First canoe camping with my two-year old

My oldest daughter was going to have a party last weekend, and wanted to have the house mostly to herself. My wife was going to be home and supervise, but the rest of us would leave the house. My son went to the best place he knows – his grandparents, and I decided to take Corinne out for a canoe camping trip. This was her first canoe camping trip, but her third two-night trip. I was excited to get out, and to try canoe camping with her.

I had decided to get back to Raslången, where I had camped with Corinne in late April. The three lakes, Halen – Raslången – Immeln is a Mecca for canoeists, and there’s a system of several designated campsites with outhouses, fireplaces, lean-to shelters and firewood. There is a service fee of 50SEK per canoe and night to use it.

I wasn’t to keen on using the designated campsites, as I prefer more secluded areas and more of a wilderness feel than you get on a designated campsite. I didn’t know if I would find anywhere to camp, but I decided to pay afterwards if I’d have to use any of the campsites in the system.

We drove down to Raslången on Friday evening, and parked the car in the southern end of the lake at 17.30. As usual I had planned to get away earlier, but as usual there’s a lot of stuff that need to be done that takes more time than planned.

I parked the car in the shade under a tree, and scouted the area. It was just a short distance to carry the canoe, and I unloaded all the gear before I took Corinne with me down to the lake. We put in our life vests and left the beach.

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The weather was beautiful, and it was a warm evening. Pretty soon we came to a narrow area with rocks on both sides, and a bridge across. The bridge is part of Skåneleden/Blekingeleden. The area under the bridge was just wide enough for the canoe to pass.

After the bridge the lake opened up, and we soon came to a cape. Since it was quite late already, I decided to look for a campsite right away. The cape had a prefect place for a tent, and lots of trees to set up the hammock.

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I put the tent up, pulled out all of our sleeping gear and hung up the hammock in front of the tent. I have to say, that after this trip I’m really happy with purchasing the hammock. It was worth every cent.

When our camp was all set, we went down to the beach and made dinner. There has been a drought, and there is a fire ban in many areas of the country. This doesn’t include picnic stoves though. I had brought a lot of snacks, but unfortunately I had too much UL-hiker mentality left, so I just brought the Storminstove and homedried food. In the future I’ll bring the Trangia and more canned food when I’m canoe camping and doesn’t have to mind the weight. But we did have a lot of goodies anyways.

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After dinner we laid in the hammock, watched the sunset, listened to the birds and had a lot of snacks. Life was good. It was really nice to be out in the warm weather, and since this area is far away from both large towns and large roads, it was quiet. No traffic, no sirens or even motorboats. The hammock was a perfect addition to camp life with kids.

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We stayed up for quite a while, but eventually went inside to go to sleep. But then we heard a lot of voices, and the sound of paddles baning against aluminum. We opened up the tent, and saw two canoes with four persons passing below us. They seemed pretty young, and where quite loud. Fortunately they continues, and it got quiet again.

Corinne fell asleep at around 22.00, and I fell asleep shortly after. But at 02.00 she woke up, sad and angry, and claimed that the sleeping bag was covered in poop. She had probably had a nightmare, and stood beside the sleeping mat, shaking with frustration and said that she wouldn’t get back into the sleeping bag since there was poop in it. It took half an hour to get her back to sleep, and she fell asleep under my quilt. While we where out on a bathroom break we heard heavy thumps and the cracking of branches behind the tent. We had heard similar sounds throughout the evening, so something probably lived behind us. We never saw what it was though.

Corinne woke up at 05.20 and wasn’t interested in going back to sleep. So it was time to get up for the both of us. We hung out in the hammock for a while before making breakfast and breaking camp.

We continued north on Raslången. Since we had started the day early we took an early break. We found a nice place at a narrow stretch of the lake, and set up the hammock there. We where pretty close to a designated campsite and saw a family that had their camp there.

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After the break we continued north again. We passed a few tents here and there. We also heard the Black throated loom cry out across the lake. Corinne is really fascinated by their sounds, so it was nice that we got to hear it again.

When we where closing in on the campsite Västerviks brygga there was a lot of noise and a lot of canoes around the site. The area was completely covered with tents, and a lot of families where camping there. Across the lake was another campsite with lots of people and lots of canoes. This was the least quiet area we passed during the entire trip.

We passed Västerviks brygga and continued along the shore. I scouted for possible campsites for the night, but didn’t find anything. But it was still beautiful to look at the forest from the lake. Corinne, who had slept too little during the night, fell asleep on the sleeping mat in the canoe.

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When we came to the northern end of the lake it was time for lunch. We set up our lunch spot right next to a nest of black ants. They where all over the place, but we enjoyed watching them carry our crumbs into their nest. Corinne crumbled pieces of potato chips close to their nest so she could watch them work.

After lunch we continued south again. I hadn’t found any good places at the northern end, and decided to either use a designated campsite in the southern end, or as a very last resort stretch the right of public access and camp at the same cape as last night.

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Fortunately though we came across a nice little cape where we could set up our camp. It had a perfect place for a tent, but finding suitable trees for the hammock was a lot more difficult. The trees where either too thick, to close or too far apart. I finally found a place a bit further from the tent than the night before.

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When the camp was ready we paddled out to explore the nearby area. We stopped at a few places, and I’ve found a few descent campsites for future trips. We paddled back to our campsite, had dinner and then hung out in the hammock for several hours.

Corinne wanted to know the names of all the trees around us – pine, spruce, birch, oak and juniper. Over and over she asked me, and eventually she remembered the names. The next morning she still remembered all of them except pine. But it might be more due to their location than their characteristics.

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When we laid in the hammock two families of Canada geese passed us. They forgot one of their ducklings though, and it swam back and forth in the cove, squealing for its parents for a long time. Eventually the parents heard it and made call sounds, and the little duckling swam to them. One of the families started to make a camp for the night at the beach below our tent. The ducklings crawled up in the bushes, and the parents swam back and forth near the beach. We stood there quiet and watched them for a while. But the parents spotted us and decided follow the other family, so they left our beach.

The place for our campsite was nice, except for the bugs. There where a lot of mosquitoes, and it was swarming of black flies. We went to bed, but now I learned the hard way about the downsides of a floorless shelter in bug season. I started using shelters like these in March last year, and had never had a problem before, but now mosquitoes kept entering the tent, despite me closing the vents. Corinne slept soundly, but I spent the night chasing mosquitoes. I have ordered an inner tent after this.

I felt like a wreck the next morning, and I took a bath to freshen up and to wake up. We had a slow morning, with breakfast and some time in the hammock. Then we packed up and left for the car.

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Corinne wanted to paddle more, and got sad when we got to the car. It had been a wonderful weekend, and the canoe is really a perfect way to travel and experience the nature. Especially with a kid since you effortlessly can bring a lot of gear.

Raslången is very popular for canoe camping. The area is beautiful, and even though it’s a bit too crowded for me I’ll come back here again this summer. But next time I’ll bring a stove more suitable for cooking, more food and an inner tent for the Olivin. I’ll also want to explore the larger neighboring lake Immeln.

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).

Overnighter on Laxaleden with the family in July

General info

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

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

Trip report

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

Corinnes first overnighter

In June I finally got out on an overnighter with my youngest daughter. I’ve thought for a long time that I would bring her out, but it wasn’t until now that I actually got around to it.

I had several different places in mind, but in the end we ended up driving to Helgö, very close to home. Being her first overnighter I thought it was better to play it safe, and don’t drive to far away if it wouldn’t work out.

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The weather was great when we got out. We drove out in the late afternoon, and the sun was shining. It was very windy though. I parked the car on the far edge of Helgö, near the nature reserve Jägaregap. I didn’t bring the child carrier for this trip. Corinne walked by herself, and at such a short distance there was no need for a child carrier. This was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip. A chance to get out, and to let her get used to sleeping in a tent.

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After a while we came to a nice flat area and I started to set up camp. Camping with a small child was a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’ve camped with my oldest daughter, and tried it with my son. But I found my outdoor-passion pretty late, and when I first started taking my older daughter out she was eight or nine years old, and at that age she was old enough to help me setting up camp. I’ve never camped with a one year-old before.

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It was like she had been pumped full of Red Bull or something. She was all over the place all the time in full speed. Ramming through the tent, running on the fly, running into the fly when it was set up, wrestling with the guy-lines.

Cooking dinner was a similar experience, as she wanted to help, and the stove was super interesting. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to get it all together safely after all.

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We had dinner, washed the dishes, brushed our teeth and went to bed. The ground was soft, and it was windy, so I used rocks to anchor the tent pegs.

It wasn’t time to sleep yet, so we layed in the tent, looking at stuff and playing music. I had brought a mosquito net for her, but we didn’t need one. Since it was windy we didn’t have any issues with bugs. Both her and I slept without any bug protection. This is new to me, and slowly but surely I’m getting rid of my bug phobia. Hopefully getting her used to sleeping in a floor-less shelter from the start will make sure she never gets any bug phobia at all. As a sleeping bag for her I used the Aegismax Windhard quilt, and it worked good.

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She tossed and turned for a long time before she finally fell asleep. No wonder, since it was her first time in a tent, with all those new impressions.

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I slept pretty bad though. I woke up a lot, worrying about her being to cold or to hot, but she slept soundly through the entire night. By morning she woke up, crawled up on my sleeping pad, and fell asleep again for an hour, burrowed down next to me.

After we both woke up, we made breakfast and packed up. This time she didn’t want to walk, so I had to carry her back to the car.

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It was nice to get out again, and fun to bring her with me. But it took a lot more effort than I thought to camp with such a young curious child. But hopefully she’ll keep enjoying the tent-life.