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).

Joining Coast2Coast Sweden in May

General info

Coast2Coast Sweden was founded by Jörgen Johansson and Jonas Hållén after they met on Fjällräven Classic a few years ago. 2017 is the fifth year anniversary of the hike that goes 400km from Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden, to Varberg on the west coast. Last year Franziska Kaufmann join up as the third guide. There is an emphasis in lightweight gear and hiking in trailrunners is the standard.

My packlist for the weekend

Trip report

I joined up with the other hikers on Friday evening in Moheda. They had been hiking for almost a week, and arrived in Moheda Pizzeria at around 18.00. The day had been one of the hottest this year, with temperatures close to 30°C and not a cloud in the sky.

I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous to join them. It’s always tough to come in to an already established group, especially one that had hiked and lived together for a week already.

When I arrived at the Pizzeria a few of the hikers had already arrived. Jonas, one the founders, Judith from the Netherlands, her colleague Susanne from Sweden and Gudrun from Germany. English was the go-to language whether you were talking to a Swede or not, so that no-one would be excluded from the conversation.

My concerns about joining an established group was unfounded. Everybody where very social and easy going, and with a shared interest in hiking it wasn’t hard to find topics to talk about.

More and more hikers dropped by. Judy, the founder of Lightheart Gear from USA and Alie from the Netherlands. Franziska, one of the guides, joined up, but the heat had got to her so she had to rest in the shade and fill up on electrolytes.

We were still waiting for Göran from Sweden, and Oliver and Henning from Germany. Oliver had hiked Coast2Coast the year before. Göran has hiked C2C every year, and hiked the first year together with his horse Allan.

I left the Pizzeria with Susanne and Judith, to hike the ~4km to Hössjön, where we would spend the night.

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My Ultamid 2, with Görans shelter to the left, and Judith and Susannes tent to the right

Hössjön is a pretty small lake, but it was a nice campsite, and one of the residents nearby let us use his property to fill up on fresh water and charge phones and powerbanks.

A lot of the hikers, who’d been hiking in relentless heat all day, used the lake to cool off. I’m a real coward when it comes to cold water, so I stayed in my tent.

Judy, who’s the founder and lead designer of Lightheart Gear, had brought a new version of the Solong 6. She gave me a tour, and I have to say that I was impressed by it. It was a really cool and well thought out design, and it was really spacious. The big mesh panels and the ability to keep the fly up on one side allows you sleep with a view while still being protected from the elements. I almost wanted to swap tents with her for the night to try the tent.

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Judys Solong 6 showing the awning (photocredit Judy Gross)

The mosquitoes where swarming, and soon everybody sought refuge in their tents. I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, without an inner. I only had the polycro groudsheet and my Borah Gear bivy. The shelter didn’t keep all the mosquitoes away, and during the night I had some of them buzzing over my head. I’m still not sure whether to keep the solution I have now in mosquito infested areas or whether to go with a floorless net inner. Campsite selection is of the essence here, as a more exposed area with more wind might have reduced the number of mosquitoes.

I skipped the polestraps and used the sawed off bottom section of a cheap AliExpress hiking pole to connect the poles together. It worked perfectly, and was way easier than using the polestraps. I don’t know which of the polestraps and the “missing link” that gives you the most strength though.

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I bought the Southwest 4400 to use for the two weeks unsupported trip in Sarek this summer. It arrived just before I left, so I decided to use it on this trip. It’s a 70l pack, but the roll-top compresses well, down to an estimated size of 40-45l

Next morning everybody had their breakfasts separately, at their own tents. Judy and Alie left pretty quickly, and Franziska and Judith got a ride to Broaskog café as they weren’t feeling well. I hiked with Jonas, Görgen, Oliver, Henning and Gudrun. After an hour or so some of us decided to have a break in the shade. Jonas and Gudrun continued to the café though.

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There was quite a lot of road walking, but I didn’t mind since I had great company

Göran explained that Jörgen Johansson had a method of hiking that made sure he could hike long days, and still feel fresh when he came to camp. He hiked for 50 minutes and then took a 10 minute break. Every hour. I’m gonna start using this method myself, as it’s easy for me to just keep going and then end up being really tired once I reach camp.

I had a short break at Broaskog café. It hadn’t opened yet, but the owner filled up my waterbottle before I left. Most of the others waited for it to open, but I went with Jonas to the lake Åbodasjön to have lunch there. Jonas took a swim, but in my usual state of cowardliness I stayed on the shore due to the cold water temperature. A few others joined, and after a while Jonas, Gudrun, Oliver and I started hiking again.

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View from Lyåsa, a small village with a few scattered very well tended houses and cottages. Lyåsa had a nice view, and this photo doesn’t do it justice

It was a long day of hiking, with the sun burning hot over our heads. The distance this day was pretty long, and therefor they had shortened it a few kilometers to a planned campsite near lake Kalvsjön. When we reached Kalvsjön though, there wasn’t enough space in the public places to set up camp. Most of the flat areas belonged to the local fishing club, and camping was prohibited for others than its members.

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Following Jonas along the shore of lake Kalvsjön

The four of us went over our options. There was a campsite nearby, but it would mean going back a bit, and we would also have to buy a membership in the fishing club which would cost 200SEK +20SEK as a camping fee.

We decided to hike the extra ~3km to the old campsite next to lake Rusken, that C2C had used the previous years.

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Our campsite at the shore of lake Rusken with Jonas Trailstar, my Ultamid, Olivers Six Moon Designs and Gudruns Double Rainbow

We set up our tents and Jonas went for a swim. This time I actually joined him. There wasn’t much swimming on my part though. More a quick dip, a rinse and quite a lot of cursing over the cold waters. Jonas took a picture of me and posted it on the C2C Facebook page.

We made dinner and then went to bed. Jonas stayed up, as Judith and Susanne where on their way. The others where to tired to go on, and had stopped at the fishing club campsite. After a while Judith and Susanne arrived, and set up their tent. Judith was tired from a cold that was starting to get worse, but they where still in good spirits.

The campsite was prefect in terms of wind and moisture. There was a breeze all night, which kept the mosquitoes at bay, and I had no condensation at all when I woke up.

Susanne and Judith decided to stay behind to take it slow in the morning. Judith was unfortunately still not feeling well.

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View from our campsite at lake Rusken
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Hiking along the shore of Rusken

Jonas, Oliver, Gudrun and I left our campsite at Rusken, and continued north. My destination was the café at Nydala monastery at the north end of the lake, but the rest of the hikers would continue from there. We hiked along the east shore of Rusken, and eventually reached Nydala monastery where we had lunch. I had to get back home, and got picked up at the café and left the others there.

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Loosing the trail means bushwhacking

It was a great trip. There was quite a lot of road walking, so one has to be prepared for that. But unlike my solo hikes I didn’t mind the roads this time even though I prefer the trails. I had a great time talking to to the others about hiking, gear and UL philosophy. I am somewhat of a gear nerd, and it’s fun to geek down a bit and look at other peoples gear. I guess the piece of gear that most caught my eye was Judys Solong 6.

The weather was nice to, albeit very hot. It was the first time I hiked in shorts, and that was nice. The ticks where out in full force though, and every time we’d hiked through a brushy area we stopped for a tick-control. I think I picked at least eight or nine ticks off my legs and arms during the weekend. Fortunately none of them had burrowed down yet.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to join for the whole coast to coast hike next year, but I’ll definitely try to join for at least a section like this year.

Sigfridsleden – for those who love pavement

 General info

Sigfridsleden starts in Asa, north of Växjö and goes 88 km south, past Växjö, down to Knapelid south of Åryd where it connects to Utvandrarleden. From Asa to Växjö the trail is approximately 50 km. Trail is the wrong word though, as most of this route is on paved road. The route is part of a 4000 km network of pilgrim routes  that goes from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

My packlist for this hike

Trip report

Last Friday I asked my father, whom my son would spend the weekend with, to drive me to Asa, where the trail starts. I’ve been here two times before, in the first week of January 2015 and 2016 on short overnight trips. Those times I only hiked a couple of km before setting up camp. This time though, I planned to hike the trail back to Växjö.

After studying the map I was prepared for a bit of road walking, and I didn’t have high expectations on the “trail”. But I saw it as a chance to get out, and as a workout as I planned to push myself and do high milage. The weather report predicted lows below freezing, so I decided to bring my Cumulus Panyam 600 and my Exped Winterlite, as I hate being cold.

I was dropped off at Asa church at around 18.30. I planned to hike for an hour or so, but I ended up hiking for two hours, and did ~9km. The first part follows a small road, which then turns into a logging road. After that you follow a trail next to the lake Asasjön. This part of the route was great, but short. I saw two roe deers and a crane on a field. They observed me, but as I came closer they left in a hurry.

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Asasjön, a couple of hours before sundown

I either walked through uneven forests or next too fields, so it took me a while to find a good camp site. I had checked the map and planned to set up my tent near Skärsjön. When I came there I saw that there was a shooting range, with the targets in direction of the cape where I had planned to set up my tent. I walked past the shooting range and found some flat ground on the shore of Skärsjön, outside of the danger zone.

The whole evening had been windy, and the wind really picked up after I set up camp. The rain started falling just after I got my shelter up. The ground was loose, so my stakes didn’t get a good grip. I made a quick dinner and then went to bed. I was to tired to even read.

A little before 01.00 I woke up after falling in and out of sleep since I got to bed. I saw that the wind was about to rip a couple of the most exposed stakes. I got up, put on a rain jacket and started looking for big rocks. Wet snow had started to fall. I anchored the most exposed stakes with rocks and crawled back into my sleeping bag. As I laid there I was afraid for the first time while hiking. The trees around me made cracking sounds, and I was afraid that one would crack and fall on me. When the gusts really picked up I actually felt the ground sway. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after a while I realized that it was the roots of the nearby trees that moved beneath me as the wind shocked them. I went to sleep with an image of me being impaled with torn off roots from a falling tree.

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I woke up to a beautiful morning with clear skies. But the wind still blew hard, which made it hard to pack down the tent.

I left my campsite and started hiking a gravel road. There were a few short parts with trail, but after that the long, seemingly endless stretch of pavement begun. The route had changed, so my map wasn’t accurate, but I had a newer map in my cellphone.

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After I had passed the village Tolg, I saw a strange tower on a hill in the distance. I Googled it, and apparently it was Nykulla Observation Tower, built in the late 1950s. I thought about going up there, but from the sign near the parking lot it looked like it opened in May.

After the tower there was a short section of actual trail through a pine forest.

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But then came the paved roads again. Endless paved roads for kilometer after kilometer. My feet cheered the few times they touched actual trail. I was in a bad mood, and thought to myself that the people that made this route must hate hikers, since most of it was on pavement. But I had myself to blame, since no-one forced me to be there.

As always I was looking for the perfect campsite. The route passed many fields and uneven forests, and I had planned to camp near Toftasjön, in Notteryd nature reserve. In the end my feet, calves, knees and thighs hurt. I was really tired as I had hiked nonstop, except for a 30-minute lunch break. I did the hike as a way to exercise and to see how far I could push myself in a day.

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When I came to Notteryd I left Sigfridsleden and turned to the Notteryd circle trail. I followed the shore of Toftasjön out to the cape “Tungan” where I found a decent spot in a birch forest. The ground was pretty uneven, but at this point I didn’t care.

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I was exhausted, and went to bed right after I had put up my shelter, at 20.00. I didn’t even make dinner. I had hiked somewhere between 37-40 km, which is a new record for me. I fell asleep and slept good the entire night.

I woke up at around 08.00, but stayed in my sleeping bag for a while. After that I took it slow, aired out the sleeping bag and dried out the slight condensation I had on the inside of my shelter.

A little after 10.00 I left my camp site and headed home. I followed the circle trail to the road, and then walked the rest of the way on the road that cuts through Fylleryd nature reserve, and I was back home in less than 2 hours.

I didn’t take a lot of photos on this trip. I saw a lot of small villages, farms, fields and pavement.

Would I recommend this hiking route? No, not unless you have a hiking nemesis that you want to trick into doing a really boring route. Or if you like hiking on paved roads. There may be a target group for a route like this, but for me, who hikes to disconnect from everyday life and to get in touch with nature the route was a disappointment.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 – First impressions

As I’ve wrote before I made some gear changes this spring. The biggest change was a whole new shelter setup. Before, I had a Hilleberg Enan, a great tent that I was mostly pleased with. But I decided to try Dyneema Composite fabric (former Cuben Fiber) and bought an Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, a polycro groundsheet from Gossamer Gear and a Borah Gear Bivy.

I’ve had a 2014 Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex-peak before, but always used it with an inner. This was my first experience with a floorless shelter.

I’ve only done one test pitch in the garden, and after that, used it for one night in the woods. This is not an in depth review of the Ultamid 2, but more a note of my impressions after using it for the first time.

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Test pitch in the back yard the night I got it

When I first received it I realized that Cuben Fiber is quite bulky. Despite being so light, the bag itself was quite large. I weighted it, and the tent, with the extra 100′ of guy line weighs 663g. The tent with three ~12̈́’ guy lines attached weighs 591g. It was heavier than listed, but it really doesn’t matter.

The first thing I did when I received it was to unpack it and check all the seams. Everything was in order, and the shelter really had a quality feel to it. I also made a test pitch in the garden. It was roomy inside, but I think it will take some practice to get the corners in a perfect 90° angle. I think that I’ll be able to fit three people inside, if I offset the pole a bit.

After I took it down I cut the 100′ of extra guy line into eight ~12′ lines. I made a loop, with a taut line hitch, on each line to easily be able to tighten and loosen the guy line. I tied three guy lines to the center panel guy points using two half hitches. I stored the extra guy lines in a zip lock back. For regular below-tree line hikes I don’t need them. But above tree line, where the wind really picks up, I’ll need all of the guy lines.

On the inside of the shelter there are two D-rings. You could tie a line between them to dry your socks, or use it to strap the shock cord from your bivy to get the mesh off your face, like I did.

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The hiking poles are strapped together using HMG Poles straps
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There are four guy points in each corner, plus three mid paned guy points. One on each side except on the entrance side

The Ultamid 2 was spacious and bright. I guess my preference in general is to have a darker color that matches the forest more, but I liked how bright it was inside when the morning sun shined through the fabric (and the spruce green was to expensive for me).

I use my hiking poles as the center pole. I strap them together using Hyperlite Mountain Gears Pole straps. It worked better than I expected, and I did get the poles tightly together. But I do consider making a “missing link” or something like that to connect the poles easier. I might buy a spare bottom section to my hiking poles, and cut it to an appropriate length and then use that to connect the poles together.

You could buy both an inner with a floor, and a floorless net inner. I plan to try mine in mosquito infested areas without either before I decide if I need one. I’ll probably go for the floorless one if I decide to get an inner.

After one nights use I’m happy with my Ultamid 2. It’s light, bright, spacious and well built. So far I really recommend it. I’ll write a more in depth review once I’ve used it for a while.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if I need to add this, but I buy all of my gear for my own money. There are no affiliation links, but I add the links for convenience of the reader. Should a company offer affiliation links I’ll add information about it in the disclaimer.