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.

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).