3-day canoe camping on Immeln

In the borderlands between the regions Blekinge and Skåne there’s a canoe route between the lakes Halen, Raslången, Immeln and a few smaller lakes. Me and C have both been hiking and paddling around Raslången, and in November 2018 I was hiking there with Brian from Brian Outdoors.

This time my wife Maria would join me and C. My son was away this weekend, and my oldest daughter wanted the house to herself. We decided to paddle in Immeln, as there where a lot of Geocaches there that my wife wanted to find. Immeln is the largest of the lakes, and in the lake system there are two canoe outfitters that rents out canoes. One in Olofström next to Halen, and one in the southern parts of Immeln. There are several designated campsites throughout the lakes, with lean to shelters, fireplaces and privys.

Day 1

We drove the ~1,5h down to Breanäs, where we would park and put in the canoe. There’s a beach and a small harbor there, and when we arrived in the afternoon there where quite a few people on the beach. We put the canoe in the water and loaded it with our backpacks before setting off. We found a Geocache just across the bay, and then continued south.

We stopped again at Prästön, and explored it for potential campsites. Since we arrived in the late afternoon we wanted to check out campsites right away. In the southernmost parts of the island we found a flat spot for a tent, but it had just been occupied by another family. When we headed back to the canoe three other canoes came to the island to look for a place to camp. We would discover that this lake was extremely crowded, with canoe campers on basically every island in the lake.

After getting back to the canoe we paddled south towards Kvinnoöarna, two islands close together with designated campsites on both of them. We had strong headwinds with large waves that crashed over the stern of the canoe. I’m used to solo paddling, so it was a joy to be two paddlers battling the waves and winds.

We came down to the northern part of Norra Kvinnoön, and found a place to get to shore. There, under the tall lush trees, we found a perfect campsite. We pulled the canoe up, set up the tent and the hammock and had the camp ready. After that we took a nice dip in the water to cool off. The shores where very steep and the water dark, so C had to wear her life jacket in the water. We also thought it would be good for her to try it in the water in a safe manner, in case she’d fall in someday.

After the camp was up we decided to explore the rest of the island. A short walk uphill took us to a fireplace with quite a lot of room for tents, and a privy. Further down there where another fireplace and room for yet another tent. On the southern side of the island was a pier, and one canoe was tied to it. On the western side was a cliff, where another couple had set up their camp. We stopped to chat with them, as we passed back to our campsite. The island is relatively small, but the campsites where scattered across it, so it was still possible to get some kind of privacy and feeling of being secluded.

Back in camp we made dinner, and Mia and I took a glass (foldable kuksa) of wine, as the food was simmering. All three of us spent the rest of the evening tucked together in the hammock, watching the sun go down. A family with a lot of kids had set up camp uphill, and across the lake someone was blasting techno for the whole lake to hear. Despite this we had a relaxing time. We also spotted a couple of hazel dormice running across the campsite. We thought that the sides of the canoe would be to slippery for them to climb on, so we flipped the canoe up and put the food inside.

When it was almost midnight we decided to go to sleep for real, and headed to the tent. We used the Hilleberg Staika, which is a 2 person tent. It was ok to use with a 4-year old between us, since we had the Exped Duo HL LW, which is 130cm wide and covered most of the floor. But it was a bit cramped though. With the warm weather and the good forecast we slept with the door open, falling asleep to the views of the lake and the forest, and the sound of waves and distant techno.

Day 2

C was the only one sleeping good that night. I have insomnia that always gets worse during the summer, and I tossed and turned more than usual that night. I got up around 4 o’clock and walked over to another side of the island to watch the sun come up. It was nice to watch the sun come up across the lake, but that early in the morning it was a bit chilly. I went back to camp, took out my quilt and laid in the hammock for a while, before getting back into the tent. For summer use I have an Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny quilt, that I bought from AliExpress. It’s light and compact, relatively cheap and perfect for summer use.

By 6 o’clock both Mia and I got up, and while I was boiling water for coffee C woke up too. We had hoped that she would sleep longer, since she stayed up quite late the other evening.

I fried Krabbelurer for breakfast, that we rinsed down with orange juice, a few mini salamis and some cheese. We packed up our camp and loaded up the canoe. We discovered that the mice indeed could climb up the sides of the canoe, since there was a hole in the trashbag and they had eaten some of the trash. Fortunately though they had left our foodbags alone.

My wife had come up with a route to paddle to get the most Geocaches in the most effective manner. First we paddled north, to a small skerry where there would be one cache. We didn’t find it though, but saw a perfect, and occupied, campsite on a neighboring island. I added it to my list of campsites on google maps. I would come to add a lot of places this trip, since the lake had numerous good campsites.

After the failed attempt to bag a cache at the skerry we went back south. We got ashore on the southern end of Södra Kvinnoön to get the next one. This too was a failed attempt, and after a long and hard search we gave up. But I did take the time to explore the island and mark all the potential campsites it had.

We continued south, to almost the southernmost end of the lake, where there where two caches. One was in a bay that habited the endangered Red Waterlily (Nymphaea alba f. rosea). A family had stopped nearby to swim, so we logged the cache fast and then went on our way. We stopped at another beach nearby to cool off in the water. The sand was a mixture of what I think was quartz, and with the humus colored water it almost looked like gold. When we walked in the water and stirred up the sand the water glittered like someone had sprinkled it with gold dust.

After a short cooling bath we continued back north. Once again we stopped by an island without finding the cache. We continued north and got to shore on a cape with nice places for tents. Here we made a dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce with lots of Parmesan. It was really tasty, and a dried meal I’ll be making again. Mia and C picked a lot of blueberries while I made dinner. After dinner we took a quick dip, and then sat on a cliff and ate the blueberries as dessert. We dropped a couple of them, and the rolled down the cliff into the water. We watched them float away when a couple of fishes suddenly came out of the water and took them.

We continued our trip, stopping once in a while to check out potential campsites, or looking for caches. We found one cache on a skerry that wasn’t more than a few rocks sticking up through the water. The cache was inside a box encased in a concrete cast. It looked like it would survive anything, and with its exposed location it would have too. After that cache was logged we headed towards Abborröarna where we would be looking for a place to spend the night. On Norra Abborrön we found a nice place. It had been regularly used, as we found a lot of flat grounds for tents, and at least three fire rings in a relatively small area. There was also a small, but very nice, sandy beach. On the neighboring Södra Abborrön we saw that other paddlers had set up camp.

When the camp was up Mia and C took a bath while I paddled to Norra Björkö to grab the last Geocache of the day. That was an adventure in itself, as the wind blew quite hard on that side of the island, and the cache was hanging up in a fallen tree that hung out in the water. But I managed to paddle close, secure the canoe with a rope to the tree and then climb up the tree and log it.

I paddled around the island and found yet another campsite. Smaller than the one we’d chosen, but on the wrong side of the island, which made it both windy and in shade. I paddled back to our camp, took a quick dip and then got started with dinner. Falafel, couscous and Ajvar was on the menu for our last camp dinner. On this island too, there where hazel dormice. A LOT of them, and they weren’t shy at all. They came for our trash bag as we where sitting there. We tried to chase them away but they just kept coming. I guess a lot of camper who leave trash behind, and no natural predators makes the population explode. Eventually we just threw a line over a branch an hung up everything eatable in a tree away from our tent.

We had our dinner and then went down to the water to chill on a rock in the sunset. We where all more tired than last evening, and decided to get to bed early. Sometime during the night I heard mice running past the tent but none of them came very close, and I slept better than the night before.

Day 3

We woke up feeling quite tender, after a couple of days with hard paddling in the blazing sun. I had burned my back, and with the life jacket on it looked like tan lines from a really wide sports bra. Sexy look on a man like me. Mia woke up before me, and did some morning yoga on a rock. I got started with breakfast and eventually C woke up too. A lot of paddlers seemed to be early birds, and paddled past the island. The paddlers in Södra Abborrön had already left the island.

After breakfast we packed up all our gear and loaded up the canoe. We paddled to the now empty Södra Abborrön to log the last geocache for the trip. It was quickly found, and we paddled north towards the beach where we had started our trip. We had tailwind for this last part of our trip, which was nice, since both of us where a bit sore.

We got up to the beach, and Mia took C for a quick dip while I packed the car.

I both liked and disliked paddling on Immeln. The lake itself was nice to paddle in, and unlike other lakes I’ve paddled it had an abundance of possible campsites. But the abundance of mice on the islands was quite a downer, and it was too crowded for my liking. The nature was great though, and I might come back here. But I think I’ll stay in Raslången, that’s at least a bit less crowded.

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.

First canoe camping trip of 2020

In late March it was finally time put the canoe in the water for the first time this season. I had really longed to get back into the lakes, and the weather reports looked promising.

The lake was like a mirror when we first set off

I took C with me to our usual spot at Tolgasjön, loaded up the canoe and set off. I had planned to paddle to the northern parts of the lake, and check out the narrow passage between Asasjön and Tolgasjön.

C tried to grab reeds as we passed through the passage

We found it, but when we had paddled for a while dark clouds formed ahead of us, and we turned back. We paddled to a small island in the northern parts of Tolgasjön. We have camped here before, and it’s a nice spot.

We set up our camp, hung up the hammock, and had lunch. The rest of the day we mostly just hung out in the hammock and enjoyed the serenity of nature.

The Trangia stove set really isn’t UL, but there something nostalgic about it that just makes me want to use it.

For dinner we had macaronis and meat sauce. I’ve started to use my Trangia 27 HA stove set again. For hiking I prefer my Storminstove set, but I really like the Trangia. It might come down to nostalgia, from using it as a kid, but it is great for more advanced outdoor cooking. I made quite easy meals on this trip, but I have started to experiment with more recipes.

We went to bed, and once again I praised my Exped Duo mat LW. I sleep a lot better now that I don’t have to wrestle with C for space on my narrow HL mat.

We woke up to a sunny, but windy morning, and had a breakfast of tortillas, different cheeses and mini salamis.

We packed up camp and left the island. Unfortunately we had a strong head wind, and the canoe rocked quite a bit. C got really scared, so I decided to get to shore closer to the island, and the walk back to the car instead.

I walked along the shore, and at first there was a trail. But the terrain got more and more rough, and eventually I had to carry C. Finally I tripped on a stick, and while trying to fall in a way that kept C safe I twisted my knee. I could walk back to the car, and we drove back to the canoe to pick it up. When I picked it up I hurt my back. I felt like a broken old man on my way back home.

It was a nice first trip first trip, despite the back pain, and having to walk with a limp for a couple of weeks. And we got back to the island only a couple of weeks later.

Canoe camping for a week on Isteren i Norway

I had planned to do to a week-long trip in mid August, but I had been going back and forth a lot about where to go – hiking in Hardagervidda or canoeing in or near Femundsmarka.

Eventually I decided to do a week long paddling trip on Isteren, a lake near Femundsmarka National Park in Norway. My plan was to park at Glotbergen, in the southern end of the lake, and then paddle north and just see where I’d end up, without any specific goals.

Day 1 – Saturday

On Friday evening I packed everything after I got off from work. I packed all the gear in my backpack, and had a separate heavy duty drybag for my food. Since I was going canoe camping, I had a lot of heavier foods, like portion packed orange juice boxes, canned chicken etc.

Earlier that week I had also purchased a Bergans Ally canoe. A foldable canoe that fits in the trunk of a car, and is made of a frame of aluminum stays, covered with a durable rubber hull. I had made a test set-up in the backyard, but I hadn’t paddled it yet.

Glotbergen was a 700km drive from home, so I wanted to start early. I set my alarm clock to 03.45, and by 04.05 I was on my way. This would be my first longer canoe camping trip, and my first week long trip alone. I was excited.

I arrived at Glotbergen at 13.00, where I paid for parking and for a one week fishing permit. The drive up to Glotbergen was pretty dull, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be the standard.

I assembled the canoe in 30 minutes. The first time I had tried it, it had taken over an hour. I loaded the canoe with the gear in the front, strapped it to the canoe, and set off. I was finally on my way.

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Water levels where low, and I soon hit a rock with the canoe. I could see traces of aluminum on the rock, which showed that I wasn’t the first one hitting the rock. This would be something I would see on rocks for the rest of the week.

Since I had been up very early, and hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, I decided to set up camp as soon as I found a nice spot. I paddled for 1,5km when I spotted a nice sandy beach, where I landed the canoe. There where traces of camp fires and make shift fire rings all over the place. For now there was a fire ban, but fortunately, that didn’t include camp stoves.

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I hiked away from the beach, and found a nice place to set up my tent. I carried my gear and the canoe there, at set up camp. The rain came soon after I had my tent up and I laid in the tent, listening to the sound of the raindrops hitting the fly. The rain soon stopped though and the clouds scattered, and the rest of the evening I tried fishing for a while, and just relaxed in camp. I went to bed early, happy to be out in the wild.

Day 2 – Sunday

When I woke up, the weather was worse than the day before. Skies where gray, and it was windy. The weather report showed winds of up to 7 mps, and of course it was head wind. My goal was to paddle to Steinsundsholmene, a group of small islands, a mere 3 km north of my camp, and after breakfast I set off.

Initially I had loved the portability and pack-ability of the canoe. The low water levels meant that most shores where covered with large sharp boulders, and the canoe had to be carried up on land so that the waves wouldn’t bash the canoe against the rocks. But now I learned about the downsides of this type of canoe. The softness of the hull makes it pretty slow in the water, and the light weight and construction makes it float very high up in the water. This makes it easy for the wind to grab a hold of it, to turn it around. Every gust tried to swing the canoe around, and I had to struggle like crazy just to keep is straight in the water. It was a really slow going, and I got in a pretty bad mood, and cursed my decision to buy it.

Eventually I gave up, took it to shore and decided to portage it north instead. But this proved to be difficult too, as the terrain of large boulders made it hard to pass with the canoe. I sat on a cape for a while, reviewing my options, and wondered why the hell I hadn’t gone hiking in Hardangervidda instead. I decided to put the canoe back in the water and just paddle like a maniac.

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I eventually reached the islands, and set up camp on a cape in the mainland. I wanted to hike up to the nearby mountaintop Bottölen the next day.

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The campsite was beautiful, and had a great place for my tent. I fished for a while, and soon a big perch bit my little spinner. I’m not really a fisher man, so it was the biggest perch I had ever caught (which doesn’t say much really). As soon as I got it close to shore it got off my hook though, and swam away.

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The winds had calmed down and the clouds had scettered, and by the evening the weather was really beautiful. I put the canoe back in the water and paddled around for a while. Paddling in calm waters is really nice and relaxing, and now I was glad to have chosen a canoe camping trip. I put my hammock up, and had a nice calm evening.

Day 3 – Monday

I had decided to stay two nights at my campsite, since it was a great location, and also because I wanted to do a day hike to the nearest mountain top – Bottölen. Bottölen is only 905 meters above sea level, but it’s still above the treeline.

After having breakfast I packed my backpack with food, water and cooking utensils, took my map, set a course on my compass and headed out. Just as I left three canoes full of people passed my camp.

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I bushwhacked through the forest in a steady uphill. The top was only a little more than 2km from camp, but it was still enough for me to break out a sweat. There was a small mire between my camp and the top, and I hiked south of it, to avoid getting my feet wet.

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Soon enough I reached the treeline, and despite the pretty low altitude, I had a nice view over the surrounding area. I kept hiking up, and eventually reached the top. The view was great, but I had to change my plans about dinner on the top. The winds blew too hard, so after a few photos and admiring the view, I started to hike back down, to make lunch at a more sheltered place. I had lunch at the mountain side, and then continued back to my camp.

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The rest of the day I just relaxed in camp, hung out in the hammock, fished and paddled around the area. Paddling the canoe in calm waters is really nice. The campsite was great, and I really enjoyed staying there.

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Day 4 – Tuesday

The next day I had decided to keep paddling north. I didn’t have any specific goal in mind, but more or less planned to paddle until I found a nice place and then stay there. There where almost no wind when I set out, and the lake was still as a black mirror. It was a really nice way to start the morning. I paddled slowly north, and really enjoyed the morning. After a while I stopped at a cove, heated up some water and washed my t-shirt and underwear in a zip-lock bag, before I continued again.

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I reached Nysandvika, where there were a lot of tents and canoes. I saw a family take down two HMG Ultamids. It was the first time I’ve seen anyone else use cottage gear in real life.

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I paddled around the cape and then came ashore at the northern side of Nysandvika. The cape had beautiful beaches with white sand, but the water was cold. I took a short break, had some coffee and then set off again.

I followed the shoreline up to the cove Langvika, where I stopped again at a small beach. There where a small hut nearby, and no place for a tent, so after reviewing the map a bit I continued. I had decided to explore the island just west of Langvika and check for descent camp sites.

I paddled to the westernmost side if the island, and found a great place for my tent. It was only 14.00, but I decided to stay there. Signs of previous campers where everywhere around that part of the island. This was great, and I decided that I would stay here for two nights. I had my camp, and my hammock up, and explored the rest of the island on foot.

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The island wasn’t large, but on western side there where good places for tents on both the northern and the southern end. There where fire rings on both sides, and flat grounds for tents. The rest of the island was covered in blueberry- and lingonberry bushes. It had been a great day of paddling with perfect weather, and the little over 5 km of paddling had been easy.

Day 5 – Wednesday

I had planned to keep my camp on the island, and then paddle north with just my food and cooking utensils this day. But I woke up to a windy cloudy day. I paddled almost 1 km north in the morning, just to try the waters, and had a hard time paddling back to the island. I decided to stay there instead, reading, watching Netflix and foraging.

I filled my foldable Kuksa with lingonberries and blueberries, and then went to the shore to do some fishing. I had tried to catch a fish now and then during the entire trip, but it’s not such a big interest of mine. But now I got one, after just a few throws. It was another perch, and the largest one I’ve seen. I was happy to have caught one, since I was really looking forward to spice up the diet with some fresh fish.

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I filed it on a rock and then fried it in tons of butter and olive oil, sprinkled with citrus pepper. It tasted great, and I had the cup of blueberries and lingonberries as desert.

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The rest of the day carried on in a slow manner. Rain came and went, and I spent most of the time reading the book “Idag ska vi inte dö” (We shall not die today), a documentary about the journalist Magnus Falkehed and photographer Niclas Hammarström who got kidnapped in Syria in 2013. The whole trip was just loosely planned, and I liked the calm serenity of camp life.

I went through my plans for the end of the trip. I was going to paddle back to my first campsite, 1 km from the parking lot on Thursday, and then paddle the last stretch on Friday morning. The weather report didn’t look too good though, as the winds for the rest of the week where supposed to be headwinds of 7-10 meters per second (15-22 mph).

Day 6 – Thursday

I woke up on Thursday morning, and just as the weather report had said, the wind blew hard. I knew I would have a hard day of paddling ahead of me. 7km in hard head wind. I had planned a route where I would paddle from island to island, cape to cape, to get protection from the winds and a chance for some rest. Just 30 seconds of rest in the open water could mean being pushed back really far.

I left the island and paddled alongside it, protected from the winds. But as soon as I left it for open waters the struggle was on. The waves had white foam on them, and I had to work really hard to get to the closest island. Waves where up to the gunwales of the canoe, but the waves weren’t the issue. The gusts where. I had to struggle hard to keep the canoe straight. No J-stroke could compensate the wind, that felt like it came from everywhere. I had to switch sides with the paddle all the time.

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I reached one of the closest islands, rested a while for it and looked towards Nysandvika, my next objective. The gusts felt like they where trying to knock me over.

I tried to paddle straight towards Nysandvika, but the wind pushed me more and more east, towards the shore. Eventually I reached Nysandvika, and landed on the northern shore. Today there was only one tent there, with two people and a canoe.

I carried my gear and the canoe over to the southern side. Waters where choppy, to say the least. I thought about calling it quits, stay there and then try to continue the next day. But the weather wasn’t going to improve, so I decided to just give it a go, and hope for the best.

I set off again, but the wind blew harder on this side of Nysandvika. I struggled a lot. On one section I could see the same rock next to me for more than 10 minutes while I paddled like crazy without going forward.

I reached Steinsundholmene where I had a short relive in the wind, before I continued. The closer I got to the beach near Sundholmen, where I would camp, the harder it was to paddle. The wind threw the canoe up against the rocky shore, and pinned it between two rocks, and the waves continued to bash it against the boulders. I kept going for little while more, but halv a km from the camp site I threw in the towel and portaged the last stretch. Winds would increase during the night, and the rain had been pouring down, so I set up the tent immediately, took out food that didn’t need any cooking and laid in my tent for the rest of the evening. There had been a lot of cursing this day, and I was really tired.

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The weather report showed a break in the winds between 04.00-07.00, where winds would go down to 1-2 meters per second. I set the alarm clock to 05.00, and prepared to go to sleep early.

Day 7 – Friday

Trying to go to sleep early didn’t work. I tossed and turned throughout the night. The winds got worse, and relentlessly shocked the tent. At around 02.00 it finally calmed down. I had dozed off for about one and a half hour, but now I couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually I gave up. I always have trouble sleeping when I’ve set the alarm clock very early, and little after 04.00 I started to pack up my gear. The canoe had been upside down, but the winds had knocked it over, and the interior was filled with water and debris.

The weather was calm, with only a slight wind. Sun wouldn’t be up until 05.20, but it was still bright enough to paddle at 04.40, when I left the beach, and my last campsite. It was nice to paddle in calm waters, with silent J-strokes and the red stripes in the horizon, showing that the sun would soon be up.

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I paddled up to the parking lot, unpacked the canoe and disassembled it. A 5-point wash with wet wipes and a change of clothes, and I felt like a new man. 9 hours later I was back home.

I’ve had ups and downs this trip. It was nice to be out for a week, and not really have any plans but to just wing it. But I didn’t meet anyone for a week, and it got a bit lonely in the end.

In retrospect I don’t think I’ll do a canoe trip like this on such a large lake again. The nearby mountains and the open lake makes it very windy, and this canoe isn’t really meant for that. With the canoe a lot of nice desolate places nearby opens up too, so I can get a wilderness feel without having to drive 9 hours. Next year I’ll probably hike in the mountains instead, and do canoe trips on the smaller, narrower lakes closer to home.

Canoe camping in October

There’s been a month since my last camping trip. My last trip was my first canoe camping trip ever, and I instantly got hooked.

As so often before, when it’s been a while since I’ve been out, the need to get out again grew stronger every day. It was great to get back out.

I took the Friday off from work, and left home at around 11.00. I had packed my Exped Lightning full of gear and food. As I’ve written before, a nice thing about canoe camping is the ability to bring lots of heavy food, since you don’t have to carry it on your back.

Just as the previous trip, getting the canoe on and off the roof of my car by myself was an adventure on its own. The canoe is an old 4,5m fiberglass canoe that weighs a ton. Now that I know I’ll continue with canoe camping I’ll save up to buy a lighter canoe, that’s better for solo use, and won’t make me break my back every time.

I drove to Helgö, loaded the canoe full of gear and started to paddle. My goal for this trip was Ramsö, a larger island a bit east of Ferön where I camped last month.

It was a bit windy, and I had head-wind the entire time. But I think I’m starting to get the hang of the J-stroke, and paddled with a descent pace.

It was hard to take a straight photo when the waves kept rocking the canoe

The wind made the canoe turn as soon as I stopped paddling. It made navigation with the compass a bit harder since the canoe kept turning.

Eventually I came closer to Ramsö, and I found a small beach with a fire ring on the southern end of the island.

At first I had planned to paddle around the island to see if there where other good places to set up camp, but since the beach was so perfect I stopped there.

The southern end of Ramsö had a perfect spot to camp

I took a short walk around the beach, to search for the best place to set up my camp, but the best place to set up camp was just next to the beach.

I put up my Tentipi Olivin, and my sleeping gear before I started the fire. I had brought fire wood, but I also collected some more fire wood from the island since there where a lot of fallen trees.

Starting the fire was pretty easy since I used my own dry birch wood.

I wasn’t sure I did the right thing when I bought the Tentipi Olivin, but after these two trips I really like it. I just hope Tentipi will start selling a floor to it too.

I fried a couple of sausages for lunch, and then spent the rest of the afternoon chilling by the fire.

It was nice, but windy. I tried to set up a tarp to shield me from the wind, but somehow I got it wrong and made a smoke trap with it, that also turned the smoke around and made the entire area close to the fire covered with smoke, so I put it down again.

My smoke trap

The skies where covered in clouds most of the day, but just before sunset the clouds scattered and I had a little bit of sun. I decided to make dinner and put some extra firewood on the fire to get the heat up. I made bifteki with Somun bread this time too. It was delicious, and I had brought a couple of beers to drink with it.

My home for the night

I sat by the fire for a couple of hours before I went to bed. I watched an hour of Gangs of New York on Netflix before I went to sleep.

The wind picked up during the night and really shocked the tent. I considered pegging the guy lines too, but I thought that 12 ground pegs should be enough, and stayed in bed.

When I woke up the next morning the wind still blew hard, and it rained on and off. I stayed in my sleeping bag until 9.30 before I finally got up.

I got the fire going after several tries. The wind blew so hard that I had trouble keeping the fire going. When I finally got it going I made my morning coffee, fried some bacon and a couple of eggs that I ate with the left-over bread.

Making breakfast

I started to pack up after breakfast, but just before Inwas going to take down the tent it started to rain heavily. I layed in the tent for 10 minuets before it stopped. I took the tent down, packed up the canoe and left for Helgö.

Unfortunately I had head-wind today too, but with stronger winds and larger waves than yesterday. The weather report said 9 m/s, which isn’t that much, but enough to be a challenge for a rookie paddler like myself. The waves where large enough to flush over the bow, and they  kept trying to turn the canoe around. I had to paddle like crazy just to keep the canoe straight in the water, and my arms where sore when I reached calmer waters.

I finally came close to Helgö and the waves calmed down. I paddled the last stretch back to the car without effort.

Back at the parking lot I once again had to get the canoe back up on the roof of my car. And again it felt like I would either break the canoe, my car or my back.

I’m back home now, but I can’t wait to get back out on another canoe trip. I’ll get back to Ramsö again, but I also want to explore Åsnen, Smålands largest lake, and Halen in Blekinge.