Starting to plan for the summer

I’m slowly starting to plan for the “big” trip this summer. Me and my childhood friend Fredrik go on one longer trip in the mountains each year. We’ve been in Jotunheimen in Norway a few times, and last year we spent 8 days in Sarek, in northern Sweden.

I wrote earlier, on a post about my plans for 2018, that I wanted to do a canoe camping trip in Femundsmarka this summer. Fredrik wasn’t interested in canoe camping though, but wanted to do a hiking trip instead. I can’t get away on two 7+day trips this summer, so I’ll have to postpone the Femundsmarka trip. I’ll try to do a 3-5 day trip in Halen-Raslången-Immeln this spring, so at least I’ll get one longer canoe camping trip done. These lakes are only about an hours drive from home.

The trip with Fredrik wont be as far away as last year (where we spent a total of four days in the car) but we’ve planned to hike for a week in Hardangervidda in Norway.

Hardangervidda is the largest mountain plateau in Europe, and the national park is the largest in Norway.

From what I’ve read, the terrain isn’t as dramatic as Jotunheimen, which is covered with steep mountain tops. Hardangervidda is covered with treeless moorland, and not that much change in elevation, at least on the east side.

There are numerous trails in the park, and I haven’t even begun to plan a route yet. I don’t even know if we’re going to follow any trails, or if we should make a whole new route instead. As I’ve understood, the terrain makes it pretty easy to hike off-trail, and the thought of doing that appeals to me. Maybe we’ll make a route to begin with, but end up just choosing a new direction each day, like we did in Sarek.

This is my Lighterpack for now. I do like to tinker a bit with it, so this might change from when I write this post. (This is my Ligherpack for Sarek last year. Despite a much heavier shelter this year, the base weight doesn’t differ that much.)

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 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!

Post-hike gear review

Most of the gear I used during the Jotunheimen-hike have been used for a few trips now. The frying pan and the pillow got used for the first time. I’ll do a short review of the gear, and my thoughts of it after the trip. I feel that I’m close to getting the perfect gear for my needs.

Backpack – Exped Lightning 60 + flash pack pocket
This is a great pack that weights just over 1000g. It has one large storage with a roll-top closure and waterproof fabric. The pack isn’t waterproof though since the seams aren’t sealed.

Inside there is a mesh pocket where I store first aid kid and the repair kit. Underneath it there is a solid pocked that is reachable from the outside through a zipper. I store electronics and extra batteries here. There are also two mesh pockets one the side of the backpack and on the side of the waist belt. I also bought the flash pack pocket which is a bigger mesh pocket to have on the outside of the pack.

The pack is dimensioned to handle up to 24kg. I’ve had it up to 15kg and it is super comfortable. You hardly feel the weight on your back. I really love this pack and would definitely recommend it

Tent – Hilleberg Enan with foot-print
This was only the second trip that I used my Hilleberg Enan. I’ve said in earlier posts that I’ve been looking for the perfect shelter, and considered  a lot of different tents. I finally ended up with the Enan. It might not be the perfect shelter (I don’t know if there is one) but it turned out to be a very nice tent. It first launched in 2015, with a fabric called Kerlon 600, developed just for this tent. Hilleberg changed the fabric to the stronger (and heavier) Kerlon 1000 in 2016, partly because Kerlon 600 turned out to be very hard for the seamstresses to handle.

I bought the 2016 version. It weights 1200g (1452g with the foot-print). The fabric feels very thin, but it very strong. It’s a tunnel-tent with one 9mm DAC Featherlite pole in the center. The design is built on Hilleberg Akto but is a lighter 3-season version. It is also similar to Tarptent Moment. It has built in ventilation in the short-ends, with sil-nylon flaps that can be used to close the vents in poor weather.

I really liked the tent. I thought I might find it to small, but with the footprint and the big D-shaped door open I had a lot of usable floor-space. It was also strong, and handled severe conditions with rain and strong winds in exposed areas. I would recommend it, but I know many lightweight hikers prefer mids. I for one is happy to not have to crawl around the center-pole anymore. I might change my mind again though and end up with a mid again sometime.

Sleeping bag – Cumulus Quilt 350
I bought the Quilt earlier this spring. I had never used a Quilt before but only used sleeping-bags before. I still can’t make up my mind on what I think about it. On one hand, I think it’s a bit of a hassle setting it up with the straps around the sleeping mat and getting it tight enough, without being to tight. It’s also had to not get a gap where cold air get in when I toss and turn at night. On the other hand I love the lower weight (585g) and how easy it is to get in or out of it (just push it down). I have a Panyam 600 from Cumulus that I use when I hike in the winter, and I’m really pleased with the sleeping bag. It hardly leaked any down. The Quilt however leaks quite a lot of down. I don’t know how much is normal, and I’ve understood that some down products leak a bit in the beginning, when the feathers comes out. I’ll see after a few more uses if the leaking stops. The quilt had only been used 4 nights before this trip, and it appeared to leak less in the end of the trip. I do recommend Cumulus, but if I were to buy a new Quilt I’d probably try Enlightened Equipment since I like their strap-system to fasten the Quilts.

Sleeping mat – Exped Synmat 7 UL
I’ve had this sleeping mat for a couple of years. It was the first UL product I bought, and actually the thing that got me in to UL and interested in lightening my pack weight. It weights 450g and it’s 7cm thick. I had cellfoam mats and inflatable 2cm pads before, but this sleeping mat is a dream to sleep on compared to those. It is super comfortable and I wouldn’t want to sleep on a cellfoam mat again. When it’s time to get a new one I’ll probably go for the Hyperlite and save a 100g more. I definitely recommend this mat.

Pillow – Exped UL Airpillow
This was the first trip that I used a pillow. Before this trip I’ve just used my fleece-jacket piled up. It only weights 45g and I like to have a designated pillow so I can wear my clothes on my body if it would be to cold in the Quilt. At first I inflated it to hard and it wasn’t that comfortable to sleep on. After that I let some air out and it was a lot better. There are two points on the pillow where you can tie shock-cord, and I’ll probably do that to get it to stay on the sleeping mat. I like the pillow, but it was still less comfortable than I thought it would be.

Exped Schnozzle pumpbag UL M
I use this bag, both as a drybag to protect my sleeping gear from water, and to inflate my sleeping mat. It works great for both things and I really like it.

Sleep baselayer
Just a regular cheap synthetic baselayer. I use it so that I always have a dry fresh layer of clothes to wear when I go to sleep.

Stove set – Fire maple 117T and Toaks Titanium pot
Both the burner and the pot is made of titanium. I’ve had both for a while now and they work without any issues. I like that the burner is made of titanium. It’s light, 98g, and it cools down fast after you’re done using it. I prefer using a spider burner instead of a top mounted burner. I think it gives me more control and stability.

The pot I use got a bail handle. When I bought it I planned to do more bushcraft style trips and wanted the bail handle for times when I have a campfire. Haven’t been a lot of those, but I do like the pot. It’s light, 133g, and large enough for coffee and water to the food.

The windscreen is a cheap titanium windscreen bought of eBay. Very light and does what it should. Not much to say about it.

Baby wipes
I can’t say enough good things about it. I can’t remember which forum I read about using it, but nowadays I bring them on every trip. Before putting on my sleep baselayer I clean my body with baby wipes to clean off the days sweat and dirt.

Headlamp – Black Diamond Cosmo
It’s a light headlamp that only weights 87g, but I’m not entirely happy with it. The hatch to close the batteries seems flimsy and I wonder if it would be waterproof in hard rain. It also tuned on accidentally in my legpocket several times. It was ok, but I’ll keep looking for a better one that’s still very light.

Battery pack –  Brunton Revolt 4000
It’s a good battery pack that does what it should at 139g. It feels sturdy and has enough juice to keep my cellphone charged.

E-book reader – Adlibris Letto
My luxury item. I always bring it, and I really like to lay in the tent and read after dinner. It’s light, and can store countless books. Definitely recommend an E-book reader if you like to bring books on your hikes.

Camera – Canon Powershot S95
I bought this camera used for only 600SEK. It’s small and light, but I expected more from the camera in terms of image quality. But it’s ok and I’ll keep bringing it.

Camp socks – Sealskinz
I brought these to have dry waterproof socks to wear at camp. My feet stayed dry almost the entire trip though. They were a little wet one time after we set camp, and that was the only time I used the Sealskinz on the Jotunheimen trip. They do their job, and it’s nice to have warm dry socks on if the shoes are wet.

Fleece jacket – HH Workwear
At 500g it might not be the lightest option out there. But it is super warm and keeps you warm even in wet conditions. The weight is almost the same as if I should pack a down jacket and a thinner fleece.

Rain gear – Montane Minimus & Itab packaway pants
Lightweight and a small pack size. I haven’t tried it in hard driving rain yet, but so far it’s done it’s job without any issues. I recommend it. The rainpants are cheap, but lightweight. I’ve heard good things about them, but I haven’t used them that much so I can’t say much about how waterproof they are in the long run.

Gloves – Hestra work glove
A thin leather glove that only gets better with age. I’ve had my pair for a long time, and after every use I saturate them with leather balm to keep the leather soft and waterproof. I can fill a bottle of water in an ice cold lake without getting my hands wet. I bought a pair that was large enough to wear a pair of thin knitted wool gloves under them when the weather is cold. I really recommend these gloves. They’re great.

Hiking poles – Black Diamond Expedition 3
When I was looking for a new tent I expected to buy a tent that used the tent poles to erect, and wanted to have sturdy poles. I also plan to buy skis, and these poles are 4-season poles that can be used with skis to. They are sturdy and easy to use with the flick-locks and Black Diamond costumer service is great.

Wind jacket – Karhu Ultrarun
It weights nothing and cost nothing but still blocks wind to keep you warm. I bought it for less than 200SEK (~20€) and it’s great. The only downside is that there are no strings for the hood. Other than that it’s a great jacket at a great price.

Knife – Buck 327 Carbon fiber
I’ve had this knife for a few years now. I basically only use it to open food bags so I can’t review any harder use. It’s very sharp and very light.

Trailrunners – Inov8 Roclite 295
This was my first longer trip using trailrunners instead of hiking boots. It was great, and with the weather being good most of the time I kept my feet dry for the most part. When they got wet it only took about an hour of hiking to get them dry again. In the sections of the trail where there was a lot of sharp boulders I would have wanted thicker soles, but other than that they were great. I used Inov8 gaiters to keep dirt from getting into the shoes. I really like my boots, but for hikes in the snow free season I’ll probably keep using trailrunners.

Shemagh
I bought a shemagh on eBay and use it instead of a buff on my hikes. It’s lightweight, and works as a substitute for a buff, but also like a towel to wipe off condensation on the tent.

I didn’t review every single gear I used, but this is a summary and short review of most of the things I used. In general, I’m really happy with the gear I  have today.

Jotunheimen, Thursday

Day one

Day two

Day three

Day four

As I wrote in the last post the night was awful. Neither one of us slept good. I was up one time during to check the guy lines and despite the wind the skies were clear and the stars were beautiful. I didn’t stay outside long though considering how cold and windy it was. By morning the wind was still strong, but not as strong as it had been during the night.

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Fredriks Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak getting hammered by the wind

We had breakfast and then packed up and left our campsite. Fredrik was thankful that he had used two hiking poles for the tent, considering that the wind had bent his pole when it blew a lot less than during this night. We hiked up the ridge and enjoyed the view. We’ve hiked Besseggen once before, in 2010. That time it was fog the entire day and we didn’t see much of the view. This time though we had mostly good weather and could see for miles.

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View from the ridge

We knew from the start that this was a popular trail. And even now, in low season it was crowded. The views from this trail is spectacular, but you can’t expect to have any privacy. I’m kind of a loner and prefer solitude while hiking and this is not something you get on Besseggen.

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Clouds were moving in

We were happy that the weather turned out good and that we got a chance to see the views instead of just fog, like in 2010. Clouds rolled in though, but apart from some drizzle it didn’t rain much, and we had mostly good weather.

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View over Gjende

Eventually we came down to the lake Bessvatnet. There is a ridge here with Bessvatnet on one side at the same elevation, and on the other side there is a drop of about 400 meters down to the lake Gjende.

We stayed here and had lunch. The place was pretty crowded, and on the narrow ridge leading up to the top om Besseggen we saw a lot of people.

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Lots of people about to ascend the top of Besseggen

We started hiking, and immediately I felt that something was wrong with my stomach. I’m lactos intolerant, abut most of the times small amounts of lactos isn’t an issue. This time though the lactos in the mashed potatos might have been to much. There was nothing to do about it since the pathway was narrow, and had lots of people coming both up and down. The path is steep at times, and you have to do actual climbing to get up. Many people send their backpacks with the boat between Gjendesheim and Memurubu and just carry day packs. By now the wind blew hard again. Fortunately it blew in our backs, pushing us against the mountain while climbing up. We saw a guy with jeans, a leather jacket and vans passing us on a flatter passage with his hands in his pockets and a bored look on his face. The climb was sort of an adventure for us, but I guess you don’t need any mountaineering equipment to make it.

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Overlooking Gjende and Bessvatnet

When we got closer to the top the clouds rolled in and we were covered in fog. There was still a lot of people, but it was more distance between them and you couldn’t see that far any longer because of the fog. The area was very flat though. I realized that I couldn’t keep walking any more because of my stomach, and took the opportunity of the fog to “release the beast”. I walked of the trail, found a pretty large boulder and got to it. While I sat there I heard voices closing in on me. At the same time I saw the sun, and saw that the fog was disappearing at an alarming pace. Despite the boulder I wasn’t that sheltered since the area on top of Besseggen is very flat. I was very quick to finish my business.

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Looking down at Gjendesheim at the shores of Gjende. You can see people on the cliff to the left

We carried on, but after a while my stomach started acting out again. This time there was no fog around so I just had to keep hiking.

Eventually the trail started to descent towards Gjendesheim, and around 15.30 we got down to the hut.

The hike had been strenuous and we were both tired. We rested for a while in the hut, used the bathrooms and then walked to the parking lot. On the way to the parking lot there was a sound of rain on our clothes. But it turned out to be countless flies. Hundreds of them. They covered our packs, jackets and pants. It felt like something from the movie The Mummy.

When we got to the parking lot the plan had first been to pitch our tents and then drive back to Sweden the next day. But since we got back so early we decided to drive back right away.

I drove to Oslo where we changed drivers and Fredrik drove the last stretch to Gothenburg. We got there at around 23.30. I still had 2,5-3h to drive though, and was envious of Fredrik that could go to bed. I was really tired, especially since I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. Fredrik offered me his couch, but I wanted to get back home. I bought the largest coffee Mc Donalds had to offer and stayed awake without issues.

The trip had been great. The views were spectacular and the weather was mostly good. All of our gear worked out the way it should. I feel that I’m starting to get close to having the perfect gear for me, and it makes hiking that much more enjoyable. I can’t wait to get back to the mountains again. I’ll go to Jotunheimen on my own sometime to. I really like hiking with others, but I also like hiking on my own.

This was the last post from the hike. I’ll write about my packlist and my thoughts of the gear I used in a future post.

Jotunheimen, Wednesday

Day one

Day two

Day three

The night between Tuesday and Wednesday was quite windy, but we slept ok. We woke up to a great morning with only scattered clouds in the sky. We were glad that we had decided to change our route and skip Spiterstulen and Gjendebu. It would be one day less of hiking, but we would feel more relaxed and enjoy the hike more. While we were doing our morning chores two women passed us on their way up towards the ridge. The evening before we had seen three guys in a tent a couple of hundred meters away from our campsite. They had left too by the time we got up.

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The view I woke up to on Wednesday

The underwear I had washed in my zip-lock bag were still wet. I didn’t care much though, but put them on to let them dry on my body. We filled up our water bottles, made breakfast and then broke camp.

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We finally saw the top of Glittertind

This morning was the first time we actually saw the top of Glittertind. The other days it had been covered in clouds, but this morning the weather was excellent and the top was visible.

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Nice weather while hiking back up the ridge

We started to hike back towards the ridge. From time to time we saw the two women that had passed our camp earlier in the morning. We saw that they met someone, and after a while we met him to. It turned out to be a Swede with his dog, hiking down towards Glitterheim. He had planned to hike basically the same way we had planned, apart from the fact that he actually would try to reach the summit of Glittertind. Something we didn’t prioritize.

We chatted for a while and then continued up, back to the boulders. The trail felt shorter going back, and we passed the ridge and got to the trail intersection. This time we turned towards Memurubu.

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Descending towards Russvatnet

The trail crossed a rather large stream, but when we came to the bridge it was broken. The wires were there, but nothing more. There was a sign pointing us in the direction of the new bridge, that was places further down the stream, a lot closer to Russvatnet.

We came down to the bridge and found the two women there, so we stopped and talked to them. It turned out they were Swedes too. We then continued on the trail from the new bridge, but quickly lost the trail. We had a good notion on where the old trail should be, and bushwhacked through the landscape to get there (no bushes were whacked though). It took a lot longer than we thought it would, and we saw the two women following the shoreline far below us, and they were a lot faster than us.

Eventually we saw two girls further up, and thought they were on the trail so we set course towards them. Apparently they weren’t on the trail, and had set course towards us. We chatted a while and the asked about the directions towards the bridge, and gave us the directions towards the trail.

After about 45 minutes we reached the trail as it was heading down towards the shoreline of Russvatnet.

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It was windy when we walked alongside the shores of Russvatnet

We hiked a lot faster when we reached the trail. The women we talked to earlier were now far ahead of us. I guess their way from the bridge was a lot better.

By now it was really windy. My beanie almost blew of my head and I had to keep wear the hood of my wind jacket for it to stay on my head.

We had set a goal to reach the ridge above Memurubu before nightfall and set up camp there. The next day we would hike Besseggen, and we didn’t want to start the morning with a long ascent. We were quite tired as we had hiked far in headwind.

Eventually we came close to the ridge, and found a somewhat sheltered place with water where we could set up camp. In reality it wasn’t sheltered at all, but the other flat surfaces near was even worse.

While Fredrik started to set up his tent I started to hike the last stretch up to the ridge, to see the views overlooking the lake Gjende. Halfway up though it started to rain, and I turned back.

I set up my tent in horizontal rain. The wind was really powerful. We anchored our tents with at least two rocks in each peg, and double poled Fredriks tent with two hiking poles, as the wind that had bent the pole a couple of nights earlier had only been a fraction of the wind this evening.

When we had set up camp and anchored the tents we hiked up to the ridge. But the wind was almost strong enough that you could lean forward without falling so we turned back down to our tents.

The wind blew hard, and I was really afraid that one, or both of our tents would rip in a seam. I had set up my tent in the correct direction, with the foot end against the wind. The wind kept compressing that half of the tent, but the pole stood strong, without moving a lot.

I could hardly sleep that night. The wind kept blowing with the same force. It howled and roared and the whole tent shocked from the force. Halfway through the night the wind shifted direction and became a straight side wind. Not the best thing for tunnel tents. The tent fabric massaged me the whole night, but the pole kept staying strong and didn’t move much despite the hard winds.

I’ve never slept outside in winds like that before and it wasn’t the most relaxing experience. But in retrospect I’m glad I did it, and got to test my test my new Hilleberg Enan in bad conditions. It handled it without any problems, and I think it was unnecessary for me to worry from the start. I trust the tent do keep me save, even in harsh conditions.

Stay tuned for the last part of the trip report. I’ll also post a short post-hike gear review.

Jotunheimen, Tuesday

Day one

Day two

When we woke up at Tuesday morning in was raining and the wind was blowing like crazy. Fredriks hiking pole, that he used as a center pole in his Sil Hexpeak bent from the force of the wind. We had bad experiences from last year hiking in foul weather, and decided to wait out the bad weather in our tents. We saw one hiker passing our tent on his way to Spiterstulen, and he had a grim look on his face while forcing his way forward in the rain and wind.

Eventually we heard more and more voices. A lot of people came from Spiterstulen heading towards Glitterheim. The rain stopped to, and a little after lunch we decided to break camp. By then we saw kids who couldn’t be more than fourteen years old hike alone in jeans and sweatshirts while playing on their iPhones with bored looks on their faces. It felt wrong to hunker down in our tents any more.

We changed our plans and decided to skip Spiterstulen. Our initial plan was to hike to Spiterstulen and then continue to Gjendebu, Memurubu and then back to Gjendesheim over Besseggen. This was a bit longer than we had time to, so with the weather looking bad, and half a day spent in a tent, we decided to hike back to Glitterheim, back over the ridge and then reach Memurubu from there. This route would be one day shorter than our initial route, but it felt more relaxed than having to race forward to get back to Gjendesheim in time to be back in Sweden by Saturday.

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Glitterheim, with Glittertind covered in clouds

We hiked back to Glitterheim, were we only stopped for a few minutes using the toilets and throwing trash. I also used a payphone to call my wife. We hadn’t had reception since mid Sunday and I had sent her a text with our planned route, and that we would be out of reception for a day or two as I thought Glitterheim would have reception. This was not the case so I thought it would be wise to call her so she wouldn’t worry. She didn’t answer though, so I left a message on her voice mail.

We carried on and passed the bridge over the stream below Glitterheim, and were back on the trail leading towards Memurubu. We didn’t hike far though, but set up camp with views over Glitterheim, and the cloud covered Glittertind.

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Our campsite for the night

The campsite had a good flat surface to pitch the tents, lots of rocks to anchor the guy lines and was close to a stream. The bad thing was that the place was littered with dried cow dung. I managed to pitch my tent in a clear space, but Fredrik complained that he had poop in his vestibule.

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My Hilleberg Enan. In the zip-lock bag I tried to wash my underwear. It worked great

Since we put up our tents relatively early in the evening I took this time to try to wash my underwear in a zip-lock bag as I had read on a forum that you could do that.

I used water from the stream, a pinch of washing powder and some of the hot water left over from dinner. Then I just shook and squeezed the bag for a while before pouring the water out (not in the stream of course). Then I filled it with fresh water a couple of times and squeezed the bag a bit more. I hung them in a guy line to get the worst moisture out, but I knew the underwear wouldn’t be dry the next day. I planned to walk with them on anyways, to let them dry from my body heat. This night it was windy to, but not as much as the night before.

Stay tuned for the last two days of the hike.

Jotunheimen, Monday

Day one.

As I wrote in my pre-hike post I had started to get a cold the week before the trip. I had used everything I could find to make the effects of the cold as mild as possible. By Monday I was starting to feel a lot better.

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It was cloudy, but gradually the skies cleared up a bit

We woke up to better weather than the day before. I was really happy to be up in the mountains. Especially since last years failed trip (more of that in some future post). I was worried that the trip would be canceled or postponed considering my new job and the cold just before the trip. There is something special about the mountains that’s hard to explain in words. But I feel kind of like Bilbo when he says to Gandalf that he needs to see mountains.

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Fredrik packing up before we leave the campsite

We started to hike towards Glitterheim, and soon reached the bridge we had set as a goal the day earlier.

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The bridge over the rapid

The bridge consisted of two steel wires with a net on which wooden boards laid loosely. The boards weren’t fastened to the sides of the rapid, but the bridge hanged loosely over it. It was somewhat scary to walk across it as it wobbled a lot.

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View over the lake Russvatnet

After the bridge the trail turned up and we gained altitude. After a while most of the vegetation disappeared and only scattered patches of grass remained. The whole area, including the trail, was covered in boulders. The higher up we got, the more boulders there were. It was strenuous on the feet to keep balancing on boulders. I had set a goal to reach the ridge before we had lunch and had really underestimated how long it would take for us to walk up there. Fredrik was silent, but I could see that he wished we would have had the lunch earlier. I asked him several times but he said that if the goal was the ridge we would wait until we reached it.

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View near the ridge
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The boulders got worse the higher up we got

We finally got to the ridge and had a nice view over the valley beneath Glittertind. We had a short lunch break. At this altitude it was both windy and cold. We packed up again and started our decent towards Glitterheim.

We filled up water in a stream that had its source near the trail and then continued down the mountain.

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Glittertind, with the top covered in clouds. If you look closely you’ll see Glitterheim

We sat down and had a coffee break before we reached Glitterheim. While sitting there we met a German who was going the same way as we did. He stopped and we chatted for a while. He had planned to go to Slovenia, but ended up taking his VW Campervan to Norway instead. In Norway it had broken down and he then hiked between the cabins.

Fredrik is by no means a lightweight backpacker. Nothing wrong with that, since we all hike the way it suits us. But the German guy saw our packs and said that he thought it was unfair that Fredrik had to carry all the load. He thought we had shared gear, but we explained that we had separate gear but I just liked to keep it light and small. He wasn’t the only one to comment on it though.

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A picture taken the day before, showing our packs

We hiked with him to Glitterheim where we stayed for a short break. He would sleep there, and we would continue towards Spiterstulen. We said good bye and then continued. We hike for while longer and when we found a good spot near a stream we decided to make camp there.

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Another campsite with great views

The weather was really nice, but windy. The campsite was by no means sheltered and the wind blew hard. It was exiting though to set up the tent in windy conditions. I did want to test the tent and see how it did under these circumstances. We made dinner and then went inside our tents. I finished reading Mitt år som nomad and started to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read it before, but I liked it, and I like to read books about hiking while hiking.

I listened to music when I read and I felt really at peace. Hiking is the best way I know to recharge my batteries and relieve myself of stress.

Posts about Tuesday to Thursday will be up shortly.

Jotunheimen, Sunday

I was able to get my schedule together for the weekend. I went on the first part of my old classmates reunion on Saturday, and after that I drove to Gothenburg to meet my friend Fredrik. In Gothenburg I met a man who bought my old Bergans tent that I do not use anymore.

After that we packed Fredriks car and started to drive towards Jotunheimen. We got away quite late, and didn’t leave Gothenburg until 17.30. We took a dinner break before we reached the Norwegian border and then kept going. The roads up to Jotunheimen are small, and the drive took a long time.

When we started to get close to Jotunheimen the temperatures dropped as we gained altitude. It was down to 1°C. We came to the parking lot near Gjendesheim and decided to pay when we woke up instead. We took out our gear and set up our tent in the birch woods a couple of hundred meters behind the parking lot. I looked at my clock when I crawled down in the sleeping bag. It was 03.45.

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Our campsite for the first night. Neither of our tents were pitched perfectly, but we just wanted quick roof over our heads for a few hours of sleep. Fredrik borrowed my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak

We woke up at around 10.00 and had breakfast. We packed up our gear and headed back to the parking lot, where we payed the fee of 500 kr for one week. After that we walked the paved road from the parking lot to the huts at Gjendesheim. In Gjendesheim there are also boats that ferry people across the lake Gjende, below Besseggen. Many people take the ferry and then day hike Besseggen.

We only had a loosely thought out plan on how to hike, but had decided to either start, or end the hike with Besseggen, which has fantastic views. On Sunday the skies were gray, so we decided to save Besseggen for the last day and headed towards the hut Glitterheim, located below the mountain Glittertind, the second highest mountain in Norway.

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View overlooking the lake Gjende. To the right is Besseggen, hidden in clouds.

We left Gjendesheim at around 11.30. The map said that it was a 7 hour hike to Glitterheim, but we knew from experience that those times were meant for Norwegians, who are basically born with skis or hiking boots on their feet.

The trail starts with an ascent up the mountain. My body was not used to hauling a pack full of weight, and I was still tired for getting to little sleep, so the first part of the hike was strenuous. I did however have a much smaller and lighter pack than Fredrik, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. This was my packlist for the week.

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Boiling water for lunch

We hiked for a couple of hours before we had lunch. I had a portion of rise with tuna, as I had on my hike on Vildmarksleden a couple of weeks earlier. This time though I added a bag of Varma Koppen shrimp soup to the meal, and it tasted a lot better.

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Me, with a weeks worth of gear on my back.

We went on and first passed the lake Bessvatnet, which you could also reach on Besseggen. It rained on and off, and I switched several times from my very breathable wind jacket to my rain jacket.

We went on further, and passed eastern end of the lake Russvatnet. We stayed for a short coffee break when we met a shepherd. He had been living in a small hut in Jotunheimen for three months, tending to 1700 sheep that spend their summers on the hills. We talked for a while with him, and discussed the trail and how we had planned to walk. He also told us that boat that ferries people across Gjende had ferried 30 000 people on July alone. Besseggen is almost a highway with the amount of hikers on the trail each day.

We left the shepherd and kept going. We had set a goal to reach a bridge before we would set up camp. We didn’t reach it though. It was slowly starting to get dark, and we passed a good open space and decided to set up camp there.

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My Hilleberg Enan with my socks airing out on the guy lines.

We set up our tents and unpacked our gear. Fredrik had first planned to sleep without the inner, but while setting up the fly he saw a gigantic (at least according to him) spider under the fly, and decided to go with the inner after all.

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A nice view before a good nights sleep

We had dinner and then went to bed. I laid in my tent reading for a couple of hours before falling asleep. It was a good first day. Mostly good weather, and only occasional rain.

Stay tuned for part 2-5 which will be posted the coming days.

Prepping for Jotunheimen

On saturday evening it is time. If everything goes according to plan I’ll be in Jotunheimen in Norway by then. The trip I’ve been looking forward to for a year now.

My packlist is ready and the food is dried and packed in bags. I’m really looking forward to spend a week in the moutains, and to try new gear. I get a chance to try my Hilleberg Enan for real this time. But most of all I’m looking forward to the nature and the mountains.

I had a bit of trouble getting the schedule together though. The first plan was Friday week 34 to Sunday week 35. But this weekend my class from the accademy had a reunion and I wanted to come, so the next plan was Sunday to Sunday. This plan didn’t work either as Fredrik, who I’m hiking with, found out he had to be back by Saturday evening. From the first eight days planned we were down to five days of hiking. I decided to just stay for the first part of the reunion on Saturday and then head on. I might end up in someones black book for that 😬.

The problem now is that I’m starting to get sick. I’m in the early stages of a man-cold. This condition, as all men (and most of their significant others 😀) know is an almost deadly disease.

I really hope it doesn’t get worse. I’m doing what I can now to make sure I’ll be able to do the trip.

I bought a “new” camera and I’ll try to take better pics for the future posts. I found a Canon Powershot S95 for 600SEK (~60€) I think it was a bargin, and hopefully I’ll take more pictures now.