First trip of 2019

I’ve been pretty idle here lately, and in December I didn’t get out on any trip at all. But the first weekend in January I finally got out again, on my traditional camping trip the first week of the year.

The temperature here had been pending around freezing for a a couple of weeks, and I thought the lakes might be ice free and that maybe I could make one last canoe camping trip for the season.

My plan was to drive up to Tolgasjön, and put the canoe in on the same place as my last trip with C. But when I arrived there the road was closed off with a gate, and I couldn’t pass with the car.

I kept driving, and found a small logging road that wasn’t marked on the map. I followed it, hoping for the best, and eventually it ended up next to the lake, with a nice place to park the car too.

Once there I saw that the lake was already frozen over. There would be no canoeing for me. At first I thought about driving to Asa, where I’ve camped a few times before. But then I saw that there was a trail out to a peninsula next to where I had parked the car.

The peninsula turned out to be a prefect campsite, with a fire ring and a couple of makeshift benches. This was probably used by the people that lived nearby, or by the landowners.

I carried my gear out to the peninsula and set up my camp. I haven’t had a bag for my Gstove before, but recently I bought a Fjällräven Duffel no. 6 medium. This was perfect for the stove, heat shield and the more voluminous cooking gear I bring on hot tent camping trips. The main reason I choose this was that it has shoulder straps and can be carried like a backpack.

The weather was perfect. Sunny and below freezing with crips cold air. I had liked to do some paddling, but the campsite was great.

I set up the tent and the stove, inflated my Exped Winterlite, fluffed up my sleeping bag and got the fire going in the stove.

There was a large partly downed tree hanging over the trail on the peninsula, and it hung loosely on a thin tree at the end. Just touching it made it rock a lot, and it was dangerous to keep it there. It could fall any time, and maybe while someone was walking on the trail. I put some more pressure on it, and the whole thing crashed to the ground. At least no one will have to have that tree falling on their heads now.

For lunch I made pepper steaks with rice and fried bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. It was delicious, as always. The rest of the afternoon I just relaxed.

I had brought a spoon knife, and planned to do some wood carving, but I ended up making a fire in the fire pit, and reading by the fire instead. The where a lot of larger pieces of wood laying around, and I made a star fire to not having to spend a lot of time collecting firewood.

I’m reading “One bullet away, the makings of a marine officer” by Nathaniel Fick. In the HBO-series Generation Kill, he’s one of the few officers that are portrayed in a good light. I found the book is well written, and well worth reading.

When the sun set I returned to the tipi and heated up the stove again. I laid in the tent, and kept reading with the warmth of the stove keeping me comfortable.

When it was time for dinner I made Reindeer stew with potatoes that are eaten in rolled up flatbreads. Unfortunately I had forgotten the parsley and the lingonberry jam, but it still tasted great.

I read for a while longer before I retreated to my sleeping bag and let the fire in the stove burn out. I watched Netflix for a short while, before going to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of snow falling on the tipi. It’s always hard to get out of the warm cozy sleeping bag when it’s freezing outside. I mustered all my willpower to open up the zipper and crawl out into the cold.

I had a bunch of smaller sticks prepared from the previous day, and quickly got a hot fire going in the stove. Soon it was warm enough for me to start ditching my layers. I boiled some coffee and had a breakfast of salami, Brie and the left over bell peppers and flatbread.

The world outside had changed during the night. The brown ground covered with pine needles, and the icy blue lake had both turned white, covered with a thin layer of snow. The clear blue skies had turned grey. I prefer the weather I had the day before, but I do long for some real winter weather, and the possibility to do some snow shoe hiking. I plan to gradually upgrade my gear with more winter gear.

After breakfast I packed up, and headed back home.

It was a short trip, like most of my overnighters are now, to fit in with the rest of the everyday life. But these short breaks, with the possibility to just wind down, relax and enjoy the silence, solitude and beauty of nature is really valuable. For me it’s one of the best way there is to recharge energy and to keep my spirit up.

Advertisements

Second time in a heated tent

Last weekend I was out camping with both my daughters. It was the first time I tried hot tent camping, and while the gear was very heavy, I really liked the comfort. For car camping trips, where weight isn’t an issue, it’s perfect.

it turned out that my wife was going to have a girls night at home with a few old colleagues the weekend after, so I was exiled this weekend too. My son was away, my oldest daughter was at her friends place, so the only one joining me this time was C.

We drove to the same place this weekend too, as it’s a great place and pretty close to home.

A couple of cars where already there when we arrived, and though we could hear kids in the distance, we didn’t see anyone. I set up the tipi on the same place as last time, set up the camp and started a fire in the stove. After a short while two families with baskets full of mushrooms passed our camp. They where only day-hiking, and left shortly after.

We started with lunch, and I fried pepper steak, red onions and bell peppers, and had Mediterranean rice to that. It was delicious.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chillin’ in the tipi or exploring the area around camp. We searched for mushrooms. Either chanterelles or Boletus edulis, the only eatable mushrooms I can identify without risk. A fun fact about the Boletus edulis is that in Sweden is mostly knows as Karl Johan mushroom, after the Swedish king (a former french officer) who brought his french habits, and introduced the mushroom to the Swedish kitchen.

We didn’t find any mushrooms that we where looking for, but we did explore the forest, while we both chanted: “Karl Johan, where are you? Come out so we can eat you!”

In the evening we made dinner. C had decided that we where going to have burgers for dinner, so that’s what I fried up. We made pretty simple burgers. Buns, meat, sauce and cheddar. But it tasted great. We just hung out in the tent for the evening, before it was time to put C to sleep.

I stuffed the stove full of firewood, and closed the vent to get a slow burn. It stayed hot for a long time.

But the night was pretty awful though. C woke up time and again, being sad, and wanting to get out to pee. Over and over again she woke up, and by the time she finally slept good, I barely couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned a lot the rest of the night.

By morning rain came, and really poured down. Since I couldn’t sleep anymore I got up early. I had a head ache, and thought about heating up the stove. But that would mean a couple of hours before it was burned out completely, and a couple of hours more to get it cold enough to pack it out. In the end I decided to go with a cold breakfast and then pack down camp. We had a few baby bell cheeses and a couple of mini salamis, before we packed down camp, and left for home.

In general, the trip had been nice, but the lack of sleep, the heavy rain and the headache the next morning made it great to get back home too. But as always, it didn’t take long for me to miss the woods, and I’m already eager to get out again.

Next trip will be in the first weekend of November, when I’m going on a hike with https://brianoutdoor.wordpress.com

I’m really looking forward to it. Both to do a real hiking trip again, and also to finally meat Brian in real life.

First time hot tent camping

It’s been a long time since I last wrote here. Even though I’ve been doing a lot of daytrips with my family, I’ve been to busy to write here. But last weekend I finally got out on an overnighter, and I had a really great time.

For a while now I’ve had my eye out for the Gstove Heat view, a camp stove from a small company in Norway. I’ve wanted to try hot tent camping for a long time, and when I found the stove at a 40% discount I decided to buy it.

Last weekend I tried it for the first time, with my first time doing hot tent camping.

My wife was out of town, and my son preferred to hang out with grandpa this weekend, but both my daughters joined me for this trip.

We drove to the campsite south of Asa that I had stayed at with C in June. It had rained on the way up, but when we got there the rain stopped. It was calm, and no one else was there at the beginning. Soon though a car came by with two guys in it. They walked around for a couple of minutes and the vanished again.

I set up the tent and the stove on the same spot as I had set up my tent last time. This time I used the bigger Helsport Nordmarka tipi, since I was going to use the stove to heat up the tent.

I stared to chop up some firewood and got the fire going. It wasn’t long until the stove was burning hot. We made lunch and hung out in the tent. It was chilly outside, but inside the tent it was almost t-shirt weather.

A mother and two kids arrived at the campsite, and after a while a dad and two other kids arrived too. The families knew each other, and was going to sleep in one of the huts/shelter at the camp site.

I was surprised to see other people, as I’m out camping a lot, but rarely see anyone else doing anything more than day trips. But autumn is my favorite time of the year to be out, with the crisp fresh air, absence of bugs and the beautiful changing colors of the forest, and the mother seemed to feel the same.

We walked around the camp site a bit, but most of the time we just hung out in the tent, eating snacks and enjoying the heat from the stove. As usual, with trips like these, we had packed a lot of food and goodies; different cheeses, salamis, pepper steaks, bifteki, pita bread, potato chips etc.

When evening came, we lit the oil lamp and kept feeding the stove. I really like window in the door of the stove, and it gives out a really ambient cozy light from the fire.

We made dinner, and kept chilling in the tent. M, my oldest daughter, had brought her iPad and downloaded a few movies on Netflix and watched them. C and I killed time by snacking and putting firewood in the stove.

When it was time to sleep C was all winded up, but eventually calmed down enough to sleep. I stopped feeding the stove, but it wasn’t completely burned out before we went to sleep. I had brought a Carbon-monoxide alarm though just to feel a bit safer.

When C had fallen asleep it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep too. I woke up a couple of hour later though, when M accidentally threw her arm in my face in her sleep. After that it took a couple of hours for me to get back to sleep again.

I slept like a log for the rest of the night, but woke up at 08.00 by the sound of C loudly singing the kids song “Björnen sover” (the bear’s asleep) in her sleeping bag next to me. Well, papa bear wasn’t sleeping after that.

We got up, got the stove going and made breakfast. Pita bread fried in a lot of olive oil with a cheese and salami and some hot coffee for me, and hot coco for the kids.

After breakfast I let the fire burn for a while, to drive out any remaining moisture from the tent, before we finally desired to pack down our camp.

It looked like it was about to rain, and I packed down quickly, as I was happy to pack down dry gear, which is somewhat rare in these parts.

After this trip I’m really glad I bought the stove. It’s heavy, and definitely not something for hiking trips. But for car camping trips like these, or canoe camping trips with no portages it’s perfect. The quality is superb, and it really adds to the comfort to have a source of heat in the tent.

I think I’m going to save up to get a Tentipi Safir 5 BP for these types of trips. A canvas tipi would really take the comfort to the next level. I really like hiking, but I think can get used to these comfortable, food heavy camping trips too.

Second two-night trip with my daughter

I had planned to do an overnighter or a two-night trip with Corinne, my two-year old, in the end of this week, as it’s a holiday on Thursday and I’ve taken time off from work on Friday. The plans changed however, as my wife needed to study last weekend and needed some peace and quite at home. My son was already away, so I decided to take my youngest daughter on the planned trip a bit earlier instead. My oldest daughter wanted to stay home with her mother instead.

I had planned to quit work a bit earlier on Friday, pick C up from kindergarten and then drive to Skåne in the early afternoon. In the end it didn’t work out as planned, and we ended up driving down in the early evening instead.

My planned location was a two hour drive from home, and we arrived at the parking lot at 19.30.

It was still sunny and bright when we arrived, and the fresh green leaves of the beech forest almost seemed like they where glowing.

I was instantly struck by how beautiful the forest was.

We started to follow Skåneleden, but after a short while we took off into the forest instead. We found a nice flat spot and set up our camp. There where blueberry bushes underneath the floor, and old parts of the bushes where really sharp. I was a bit worried about my inflatable sleeping mat, but it did survive the trip.

This was the first time I used my Storminstove system, and I really liked it from the start. It felt really efficient, stable and safe to use around C. I had brought a Toaks frying pan with roughly the same dimensions as my pot, but it didn’t work good. More on this later.

We had bought a couple of burgers on our way down, so I just made tea and we ate snacks when our camp was ready. We explored the area closest to the camp and then went to bed. C fell asleep pretty quickly.

We both slept good and woke up to the birdsong the next morning. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning.

We made a breakfast of tortillas, sausages, cheese and smoothies, and coffee for me.

After breakfast we packed up and left. We where going to hike off trail from now on.

When you’re used to the dark dense spruce forests of Småland, beech forests like these almost feel exotic.

We took a lot of breaks, and C walked a lot on her own. But she likes to ride on the shoulders, and a lot of the times I had her up there.

We hiked until we came to a small stream, where we filled up on water. After our water supply was restocked we searched for a nice place to make lunch. This time I had brought home dried meals, and my West African stew was a success.

I had really hoped that C would take a nap after lunch, because I was really tired myself. Unfortunately she was anything but tired so there was no nap for any of us.

We hiked for a little while longer, but when we found a beautiful spot for a camp at 15.30 we stopped there and set up our camp, despite the early hours.

When our camp was up we had a lot of time left until sundown. We had a lot of snacks and explored the nearby area. C got to set the pace and we walked where ever she felt like.

When it was time for dinner I made falafel with couscous and Ajvar, from a premade falafel mix. I think I had too much water in it, as it got too runny, and the frying pan didn’t really fit the Storminstove, as it was just a bit too narrow, and the frying pan slipped down into the stove.

In the end my falafel became a mash of burned parts mixed with uncooked batter. It still tasted ok, but I won’t try to make it on the Storminstove again. I never seem to be able to get the good at frying stuff on lightweight stoves, and I’ll probably just stick to freezer bag cooking on my hiking trips.

C felt really tired pretty early in the evening, and since she hadn’t had her nap that day I thought it would be good idea to put her to bed. It wasn’t.

When we had changed into our sleeping clothes, and crawled into bed she was anything but tired. She roamed around the tent like a small barbarian about to sack Rome, and had no intention of going to sleep. At first I was super tired, but when she eventually had fallen asleep I couldn’t sleep. I ended up tossing and turning the entire night instead.

The next morning we aired out our gear when we had breakfast. We packed up, and then took another route back to the car.

The forest was almost radiant in the bright morning sun. We passed another family that had been camping a few hundred meters from us, and then continued on a trail back to the car.

The trip had been great, and the forest was really beautiful, with the bright green spring leaves, the countless small hills and and the soft leaf covered ground. And since it was pretty early in spring we weren’t bothered by bugs.

The last morning C said that she wanted to sleep at home next night, so I guess two nights in a row is enough for her. But today when I picked her up from kindergarten she asked if we could sleep in a tent tonight again, so the interest is still there. Next time I’ll probably go out on a solo trip, but I can’t wait to get out with her again. It can be hard work, but it’s rewarding to see how much she enjoys playing and camping in the forest.

Plans for next week

Spring has finally arrived in full force, and even here in this northern corner of Europe the trees are getting green.

Next week there’s a holiday which leaves me with four days off from work. That means hiking time, and I’ll bring my two-year old on this trip too.

I haven’t decided any details yet, but my plan is to quit a little earlier on Wednesday, pick Corinne up from Kindergarten and then drive to Skåne. We’ll then hike off-trail,  set up camp somewhere in the forest and then spend Thursday exploring the area. We’ll spend one more night there, and then drive home on Friday morning.

Like our last trip, we’ll mostly wing it, and just go where ever we feel like for the moment.

I plan to use basically the same gear as last time, but use the Storminstove instead of the Trangia. I think it will be stable enough, and Corinne is calmer around the stove now than last year.

I’ll bring better food this time. We had lots of snacks on our last trip, but used Knorr Snackpots for lunch and dinner. They weren’t a success, and I’ll bring home dried food this time instead. I’m thinking of trying some new recipes, like falafel with Ajvar or maybe a noodle recipe from Ultralight Dandy.

I hope for nice weather and a great trip with Corinne.

Cumulus Junior 250 – first impressions

I’ve been looking for a dedicated sleeping bag for my youngest daughter. She’s two years old, and I have bought cheap Aegismax quilts and sleeping bags for the rest of the family. But since C is a lot smaller, and basically the only family member that likes to join me in the woods (Outside of car camping), I thought I’d get her a dedicated kids sleeping bag.

The Cumulus Junior comes in two versions, the 150 and the 250, which states how much down it has in it. They both come with 700cuin down as standard. The 250 has a comfort temperature of 9°C. The fabric is made from 35g/m2 Pertex Quantum. I prefer the thicker 35g/m2 to the 27g/m2 that I have in my Quilt 350. Especially since it’ll be used by a kid that might not go so easy on the gear.

I made a custom order of the 250 with 850cuin down. This gives it an estimated comfort temperature of 5°C, according to Cumulus. With a thick fleece base layer I think it’ll be ok down to freezing. She has always slept really good outside, in her stroller, with just a thick base layer and a knitted wool blanket. I could also bring the Aegismax Wind Hard Tiny as an extra layer over the sleeping bag for insurance.

img_0501

Since it was a custom order it took a few weeks for it to arrive. As with my other products from Cumulus it has a feeling of high quality, and it lofts up fine. There is a tag on the baffle along the zipper that states the cuin of the down. It comes with a small stuff sack, and a larger mesh storage bag.img_0490img_0491

In the foot end there’s a draw cord. You could stuff the lower end of the sleeping bag into itself, and close the draw cord. That way you get a shorter sleeping bag, with less air to heat up, that is suitable for smaller children.

img_0492

Cumulus Junior 250

The weight of the sleeping bag is 520g. It suitable for kids up to 140cm.

As it is now I’m just waiting for the temperature to warm up a bit before I bring C along again. Winter still holds a firm grip of Sweden, and night temps dropped down to -16°C just a few nights ago. I don’t want to risk exposing her to those temps, and give her memories of he outdoors as the place where you’d freeze your ass off.

Tweaking gear and shedding weight

It’s no secret that I really like my Tentipi Olivin. It was love at first sight, and I don’t regret buying it. It is however a lot heavier than my the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 that I owned before I bought this shelter.

The Ultamid, with pegs, all the guylines attached, polycro groundsheet and polestraps weighted just under 1000g.

My Tentipi Olivin with the 3F UL Gear floor weighs 2325g.

The gram geek in me just couldn’t let that stand, so I looked at ways to reduce weight.

There are 12 perimeter anchor points, and 6 guylines. I had 18 Y-pegs, but changed 6 of them to Toaks Shepard Hooks. They weigh less than half of a Y-peg.

I also ordered Hyperlite Mountain Gear polestraps to use my trekking poles instead of the dedicated center pole. The centerpole with its bag weighs 484g. The polestraps weighs 36g.

I’ve switched the original tent bag for my Luxe Outdoor stuff sack that weighs 22g instead of 67g.

I’ll also skip the bag with the repairkit and the pitching aid, which saves me 29g.

With this setup my shelter weighs a lot less:

  • Tentipi Olivin fly: 1161g
  • HMG polestraps: 36g
  • Pegs + bag: 214g
  • 3F UL gear floor: 320g
  • Tent bag: 22g
  • Total: 1753g

I could save 220g more if I use my polycro groundsheet instead of the silnylon floor.

That’s it. With a few simple moves I could reduce 572g from my shelter system, with another 220g easily removed if I want to.

It still not a UL shelter if you count it as a one person shelter. But it’s still quite a lot lighter than before. I’ll try this new setup the next time I’m out.

Other than that I ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear stuff sack pillow when I ordered the pole straps. The stuff sack pillow weighs the same as the old stuff sack that I used to store my down jacket in, but I can skip the inflatable pillow, which sheds another 49g of my base weight. Hopefully it’ll also improve my sleep, as the air pillow isn’t that comfortable.

Over and out from the gram geek.

Woodcraft and camping – UL in the 19th century

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading “Woodcraft and camping” by George Washington Sears. The book was first published in 1920, and is an instructional book on outdoor life, with described trips from 19th century North America.

The book can be downloaded for free as an ebook at Gutenberg.

In many aspects it feels like it could have been written today. The author describes the need to get out in the wild to de-stress, how fewer people have to do more in shorter time, and describes burn-outs as a result of an ever increasing work load. This as early as in the beginning of 20th century.

The book describes how one can enjoy themselves a lot more with a lighter pack and lighter shoes, and that the outdoor magazines try to sell you a lot of stuff that you don’t need, and that might only make the trip into the wild a misery because of the weight.

He describes in the book that his own base weight never exceeds 26lb (~12kg), and that includes a canoe. He did however have a custom made canoe.

It’s an interesting book, but it’s far from “leave not trace”. The weight is kept down from making shelters by cutting down trees, long fires, fishing and hunting. All aspects of it might not be applicable today, but it is an interesting read, and much of the lightweight principles can be applied. In some aspects it reminds me of today, with the author buying expensive “cottage gear” to get the best custom made lightweight gear, to the amusement of his friend.

A big part of the book is about fly fishing, but since I’m not that interested in fishing, I only glanced through those pages.

A thing that’s a bit sad is how he describes how much land and wilderness that has been destroyed in the name of development, in his lifetime already. He writes a detailed trip report and ends it with how the forest he described is now gone.

It’s an interesting book, and I recommend it. If not for actual instructions, but for trip reports and history of hiking.

Stora Mosse in March 2018

Last weekend I drove to Stora Mosse National Park for an overnight trip. I hadn’t planned to be out this weekend, but my wife had seen how stressed out I was from work lately (lots of co-workers have quit or gotten burn outs which leaves an ever increasing work load for us that are still there), and thought that I might need some hiking time to wind down. She knows the outdoors is the best way for me to reduce stress and recharge.

Right up until the point where I sat down in the car it was still undecided where I should go. Stora Mosse National Park, Norra Kvill National Park or Raslången Eko Park was the places I had in mind. Eventually I decided to go to Stora Mosse, as I had only been there on a day hike before, and wanted to do an overnighter there.

Stora Mosse National park is located just north west of Värnamo, about an hours drive from Växjö, and was formed in 1982. Almost the entire park consists of mire, and it’s the largest untouched mire in Sweden, south of Lappland. Together with Brokullen och Långö Mosse it’s almost 8000ha of protected land. There is a system of pine forest “islands” within the mire, and there are 40 km of hiking trails in the park. Some of them are possible to use with wheelchairs or a baby stroller, while other trails cross the mire on 30cm wide foot-bridges. If you want to leave the foot-bridges it’s possible to use snow-shoes to hike in the mire. From 2013 it’s also allowed to camp in certain areas in the park. Detailed maps can be found here. If you’re lucky you might spot one of the White-tailed eagles or Golden eagles living in the area. You get here by road 151 between Värnamo and Gnosjö, and the road cuts right through the park. In the middle of the park there is a visitors center, but be sure to check the opening hours before you get there.

I drove up pretty early and arrived there a little before 11am. It was roughly a 1 hour drive from home. I decided to hike in the southern parts of the park, and had planned to camp near Lövö.

The temps where slightly below freezing, and it had been cold and snowy for a few weeks. This meant that the mire was frozen over and I didn’t have to walk on the foot bridges. I did however follow the trail. There where ski tracks on the foot bridges and I walked beside them to not ruin the tracks. I worked up a good sweat while hiking in the deep snow. I turned right at the first intersection of the trail, which meant that I would be hiking through the forest instead of going through the mire. Hiking in the forest was effortless, compared to the sometimes knee deep snow in the mire. I hiked for about 1,5 hour before I stopped for lunch. It felt good to be out in the forest again, and I was really enjoying myself.

After lunch I kept hiking south, but stopped once in a while, rolled out my cell foam sleeping mat and just laid down, watched the trees and enjoyed the silence. The forests here reminds me a bit of Tresticklan national park, with the old scattered pine trees. After a while the ski tracks stopped, and I kept hiking on the trail. There where no other foot prints, so I was alone in these parts of the park.

After a while I passed the campground near Lövö on my left, but continued south to hike in a circle. I hiked the circle trail, past the hut at Lövö and then came back to the camp site from the other direction. It was only around 14.00 but I set up my camp anyways.

It took a bit of effort to flatten out the deep snow, but eventually I got it flat enough to set up my tent. I inflated my sleeping mat, rolled out the sleeping bag and made cup of coffee.

After that I decided to keep exploring the park. I went back to Lövö and hiked the trail towards Anderstorp.

I came to an observation tower at the edge of a forest, and climbed up. For being in the middle of Småland, the views where amazing, and you could see for several km.

I kept hiking south for a short while, but quickly lost track of the foot bridges.

I turned back to my campsite and made dinner once I got back.

I slept with the top vent and the door fully open, and had no condensation at all. I had a pretty good nights sleep, even though I toss and turn a lot.

As usual, it took some mental effort to get out of the sleeping bag. I like winter, but now I’m really looking forward to the warmer seasons.

I made a nice breakfast of chili Brie and salami in tortillas. It was delicious.

After breakfast I packed up and left my camp site.

I hiked back towards the car, but stopped once in a while to lay down on the sleeping mat, look at the tree tops waving in the wind and enjoy the last silence before I got back to the city.

On the parking lot I met the first people since I left home on Saturday morning. A group of maybe 10 Danes where preparing for a day hike.

As usual, I had a great time in the outdoors. I really like the simplicity of hiking life, the serenity of the silent empty forest and the monotony of hiking. My mind wanders as I move silently through the trees. It was a great trip, and I can’t wait to get back out on another trip soon.

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.