C:s first thru hike

Ok, so the term thru hike is probably more or less reserved for longer trails, but this was the first time C hiked the entire length of a trail, so I’m calling it a thru hike for her.

My oldest daughter got a gift card for a spa on her 16th birthday, and was going to Kosta Boda Art Hotel with her mother in late June. At the same time my son was staying a couple of days on “Kortis” (a sort of relief home for families with disabled children). This was a perfect time for me and C to go hiking.

I had found a circle trail just outside of Kosta in the nature reserve Visjön. It’s an 8km trail, and I thought it would be a good trail for two days of hiking with C.

We dropped off my wife and oldest daughter at the hotel, and drove north towards Visjön. We parked the car in the west side of the lake, just north of a shooting range. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the forecast showed rain for the next two days. But C was in a good mood. After a short hike along the borders of the shooting range we arrived at the lake. We turned north and hiked along the esker that borders most of the west side of the lake.

After a while we saw the ground sort of moving. With a closer look we saw that the ground was littered with small 1-2cm long frogs. They where everywhere for a long part of the trail. We tried to watch our steps so we wouldn’t step on them. Every now and then we stopped to pick blueberries.

We came to the north side of the lake, and turned down south on the east shore before making dinner. We had noodles with beef jerkey and cheese. So far we hadn’t seen a single suitable place to set up the tent. Eventually we came down to the parking and info sign marked on the map. On a small peninsula nearby we found a perfect spot for our tent, and room for many more too.

The rain had stopped earlier, but we set up the tent right away, and put up the hammock. This time I had brought the half inner, to be able to get in and out of the tent without having rain falling into the inner. On 2/3 of the vestibule I had a polycro groundsheet for the gear. This was actually a perfect setup for me and C. The half inner was large enough for us, without feeling cramped, and we had a large area for the gear.

I made dinner for us, and then we just hung out in the hammock and eat snacks. It didn’t take long before we both fell asleep.

When we woke up it started to rain slightly, so we took down the hammock and retreated to the tent. C watched Vaiana on my phone while I was reading a book writter by a reporter and a photographer who got kidnapped in Syria a few years ago.

After the movie it was time for C to go to sleep. The rain had started to pour down, and once again I had water seeping through, and dropping down on my face. I was pissed. I had carefully taped the insides where the midway corner guylines attatches and where the plastic struts for the vents are, but still water came through. But this time I saw the source. Water kept seeping through the seams on the top hat, and ran down on the inside of the tent before dropping down on my face. I sent a mail to HMG again, and this time I got the $58 i paid for the shipping back. Since then I’ve taped up those seams too, so I think it will be ok now. But then and there I regretted selling my heavier Hillebergs for this. Hilleberg fans can almost be a bit cultist from time to time, but in the end there’s a reason for it. I’ve had three Hillebergs (and a lot of other tents too) and their quality do stand out.

I was a bit annoyed that the super expensive tent didn’t hold up as expected, but I managed to let it go and go to sleep.

The next morning we had chocolate banana oatmeal for breakfast, before packing up. It was raining heavy this morning. C jumped in water pools as we hiked along.

On the southern section of the trail we came to a large open area that probably serves as a pasture from time to time. There weren’t any animals there at that time, so it could have been a nice place for a tent. The place had an abundance of wild strawberries. We ate a lot, and I could barely get C to continue hiking with me.

After that we had a section of road hiking before turning back north on the esker we started with. C was starting to get a bit tired, but it was only a short hike left to the car. When we got to the car we took of our wet rain gear. C was dry as a bone, but my cheapo rainpants had leaked through, and I might as well have skipped them all together.

This was C:s first hike of an entire trail. We’ve done a lot of paddling, camping and off trail hiking but this was the first time she hiked an entire trail. It went really good, even though her favourite part is hanging out in camp. (It’s actually my favourite part too, when I’m not solo hiking)

My first ski camping trip, and the new tent

Trip report

I have wanted cross country skis for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until last year that I actually got around to buy a pair.

I wanted a pair that could suite all the potential adventures I could think of. My dream is to make ski camping trips in the mountains, and I bought a pair of Åsnes Amundsen with Alaska BC boots.

Last year I only got around to use them on a couple of occasions before the snow melted. But last weekend I could finally get out on a short ski camping trip.

I hadn’t really planned to go camping, but the weather was fantastic, and my new tent had arrived the same week so my wife thought I should take the chance to get out, since it would probably be the last week with snow.

Since I hadn’t planned anything I quickly had to search for a place nearby where it would be possible to ski and camp. I found Storasjöområdet, 30 min east of Växjö, checked the authority website that camping was allowed, quickly packed the back pack and skis and headed off.

I’d never been in that area before, but from the info I had it seemed to be a lot of mires and a couple of descent trails. I expected a smaller version of Stora Mosse, where I had been on a day trip a couple of weeks earlier.

Once there I read a sign that said camping was prohibited. It looked old though, and double checking on the website it said that camping in caravans and motor-homes was prohibited.

I started skiing the yellow trail. After some 500 meters a sign pointed to a side trail leading to a bird watching tower. I skid out to the tower, watched the view and then went back to the main trail. I was scouting for potential campsites from the beginning, since I didn’t know how the rest of the trail would look like, and it was already a bit late when I arrived.

I came to a sign that showed that the longer trail had been closed, and from the looks of it there where a lot of storm felled trees. I continued on the 2,1 km yellow trail instead.

The trail had been nice to ski on in the beginning, but soon turned for the worse. It hadn’t snowed enough to even out the ground, and the trail twisted and turned between rocks and tree stumps. My skis really took a beating, and in retrospect I should have just carried them and walked instead.

I had passed a couple of potential campsites in the beginning of the trail, and closing in on the end of the loop trail I started to realize that I wouldn’t find anything else. Blood sugar was getting low, and I just wanted to get to camp.

I came back to the car and started a new lap on the round trail. About a km in I stopped at the area that I had checked out in the first round. It was a large fairly flat area, and I stomped the snow with the skis to compress it and make it more even.

After that I started with dinner while the compressed snow got time to freeze more solid. The dinner was just a freeze dried Goulash. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t a taste experience to write home about. I haven’t made any home dried meals in a while, so I’ll have to make due with the bought stuff.

As I’ve written before I’ve sold tents to buy another one that better suits my needs. When I transitioned to UL/LW most of my gear got pretty dialed down, but when it comes to tents I never seem to find one I’m pleased with. But I bought a HMG Ultamid 4 with a half- and full inner, to minimize the number of tents in the gear shed and have one tent for everything from solo trips to family trips. With my Tentipi Safir 5 for hot tent camping I thinks these are the only two tents I’ll need.

Since it was brand new the guy-lines weren’t attached, so I laid out the tent, dug holes in the snow to secure the tent pegs for the corners and cut and tied the guy-lines while the snow around the tent pegs froze solid. I used a midshipman’s hitch for the bottom ends of the guy-lines to have easily adjustable loops since there aren’t any linelocs for them.

When the pegs where solid and all the guy lines attached I set up my two connected ski poles as a center pole and set up the half inner. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and no wind was forecasted so I didn’t really need a tent, and absolutely not an inner. But I was eager to try out the new gear.

When everything was up it was already dark. I was getting really cold and just wanted to get inside my sleeping bag. Temps where forecasted to drop to around -12⁰C, so I had brought both my Cumulus Panyam 600 and my Wind Hard Tiny quilt. I don’t know if I really needed the quilt, but I’ll rather be too warm than freezing during the night.

I laid in the sleeping bag, snacking on nougats and chocolate and reading. I always bring my ebook reader with me, but I had to warm it up inside the sleeping bag for it to wake up.

I was really tired so around 21.00 I decided that I wouldn’t fight it any more but just try to sleep instead. But despite being so tired I had a really restless night. I wasn’t cold, but I couldn’t relax, so I drifted in and out of sleep all night.

I woke up before dawn. I had brought both a down- and a synthetic puffy and put on both. The down puffy had served as my pillow in the HMG Stuff sack pillow, and the synthetic one had been stored in the foot end of my sleeping bag so it wouldn’t be cold in the morning. I stayed in the sleeping bag while I made breakfast. I boiled some water for coffee and for my porridge. One of the water bottles was frozen solid, but I had put hot water in a vacuum bottle the night before, and poured it in the pot and added snow to melt.

The sun started to come up, and it was a beautiful morning. I was tired from tossing and turning most of the night, but I still felt great. It was cold outside, but with hot food in my belly and two puffy jackets on it was actually okey to leave the warm sleeping bag.

I packed up the tent and all my gear, took a stroll around camp to make sure nothing was dropped or lost, put on my skis and started skiing back to the car.

This was my first ski camping trip, and I’d love to do it again. It was cold, and next time I want to do it in an area that’s more suitable for skiing, like Stora Mosse National park. I liked the Ultamid 4 too. It’s large and lightweight and after trying a few different options these last years it feel great to be back again with a lightweight tent. A 4p double walled tent for roughly 1,5kg is really nice to carry.

Gear used

(Disclaimer: Below list contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for purchases made through the links. The gear is bought with my own money for full price though)

HMG Ultamid 4 (int) (SE)

HMG Ultamid 4 half inner (int) (SE)

HMG Southwest 4400 (int) (SE)

Cumulis Panyam 600 (int) (SE)

Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny

Exped Winterlite HL

HMG Stuff sack pillow L (int) (SE)

Toaks UL 700ml pot (int) (SE)

Storminstove cone/base/stove (unfortunately the maker passed away, but it’s a really nice stove set, comparable to Caldera cone)

Åsnes Amundsen skis with Madshus Rottefella BC Manual bindings and Alpina Alaska boots

Black Diamond Expedition 3 4 season trekking poles

Cumulus Incredilite Endurance (int) (SE)

T&P insulated jacket

Tresticklan – first trip of 2018

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition to go on a hiking-/ camping trip the first week of the year.

This time I had planned to do a two-night trip, and I really wanted to go to Tresticklan National Park as I really like the place, and hadn’t been there since May 2016.

Tresticklan is a ~29km2 National Park in Dalsland, just at the border of Norway. Together with Lundsneset nature reserve on the Norwegian side you have 55km2 of protected lands. The area consists of rift valleys, with vast pine forests, small lakes and ponds and bogs.

I have been in Tresticklan and Lundsneset two times before, and if you like solitude this is the place for you. It’s far away from any larger towns. The closest town is Ed, 15 km south of Tresticklan, with just under 3000 inhabitants. Apart from the occasional airplane passing by, you don’t hear any man made sounds. Being far away from towns also means that there aren’t that many visitors, at least in my experience.

I had taken a few days off from work, left the youngest kids at my parents and in laws so that my wife wouldn’t be left alone with the young tornadoes but also get some lone time, and left home early on Thursday morning.

The weather changed between rain, sleet and snow, and it was a 6 hour drive to get there. I can’t say I enjoy having to drive so far alone, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be common (and affordable).

I got up to Tresticklan around 14.00. There was a small uphill from the main road to the road leading to the parking lot. The uphill was covered in ice, and my car slid down on the main road again. But with enough gas, and having the left wheels a bit in the ditch, I could get enough grip to get up the hill. The road wasn’t plowed though, and I almost ended up in the ditch a couple of times, even though I drove carefully.

When I came to the parking lot my car was the only one there. It was cloudy and snowing, and there was quite a lot of snow on the ground. The temperature was just below freezing, so the snow was quite wet. I put on my rain gear before I left the parking lot.

I knew from my earlier trips that it’s hard to find campsites for tents here. The rift valleys makes it hard to find level ground, and when you do, the ground is often to shallow to peg a tent, with rocks just underneith.

I hiked the trail west towards Lundsneset, and then turned south on western end of the circle trail in the middle of the park. I had camped here during my last trip, but I couldn’t find the location in the snow. I lost track of the trail several times, since it was covered in snow, and wet snow had stuck to the trees, covering the trail markings.

It was getting dark fast, and eventually I felt that I couldn’t keep hiking any longer, and had to set up camp somewhere. I left the trail and hiked straight up a hill, and found what looked like a somewhat flat place, with lots of undergrowth. I tried to compress the snow and the undergrowth to make it somewhat level, and set up the tent. It wasn’t level by any means. I had to put my sleeping pad in the wrong (shorter) direction in the tent, and stow my backpack and clothes under one side of the sleeping pad to make it level enough not to roll off it.

There was a heavy snow fall with wet snow, and I started to make dinner. I’ve seen one of the people I follow on Instagram bring premade rice porridge on her trips, and I had to try it, and brought it with me this time. I was a bit tired since I had barely slept the night before, and made just rice porridge and glüewine for dinner.

I had brought a twig stove with me. There is a fire ban in the park, but I had asked the authorities about it before the trip, and a twig stove was ok. But you’re not allowed to break any branches from neither living nor dead trees, which left me with already fallen twigs laying on the ground. Since everything was covered in wet snow I didn’t even bother. I used my gas canister stove, but since I had brought cheap gas it didn’t work well in the cold, and I had to hold the canister in my hands to keep it warm enough to give a flame. Next time I’ll be smart enough to bring either Primus Winter gas or my Multifuel stove.

Bringing rice porridge is far from UL, but it was super delicious. After dinner I crawled into my sleeping bag and watched Bright on Netflix. I didn’t sleep well, as the sleeping pad still wasn’t level, and it was pretty uncomfortable. I also think I might have set up camp on, or near someone’s toilet. There was a slight smell of… poop. But I was too tired and it was too dark and snowy outside for me to wanna move camp.

Next morning I tried to find the source of the smell after I broke camp, but didn’t find it. I was prepared for a nasty surprise under my floor, but fortunately it was clean.

After breakfast I kept hiking south. In the southernmost part of the circle trail there is another trail that leads down to the southern end of Tresticklan. I hadn’t been in the southern parts before, and decided to go as far south as I could before 13.00, and then turn back. I had planned to get back home early on Saturday, and wanted the next camp to be pretty close to the parking lot.

It was a lot of snow here, and sometimes it was knee deep. It was hard to follow the “trail” and I lost track of it several times.

At around 12.30 I made lunch at the shore of the lake Stora Pylsan. I took my time, enjoyed the solitude, and then turned back north. The forest was beautiful, with snow covered trees, freshly formed ice on the lakes and the tranquility you get when no other humans are around. I walked around with a big smile on my face, and really enjoyed my time there.

When I came back to the circle trail I followed my foot steps back towards the trail to Lundsneset, and then back towards the parking lot. When I came to a section between the lakes Lilla- and Stora Tresticklan i left the trail and hiked up a hill. There I found a perfect campsite, and was able to make a perfect pitch of my tent (unlike the night before).

It had been getting colder during the day, and I put on my fleece, down jacket, wind jacket and my down booties. Boiling water was a pain, and my fingers got numb from trying to heat up the gas canister. Despite me having under my jacket to keep it warm. I was however able to make dinner eventually. I also boiled water to keep in a bottle wrapped in socks as a radiator in my sleeping bag.

I went to bed and slept quite well during the night. As so often, I woke up around 4-5 o’clock, feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and went back to sleep. I think the temperatures dropped down to around -7 to -8°C during the night.

When I woke up I really had to struggle mentally to make myself leave the comfortable warm sleeping bag and get outside in the cold. I did it gradually, and boiled coffee while still in the sleeping bag. I had brought Growers Cup coffee, which tastes really good, and can be reused. I had brought one, and the refilled it with regular coffee during the trip.

I left camp around 9.30, and hiked through the forest in beautiful weather. I could see the sky for the first time this trip, and the air was really crisp and cold.

I walked the last stretch back to the car, and at the parking lot I met three peoplewith a dog, that was going to do a short day hike. My footsteps had been the only once I’d seen in the park, which means that during my time there I’d had 55km2 of beautiful forest all to myself. I really wish I could get back here more and I would have loved to stay here a couple of more nights.

It was a great start of the year, and I hope it only gets better.