3-day canoe camping on Immeln

In the borderlands between the regions Blekinge and Skåne there’s a canoe route between the lakes Halen, Raslången, Immeln and a few smaller lakes. Me and C have both been hiking and paddling around Raslången, and in November 2018 I was hiking there with Brian from Brian Outdoors.

This time my wife Maria would join me and C. My son was away this weekend, and my oldest daughter wanted the house to herself. We decided to paddle in Immeln, as there where a lot of Geocaches there that my wife wanted to find. Immeln is the largest of the lakes, and in the lake system there are two canoe outfitters that rents out canoes. One in Olofström next to Halen, and one in the southern parts of Immeln. There are several designated campsites throughout the lakes, with lean to shelters, fireplaces and privys.

Day 1

We drove the ~1,5h down to Breanäs, where we would park and put in the canoe. There’s a beach and a small harbor there, and when we arrived in the afternoon there where quite a few people on the beach. We put the canoe in the water and loaded it with our backpacks before setting off. We found a Geocache just across the bay, and then continued south.

We stopped again at Prästön, and explored it for potential campsites. Since we arrived in the late afternoon we wanted to check out campsites right away. In the southernmost parts of the island we found a flat spot for a tent, but it had just been occupied by another family. When we headed back to the canoe three other canoes came to the island to look for a place to camp. We would discover that this lake was extremely crowded, with canoe campers on basically every island in the lake.

After getting back to the canoe we paddled south towards Kvinnoöarna, two islands close together with designated campsites on both of them. We had strong headwinds with large waves that crashed over the stern of the canoe. I’m used to solo paddling, so it was a joy to be two paddlers battling the waves and winds.

We came down to the northern part of Norra Kvinnoön, and found a place to get to shore. There, under the tall lush trees, we found a perfect campsite. We pulled the canoe up, set up the tent and the hammock and had the camp ready. After that we took a nice dip in the water to cool off. The shores where very steep and the water dark, so C had to wear her life jacket in the water. We also thought it would be good for her to try it in the water in a safe manner, in case she’d fall in someday.

After the camp was up we decided to explore the rest of the island. A short walk uphill took us to a fireplace with quite a lot of room for tents, and a privy. Further down there where another fireplace and room for yet another tent. On the southern side of the island was a pier, and one canoe was tied to it. On the western side was a cliff, where another couple had set up their camp. We stopped to chat with them, as we passed back to our campsite. The island is relatively small, but the campsites where scattered across it, so it was still possible to get some kind of privacy and feeling of being secluded.

Back in camp we made dinner, and Mia and I took a glass (foldable kuksa) of wine, as the food was simmering. All three of us spent the rest of the evening tucked together in the hammock, watching the sun go down. A family with a lot of kids had set up camp uphill, and across the lake someone was blasting techno for the whole lake to hear. Despite this we had a relaxing time. We also spotted a couple of hazel dormice running across the campsite. We thought that the sides of the canoe would be to slippery for them to climb on, so we flipped the canoe up and put the food inside.

When it was almost midnight we decided to go to sleep for real, and headed to the tent. We used the Hilleberg Staika, which is a 2 person tent. It was ok to use with a 4-year old between us, since we had the Exped Duo HL LW, which is 130cm wide and covered most of the floor. But it was a bit cramped though. With the warm weather and the good forecast we slept with the door open, falling asleep to the views of the lake and the forest, and the sound of waves and distant techno.

Day 2

C was the only one sleeping good that night. I have insomnia that always gets worse during the summer, and I tossed and turned more than usual that night. I got up around 4 o’clock and walked over to another side of the island to watch the sun come up. It was nice to watch the sun come up across the lake, but that early in the morning it was a bit chilly. I went back to camp, took out my quilt and laid in the hammock for a while, before getting back into the tent. For summer use I have an Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny quilt, that I bought from AliExpress. It’s light and compact, relatively cheap and perfect for summer use.

By 6 o’clock both Mia and I got up, and while I was boiling water for coffee C woke up too. We had hoped that she would sleep longer, since she stayed up quite late the other evening.

I fried Krabbelurer for breakfast, that we rinsed down with orange juice, a few mini salamis and some cheese. We packed up our camp and loaded up the canoe. We discovered that the mice indeed could climb up the sides of the canoe, since there was a hole in the trashbag and they had eaten some of the trash. Fortunately though they had left our foodbags alone.

My wife had come up with a route to paddle to get the most Geocaches in the most effective manner. First we paddled north, to a small skerry where there would be one cache. We didn’t find it though, but saw a perfect, and occupied, campsite on a neighboring island. I added it to my list of campsites on google maps. I would come to add a lot of places this trip, since the lake had numerous good campsites.

After the failed attempt to bag a cache at the skerry we went back south. We got ashore on the southern end of Södra Kvinnoön to get the next one. This too was a failed attempt, and after a long and hard search we gave up. But I did take the time to explore the island and mark all the potential campsites it had.

We continued south, to almost the southernmost end of the lake, where there where two caches. One was in a bay that habited the endangered Red Waterlily (Nymphaea alba f. rosea). A family had stopped nearby to swim, so we logged the cache fast and then went on our way. We stopped at another beach nearby to cool off in the water. The sand was a mixture of what I think was quartz, and with the humus colored water it almost looked like gold. When we walked in the water and stirred up the sand the water glittered like someone had sprinkled it with gold dust.

After a short cooling bath we continued back north. Once again we stopped by an island without finding the cache. We continued north and got to shore on a cape with nice places for tents. Here we made a dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce with lots of Parmesan. It was really tasty, and a dried meal I’ll be making again. Mia and C picked a lot of blueberries while I made dinner. After dinner we took a quick dip, and then sat on a cliff and ate the blueberries as dessert. We dropped a couple of them, and the rolled down the cliff into the water. We watched them float away when a couple of fishes suddenly came out of the water and took them.

We continued our trip, stopping once in a while to check out potential campsites, or looking for caches. We found one cache on a skerry that wasn’t more than a few rocks sticking up through the water. The cache was inside a box encased in a concrete cast. It looked like it would survive anything, and with its exposed location it would have too. After that cache was logged we headed towards Abborröarna where we would be looking for a place to spend the night. On Norra Abborrön we found a nice place. It had been regularly used, as we found a lot of flat grounds for tents, and at least three fire rings in a relatively small area. There was also a small, but very nice, sandy beach. On the neighboring Södra Abborrön we saw that other paddlers had set up camp.

When the camp was up Mia and C took a bath while I paddled to Norra Björkö to grab the last Geocache of the day. That was an adventure in itself, as the wind blew quite hard on that side of the island, and the cache was hanging up in a fallen tree that hung out in the water. But I managed to paddle close, secure the canoe with a rope to the tree and then climb up the tree and log it.

I paddled around the island and found yet another campsite. Smaller than the one we’d chosen, but on the wrong side of the island, which made it both windy and in shade. I paddled back to our camp, took a quick dip and then got started with dinner. Falafel, couscous and Ajvar was on the menu for our last camp dinner. On this island too, there where hazel dormice. A LOT of them, and they weren’t shy at all. They came for our trash bag as we where sitting there. We tried to chase them away but they just kept coming. I guess a lot of camper who leave trash behind, and no natural predators makes the population explode. Eventually we just threw a line over a branch an hung up everything eatable in a tree away from our tent.

We had our dinner and then went down to the water to chill on a rock in the sunset. We where all more tired than last evening, and decided to get to bed early. Sometime during the night I heard mice running past the tent but none of them came very close, and I slept better than the night before.

Day 3

We woke up feeling quite tender, after a couple of days with hard paddling in the blazing sun. I had burned my back, and with the life jacket on it looked like tan lines from a really wide sports bra. Sexy look on a man like me. Mia woke up before me, and did some morning yoga on a rock. I got started with breakfast and eventually C woke up too. A lot of paddlers seemed to be early birds, and paddled past the island. The paddlers in Södra Abborrön had already left the island.

After breakfast we packed up all our gear and loaded up the canoe. We paddled to the now empty Södra Abborrön to log the last geocache for the trip. It was quickly found, and we paddled north towards the beach where we had started our trip. We had tailwind for this last part of our trip, which was nice, since both of us where a bit sore.

We got up to the beach, and Mia took C for a quick dip while I packed the car.

I both liked and disliked paddling on Immeln. The lake itself was nice to paddle in, and unlike other lakes I’ve paddled it had an abundance of possible campsites. But the abundance of mice on the islands was quite a downer, and it was too crowded for my liking. The nature was great though, and I might come back here. But I think I’ll stay in Raslången, that’s at least a bit less crowded.

Canoe camping in Salen

In May spring was in full force in Sweden. Warm temperatures and gazing sun made up perfect conditions for a canoe camping trip. While me and C use to go to Tolgasjön, north of Växjö, I decided to try a new lake this time. Lake Salen, 20 km west of Växjö. We drove to a small power station on Helige Å, to put in the canoe. There where a short portage for a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot to the put in spot. This is part of Värendsleden, the canoe route that passes both Tolgasjön and Växjö.

There’s supposed to be trout in this lake, so I brought fishing gear and bought a one day fishing permit.

The initial paddling through Helige Å was beautiful. I’ll like to paddle more in rivers, but find it too much of a project to find people to pick up us and the canoe down stream. And paddling solo upstream can be too strenuous.

After a very short paddle in Helige Å we came out in Salen. The small town Alvesta borders the lake, which means a lot of people on the lake. With weather like this, and travel bans outside of your medical region a lot of people went to the lake. A lot of motor boats and jet skis drove across the lake as we paddled.

Through a local outdoor forum on Facebook I’d learned of a campsite on one of the islands. We paddled there right away so we wouldn’t have to search for a campsite later in the day when we’d be more tired.

We found one site that was quite nice, but a guy with a kid where there with their boat, so we kept paddling. On the west side of the island we found an even better campsite. There where room for the tent right next to the rocks where we had the canoe, or a short walk up to a rock on higher grounds, with better views.

C got to decide where to put up our camp, and she chose the high grounds. We put up our camp and made a lunch of Krabbelurer (a sort of fluffy sugary pancake). After lunch we paddled around the lake, fishing a bit and looking at the neighboring islands to look for potential campsites for future trips.

I have a list on google maps where I store all the good campsites I come across, even though I’m not camping there that time. As of now I have 60+ campsites on my list. Most of them close to home and many of them are only accessible with the canoe.

We didn’t get any fish, which isn’t surprising. I’m not much of a fisher man, and the middle of the day is the worst time to be fishing. But I mostly brought the fishing gear for fun, as C likes to reel in the lure.

We went back to our camp only to discover that black ants had infested it. In the very small gap between the zippers they had been able to enter the inner tent, and the sleeping pad and sleeping mats where covered in ants.

I shook out all the gear, and decided to move the camp down to the canoe instead. Down there we put up the hammock and made reindeer stew with mashed potatoes for dinner.

After dinner it was time for some quality chillaxing in the hammock. It didn’t last too long though, as 4 guys in their 20:th came up with their motor boats and jet skis, and decided to get to shore 10 meter from us. When they finally had managed to get to shore they went up the hill to drink some beer. It was evening, and I feared that they would be loud and long lasting. Not the kind of relaxing evening with my 4 year old that I had looked forward to.

Fortunately they where calm, and after an hour or so they left. They played around with the jet ski outside the island for a while, and then left.

With weather this nice we slept with the tent door open. During the night it started to rain though, so I got up and closed the door.

When morning came the weather was fine again, and we had breakfast before packing down our camp. We didn’t do any more exploring that morning, but just paddled straight back to the car after breakfast.

It was nice to try a new lake, but the proximity to a town made it too crowded for my liking. Asasjön and Tolgasjön where we usually paddle is a rural area with less people. We probably won’t camp here again, but I’d like to come back to do some trout fishing.

Second canoe camping trip of 2020

I’m way behind in writing trip reports, but here comes a report from my trip in April with C.

We have found our perfect lake to paddle and camp by, so as usual we drove north of Växjö to our designated putin.

Weather was great, but we paddled straight to “our“ island, as that’s what C wanted. When we arrived I set up our camp, and quickly got the hammock up. The hammock has turned out to be an essential piece of gear while camping with C, and we both really enjoy just hanging out and munching on all of our good food.

For the first time ever I was going to fry pancakes for lunch. I’ve never done it on a camping stove before, and I had a home made mix with powdered eggs and powdered milk. It didn’t work out good at all. It mostly turned out to be either a burnt mess, or a raw mess. But at least I tried (I altered the recipe for the next trip, and that worked great. So practice gives results).

During the afternoon we paddled to the cape where I filmed my canoe movie last year. There’s a mini island just outside the cape, and we paddled to check it out. When we rounded it we found a Canada goose nesting on it, so we quickly left to let it be alone. The lake has a lot of Canada geese, and we had seen both nests, eggs and eggshells.

We paddled back to the island and got started with dinner. On our menu was falafel with couscous and Ajvar. I used a premade falafel mix, mixed with water and fried it in a generous amount of olive oil. The meal was really good, and easy to make.

After dinner we got back to hanging out in the hammock, before it was time to get to sleep. I had a plan to stay awake and watch the stars with C, but I was too tired. I have insomnia, but when I’m tucked in it’s still hard to get out of the warm cozy quilt to get outside.

Next morning we set up the hammock again, on another spot, to be able to warm up in the morning sun. I boiled water for coffee and hot coco, to rinse down the tortillas and varieties of cheeses and salamis.

After breakfast we spend a while just relaxing in the hammock, looking and the birds and enjoying the sounds of small waves crashing against the shore.

Eventually we had to get back home, and packed down our camp. The canoe got loaded up again, and we headed back towards the car. This time we had a lot less wind than last time, and had no problem getting back. We had the lake mostly to our selfs this time, but with all the Corona related travel restrictions abroad I suspect finding a campsites this summer will be harder.

First canoe camping trip of 2020

In late March it was finally time put the canoe in the water for the first time this season. I had really longed to get back into the lakes, and the weather reports looked promising.

The lake was like a mirror when we first set off

I took C with me to our usual spot at Tolgasjön, loaded up the canoe and set off. I had planned to paddle to the northern parts of the lake, and check out the narrow passage between Asasjön and Tolgasjön.

C tried to grab reeds as we passed through the passage

We found it, but when we had paddled for a while dark clouds formed ahead of us, and we turned back. We paddled to a small island in the northern parts of Tolgasjön. We have camped here before, and it’s a nice spot.

We set up our camp, hung up the hammock, and had lunch. The rest of the day we mostly just hung out in the hammock and enjoyed the serenity of nature.

The Trangia stove set really isn’t UL, but there something nostalgic about it that just makes me want to use it.

For dinner we had macaronis and meat sauce. I’ve started to use my Trangia 27 HA stove set again. For hiking I prefer my Storminstove set, but I really like the Trangia. It might come down to nostalgia, from using it as a kid, but it is great for more advanced outdoor cooking. I made quite easy meals on this trip, but I have started to experiment with more recipes.

We went to bed, and once again I praised my Exped Duo mat LW. I sleep a lot better now that I don’t have to wrestle with C for space on my narrow HL mat.

We woke up to a sunny, but windy morning, and had a breakfast of tortillas, different cheeses and mini salamis.

We packed up camp and left the island. Unfortunately we had a strong head wind, and the canoe rocked quite a bit. C got really scared, so I decided to get to shore closer to the island, and the walk back to the car instead.

I walked along the shore, and at first there was a trail. But the terrain got more and more rough, and eventually I had to carry C. Finally I tripped on a stick, and while trying to fall in a way that kept C safe I twisted my knee. I could walk back to the car, and we drove back to the canoe to pick it up. When I picked it up I hurt my back. I felt like a broken old man on my way back home.

It was a nice first trip first trip, despite the back pain, and having to walk with a limp for a couple of weeks. And we got back to the island only a couple of weeks later.

Long absence and a few trips

I haven’t written here in a long time. Things piled up, and I just didn’t have the energy to write for a while. But I haven’t been totally idle, and actually done a couple of trips since my last trip report.

Canoe camping in June

In mid June I went on a canoe trip on Tolgasjön. Corinne joined me, and for the first time my wife also tagged along.

The weather was ok during our stay, but it was overcast a lot of the time. We paddled to my usual spot, on the cape with the scattered oak trees.

I brought the stove, despite being on a trip in June. While the heating wasn’t needed during the day, it did make it easy to cook. I made chocolate chip pancakes with the dry goods prepared at home, mixing it with eggs and coconut milk in camp. They where delicious.

When evening came I was actually glad I had brought the stove. It started to rain, and got a bit chilly. Having the stove to drive out the cold and damp air was nice.

Next day started with sun, but we packed up pretty quickly since rain was on the forecast.

It was a nice short trip, but I still don’t think outdoors stuff like this is my wife’s cup of tea.

Insomnia overnighter in July

For those who follow me on Instagram my insomnia is old news. I’ve struggled with poor sleep since as long as I can remember. It often gets worse during summer. Maybe because of the short nights and the warm temperatures.

I had a lot of nights this summer where I barely slept at all. In the beginning of July I had one of those nights, where I just tossed and turned without being able to get even a moments sleep so I went camping instead.

When I gave up trying to sleep the clock was 03.30. I packed my backpack with a water bottle, some instant coffee, my Hilleberg Niak, a quilt and a sleeping pad.

I drove to Helgö, a nature reserve 15 min from home, parked the car, hiked a couple of hundred meters into the deciduous forest and set up my camp.

There I was actually able to get a few hours of sleep, before I woke up and made some coffee before heading back home.

Canoe camping with C in late August

In late August me and Corinne was going to explore a new lake, Innaren. A friend of mine have bought a home close to the lake, and his father had talked about an island where he and his wife had camped that summer.

I packed the car with all the regular stuff: My Tentipi Safir 5, my Fjällräven Duffel with the GStove and cooking supplies, a bag of firewood and for the first time, my Frost River Isle Royale Jr backpack, with our sleeping gear. I’ve had my eye on this beauty for a long time, and when a pre owned but unused one showed up on a sales site for half price I had to get it. These things aren’t lightweight, but I love it for canoe camping.

We drove to Rottne, where we put in the canoe at a beach. There was just one guy there with a wet suit, who was exercising.

The day was perfect. Barely any wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Everything was set for a prefect outing.

We paddled to the island where we where told there’d be a camp site, but couldn’t find any suitable place. In the northern end there was a flat spot, suitable for a freestanding tent, but not for a tipi. The rest of the island was covered in brush, uneven ground and fallen trees.

This would be the theme of the day, and we paddled from island to island to search for good places to camp, without finding anything. It was hard to even get on to the shore at times.

We paddled for some 20km in our search for a campsite. Corinne wanted to help, which meant paddling backwards. Eventually I gave up, and decided to paddle back to the car and drive to our “secret” spot at Tolgasjön. Corinne fell asleep in the canoe on our way back.

When we packed up the gear the beach was filled with people. We met a guy who had a Tentipi of his own. We packed up the rest and drove towards Tolgasjön.

We where both tired and hungry, since we’d only been snacking in the canoe all day, and it was really nice to get the tent up and get some food going.

The rest of the evening we just played around the tipi. It was a beautiful evening and a fisherman circled the cape, and put in crayfish cages.

The next morning the fisherman came back to check the cages. We talked a bit, and then he asked if it was ok to check out our camp. He came ashore and asked questions about the tipi and the stove, and was interested in buying something similar.

We packed up after breakfast, and after the stove had cooled down. Even though the canoeing didn’t go as planned, we had a nice time out there.

Hiking and camping at Store Mosse in September

Last time I took Corinne to Store Mosse National Park she was a bit disappointed we didn’t camp there. I always planned to remedy this, and finally in September we got out on a hiking / camping trip.

We parked at the entrance near Lövö and hiked a circle trail from Lövö called Blådöpet runt, a 5,2km trail.

C hiked on in a good pace, but occasionally wanted to ride on my shoulders.

After the old houses at Lövö there’s a bird watch tower before the trail enters the mire.

We met a few people on our hike. The weather was quite chilly, but still very nice with sunshine and only a few clouds.

When we entered the woods again the forest was covered in blueberry brushes, filled with berries. At home it’s too late in the season for blueberries, but here they where plentiful.

We took a couple of Geocaches on the way, but when we came back to Lövö it was already getting late, and time for dinner.

We walked the last stretch to the campsite and set up our tent.

I have a Hilleberg Staika, that I bought to have a winter tent for future ski trips in the mountains, and also that it’s wide enough for two adults and a small child to sleep in. I also wanted a tent without a center pole to be able to use my latest purchase. The Exped Duomat HL LW, that I used for the first time. It took up almost all the floor space of the tent.

Corinne usually crawls up on my sleeping pad each night, and sharing a regular size HL mat is way too narrow for a comfortable sleep. I truly recommend this mat to anyone camping with a small kid or a spouse. It was super comfortable and I loved it from the start.

We had a descent nights sleep, even though Corinne woke up quite a lot of times. By morning we made breakfast and broke camp.

On our way back to the car we met a lady that had camped at another spot, and was going to hike north. We chatted for a short while, before getting on our way, and driving back home.

Summary

There’s been some nice short trips these last few month. I don’t know really what lies ahead in the future, but I would like to get out more. I do love fall, and I really want to get out on a hot tent canoe camping trip soon. We’ll see. I’m on parental leave for a few weeks in October, and if it works for the rest of the family I’ll bring my favorite outdoor buddy with me for some new adventures. I’ll try to get the blog back to business again, and write more in the future.

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.

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.

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.

 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.

The hiking year 2016

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

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

January:

Februari:

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

March:

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

April:

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

May:

June:

  • No trip this month either.

July:

August & September:

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

October:

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

November:

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

December:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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