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.

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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.

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.

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.

The shortest trip

Last weekend I got out a short overnight trip, from Friday to Saturday. I had packed my backpack the evening before, and when I got off work on Friday I went home, changed my clothes, got my backpack and drove to Helgö.

I choose the same spot as I did on the overnight trip in early November. I parked at the entrance of the nature reserve and hiked on the trail for a short while, then turned away from the trail and into the forest.

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After a short while I got to the same spot that I had camped in on my last overnighter on Helgö.

The ground was covered in snow, and I quickly set up my tent. This time I used my Luxe Outdoor Sil Twin Peak. I have sold a lot of gear this last month. Two old backpacks being sold, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex Peak to.

I did like both my Hilleberg and my Sil Hex Peak. But I’m planning on buying a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2. And when I do, I’ll use that on my solo trips. Together with the Twin Peak the whole family can go hiking together. The one-person tents would just be collecting dust. I’m trying to clean out my gear closet and only keep what I need and what I will actually use. (I guess I could sell a few of my many stove-sets to)

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When I had set up my tent I realized that I had forgot to bring my cell-foam mat. And since I had planned to bring my cell-foam mat I didn’t bring any sit pad.

I made a quick dinner before I crawled down in my sleeping bag. Many times when I sleep outside I can hardly keep my eyes open when I’ve crawled down in the sleeping bag, even when it’s early. But this time I actually stayed awake for a few hours reading.

I went to sleep, but woke up in the middle of night from the sound of an animal outside of the tent. From the rhythmic thumps it made I suspect it was a hare or a rabbit.

I woke up several times during the night, feeling cold from the ground. It felt like the sleeping mat didn’t insulate enough.

When I started packing up my gear I realized why. The floor in the tent wasn’t completely waterproof, and my body heat had melted the snow under the tent floor and the sleeping mat had been soaked in the middle. The sleeping mat itself should be waterproof, but I guess the insulation gets compromised by having it in a puddle. The next time I’ll use this tent I should bring either Polycro or have my cell-foam mat under the sleeping mat.

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Before I packed up I stayed in my sleeping bag boiling water for coffee. It was nice to get some warm coffee before I left my cozy sleeping bag. After breakfast I quickly packed up and headed back to the car.

It was just a really short overnighter. Driving out after work, hiking for 15 minutes or so, setting up camp and leaving directly after breakfast the next morning. It wasn’t as relaxing as I had planned to.

Next weekend I’ll probably get out on an overnighter with the local outdoor group on Facebook. I have also planned to hike Sigfridsleden from Asa to Växjö one weekend in March. It’s 53 km and I think it’s possible to do it comfortably from a Friday afternoon to a Sunday. I know I made a previous statement of my feelings towards these low-land trails in dark spruce forests, but I’ll use it as an exercise for the summers longer hikes.

Short overnighter on Helgö

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The view I woke up to
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The snow transformed the forest

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

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

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There are worse places to spend the night

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