Canoe camping with Friluftsfrämjandet friends

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I have gone from camping almost every month of the year a few years back, to barely be out at all this year. I can’t find any specific reason. I love it but I just haven’t had the feeling. I don’t know if it might be because I’ve done so many short overnighters all around here that I want more. More hiking, longer paddles, mountains and multiday trips.

But in July me and C finally got out on an overnighter. We went on a canoe trip with Christoffer and his daughter E, that we met through Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytt and Skogsmulle. Both Christoffer and I are leaders for a Skogsmulle group.

We decided to do the trip on Tolgasjön where C and I usually paddle and camp, since it’s a narrow lake to paddle and short distances. It was E:s first canoe camping trip so we didn’t want to make an expedition out of it.

We had also decided to go with two cars and drop off one car at the end of our route, and drive the other car with the canoe to our starting point. We didn’t want to have to paddle too long back, in case the kids would be homesick.

The paddle wasn’t long though, and in retrospect we could have chosen a starting point further away from the island we had planned to camp on.

Last time we camped together we had one tent each, but this time we shared my HMG Ultamid 4, so I brought the full inner.

We had loads of room, but we had to tell the kids several times that they couldn’t use the carbon fiber center pole for pole dancing.

We fought an uneven battle to stop the kids from tripping over the guy lines. Christoffer put backpacks to block the way, but they would still wrestle through and trip. Eventually he found a big branch with a lot of leaves on it, pushed it down by the guy line (basically planted a tree) to block it. Still they kept running through it and trip.

Since we had brought the tent Christoffer said he could bring the food. He had brought burgers, and I decided to fry some on my pan too, to make the cooking speedier. The kids played and seemed to be content, and me and Christoffer had a couple of beers. I had put mine in the freezer before we went, so it was more or less beer slush. But I liked it. A cold slush beer on a camping trip is still a cold beer.

Most of the afternoon and evening we had good weather, but we did have a couple of rain showers. But it was plenty of room for the four of us in the tent so we didn’t mind much.

The kids had a hard time going to sleep. I read “Frejas första fjällvandring” by Emma V Larsson to get them sleepy, but I had scared them earlier in the evening when I told them the (true) ghost story about the times that me and my father had seen the legendary ghost that roams the road up to the house where I grew up.

Eventually, sometime after 23.00 they both fell asleep. C woke up at 04.00 though and had a really hard time getting back to sleep. I went outside and took a few photos of the sunrise, and I was afraid that C wouldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually she did though, and I dozed of and fell in and out of sleep until it was time to get up.

Christoffer made breakfast to all of us. Toast with bacon and fried eggs. A great way to start the day.

The kids seemed tired, and had a few arguments between them. It was time to go home, so we broke down camp and packed the canoe. The paddle back was very short, just across the lake back to the shore where there’s a campsite for Värendsleden canoe route.

The 400 meter uphill carry of the canoe from the campsite to the parking lot was a pain though. The canoe really isn’t lightweight, but I thought I would try to carry it on my shoulders anyways, while Christoffer took a lot of the other gear.

Once back at the car we drove to our starting point to get my car. I got back and picked up the canoe and all of us got back to the city and got some ice cream.

It was a nice summer trip. We’ve had great weather all summer and it’s perfect for canoe camping trips like this. Next trip will probably be a solo trip though, and I already have a place in mind.

Geocaching day trip on Rottnen

Vacation is here, and on a regular year we would be traveling to Athens to visit my wife’s relatives. But with the Corona situation and travel bans this year, we’re “stuck” in Sweden. Växjö is known for its lack of sun, and constant rain. From October last year to February this year the sun only came out a handful of times. Despite this the weather has been great so far this spring and summer, so staying in Sweden isn’t a problem.

Last Wednesday my wife and I decided to bring C to do a Geocaching day trip on the lake Rottnen, some 20km east of Växjö.

We started at the beach called Sandstaden, that’s a relatively popular beach, despite being out in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived there where already several families on the beach.

I unloaded the canoe from the roof of my car, while C and Mia carried our gear down to the water. We paddled straight out from the beach to a set of islands 600 meters out. There we found our first geocache, and after that we paddled around the rest of the islands to check them out for possible campsites for future trips. The islands where too rocky for a tent though, but we took a short snack break on one of the islands, that was scarred from what seemed to be a recent fire.

After the break we kept paddling north for a few kilometers, before we decided to get to shore on an island to have lunch. Mia and C cooled off in the lake while I fried Krabbelurer on the Trangia. I ended up making more than we could eat, and after dinner Mia rolled out the sleeping mat and fell asleep for a short while. Me and C hung out in the hammock, and I hoped she would fall asleep too. In vain though, as aha was too pumped up to sleep, and just wanted to play.

After lunch we kept paddling north, and found our second geocache in the ruins of an old hut.

We paddled a short distance to the next cache, but couldn’t find it. But we had stopped in a shallow sandy cove, and despite being more than 30 meters out, the water was only up to our knees.

We spent a while cooling off there, and C played hide and seek behind the canoe.

The last cache for the day was a bit further to the north, on a stretch of stepping stones, laid out in the water in the old days, to make it possible for travelers to cross between to capes. The last bit was very shallow, and covered in reed, and eventually I had to stand up in the canoe and stake our way forward.

We found the cache, and paddled back towards Sandstaden. It was starting to get late, and C wanted to play at Sandstaden before we headed back home. When we came near Sandstaden we hit a rock, and I felt the canoe bulge as we passed over it. Fortunately the canoe is durable. When we came back to Sandstaden we put our gear in the car, and took a quick dip before heading home.

Rottnen was a great lake for paddling, but scarcer when in came to possible camp sites for tents. I want to go back though, and explore more.

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.

Second canoe camping trip of 2020

I’m way behind in writing trip reports, but here comes a report from my trip in April with C.

We have found our perfect lake to paddle and camp by, so as usual we drove north of Växjö to our designated putin.

Weather was great, but we paddled straight to “our“ island, as that’s what C wanted. When we arrived I set up our camp, and quickly got the hammock up. The hammock has turned out to be an essential piece of gear while camping with C, and we both really enjoy just hanging out and munching on all of our good food.

For the first time ever I was going to fry pancakes for lunch. I’ve never done it on a camping stove before, and I had a home made mix with powdered eggs and powdered milk. It didn’t work out good at all. It mostly turned out to be either a burnt mess, or a raw mess. But at least I tried (I altered the recipe for the next trip, and that worked great. So practice gives results).

During the afternoon we paddled to the cape where I filmed my canoe movie last year. There’s a mini island just outside the cape, and we paddled to check it out. When we rounded it we found a Canada goose nesting on it, so we quickly left to let it be alone. The lake has a lot of Canada geese, and we had seen both nests, eggs and eggshells.

We paddled back to the island and got started with dinner. On our menu was falafel with couscous and Ajvar. I used a premade falafel mix, mixed with water and fried it in a generous amount of olive oil. The meal was really good, and easy to make.

After dinner we got back to hanging out in the hammock, before it was time to get to sleep. I had a plan to stay awake and watch the stars with C, but I was too tired. I have insomnia, but when I’m tucked in it’s still hard to get out of the warm cozy quilt to get outside.

Next morning we set up the hammock again, on another spot, to be able to warm up in the morning sun. I boiled water for coffee and hot coco, to rinse down the tortillas and varieties of cheeses and salamis.

After breakfast we spend a while just relaxing in the hammock, looking and the birds and enjoying the sounds of small waves crashing against the shore.

Eventually we had to get back home, and packed down our camp. The canoe got loaded up again, and we headed back towards the car. This time we had a lot less wind than last time, and had no problem getting back. We had the lake mostly to our selfs this time, but with all the Corona related travel restrictions abroad I suspect finding a campsites this summer will be harder.