Spring overnighter in Skåne

A couple of weeks ago C and I got out on a trip in Skåne, near Söderåsen National Park. We stayed outside of the park though, to be able to camp freely.

Söderåsen is a two hour drive from home, and we arrived around noon. Weather was great, and though there still wasn’t any leaves on the trees, it felt like spring was in the air.

When we arrived at the parking lot, we met another couple that was going on a day hike. We started to hike down the trail, but they soon passed us, since we hiked in C:s pace.

We came down the canyon, passed a stream and then continued up on the ridge on the opposite side of the canyon. When we reached the top we left the trail and hiked off-trail along the ridge instead.

The forest was really beautiful, filled with really old deciduous trees. Even though we hiked on the ridge it was hilly. On one small valley the ground was pierced with rabbit holes and tunnels. It was interesting for both of us to find the different entrances and imagine what the vast network of tunnels beneath us looked like. The forest was also filled with lots of dead trees, with fungus growing on it.

Camping is still more important to C than hiking, and after a couple of hours she wanted us to set up camp. We found a beautiful spot, where we had nice views, and somewhat close to water.

Once again I’ve bought a new tent, in my never ending chase for the perfect shelter. Basically everything else in my gear is dialed down to be almost perfect for me, but when it comes to shelter I never seem to find the perfect balance between weight, size, comfort and the more subjective “homey” feeling.

This trip was my first try of the Hilleberg Niak. Considered a 1,5 person tent, it’s aimed at solo travelers who wants a lot of space, someone bringing a dog, or a parent with a kid. At 1700g everything included it’s an acceptable weight for a gram geek like me, while offering a lot of protection from both weather and bugs.

C was less than impressed though. All of fall and winter we’ve been camping with a big tipi and a wood stove to keep us warm. A small 2 person backpacking tent didn’t impress her.

We made lunch, put up the hammock between two trees and just hung out.

Below us in the canyon, a stream was flowing. I wanted to resupply our water, and in a valley next to our camp there was a way down the canyon that wasn’t as steep as on all the other places.

Getting down to the stream was an adventure though. The ground was covered in slippery leaves, that also hid rocks and holes. After a slow and controlled descent we finally reached the stream and filled up on water.

I was a bit worried about how we’d be able to get up again. But after a lot of work we managed to get back up to our camp.

The rest of the afternoon was spend around camp and in the hammock.

When it was time to go to bed we made dinner, brushed our teeth and crawled inside. It sure was more cramped than we where used to, but I think this will be a good backpacking tent for us.

C had a restless night, and wanted to sleep on my sleeping pad. My sleeping pad is a narrow Exped Winterlite HL M. I can’t say it was a comfortable night, as it felt like she was trying to push me out of the tent.

We woke up to bird song the next morning. C wanted to get up and play, but I preferred to stay in my quilt and continue sleeping. But you can’t really control a three year old who’s filled with energy, so it was time for me too to get up. But I did stay under the quilt when I boiled water for coffee and prepared the tortillas for breakfast.

When we where done, we packed down camp. I wanted to hike some more, but C wanted to get back to the car. But I managed to persuade her that we would hike back on the opposite side of the canyon, instead of taking the shortest route back.

We continued along the ridge to find a better route down to the canyon than the one we used to get water.

When we came across a crest we startled a group of 30-something fallow deers in a valley. They run up the next hill, stopped to watch us, and then left over the next crest. It was an impressive sight, and they had been pretty close to us.

We continued along the ridge, and when we reached the place where we had camped last year, we stumbled upon the herd of deers again. This time they didn’t see us, and we slowly sneaked closer to watch them. Eventually they saw us, and ran away across the ridge. When they had come pretty far from us they turned down on a trail leading to the canyon, and one by one they passed between the trees. It was like something from a Disney film.

We took a closer trail down to the canyon. We then crossed the stream on a fallen log, and continued on a trail. We walked up to the opposite ridge and continued back towards the car. The trees where even larger on this side. The place felt magical.

C was beginning to get tired on the last stretch, and wanted me to carry her at first. But with a little play and admiring the surroundings she continued to hike back to the car.

It was a great trip, and I really love this place. I want to get back here soon again.

Second two-night trip with my daughter

I had planned to do an overnighter or a two-night trip with Corinne, my two-year old, in the end of this week, as it’s a holiday on Thursday and I’ve taken time off from work on Friday. The plans changed however, as my wife needed to study last weekend and needed some peace and quite at home. My son was already away, so I decided to take my youngest daughter on the planned trip a bit earlier instead. My oldest daughter wanted to stay home with her mother instead.

I had planned to quit work a bit earlier on Friday, pick C up from kindergarten and then drive to Skåne in the early afternoon. In the end it didn’t work out as planned, and we ended up driving down in the early evening instead.

My planned location was a two hour drive from home, and we arrived at the parking lot at 19.30.

It was still sunny and bright when we arrived, and the fresh green leaves of the beech forest almost seemed like they where glowing.

I was instantly struck by how beautiful the forest was.

We started to follow Skåneleden, but after a short while we took off into the forest instead. We found a nice flat spot and set up our camp. There where blueberry bushes underneath the floor, and old parts of the bushes where really sharp. I was a bit worried about my inflatable sleeping mat, but it did survive the trip.

This was the first time I used my Storminstove system, and I really liked it from the start. It felt really efficient, stable and safe to use around C. I had brought a Toaks frying pan with roughly the same dimensions as my pot, but it didn’t work good. More on this later.

We had bought a couple of burgers on our way down, so I just made tea and we ate snacks when our camp was ready. We explored the area closest to the camp and then went to bed. C fell asleep pretty quickly.

We both slept good and woke up to the birdsong the next morning. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning.

We made a breakfast of tortillas, sausages, cheese and smoothies, and coffee for me.

After breakfast we packed up and left. We where going to hike off trail from now on.

When you’re used to the dark dense spruce forests of Småland, beech forests like these almost feel exotic.

We took a lot of breaks, and C walked a lot on her own. But she likes to ride on the shoulders, and a lot of the times I had her up there.

We hiked until we came to a small stream, where we filled up on water. After our water supply was restocked we searched for a nice place to make lunch. This time I had brought home dried meals, and my West African stew was a success.

I had really hoped that C would take a nap after lunch, because I was really tired myself. Unfortunately she was anything but tired so there was no nap for any of us.

We hiked for a little while longer, but when we found a beautiful spot for a camp at 15.30 we stopped there and set up our camp, despite the early hours.

When our camp was up we had a lot of time left until sundown. We had a lot of snacks and explored the nearby area. C got to set the pace and we walked where ever she felt like.

When it was time for dinner I made falafel with couscous and Ajvar, from a premade falafel mix. I think I had too much water in it, as it got too runny, and the frying pan didn’t really fit the Storminstove, as it was just a bit too narrow, and the frying pan slipped down into the stove.

In the end my falafel became a mash of burned parts mixed with uncooked batter. It still tasted ok, but I won’t try to make it on the Storminstove again. I never seem to be able to get the good at frying stuff on lightweight stoves, and I’ll probably just stick to freezer bag cooking on my hiking trips.

C felt really tired pretty early in the evening, and since she hadn’t had her nap that day I thought it would be good idea to put her to bed. It wasn’t.

When we had changed into our sleeping clothes, and crawled into bed she was anything but tired. She roamed around the tent like a small barbarian about to sack Rome, and had no intention of going to sleep. At first I was super tired, but when she eventually had fallen asleep I couldn’t sleep. I ended up tossing and turning the entire night instead.

The next morning we aired out our gear when we had breakfast. We packed up, and then took another route back to the car.

The forest was almost radiant in the bright morning sun. We passed another family that had been camping a few hundred meters from us, and then continued on a trail back to the car.

The trip had been great, and the forest was really beautiful, with the bright green spring leaves, the countless small hills and and the soft leaf covered ground. And since it was pretty early in spring we weren’t bothered by bugs.

The last morning C said that she wanted to sleep at home next night, so I guess two nights in a row is enough for her. But today when I picked her up from kindergarten she asked if we could sleep in a tent tonight again, so the interest is still there. Next time I’ll probably go out on a solo trip, but I can’t wait to get out with her again. It can be hard work, but it’s rewarding to see how much she enjoys playing and camping in the forest.

Plans for next week

Spring has finally arrived in full force, and even here in this northern corner of Europe the trees are getting green.

Next week there’s a holiday which leaves me with four days off from work. That means hiking time, and I’ll bring my two-year old on this trip too.

I haven’t decided any details yet, but my plan is to quit a little earlier on Wednesday, pick Corinne up from Kindergarten and then drive to Skåne. We’ll then hike off-trail,  set up camp somewhere in the forest and then spend Thursday exploring the area. We’ll spend one more night there, and then drive home on Friday morning.

Like our last trip, we’ll mostly wing it, and just go where ever we feel like for the moment.

I plan to use basically the same gear as last time, but use the Storminstove instead of the Trangia. I think it will be stable enough, and Corinne is calmer around the stove now than last year.

I’ll bring better food this time. We had lots of snacks on our last trip, but used Knorr Snackpots for lunch and dinner. They weren’t a success, and I’ll bring home dried food this time instead. I’m thinking of trying some new recipes, like falafel with Ajvar or maybe a noodle recipe from Ultralight Dandy.

I hope for nice weather and a great trip with Corinne.

Two night trip with a two year old

Corinne has followed me on car camping trips and a few overnighters before. She turned two a couple of months ago, and has spent 12 nights in a tent since last summer.

This weekend I planned for her first two night hiking trip, and tent night 13-14 for her. The weather had turned for the better, and it almost felt like summer during the entire week. It was supposed to be a bit colder during the weekend, but still sunny with temperatures around 16-18°C.

Information

I had looked up Raslångens Ekopark in the border between Blekinge and Skåne. It’s a 1,5 hour drive from home. An Ekopark is sort of like a nature reserve, but they are established by the logging company Sveaskog. Forestry is allowed in the parks, but the focus is made on ecology over economy. The first Ekopark was founded in 2003, and there are now 37 Ekoparks in Sweden. They differ in size, but the average size is 50sq/km. Raslången is a smaller Ekopark, with its 13sq/km.

Trip report

I didn’t know much about the place, other than that it’s a popular place for canoing. Since it was still too cold in the waters, I didn’t want to bring Corinne in the canoe for the first time, so I planned for a hiking trip. There is a cape on the western part of the Ekopark, and I planned to do some exploring of the cape and to let Corinne set the pace.

We drove down on Friday afternoon. We parked at a parking spot marked on the map, and hiked some 500 meters down to a camp site called Västerviks brygga. Corinne was exited about getting out and to sleep in her sleeping bag.

The camp site had a lot of flat ground for tents, several lean-to shelters and a lot of fire places (not everything is marked in the above link). No one else was there, but I do prefer the forest to designated camp sites like this, so we hiked a bit further to see if we could find anything. We didn’t find any suitable grounds anywhere near, and I decided to set up camp in the far end of the camp site.

I set up the tent, and Corinne, always eager to help, handed me the pegs. This was the first time I used the HMG pole straps instead of the dedicated center pole, and it worked great (for now).

Once we had the tent up I put out our sleeping gear. I had bought a Klymit Ultralight V sleeping pad from Massdrop. I’ve thought about cutting it down to a kids size and just use my Exped Winterlite all year around. But I might use this myself, as Corinne sleeps good on a cellfoam mat. Bringing her along also means a LOT of wear and tear on the gear, so having a cheaper sleeping mat for when I’m camping with her feels better.

When we set up our sleeping gear we heard voices. We saw two guys in the other end of the camp site, and walked up to them to say hello. They where from Copenhagen, and had arrived at another place about an hour earlier. They where going to spend the weekend hiking Blekingeleden and Skåneleden, and had taken a detour up to Västerviks brygga.

We made dinner, and afterwards we sat by a small fire eating some snacks. Corinne had fun being out there, and I was happy to bring her along.

Unlike Lerike, where we camped last time, this place was quiet except for the sounds of nature. After sundown black-throated loons cried out across the dark lake. They have a special sound, that feels lonely and desolate, almost ominous. But it’s still a very beautiful sound, and a sound that I very much resemble with the forests and dark lakes of Sweden. You can listen to the sounds on YouTube, but it is a special feeling to sit by a black lake in the dark forest and listen to their cries echoing across the otherwise silent lake. Corinne was fascinated by the sound, and talked about it the entire weekend.

We both slept good the entire night, and woke up early the next morning. There was slight condensation on the inside of the tent, but the sun was shining and the tent soon dried up. It was a long time since I could pack down my gear completely dry.

We made breakfast, and after everything was packed down, we started to hike north. We first walked through the forest, following the shoreline. But soon fallen trees from storms and thin-outs made it impossible to continue.

We made our way out to a logging road, and followed it north instead. There had been a lot of forestry done, where the company had thinned out the forest, and left the dead trees on the ground. My plan was to hike to the end of the road, and then look for a nice spot at the far end of the cape, 2-2,5km from the camp site. Corinne set the pace, and it took the entire morning. When we arrived it was time for lunch.

When the road ended, we continued down to the lake, and followed the shoreline back south again. After a few hundred meters we found a nice spot for lunch. I had brought my Trangia 27, as it’s safer to use around a kid than my regular gas stoves. I haven’t been using alcohol stoves in a few years, and I really liked the silence. I’ll probably use my Storminstove set with Corinne in the future, as it’s very stable too.

Corinne was really tired after lunch. She didn’t hike far before I had to carry her, and she fell asleep on my shoulder. I carried her through the forest and back to the logging road.

After a while I found a nice open spot where I laid out the sleeping mat and put her down. She slept soundly for 1,5 hour. I sat there for a while, listening to the bird song and then laid down beside her. I woke myself up with my snoring several times as I dozed off.

When she woke up we continued back on the logging road. She rode on my shoulders a lot. I stared to look for a nice place to set up camp, and saw a place from the road, on the eastern side of the cape. There was a hint of a trail from the road, and I followed it down to the shore. The place was really nice, and it had a fire place to. Unfortunately it also had a tent. A danish guy and his son had already set up camp there. There was room for another tent too, but I didn’t want to intrude. The danish guy seemed to know the area well thought, and on the map he showed me a nice secret place on the western side of the cape.

We went back to the logging road and walked to where the guy said a trail would be. I guess with good intentions parts of it could be called a trail, but it was soon just rought terrain with cut down trees everywhere. Hiking off-trail with a backpack full of gear and a two-year old on the shoulders was an adventure of its own.

Eventually we found a small cape, with a fireplace and a nice spot for the tent a bit further up. It was really windy though. When we had the tent up we walked down to the fireplace next to the lake where we made dinner. After dinner we walked back up to the tent, only to find that it looked very awkward. I saw that the bottom end of a hiking pole was poking the fabric and hurried inside. Unfortunately I hadn’t tightened one of the pole straps enough, and when the wind picked up it had gotten loose, and the sharp end of the hiking pole had poked a small hole through the fabric. It bummed me out a bit, but it was so small that I think a little dot of silicone might be enough to fix it.

The wind meant another issue though, as the site I had chosen had a lot of loose debris, that blew into the tent. We brushed the floor as good as we could, and got the floor somewhat clean.

The wind calmed down, and we sat in the tent with the door open and watched the sunset and listened to the loons. We played for a bit and then Corinne went to sleep. I didn’t have any battery on my ebook-reader, and no coverage on my cellphone, so I listened to music for a couple of hours before I went to sleep.

I woke up with a headache and with the sky covered in clouds. After the pain-meds kicked in I was ready to break camp. It was a lot colder that earlier that weekend, and Corinnes hands where cold, as I had forgotten to pack mitts for her. She had some premade porridge for breakfast as I packed down our gear.

We hiked out (her on my shoulders) and came back to the camp site where we started our trip. By then the sun had started to shine, and we made second breakfast. We sat on the benches, eating and watching the lake.

After breakfast we walked back to the car, and drove home. It had been a great weekend, and it was fun to bring Corinne with me. Hiking with a two-year old isn’t always relaxing though, and having her along do mean a lot of extra wear on the gear. But it’s rewarding to have her with me, and I’ll keep bringing her as soon as I can. I’ve already begun to plan my next trip with her.

Gear

When it comes to gear I brought my HMG Southwest 4400, that is my go-to backpack now. Corinne had a Haglöfs Corker XS (5l) with a waterbottle, a teddybear and a puffy-jacket.

I used my Tentipi Olivin, that I had shaved weight off, and slept in my Cumulus Quilt 350 on yhr Klymit Ultralight V sleeping mat. I used my HMG stuffsack pillow for the first time, and it was more comfortable than the inflatable one I’ve used before. Corinne slept on my cellfoam mat, that I had folded so she had two layers. She also used her custom Cumulus Junior 250.

We cooked on a Trangia 27 stove set with an alcohol stove. Next time I’ll probably use the Storminstove set instead.

I also brought the MiniFinder Pico GPS-tracker. The Pico allowed me to see details about how we had walked, without draining the battery on my phone. An appreciated feature was that we also could call home with it when I had no coverage on my phone, since the Pico uses a foreign phone number and thus uses which ever company that has the best cellphone coverage in the area.

(Disclaimer: The MiniFinder Pico was lent to me for free for three months, in exchange for feedback to the company. I’m under no obligation to write or post anything about it if I don’t like it)

Here is my ligherpack for a hiking trip with Corinne. It might change a bit from when this post is made though. I’m glad I put an emphasis on lightweight gear, as weight adds up when you carry gear for two (+ the little one on my shoulders).

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.)

Sarek in August; Part 7

Day 8

We woke up early, and by 08.30 we were almost done packing. This days planned route was over the plains, hiking north of the mountain Njunjes and then camp near Gidátjårro, just above the timber line. After a rough calculation I figured it would be something like 15km.

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There’s something special about snow covered mountains

After an hours hike, we took a break. By then we had hiked approximately 4km. We took aim at Bastoajvve, a mountain just north of Skierffe, and hiked across the plains. Our goal was to cross the stream Ábbmojåhkå before it became too wide and fast flowing. As we came closer, the ground became more and more wet, and eventually my feet were soaked.

We came to Ábbmojåhkå just before 11.00, and I found a place that looked shallow, and the currents didn’t look so bad. I started to ford Ábbmojåhkå, but the water was deeper and the currents more powerful than I thought. When I was halfway over the water was up on the upper half of my thighs, and the currents was about to knock me over several times. Fredrik just shook his head, and decided not to go over there, but proceeded up Ábbmojåḧkå to find a better place to cross instead. After crossing the stream we were back in Sarek.

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Fording Ábbmojåhkå (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)
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It’s getting deeper (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We continued up to Njunjes, and ate lunch on the mountainside after we passed a locked Sámi hut as we exited Sarek again.

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Ábbmojåhkå

After we’d lunch, we continued to go, and after a while a herd of around 60 reindeer came in front of us on the ridge line above us. They started to walk towards us, and when they were 10-20 meters away, they split up in a half circle and passed us on both sides and closed the circle behind us. It was a cool feeling to be in the middle of the herd as it passed us. I thought I was filming but I had accidentally double clicked my phone so I ended up with one second when they were closing in, and just filmed as they had already passed us.

We continued upwards towards Njunjes, and since we had hiked faster than we anticipated we decided to continue all the way to the car.

We walked straight up on the top Doaresoajvve, and even though it’s not a large top, it still offered some great views.

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Not the highest peak, but still great views
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Fredrik on Doaresoajvve

The hike up on the north western side was a piece of cake. The way down on the east side, however, was much steeper. There was also snow that we needed to get through to get down. I kicked in footsteps into the snow, but ended up with my ass down and slid straight towards the sharp stones below. I managed to get down without damage. However, the snow was covered with reindeer poop. When I looked up I saw a two meter long ass-shaped poop-brown track that went down towards the rocks. I had reindeer poop over my pants, backpack and hiking poles. I heard Fredrik saying a silent “Hell no” to himself, and he looked for another way down.

After the steep passage with the snow we had some easy walking again. We were soon to cross Kungsleden, and could see a group of hikers having a break on the trail.

We crossed Kungsleden and continued east. After a while we turned north to reach the trail that was just below the timber line in Ultevis fjällurskogs naturreservat. We reached the trail and thought that it would be an easy quick hike back to the car. It wasn’t. In the end it felt like a death march, and we were both tired and sore. We regretted that we hadn’t stopped on Doaresjoajvve instead of forcing our selfs like this. But once you’ve set your mind into going home, and eating real food, it’s hard to change it.

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Down below timer line for the first time in a week

When we finally reached the car at around 18.30, we filled up on water, and changed clothes. I was able to get somewhat clean with water and wet wipes. When I draw our route on my Fjällkartan app it turned out that we had hiked approximately 40km.

We drove to Jokkmokk and bought chicken- and gyros rolls. I’m sure they weren’t the best ones out there, but right then they tasted like heaven.

We kept driving for a few hours, and around 22.00 we just settled for the first open space we could find. A gravel spot in a clear cut. It was the worst camp site ever, and we would have been flooded if it had rained. It was a bad end to a good trip. First hiking like we were escaping death, and then end up camping on in a gravel pit.

The next day we drove to Bollnäs and enjoyed the hospitality of Fredriks grandmother, before driving the last ~700km back home the day after that.

Final thoughts

I had a really great trip, and I definitely have to come back to Sarek again. Was I disappointed that we didn’t go the route we had planned? Yeah, maybe a little. It was nice to do more of a camping than hiking type of trip. And I really needed to learn how to take breaks, since I often push myself hard while hiking. But I did get a little bored with camp life after a while. And I would have liked to see more of the inner Sarek.

In the end I’m pleased with the trip and I had a great time. I’m also glad that I finally got the quilt to work without having cold drafts, and it was nice to try the HMG Ultamid in harsh conditions.

I hope this trip report has been interesting, and I’ll post a post-hike gear review later on.

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 4

 Day 4

I slept very bad all night. It took a long time for me to fall asleep, and when I finally did, I slept shallow and woke up a lot. It was raining all night. When it was time to get up, it had stopped raining, but the wind blew quite hard. We had camped just east of the top Suokitjåhkkå, and had now planned to round it on the north side, below the top Niehter. We had a calm morning, chilled and took our time to get ready. Eventually we  broke camp and started walking. Two tents were set up on the other side Nammásjjåhkå, and we had seen four people near them the night before, but now we saw no one there.

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A herd of reindeers passing our campsite

The day began with boulders, but fortunately they were neither wet nor at a 45° angle so they were easier to walk on than the ones we had the day before.

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Passing between Suokitjåhkkå and Niehter

When we rounded the top Suokitjåhkkå we reached a plain west of it. The ground was easy to walk on, even though there were a lot of rocks spread out. We stopped to have lunch here, with a great view of the snow covered tops of Gådoktjåhkkå and Bielloriehppe.

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Fredrik, on the plains west of Suokitjåhkkå
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A nice view while making dinner
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Me, enjoying the views of inner Sarek
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Gådoktjåhkkås top covered in clouds

We had planned to go north between Niehter and Rådnik down to the lake Niehterjávrre. On the map it looked like it would be nice to camp there, with a lot of flat ground.

As we kept hiking the boulders got worse, and eventually we ended up in a seemingly endless ocean of rocks. We didn’t move fast at all. When we finally passed the highest point between Niehter and Rådnik and saw the lakes below, we realized that it would not be possible to pitch any tent there there. As far as the eye could see, there was only rocks. We saw on the map that the last of the three lakes below had an outlet that led down to a plain. This was the same plain as we seen from the camp site at Skierffe. We took aim at the far end of the last lake and kept walked. It was a desolate landscape, and we walked quietly some 30 meters apart. Each of us buried in our own thoughts.

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Coming up on the highest point between Niehter and Rådnik (photocredit Fredrik Storm)
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Looking down towards the plains where we hoped to find a good camp site (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)
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The endless boulders took its toll on our feet and ankles

I was beginning to feel bad in my stomach, and started to feel dizzy too. I hoped it would be something I ate, but I was worried that I might have gotten some bad water. I’ve never used a filter in the mountains, and I don’t know anyone who does. But traces (and poop) from reindeers were everywhere, and I was worried I might have drunk poop water.

At the far end of the last lake water flowed down a slope, and below there were extensive fields with possible tent sites. We continued north and found a suitable place, west of the mountain Tjålle. There was a lot of snow left in the mountain above us, so much of the ground was saturated and carved down by melting water. But we found a good place to put up our tents.

My stomach was acting out for a while, but finally calmed down. I laid down and read for a while and then went to sleep. I had a hard time getting used to the light, and that it never gets really dark. It was difficult to fall asleep, and I slept shallow this night too and woke up a lot.

It never gets really dark. At 22.00 it is still bright as day. When I wake up at 4, it’s already just as bright. Somewhere between 01.00-02.00 it’s somewhat dusky, but never really dark. You don’t need a headlamp if you wake up and have to pee.

I have to admit that I was not really prepared for how the constant absence of darkness would affect my sleep. But the constant light gives an almost surreal feeling that messes with the sleep rhythm.

Day 5

This day we stayed in the same place as before. I had washed my underwear and socks in a zip lock bag the night before and hung them up in the tent. The idea was that they should dry during the day. The weather was bad for almost all day, with heavy rain that came and went on a regular basis. I laid in the tent and read almost all day, and so did Fredrik in his tent.

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Drying my newly washed clothes

When I went to bed, I had trouble falling asleep. I tossed and turned, had a headache and a sore throat. Suddenly my sleeping mat made a sound, like it got punctured.

I got off it and saw that it was much softer than before, and assumed that it was a puncture. I blew it up to check the leak, but discovered that it was the lamination in one of the baffles that had burst, and now a large channel of two was formed. Fortunately it wasn’t in the middle, so I was still able to use the sleeping mat, although it was more uncomfortable than before. I was a bit disappointed since I hadn’t even had the sleeping mat for 3 years. I’ve always been careful about it and haven’t filled it up too much.

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Our campsite for night four and five

I’ve slept bad since we came to Sarek. I think the light makes it difficult for me to sleep, and sleep deprivation leads to migraines that make it even harder to sleep.

At least I slept somewhat ok this the night, even though I fell in and out of sleep all the time. It blew hard during the night, and there was a lot of wind coming in under the fly. It had been really cold during the whole day and night, and almost felt like it was approaching freezing.

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.