C:s first thru hike

Ok, so the term thru hike is probably more or less reserved for longer trails, but this was the first time C hiked the entire length of a trail, so I’m calling it a thru hike for her.

My oldest daughter got a gift card for a spa on her 16th birthday, and was going to Kosta Boda Art Hotel with her mother in late June. At the same time my son was staying a couple of days on “Kortis” (a sort of relief home for families with disabled children). This was a perfect time for me and C to go hiking.

I had found a circle trail just outside of Kosta in the nature reserve Visjön. It’s an 8km trail, and I thought it would be a good trail for two days of hiking with C.

We dropped off my wife and oldest daughter at the hotel, and drove north towards Visjön. We parked the car in the west side of the lake, just north of a shooting range. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the forecast showed rain for the next two days. But C was in a good mood. After a short hike along the borders of the shooting range we arrived at the lake. We turned north and hiked along the esker that borders most of the west side of the lake.

After a while we saw the ground sort of moving. With a closer look we saw that the ground was littered with small 1-2cm long frogs. They where everywhere for a long part of the trail. We tried to watch our steps so we wouldn’t step on them. Every now and then we stopped to pick blueberries.

We came to the north side of the lake, and turned down south on the east shore before making dinner. We had noodles with beef jerkey and cheese. So far we hadn’t seen a single suitable place to set up the tent. Eventually we came down to the parking and info sign marked on the map. On a small peninsula nearby we found a perfect spot for our tent, and room for many more too.

The rain had stopped earlier, but we set up the tent right away, and put up the hammock. This time I had brought the half inner, to be able to get in and out of the tent without having rain falling into the inner. On 2/3 of the vestibule I had a polycro groundsheet for the gear. This was actually a perfect setup for me and C. The half inner was large enough for us, without feeling cramped, and we had a large area for the gear.

I made dinner for us, and then we just hung out in the hammock and eat snacks. It didn’t take long before we both fell asleep.

When we woke up it started to rain slightly, so we took down the hammock and retreated to the tent. C watched Vaiana on my phone while I was reading a book writter by a reporter and a photographer who got kidnapped in Syria a few years ago.

After the movie it was time for C to go to sleep. The rain had started to pour down, and once again I had water seeping through, and dropping down on my face. I was pissed. I had carefully taped the insides where the midway corner guylines attatches and where the plastic struts for the vents are, but still water came through. But this time I saw the source. Water kept seeping through the seams on the top hat, and ran down on the inside of the tent before dropping down on my face. I sent a mail to HMG again, and this time I got the $58 i paid for the shipping back. Since then I’ve taped up those seams too, so I think it will be ok now. But then and there I regretted selling my heavier Hillebergs for this. Hilleberg fans can almost be a bit cultist from time to time, but in the end there’s a reason for it. I’ve had three Hillebergs (and a lot of other tents too) and their quality do stand out.

I was a bit annoyed that the super expensive tent didn’t hold up as expected, but I managed to let it go and go to sleep.

The next morning we had chocolate banana oatmeal for breakfast, before packing up. It was raining heavy this morning. C jumped in water pools as we hiked along.

On the southern section of the trail we came to a large open area that probably serves as a pasture from time to time. There weren’t any animals there at that time, so it could have been a nice place for a tent. The place had an abundance of wild strawberries. We ate a lot, and I could barely get C to continue hiking with me.

After that we had a section of road hiking before turning back north on the esker we started with. C was starting to get a bit tired, but it was only a short hike left to the car. When we got to the car we took of our wet rain gear. C was dry as a bone, but my cheapo rainpants had leaked through, and I might as well have skipped them all together.

This was C:s first hike of an entire trail. We’ve done a lot of paddling, camping and off trail hiking but this was the first time she hiked an entire trail. It went really good, even though her favourite part is hanging out in camp. (It’s actually my favourite part too, when I’m not solo hiking)

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).

Starting to plan for the summer

I’m slowly starting to plan for the “big” trip this summer. Me and my childhood friend Fredrik go on one longer trip in the mountains each year. We’ve been in Jotunheimen in Norway a few times, and last year we spent 8 days in Sarek, in northern Sweden.

I wrote earlier, on a post about my plans for 2018, that I wanted to do a canoe camping trip in Femundsmarka this summer. Fredrik wasn’t interested in canoe camping though, but wanted to do a hiking trip instead. I can’t get away on two 7+day trips this summer, so I’ll have to postpone the Femundsmarka trip. I’ll try to do a 3-5 day trip in Halen-Raslången-Immeln this spring, so at least I’ll get one longer canoe camping trip done. These lakes are only about an hours drive from home.

The trip with Fredrik wont be as far away as last year (where we spent a total of four days in the car) but we’ve planned to hike for a week in Hardangervidda in Norway.

Hardangervidda is the largest mountain plateau in Europe, and the national park is the largest in Norway.

From what I’ve read, the terrain isn’t as dramatic as Jotunheimen, which is covered with steep mountain tops. Hardangervidda is covered with treeless moorland, and not that much change in elevation, at least on the east side.

There are numerous trails in the park, and I haven’t even begun to plan a route yet. I don’t even know if we’re going to follow any trails, or if we should make a whole new route instead. As I’ve understood, the terrain makes it pretty easy to hike off-trail, and the thought of doing that appeals to me. Maybe we’ll make a route to begin with, but end up just choosing a new direction each day, like we did in Sarek.

This is my Lighterpack for now. I do like to tinker a bit with it, so this might change from when I write this post. (This is my Ligherpack for Sarek last year. Despite a much heavier shelter this year, the base weight doesn’t differ that much.)

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.