Sarek in August; Part 6

Day 7

I slept relatively well all night long, despite the hard winds outside the tent. I woke up every now and then, and noticed that there was less and less air left in the sleeping mat. I thought it might be a small hole in it, but was too tired to get up and check for it. In the end it had leaked so much air that I had to check it. When I looked at the valve, I saw that the inflate valve was open, and remembered that the straps for the quilt had stuck when I put it on the sleeping mat. The check valve was the only thing that had prevented the air from leaking too quickly. I inflated it again, closed the valve and went back to sleep. It kept the air for the rest of the night.

We got up before 08.00, and at 09.30 we left the campsite after restoring the camp site and dismantling the stone walls we built around our tents as wind blocks.

We hiked back over Alep Válak and passed the Sámi hut again. A large herd of reindeer were grazing near the hut, but slowly moved south when we where closing in. As soon as we came below Alep Válak, the wind died down. The weather also improved, even though we saw dark clouds beyond the mountains.

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Hiking in the outskirts of Sarek
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Me in the outskirts of Sarek (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We hiked on the slopes of the mountain Tjålle, on the eastern side of the stream that marks the border to Sarek. We had now exited Sarek, and from what I can gather, the lands we where in now were neither a national park nor a nature reserve.

We planned to round Tjålle, and look for a camp site between Tjålle and Skämmabákte, but with a view over the lake Sitojaure.

The sun was shining occasionally, but when we sat down for lunch, on the southern side of Tjålle, it started to rain heavily. We took out our rain clothes and ate in the rain. It continued to rain while we walked, but eventually the clouds disappeared and the sun warmed us again. The weather in the mountains does change quickly, and it feels like you can have all four seasons of the year in just a few hours.

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We had lunch here, but despite the seemingly blue skies it started to rain

We had a beautiful easy hike, on soft green grounds that was pierced by several streams of different sizes.

We talked about the route we would take on our way back to the car, and decided to camp one night more after this, and then go home. We would then drive for a few hours and pitch our tents, to avoid having to drive 12-13 hours the following day to reach Fredrik’s grandmother in Bollnäs.

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The plains were beautiful, and easy to walk on (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

This meant that the trips would be shorter than the 10-12 days we had planned, but when we did not go the planned route I also had difficulty keeping my motivation up for more days. I missed talking to my family, and really missed my kids. Since they left for Greece this day, I knew I had to settle with seeing them on FaceTime.

We found a nice flat place overlooking Sitojaure and close to a larger stream, and camped there. The time was only 14.00, so it was early for us. Even though it wasn’t as windy as in our last camp site, we still had quite a bit of wind in the beginning. We secured the tents with rocks on the pegs, although we did not feel the need to build a massive wall around the tents as we had the night before.

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A nice camp site outside of Sarek

Throughout the day we had seen and heard a lot of grouses near us. In the afternoon one of them sat close to our camp and chirped endlessly.

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Our camp (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

It was Saturday evening. The last time we saw anybody else was on Tuesday evening, with the people that set up their tents on the other side of Nammásjjåhkå. It’s really desolate here. At least in the places we chose to hike in.

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Making a more luxurious dinner than usual; Flying Jacob

We planned the route for the next day, and estimated that it would be a 15km hike in fairly easy-going terrain. I was glad that it would be a bit longer than our previous days, since I’m starting to get a little bored of staying in the camp so much. I like to hike, and would like to go all day just to camp, eat, read an hour and then sleep. I did like to have a change of pace, hike slower and take more breaks, but eventually I felt like hiking more. I like to hike long days, and go to bed with a tired sore body.

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Planning the last leg of the trip

I read a lot, lying or sitting, inside or outside the tent. The wind had blown quite hard earlier when we had set up our tents, but it had died down during the evening. The lack of wind caused mosquitoes and flies to emerge. Some of them came in under the fly, while many of them sat on the outside of the fly. The weather had been fantastic this day, but every time we looked over the border into Sarek, it looked like it was the end of days over there, with almost pitch black clouds covering the area.

Sarek in August; Part 5

Day 6

We made breakfast and broke camp with no hurry at all. Fredrik was faster than me this morning, and looked a bit restless while I packed. I had been having problems with headaches during the night, and therefore lay down for a long time in the morning until the pain meds kicked in.

We filled up our water bottles and started hiking north, towards Alep Válak. We had planned to pitch our tents with a view of the lake Sitojaure. It was only a short hike from our previous camp site, about two to three km.

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View from Alep Válak, with the stream Sijddoädno in the middle of the photo

It didn’t take long to go there. The ground was flat, albeit littered with boulders and pierced by melting water from snow and glaciers on Rådnik and Dágarlåbddå. On our way towards our new camp site we passed a locked hut that the Sámi use when they’re tending to their reindeer herds. We were hiking just along the eastern border of Sarek.

Around 12.00 we arrived and found a good place to set up the tents. The view was amazing with Sitojaure some 500 meters below us, but we were both aware that the location was anything but ideal when it came to wind. The valley with Sitojaure goes in a north-west to south-east direction, and in the north-western end of the lake there is another valley in the north-south direction. We had a lot of open areas and not much wind protection.

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Great view, and (in the beginning) nice weather
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I built a wind cover from the surrounding rocks

It blew really heavily, but our camp site was filled with large rocks, and we anchored the tents well, and also built wind guards around the perimeter to reduce the amount of wind that would enter under the fly, and also relieve some stress from the anchor points.

The weather had been great in the morning. Sunny and much warmer than the day before. Once we had set up the tents, dark clouds came towards us, and soon the whole sky was covered with gray rain clouds. A slight drizzle fell over us.

We had lunch in our tents, and then went out and looked more at the view. Fredrik had found a small stream a few hundred meters from the camp site. A  patch of snow, still unmelted, formed a little stream of water that we could fill our bottles from.

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Dinner with a view

It rained on and off during the day. Hard wind-driven rain. We laid in our tents and read, and this day was the first one that I cooked inside my tent. I have used the floor over the entire surface to reduce condensation earlier. But with the wind on this location, condensation was no problem, so I only put polycro under the sleeping mat.

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We had a rainbow between the rains

During the night, the wind blew even worse. I went to bed at around 20.30, prepared for another sleepless night, but actually slept pretty well. I used the down jacket as a pillow instead of the inflatable pillow, and it worked better and was much more comfortable. It was in a dry bag that was a bit open to be able shape it better.

I felt a little worried about the tent, and if it would hold up, but I decided to break those thoughts. If it was to happen then I would solve the situation then. And I’ve seen videos of Ultamids standing up in severe snowstorms in Alaska, and this was nothing compared to that. I slept relatively well all night.

I made a short video to show how the tents held up in the wind.

 

Sarek in August; Part 3

Day 3

We woke up quite early. Just like the day before, both of us woke up at 04.30 because it was already bright as day. But I fell back to sleep. We finally got up before 08.00, made breakfast and packed up. We had decided to follow some of our original route, and go west along the Rapa Valley, south of the mountain Gierdogiesjtjåhkkå. We went down from Skierffe and came to an vast plateau at about 1000m altitude. The ground was flat and easy to walk on, and there were possible camp sites everywhere. We saw that the plains stretched far away in the north, and decided that we would hike there on our way back to the car in the end of the trip.

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My sleep and shelter setup: HMG Ultamid 2 with a polycro groundsheet, Exped Synmat 7 UL with a Cumulus Quilt 350

After walking in the hiking paradise in the plains in the morning, the rest of the day turned out to be the opposite. The guidebook I read before we went showed that we could hike the route we took, and keep going along the 1000m altitude line. But we found out the hard way that this meant hiking through brushy terrain on slippery rocks and boulders at a 45° angle.

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It started with brushes, but got more rocky and steeper the farther we went (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

I fell pretty bad once when stones shifted under my feet, and I my leg got stuck down to my thigh, with more rocks falling on it. But I got loose with only a few scratches. A while later I slipped and fell on a rock, and accidentally smacked myself hard in the temple with one of my hiking poles. I had to sit and rest for a while after that one.

We were both tired, and traversing this kind of terrain took a lot of effort. You had to weigh every step to make sure that the stones wouldn’t move. We took a lot of breaks.

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Looking back towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

The weather had been very nice in the morning, but gradually became worse. In the end the rain came, and it rained on and off the rest of the day. The rain didn’t make the traverse any easier, since the rocks just got more slippery.

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Fredrik looking back at the Rapa valley delta, with the mountain Tjahkelij in the background

Eventually we reached the stream Nammásjjåhkå. From where we were standing there was no way we could pass. There was a tall waterfall, and steep cliffs down towards the water. We first tried to hike higher up, and see if we could pass above the waterfall, but the cliffs where to steep for us to be able to get further up. We looked further down, and saw that it was possible to pass at the end of the waterfall, just below the timber line.

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Fredrik looking over the edge to find somewhere to pass Nammásjjåhkå

It was a steep way down to the water, but we slided down on our butts, and managed to get down to the stream. As I crossed it, I almost slipped on the slippery stones, and decided not to try to balance but went straight through the water instead. I wore my quick drying trail runners to be able to do just that and not worry about them being wet.

We took a short break after we had forded the stream, and reviewed our plan for how we would proceed.

The mountain side was still quite steep, but it would be flatter on a higher altitude, so we decided to hike in a diagonal line upwards to reach the flatter grounds.

It went slowly uphill, and the terrain was difficult and brushy. We eventually reached a somewhat flat area where we stopped. The sun started to shine and warmed us, and it made wonders for our morale. The sky turned blue, and beneath us in Rapa valley we saw clouds forming. We did however realized that they would rise and we would be surrounded by fog, so we continued hiking as far as we could before the fog reached us. When it finally reached us we just rested until it was gone.

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Clouds forming in Rapa valley and rising to our position. Mountains from left to right: Skierffe, Tjahkelij and Nammásj

We found a nice plateau to set up camp, but it was too far from a water source. We continued to a new plateau near one of the side streams to Nammásjjåhkå. While we were setting up the tents, we saw dark rain clouds approaching fast from Rapa valley. We quickly set up the tents and anchored them with the surrounding rocks. Just when the tents were up the rain came. It rained heavily so we took refuge to our tents. I was to tired to clear out a space to cook dinner in the tent, and just ate three sausages and a protein bar instead, after changing from my cold wet clothes to my dry sleeping clothes. After “dinner” I crawled in under the quilt and read for a while. The rain was still falling outside.

Just after 19:00 it stopped raining and we went out. Five reindeers were standing just ten meters from the tents. While we were out, a couple of guys came from the other side Nammásjjåhkå. They crossed the stream and continued westward. We saw four more people coming on the other side, but they camped there instead of crossing. Both groups were hiking at a higher altitude than we had done during the day, and the ground was flatter there. We assumed that we should have the same thing, as it seemed to be an easier route than ours.

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Camp site 3. We had nice views here too

Just after 22:00 a loud noise was heard. I looked under the edge of the shelter and saw that a large herd of reindeer was passing just outside. It was a cool sight, but I was too tired (lazy) to crawl out of my sleeping bag to go out and take photos of them. 

Sarek in August; Part 2

Day 2

I woke up a few times early in the morning as it was already bright as day outside. I was using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and a thin layer of white, semi transparent Dyneema composite fabric doesn’t do much to block the sunlight. When I looked at my clock, it was only 04.30. I went back to sleep, and we got up at around 09.00 instead. We made breakfast, broke camp and went up to the STF cottage to pay for our stay. A couple of hikers had pointed us to the right cabin. The lady who smoked when we arrived sat on the stairs of the nearby cabin, looking at us.

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My Ultamid 2 and Fredriks Bergans Trollhetta 4 in the background
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My gear: In the bottom of the pack I have an Exped Schnozzle bag (the yellow one) with my sleep gear. After that two large Pack pods with food. Above those I have toiletries (neon bag) and electronics (zip lock bag). Tent (white bag) and extra clothes + down jacked (red one) next to each other and at the top I have a small Pack pod with my stove set and food for the day. All packed in a HMG Southwest 4400

When we got hold of the hut warden, he told us that it was prohibited to camp where we had pitched the tents. The ground, and the hut near it, did not belong to STF, but to the Swedish Nature Conservation Association. We did not have to pay because we did not camp on STF’s land. However, it felt a little embarrassing to have camped where we weren’t allowed to. But since the woman in the hut didn’t say anything, perhaps it didn’t matter. She had heard us talking about paying and looking for hut warden, both during the evening and during the morning, so I suppose she understood that it was a misunderstanding.

Our goal for the day was to get to Skierffe. A mountain with an almost 700 meter vertical wall right down the Rapadalen.

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Me, on our way towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We got up through the woods, which gradually changed from spruce to birch forests, and then disappeared completely as we reached above the timber line. 

Fredrik and I have a different hiking philosophies, where I am a lightweight hiker who like to march on at a fairly good pace, and hardly even want to stay for lunch. Fredrik packs quite heavily, likes to stop more often, and wants to spend more time chilling and just enjoying the moment, instead of trying to get a lot of km behind him.

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The snow covered mountains of Sarek

 

It was important to me to get back home in time, since my wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Greece and I was to pick them up at the airport when they got back. I realized that we would probably not be able to do our planned hike without having to stress it in the end, so we agreed to skip the plan and instead just go where ever we felt like for the day, take a lot of breaks and not care about the mileage. The only goal was to be back at the car at least 10 days later. It was a bit of a change of philosophy for me, but still felt nice. However, it meant that I had packed way too much food. But it still felt ok, although it meant carrying some unnecessary weight.

When we were coming close to the top of Skierffe we ​​decided to start looking for a camp site, even though the clock was only around 14.00. We passed the trail and continued towards the western side of Skierffe. There we found a really good camp site, with flat ground for both of our tents, and a lot of stones to anchor them. We could have saved weight sharing tents, but both Fredrik and I prefer to have our own space.

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One of our best camp sites ever

The camp site had a very nice view over Sareks snow covered peaks. The wind blew hard when we were setting up camp, so we anchored the tents well. I wanted to go to the top of Skierffe, but Fredrik preferred to stay in camp so I went by myself. When I got up at the top there was a young family there with their child in a child carrier.

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The river delta in Rapa valley

The view from Skierffe was amazing. It was uphill almost all the way up to the cliff. Then came the long cliff all the way down to Rapa Valley. It was a majestic view, and well worth the effort to get there.

I walked back to the camp and after a while we made dinner.

We went looking for water, and found a little stream a couple of hundred meters away from the camp. Fredrik went to bed quite early, but I laid on the CCF mat and read for a couple of hours. When the wind stopped, it was almost completely quiet around us. It is not often you get that silence when you live in a town. Traffic, sirens, lawnmowers, people talking, airplanes. There’s always noise, and it was refreshing to hear nothing like that.

I went to bed around 21.00, but went out for a while after 22:00 to check out the sunset. By then it had already disappeared behind the mountains, though it was still bright outside.

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The sun had just disappeared behind the mountains


I went to bed and sleep pretty well. The new way of attaching the quilt has worked very well, and I have not had any drafts, even though I tossed and turned a lot and it was cold in the morning.

Overnighter on Laxaleden with the family in July

General info

Laxaleden is a 30km long trail in Blekinge, in southern Sweden. It starts near the ocean in Elleholm, south of Mörrum, and follows Mörrumsån north to Hovmansbygd. Mörrumsån is known for its salmon fishing, and all along the trail you see signs of designated spots that you pay to fish at.

I haven’t found any designated maps for the trail, but it’s well marked. For printed maps I recommend Lantmäteriets map service and print it yourself.

Trip report

A couple of weeks ago, me, my wife and our daughters decided to do a short overnighter in Blekinge. My oldest daughter was going to visit a friend, and we all wanted to spend some time in the place we used to live in.


We searched the map for different locations to set up camp, but eventually we decided on parking the car in Mörrum and hike along Laxaleden until we found a good place to camp.

We parked the car at the school parking lot in the afternoon, and hit the trail. It passes just outside of the school. We hiked north bound along the shore of Mörrumsån. We didn’t bring the child carrier for Corinne, but hiked in her pace. We knew this would mean a short slow hike, but we had nowhere special to go, and no time table. I like to let walk by herself.


Since I had bought a bigger pack for my Sarek trip, my wife used my Exped Lightning instead. My oldest daughter used her Osprey Ace, a youth pack that we bought for her a couple of years ago.

The scenery here is really beautiful, with lots of old deciduous trees, and the beautiful Mörrumsån.

We followed Mörrumsån north until we came to a nature reserve. Camping was prohibited inside the reserve, so I walked ahead to see if there were any good spots on the other side. I found a good spot, and ran back and brought the others. Corinne finally got tires of walking, and I carried her the last stretch. My wife and oldest daughter spent some time Geocaching.


We set up our tents, and started making dinner. My wife and my oldest daugher shared the Luxe Outdoor Sil Twinpeak, as they wanted an inner tent. Me and Corinne shared my HMG Ultamid 2. I’m slowly getting rid of my bug phobia, and Corinne will hopefully never get one as she gets used to floorless shelters like these from the start.


It started to rain during the evening, and the rain continued all through the night. The Twin Peak had started to sag during the night, and they had some slight water coming in. I don’t know if it was from rain or from condensation.

I liked to get out like this with my family, even though our son didn’t come along. My wife isn’t an outdoors person and has a worse bug phobia than I do. She likes day trips, but is less fond of overnighters like this. This was the first time we hiked and camped together since we’ve only done car camping trips in the past. But hopefully there will be more trips like these.

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.

Joining Coast2Coast Sweden in May

General info

Coast2Coast Sweden was founded by Jörgen Johansson and Jonas Hållén after they met on Fjällräven Classic a few years ago. 2017 is the fifth year anniversary of the hike that goes 400km from Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden, to Varberg on the west coast. Last year Franziska Kaufmann join up as the third guide. There is an emphasis in lightweight gear and hiking in trailrunners is the standard.

My packlist for the weekend

Trip report

I joined up with the other hikers on Friday evening in Moheda. They had been hiking for almost a week, and arrived in Moheda Pizzeria at around 18.00. The day had been one of the hottest this year, with temperatures close to 30°C and not a cloud in the sky.

I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous to join them. It’s always tough to come in to an already established group, especially one that had hiked and lived together for a week already.

When I arrived at the Pizzeria a few of the hikers had already arrived. Jonas, one the founders, Judith from the Netherlands, her colleague Susanne from Sweden and Gudrun from Germany. English was the go-to language whether you were talking to a Swede or not, so that no-one would be excluded from the conversation.

My concerns about joining an established group was unfounded. Everybody where very social and easy going, and with a shared interest in hiking it wasn’t hard to find topics to talk about.

More and more hikers dropped by. Judy, the founder of Lightheart Gear from USA and Alie from the Netherlands. Franziska, one of the guides, joined up, but the heat had got to her so she had to rest in the shade and fill up on electrolytes.

We were still waiting for Göran from Sweden, and Oliver and Henning from Germany. Oliver had hiked Coast2Coast the year before. Göran has hiked C2C every year, and hiked the first year together with his horse Allan.

I left the Pizzeria with Susanne and Judith, to hike the ~4km to Hössjön, where we would spend the night.

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My Ultamid 2, with Görans shelter to the left, and Judith and Susannes tent to the right

Hössjön is a pretty small lake, but it was a nice campsite, and one of the residents nearby let us use his property to fill up on fresh water and charge phones and powerbanks.

A lot of the hikers, who’d been hiking in relentless heat all day, used the lake to cool off. I’m a real coward when it comes to cold water, so I stayed in my tent.

Judy, who’s the founder and lead designer of Lightheart Gear, had brought a new version of the Solong 6. She gave me a tour, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. It was a really cool and well thought out design, and it was really spacious. The big mesh panels and the ability to keep the fly up on one side allows you sleep with a view while still being protected from the elements. I almost wanted to swap tents with her for the night to try the tent.

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Judys Solong 6 showing the awning (photocredit Judy Gross)

The mosquitoes where swarming, and soon everybody sought refuge in their tents. I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, without an inner. I only had the polycro groudsheet and my Borah Gear bivy. The shelter didn’t keep all the mosquitoes away, and during the night I had some of them buzzing over my head. I’m still not sure whether to keep the solution I have now in mosquito infested areas or whether to go with a floorless net inner. Campsite selection is of the essence here, as a more exposed area with more wind might have reduced the number of mosquitoes.

I skipped the polestraps and used the sawed off bottom section of a cheap AliExpress hiking pole to connect the poles together. It worked perfectly, and was way easier than using the polestraps. I don’t know which of the polestraps and the “missing link” that gives you the most strength though.

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I bought the Southwest 4400 to use for the two weeks unsupported trip in Sarek this summer. It arrived just before I left, so I decided to use it on this trip. It’s a 70l pack, but the roll-top compresses well, down to an estimated size of 40-45l

Next morning everybody had their breakfasts separately, at their own tents. Judy and Alie left pretty quickly, and Franziska and Judith got a ride to Broaskog café as they weren’t feeling well. I hiked with Jonas, Görgen, Oliver, Henning and Gudrun. After an hour or so some of us decided to have a break in the shade. Jonas and Gudrun continued to the café though.

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There was quite a lot of road walking, but I didn’t mind since I had great company

Göran explained that Jörgen Johansson had a method of hiking that made sure he could hike long days, and still feel fresh when he came to camp. He hiked for 50 minutes and then took a 10 minute break. Every hour. I’m gonna start using this method myself, as it’s easy for me to just keep going and then end up being really tired once I reach camp.

I had a short break at Broaskog café. It hadn’t opened yet, but the owner filled up my waterbottle before I left. Most of the others waited for it to open, but I went with Jonas to the lake Åbodasjön to have lunch there. Jonas took a swim, but in my usual state of cowardliness I stayed on the shore due to the cold water temperature. A few others joined, and after a while Jonas, Gudrun, Oliver and I started hiking again.

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View from Lyåsa, a small village with a few scattered very well tended houses and cottages. Lyåsa had a nice view, and this photo doesn’t do it justice

It was a long day of hiking, with the sun burning hot over our heads. The distance this day was pretty long, and therefor they had shortened it a few kilometers to a planned campsite near lake Kalvsjön. When we reached Kalvsjön though, there wasn’t enough space in the public places to set up camp. Most of the flat areas belonged to the local fishing club, and camping was prohibited for others than its members.

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Following Jonas along the shore of lake Kalvsjön

The four of us went over our options. There was a campsite nearby, but it would mean going back a bit, and we would also have to buy a membership in the fishing club which would cost 200SEK +20SEK as a camping fee.

We decided to hike the extra ~3km to the old campsite next to lake Rusken, that C2C had used the previous years.

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Our campsite at the shore of lake Rusken with Jonas Trailstar, my Ultamid, Olivers Six Moon Designs and Gudruns Double Rainbow

We set up our tents and Jonas went for a swim. This time I actually joined him. There wasn’t much swimming on my part though. More a quick dip, a rinse and quite a lot of cursing over the cold waters. Jonas took a picture of me and posted it on the C2C Facebook page.

We made dinner and then went to bed. Jonas stayed up, as Judith and Susanne where on their way. The others where to tired to go on, and had stopped at the fishing club campsite. After a while Judith and Susanne arrived, and set up their tent. Judith was tired from a cold that was starting to get worse, but they where still in good spirits.

The campsite was prefect in terms of wind and moisture. There was a breeze all night, which kept the mosquitoes at bay, and I had no condensation at all when I woke up.

Susanne and Judith decided to stay behind to take it slow in the morning. Judith was unfortunately still not feeling well.

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View from our campsite at lake Rusken
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Hiking along the shore of Rusken

Jonas, Oliver, Gudrun and I left our campsite at Rusken, and continued north. My destination was the café at Nydala monastery at the north end of the lake, but the rest of the hikers would continue from there. We hiked along the east shore of Rusken, and eventually reached Nydala monastery where we had lunch. I had to get back home, and got picked up at the café and left the others there.

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Loosing the trail means bushwhacking

It was a great trip. There was quite a lot of road walking, so one has to be prepared for that. But unlike my solo hikes I didn’t mind the roads this time even though I prefer the trails. I had a great time talking to to the others about hiking, gear and UL philosophy. I am somewhat of a gear nerd, and it’s fun to geek down a bit and look at other peoples gear. I guess the piece of gear that most caught my eye was Judys Solong 6.

The weather was nice to, albeit very hot. It was the first time I hiked in shorts, and that was nice. The ticks where out in full force though, and every time we’d hiked through a brushy area we stopped for a tick-control. I think I picked at least eight or nine ticks off my legs and arms during the weekend. Fortunately none of them had burrowed down yet.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to join for the whole coast to coast hike next year, but I’ll definitely try to join for at least a section like this year.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 – First impressions

As I’ve wrote before I made some gear changes this spring. The biggest change was a whole new shelter setup. Before, I had a Hilleberg Enan, a great tent that I was mostly pleased with. But I decided to try Dyneema Composite fabric (former Cuben Fiber) and bought an Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, a polycro groundsheet from Gossamer Gear and a Borah Gear Bivy.

I’ve had a 2014 Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex-peak before, but always used it with an inner. This was my first experience with a floorless shelter.

I’ve only done one test pitch in the garden, and after that, used it for one night in the woods. This is not an in depth review of the Ultamid 2, but more a note of my impressions after using it for the first time.

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Test pitch in the back yard the night I got it

When I first received it I realized that Cuben Fiber is quite bulky. Despite being so light, the bag itself was quite large. I weighted it, and the tent, with the extra 100′ of guy line weighs 663g. The tent with three ~12̈́’ guy lines attached weighs 591g. It was heavier than listed, but it really doesn’t matter.

The first thing I did when I received it was to unpack it and check all the seams. Everything was in order, and the shelter really had a quality feel to it. I also made a test pitch in the garden. It was roomy inside, but I think it will take some practice to get the corners in a perfect 90° angle. I think that I’ll be able to fit three people inside, if I offset the pole a bit.

After I took it down I cut the 100′ of extra guy line into eight ~12′ lines. I made a loop, with a taut line hitch, on each line to easily be able to tighten and loosen the guy line. I tied three guy lines to the center panel guy points using two half hitches. I stored the extra guy lines in a zip lock back. For regular below-tree line hikes I don’t need them. But above tree line, where the wind really picks up, I’ll need all of the guy lines.

On the inside of the shelter there are two D-rings. You could tie a line between them to dry your socks, or use it to strap the shock cord from your bivy to get the mesh off your face, like I did.

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The hiking poles are strapped together using HMG Poles straps
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There are four guy points in each corner, plus three mid paned guy points. One on each side except on the entrance side

The Ultamid 2 was spacious and bright. I guess my preference in general is to have a darker color that matches the forest more, but I liked how bright it was inside when the morning sun shined through the fabric (and the spruce green was to expensive for me).

I use my hiking poles as the center pole. I strap them together using Hyperlite Mountain Gears Pole straps. It worked better than I expected, and I did get the poles tightly together. But I do consider making a “missing link” or something like that to connect the poles easier. I might buy a spare bottom section to my hiking poles, and cut it to an appropriate length and then use that to connect the poles together.

You could buy both an inner with a floor, and a floorless net inner. I plan to try mine in mosquito infested areas without either before I decide if I need one. I’ll probably go for the floorless one if I decide to get an inner.

After one nights use I’m happy with my Ultamid 2. It’s light, bright, spacious and well built. So far I really recommend it. I’ll write a more in depth review once I’ve used it for a while.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if I need to add this, but I buy all of my gear for my own money. There are no affiliation links, but I add the links for convenience of the reader. Should a company offer affiliation links I’ll add information about it in the disclaimer.

Why hike lightweight?

When it comes to pack weight there are certain labels depending on how much the base weight of your pack is. Lightweight (5-10 kg), ultralight (3-5 kg), super ultralight (1,5-3 kg) and extremely super duper ultralight (sub-1,5 kg). I guess my base weight falls in the category Lightweight. So what does it mean and why does it matter?

To me, it’s not important to get below a certain weight level for the sake of it. So what if I don’t get to call myself an ultralight hiker because my base weight is 6,5kg and not below 5kg. But I still don’t think that the weight limits and labels are useless. The weight limits can serve as a way to show that gear that keeps you warm, dry and well fed doesn’t have to weigh more than that. You don’t have to reach below a certain weight for the sake of it, but you can use the weights as a guide when you plan your gear purchases. Of course you have to make sure that the gear you have is sufficient for the conditions you plan to use them in. It’s only natural that your base weight is higher if the conditions are are tougher and colder.

To me, the goal with my gear choices is to be comfortable. Comfortable while hiking and comfortable in camp. Having a low base weight is not a goal. It’s means to an end. The goal is to be comfortable, and a low weight helps me keep the hiking part comfortable. But having a too low weight would impact on the comfort of the camping part. I like to have a spacious tent, warm food and coffee, a sleeping bag or quilt that’s rated a little warmer than the expected temperatures and a thick inflatable sleeping mat. This is where you have to find the perfect balance with that works for you. Different people have different comfort levels. Some like to have a thermos and a camping chair, or bring a Murrika, and some sleep with a to-thin quilt in full clothing under a poncho-tarp, and go stoveless. I guess everyone have to find out what works for them. But I do think that everyone benefits by, at least to some degree, minding the weight. If you like to bring a cast iron frying pan when you go hiking, then bring it. But let it be an active choice, not just something you bring out of old habits without really knowing why. And if you keep the rest of your gear as light as possible for your needs, it won’t break your back.

My experience with the regular outdoor stores in Sweden is that they don’t focus that much on weight. They sell what they’ve always sold, and ultralight backpacking isn’t that big of thing here. But there are lot’s of smaller gear makers that you could buy lightweight gear from without breaking the bank. Cumulus and Roberts are two polish sleeping bag manufacturers that produce high quality gear at a descent price. Luxe Outdoor makes cheap lightweight tents, and I do recommend their Sil Hex Peak.

And then there are all the cottage makers that many  people have never heard of. Locus Gear, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, ZPacks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Six Moon Designs, Superior Wilderness Design, Tarptent and Enlightened Equipment to name a few. Some of these will break your bank though 😀.

Here’s another list of a lot of cottage gear makers.

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.