First trip of 2022

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition of going camping in the first week of the year. This year though all of the family got Covid by new years eve. But on 14th of January C and I got away on a trip to Stocksmyr-Brännan nature reserve.

Info

Stocksmyr-Brännan is the largest nature reserve in Kronoberg, with its 2313ha. It has trails between 80 meter to 16,2 km long. There are two different shelters, one of them next to a lake in the northern parts. There has been a forest fire here, so there are signs all over the place to be wary of falling trees and the stems where still black. The fires can burn off the roots, and the trees can fall without warning.

Trip report

C and I wanted to use a tent, and it had been a long time since the last time we camped together. But since I’d never been in the reserve I wanted to check out the shelters first, to have a backup plan.

I used Google maps to find the way, but it took us out on a tractor trail, and it was almost too rough for my car to handle. But eventually we found our way through and parked at the shelter near the lake, on the northern part of the reserve. There was a flat area that could house our tent, but since it was pretty close to the parking lot I wanted to check out the other shelter before we decided where to camp.

I drove to the center of the reserve, and we started hiking on a trail south, to reach the southernmost shelter. The trail was really nice, with old pine and spruce forest and mossy grounds. C hiked with a good pace, but did long for the tent. Hiking is ok, but camp life is her favourite.

After a while we came to the southern parking lot, where we turned east back into the forest. After a while we spotted the southern shelter, on top of a small hill. The hill was just large enough to house the newly built shelter. I thought it was really nice, and wanted to stay there, but C was dead set on sleeping in the tent. There was no room what so ever, even for a 1 person tent, so setting up our Ultamid 4 was impossible. We hike back in a circle to the car and drove back to the northern shelter.

When we came there it was already starting to get dark. I set up the tent, got all of our sleeping gear out and C snuggled back in the inner tent with a movie. I sat in the vestibule and started to make dinner. Spaghetti Carbonara. It was delicious, but C didn’t eat too much of it.

After dinner I got into the inner tent with C. The trees creaked a bit ominous, and while I had checked for burned trees nearby I got anxious that I had missed one, and the forecast had predicted quite strong gusts during the night. In the end I realized that it was better to be safe than sorry. I would never forgive myself if a tree fell on the tent and hurt C.

I managed to persuade her to move to the shelter instead. So we moved all of our gear over to the shelter and lit a fire and played “Go fish” together for the rest of the evening. I haven’t been too fond of shelters before, and prefer a tent. But it was really cozy with the fire, and comfortable to spread out our gear all over the shelter. It was Cs first time in a shelter, and while she prefers the tent she still liked it. C fell asleep, but I stayed up a bit longer, before I dozed off to the dying fire. ‘

I slept fairly good that night, and the next morning I forced myself out of my comfortable sleeping bag and started a fire. After the fire got going I got back into the sleeping bag and made breakfast.

When we finally mustered enough energy to get up we packed up the gear and got back to the car. On the way back I checked out the site for our tent, and there where no dead trees nearby, so we could have stayed there safely. But as said, better safe than sorry.

Stocksmyr-Brännan was a nice nature reserve, and I want to explore more of it. I’d love to try the southern shelter too one day, but it might take some persuasion to get C to agree on that.

Kids camping with Outdoor Life Växjö

There’s a Facebook group called Outdoor Life Växjö where we share tips and tricks about gear and sweet spots nearby. The group has meetups every now and then. Since a lot of the members in the group has kids I thought it would be fun to have a meetup with the kids.

In mid September a bunch of us met up on Skälsnäs on the northern side of Helgasjön. Christoffer and E from Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytte also joined, and Christoffer also brought E:s little brother. A couple of the guys who came with their kids only stayed for the evening but four of us camped with our kids.

Skälsnäs is a good place for car camping trips. There’s a shelter, privys, a sandy beach, several fire pits and lots of room for tents.

I had brought the Tentipi with the HeatPal. Since it was a car camping trip I wanted as much comfort as possible. I had also brought a lot of good food, with a couple of beers and tasty cheeses and sausages. But despite having the carriying frame I wouldn’t want to carry this setup any longer distances. It really is heavy.

We had a fire next to the shelter and hung out there most of the evening. The kids where playing, but C was a bit shy until Christoffer and E came. C was very happy that E came and they played together for the rest of the evening. When it was getting darker they went inside the tent with snacks and an iPad to watch a movie. The kids had been soaked from playing near (in) the water and I hung up the clothes to dry and fired up the HeatPal.

The adult stayed by the fire, chatting and eating. It was really nice and relaxing. By midnight it was time to go to bed. Dario, who started the Facebook group, and his daughter and friend used the shelter, while the rest of us used tents.

Next morning Christoffer and I had to leave pretty early, since we where going to Skogsknytte with the kids. It was more important for Christoffer since he is one of the leaders om Skogsknytte.

It was a fun trip, and nice to be out with the kids and meet other patents. I’d love to do it again, but next time I would like to do a hiking- or paddling trip instead of a car camping trip.

C:s first thru hike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camping with “Skogsknytte” friends

C has been going to Frilufsfrämjandet Skogsknytte for 1,5 years. Some of us have talked about going camping with the kids, and in the middle of May we got out on a camp with E and her father Christoffer.

We had scouted suitable areas, and I had found a nice looking oak meadow, just south of a nature reserve close to Växjö. Camping is prohibited within the reserve, but allowed outside through “Allemansrätten”. To be fair, the oak meadow was more beautiful than lots of the reserve. There are pastures around here, so one isn’t allowed to camp here if there are any animals there.

Under the old magnificent oak trees the ground was covered with Wood Anemone and Heath Peas.

C and I arrived first, and found a nice spot for two tents. After a while we heard E and Christoffer coming through the meadow. We set up our tents, and it started raining. We’d had sun and great weather all week, but once we got out we had rain. And it rained a lot. A litteral downpour all evening and all night. Having a Mid with a full inner provided some difficulties in a never endimg downpour, as it kept raining in everytime we entered or exited the tent.

We made dinner, and on the meny this time was tortilla pizza. I liked them, but they weren’t C:s favourite. Perhaps because she just wanted to play with E instead of eating.

The kids played with My Little Ponies in the Ultamid at first, but later in the evening they retreated to E and Christoffers tent, where they watched movies until late in the evening. Christoffer and I stayed outside, eating snacks and having a couple of cold beers. When it was time to put the kids to sleep we asked ourselfs why we had stayed out in the rain instead of just sitting in the tent.

C was super tired when we got back to our tent, and she fell asleep right away. I didn’t though, because I had found out that the tent was leaking. Water seeped through somewhere, and dropped down on the inner, and through the mesh onto the gear. I got pretty upset with it. The tent costs a fortune, and all the reviews holds it up to be some kind of super shelter, and I had water dropping down. I’ve had the Ultamid 2 before and didn’t have this issue. I mailed Hyperlite Mountain Gear right away, and later got a roll of DCF-tape sent, and a description on where the trouble spots usually are. (The story unfortunately will continue in my next post)

The next morning I had to wake C up. It felt like she could’ve slept forever. I made french toast for breakfast and we explored the area around the meadow before packing up.

It was fun to camp with E and Christoffer, and the first time to camp on that place. The rain was unfortunate though, but we’ll definitely come back here again. Christoffer and I talked about bringing canoes the next time.

Canoe camping in Salen

In May spring was in full force in Sweden. Warm temperatures and gazing sun made up perfect conditions for a canoe camping trip. While me and C use to go to Tolgasjön, north of Växjö, I decided to try a new lake this time. Lake Salen, 20 km west of Växjö. We drove to a small power station on Helige Å, to put in the canoe. There where a short portage for a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot to the put in spot. This is part of Värendsleden, the canoe route that passes both Tolgasjön and Växjö.

There’s supposed to be trout in this lake, so I brought fishing gear and bought a one day fishing permit.

The initial paddling through Helige Å was beautiful. I’ll like to paddle more in rivers, but find it too much of a project to find people to pick up us and the canoe down stream. And paddling solo upstream can be too strenuous.

After a very short paddle in Helige Å we came out in Salen. The small town Alvesta borders the lake, which means a lot of people on the lake. With weather like this, and travel bans outside of your medical region a lot of people went to the lake. A lot of motor boats and jet skis drove across the lake as we paddled.

Through a local outdoor forum on Facebook I’d learned of a campsite on one of the islands. We paddled there right away so we wouldn’t have to search for a campsite later in the day when we’d be more tired.

We found one site that was quite nice, but a guy with a kid where there with their boat, so we kept paddling. On the west side of the island we found an even better campsite. There where room for the tent right next to the rocks where we had the canoe, or a short walk up to a rock on higher grounds, with better views.

C got to decide where to put up our camp, and she chose the high grounds. We put up our camp and made a lunch of Krabbelurer (a sort of fluffy sugary pancake). After lunch we paddled around the lake, fishing a bit and looking at the neighboring islands to look for potential campsites for future trips.

I have a list on google maps where I store all the good campsites I come across, even though I’m not camping there that time. As of now I have 60+ campsites on my list. Most of them close to home and many of them are only accessible with the canoe.

We didn’t get any fish, which isn’t surprising. I’m not much of a fisher man, and the middle of the day is the worst time to be fishing. But I mostly brought the fishing gear for fun, as C likes to reel in the lure.

We went back to our camp only to discover that black ants had infested it. In the very small gap between the zippers they had been able to enter the inner tent, and the sleeping pad and sleeping mats where covered in ants.

I shook out all the gear, and decided to move the camp down to the canoe instead. Down there we put up the hammock and made reindeer stew with mashed potatoes for dinner.

After dinner it was time for some quality chillaxing in the hammock. It didn’t last too long though, as 4 guys in their 20:th came up with their motor boats and jet skis, and decided to get to shore 10 meter from us. When they finally had managed to get to shore they went up the hill to drink some beer. It was evening, and I feared that they would be loud and long lasting. Not the kind of relaxing evening with my 4 year old that I had looked forward to.

Fortunately they where calm, and after an hour or so they left. They played around with the jet ski outside the island for a while, and then left.

With weather this nice we slept with the tent door open. During the night it started to rain though, so I got up and closed the door.

When morning came the weather was fine again, and we had breakfast before packing down our camp. We didn’t do any more exploring that morning, but just paddled straight back to the car after breakfast.

It was nice to try a new lake, but the proximity to a town made it too crowded for my liking. Asasjön and Tolgasjön where we usually paddle is a rural area with less people. We probably won’t camp here again, but I’d like to come back to do some trout fishing.