asa till Växjö (3 days)
April: Österlen-cirkeln (3 days)
May: Coast2coast (2-3 days)
June: Helgasjön – east side (2-3 days)
July: Femundsmarka (4+ days)
August: Kungsleden; Vakkotavare to Abisko (14-16 days)
September: Skåneleden-Bjärehalvön or Tiveden (3 days)
October: Tresticklan (3 days)
November:
December:

I’ve already done the off-trail hike at Lerike in January and the short overnighter at Helgö in February.

In March I plan to get a lift to Asa, north of Växjö and then hike Sigfridsleden, 53km from Asa back to Växjö. I’ll try to do it from a Friday afternoon to a Sunday.

In April I’ll hike Österlen-cirkeln after getting a tip about it from Brian Outdoor. I’m still looking at satellite photos and maps to find good places to set up camp. You’re not allowed to camp inside the nature reserve, other than on designated camp sites. But as I’m not a big fan of camp sites I try to find good spots outside of the nature reserve, but still close to the trail.

In May I’d like to hike a couple of days with Coast2Coast Sweden as they’ll be passing close to home on their way to Varberg. Coast2coast is an annual 400km group hike from Kalmar to Varberg, and from what I’ve gathered there is an emphasis on lightweight hiking.

In June I’d like to do some off-trail hiking on the east side of Helgasjön, starting at the small village Stojby.

In July I thought I might try to get to Femundsmarka national park in Norway. My initial plan is to start driving on a Thursday afternoon, hike Friday to Sunday and then drive back home on Monday. I’ll start at Grövelsjön, and that’s a 9+ hour drive from home. I’m not sure I’ll do this in July though. We’ll be visiting my wifes relatives in Greece in July, and I’ll only do this trip if I’ve got the time for it. Otherwise I’ll do it in September. Initially I plan to bring my oldest daughter on this trip, but it depends on how willing she actually is to tag along when the time comes.

The big trip of the year is planned to be in August. It’s the two week hike on Kungsleden from Vakkotavare to Abisko, that I wrote about here.

In September I’ll either try to get to Femundsmarka if I can’t get there in July, otherwise I’ve planned Skåneleden, on Bjärehalvön. I’m still not sure about this trail though, as it might be more rural than I prefer. I might go to Tiveden instead.

In October I want to go to Tresticklan. I really like Tresticklan / Lundsneset and I have to get back there at least once this year.

I haven’t planned anything for November and December yet, but there’s no rush.

These are my initial plans, but of course everything has to work out on the home front. Hopefully my wife or one of my kids will tag along one some of the hikes.

 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.

Plans for the next year

In a few hours from writing this 2016 will end and 2017 will begin. I’ve never really cared much about New Years Eve as a holiday. For years I’ve been working nights either on New Years Eve or started early the morning after. But I do like to make plans for my life in a year to year basis, and I have started to lay out the plans for my outdoor life in the next year.

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2016 offered stunning views
Plans for 2017

  • I plan to get out on at least one overnight trip every month. I didn’t succeed with this in 2016, but I’ll make another attempt this year. I got better hours on my new job, with no work on weekends, and that will probably make it easier to get away.
  • I want to spend at least 10% of the years nights sleeping outside, under the stars, in a tent, in a lean-to or otherwise out in nature. That’s 36 night, and shouldn’t be impossible to do.
  • Travel to Greenland and hike the Arctic Circle Trail. The planning is nearly done, and I’ve done some gear purchases, put away money for the plane tickets and notified my boss about vacation for the planned weeks.
  • Lots of day hikes with my youngest daughter since I’ll be home from work with her quite a lot up until August when she’ll start to go to kindergarten.
  • I’ll start with some more advanced, yet lightweight, outdoor cooking this year. I’m getting tired of eating the same freezer bag meals as always, and it will be fun to expand the culinary experience.
  • Buy a canoe and have overnight canoetrips on both Helgasjön and Åsnen. Åsnen is the second largest lake in Småland, and parts of it will most likely be transformed to a National park in the near future. This goal however is depending on whether I can afford to spend that much money or not.
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    I got my eye set on this beauty
  • Work on getting a hiking trail around Helgasjön. I’ve been in contact with the local authorities and it’s been up for discussion, but they won’t fund it right now. But I know there are more hikers around Växjö who’d like a trail there, and I’ll try to get more people to push for it.
  • Make the blog more active and write at least once a week, preferably two times a week.
  • Start making movies of my hikes and movies with gear reviews.
  • This year I also want to seriously start planning for a shift in my life, with more passive income than today, and find ways to cut down on office time and maybe find a way to make an income from my outdoor interest. I have both Angeliqa Mejstedt from Vandringsbloggen and Philip Werner from sectionhiker.com as role models. Both of them have a larger outdoor experience than me and have a really large number of readers, but you got to start somewhere 🙂

These are the plans I have now for the next year. Some will be easier to succeed with than others but in general, I’ll try to spend more time in the outdoors and focus more actively on finding alternative ways to make an income. In a year or so I’ll summarize how well I did in reaching my goals.

Happy new year everyone. Let’s make it a great one!