Autumn canoe camping in a canvas tipi

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of November, I went on a canoe camping trip with C. After trying hot tent camping a couple of times, I got really hooked, and upgraded the tipi to a Tentipi Safir 5 BP.

I had looked up an island on Tolgasjön that would be perfect for a camp. Since it was November I didn’t want to paddle too far with C, and this was just a couple of hundred meters of paddling from the campsite on mainland where I had planned to put in the canoe.

I drove to the area, but there was a sign at the private road down to the lake, that said it was prohibited to drive on the road. In the end of the road there was a designated campsite for the hiking trail Sigfridsleden and the canoe route Värendsleden.

I knocked on the house closest to the road where the owners lived, and they told me it was ok for me to drive down to the lake and unload the car.

I put the canoe in the water and packed it with my gear. It got pretty filled up, with a sack of firewood, the stove, a backpack and the large bulky tent. I had expected the tent to be large, but I was still surprised by how bulky it actually was. But this wasn’t a tent intended for hiking or having to carry it any longer distances.

C and I got into the canoe, and paddled out to the island. It didn’t take long, and once there we set up the tent and the stove, to have the camp ready.

We made some lunch, Pepper steaks, fried bell peppers and onions with rice, as usual. It really felt like fall, with the cold damp air around us. It was really nice to hang out in the warm dry tent instead.

After lunch we paddled out to do some fishing. It was a team effort, where I threw in the lure, and C reeled it back in. We did it for a while, but didn’t catch any fish. I didn’t really put much effort into it either, but it would have been nice to catch a pike.

The rest of the day we mostly hung out in the tent. With the damp cold weather outside, C preferred the inside of the tent instead of the cold outside.

When it got dark we lit the oil lamp and my new UCO candle lantern. That, and the light canvas of the tent gave us some really ambient lighting.

For dinner we had burgers, which was C:s choice. But I’m not complaining.

I kept adding firewood to the stove to keep us warm and snug, and eventually it was time for C to go to sleep. This night she was sad though, and it took a long time for her to go to sleep. Eventually she fell asleep next to me, in my sleeping bag. She woke up sad a couple of times, and I gave up the idea of getting her back into her sleeping bag. We ended up having her sleeping bag as a quilt above us.

The next morning C was up and running early. Too early in my opinion. She had used my arm as a pillow, which forced me to lay on one side the entire night. I usually toss and turn a lot, so I didn’t get the best sleep this night.

We fried some pita breads for breakfast and then explored the island. It was a small island, and we had camped at the southern end of it, but there was a nice spot for a tent at the northern end too. Good to know for future trips.

We went out with the canoe again to do some fishing. Same procedure as the day before, with me throwing it out, and her reeling it back. But we didn’t get anything this time either.

After that last attempt to catch something we paddled back to the island and took down our camp. We paddled the short stretch back to main land, packed up the car and drove home.

This had been my first night out with a canvas tent. I actually sold my Bergans Ally to fund the Tentipi Safir instead. It’s heavy and bulky, but roomy, light, comfortable and easy to set up. The quality feels impeccable, and since the fabric breathes you don’t get bothered by condensation. For these kind of trips, where comfort and good food is the main goal, a tent like this is perfect.

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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).

Friday night car camping

The snow has finally melted in southern Sweden, even though the temperatures drop below freezing during the night, and the lakes are still frozen over.

I wanted to take my youngest daughter on an overnight trip, so she could test her new sleeping bag, the Cumulus Junior 250. I had it customized with 850cuin down instead of 700cuin to add more warmth.

I tried to persuade the rest of the family to come with us, but spending a Friday evening in a tent wasn’t something any of them where interested in. So it was just me and Corinne.

Since it was still cold outside I wanted to have a small fire inside the tent. I brought the big tipi, the Helsport Normarka 6, and a Tentipi Hekla 7 firebox.

For sleeping gear I brought two Multimat Adventure sleeping pads. I didn’t want to use my more fragile (and expensive) Exped mat, since Corinne can roam around the tent like a drunk elephant at times.

I also brought the Aegismax G1 sleeping bag for me, the Cumulus Junior for Corinne and the Wind Hard Tiny quilt for extra warmth for the both of us.

I packed up the car after work, and then drove to the store. We filled up on goodies; candy, chocolate, lemonade, sausages, buns, cheeses etc. then we drove out to Lerike, at the north end of Helgasjön. I thought about going somewhere else, but it was starting to get late, and it’s only a short drive from home. Unfortunate there is a lot of noise from the nearby airport, and a large road across the lake.

When we came there we started to set up the tipi. Corinne was overexcited about sleeping in the new sleeping bag, and hardly wanted to wait until the tent was up.

When we had the tent up I took out the sleeping gear and put thin reflective mats on the floor to insulate a bit from the cold ground.

I started a small fire, and we sat next to it as it slowly grew larger.

When the fire was large enough we stared to grill some sausages. We had the top vent and the lower side vent fully open. The door was halfway open. It did get a bit warmer in the tipi, and we only had trouble with the tipi getting soaked in smoke once, when a piece of firewood started to create a lot of smoke. We opened up the door fully and ventilated the tipi.

After we’d had dinner we sat for a while by the fire and ate all our snacks. But it was beginning to get late, and time for both of us to get to bed.

I dressed Corinne with a thick fleece base layer and then she crawled down into her sleeping bag. She was super exited about sleeping in it. On our earlier trips she’s only been using a quilt, so this was her first time in a sleeping bag.

I put the quilt over both of our sleeping bags, and we quickly fell asleep. She woke up on a couple of occasions, but other than that, we slept good the entire night.

The next morning Corinne woke me up at 06.20. I was did not feel like I was done sleeping, but since she was, apparently I was too. I didn’t mind that much though, since I got to see the sunrise for once. I stayed in my sleeping bag for a while, but Corinne roamed around the tent and laid beside me once in a while, when she felt that she needed to heat up again.

Eventually I got up too, and we made breakfast. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of making a fire, but just heated up water in the Trangia stove instead. We had breakfast, explored the cape a bit and then packed up. We where back home in time for the rest of the family to eat breakfast. It was just a short overnight car camping trip, but it was fun to be out with C again.

Next time I’ll try to bring her on a longer trip. Maybe a two night trip, where we set up a base camp and then go on day trips. I just got a map and a guidebook on trips in Glaskogens nature reserve, so maybe we’ll try that later in spring.

Tresticklan – first trip of 2018

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition to go on a hiking-/ camping trip the first week of the year.

This time I had planned to do a two-night trip, and I really wanted to go to Tresticklan National Park as I really like the place, and hadn’t been there since May 2016.

Tresticklan is a ~29km2 National Park in Dalsland, just at the border of Norway. Together with Lundsneset nature reserve on the Norwegian side you have 55km2 of protected lands. The area consists of rift valleys, with vast pine forests, small lakes and ponds and bogs.

I have been in Tresticklan and Lundsneset two times before, and if you like solitude this is the place for you. It’s far away from any larger towns. The closest town is Ed, 15 km south of Tresticklan, with just under 3000 inhabitants. Apart from the occasional airplane passing by, you don’t hear any man made sounds. Being far away from towns also means that there aren’t that many visitors, at least in my experience.

I had taken a few days off from work, left the youngest kids at my parents and in laws so that my wife wouldn’t be left alone with the young tornadoes but also get some lone time, and left home early on Thursday morning.

The weather changed between rain, sleet and snow, and it was a 6 hour drive to get there. I can’t say I enjoy having to drive so far alone, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be common (and affordable).

I got up to Tresticklan around 14.00. There was a small uphill from the main road to the road leading to the parking lot. The uphill was covered in ice, and my car slid down on the main road again. But with enough gas, and having the left wheels a bit in the ditch, I could get enough grip to get up the hill. The road wasn’t plowed though, and I almost ended up in the ditch a couple of times, even though I drove carefully.

When I came to the parking lot my car was the only one there. It was cloudy and snowing, and there was quite a lot of snow on the ground. The temperature was just below freezing, so the snow was quite wet. I put on my rain gear before I left the parking lot.

I knew from my earlier trips that it’s hard to find campsites for tents here. The rift valleys makes it hard to find level ground, and when you do, the ground is often to shallow to peg a tent, with rocks just underneith.

I hiked the trail west towards Lundsneset, and then turned south on western end of the circle trail in the middle of the park. I had camped here during my last trip, but I couldn’t find the location in the snow. I lost track of the trail several times, since it was covered in snow, and wet snow had stuck to the trees, covering the trail markings.

It was getting dark fast, and eventually I felt that I couldn’t keep hiking any longer, and had to set up camp somewhere. I left the trail and hiked straight up a hill, and found what looked like a somewhat flat place, with lots of undergrowth. I tried to compress the snow and the undergrowth to make it somewhat level, and set up the tent. It wasn’t level by any means. I had to put my sleeping pad in the wrong (shorter) direction in the tent, and stow my backpack and clothes under one side of the sleeping pad to make it level enough not to roll off it.

There was a heavy snow fall with wet snow, and I started to make dinner. I’ve seen one of the people I follow on Instagram bring premade rice porridge on her trips, and I had to try it, and brought it with me this time. I was a bit tired since I had barely slept the night before, and made just rice porridge and glüewine for dinner.

I had brought a twig stove with me. There is a fire ban in the park, but I had asked the authorities about it before the trip, and a twig stove was ok. But you’re not allowed to break any branches from neither living nor dead trees, which left me with already fallen twigs laying on the ground. Since everything was covered in wet snow I didn’t even bother. I used my gas canister stove, but since I had brought cheap gas it didn’t work well in the cold, and I had to hold the canister in my hands to keep it warm enough to give a flame. Next time I’ll be smart enough to bring either Primus Winter gas or my Multifuel stove.

Bringing rice porridge is far from UL, but it was super delicious. After dinner I crawled into my sleeping bag and watched Bright on Netflix. I didn’t sleep well, as the sleeping pad still wasn’t level, and it was pretty uncomfortable. I also think I might have set up camp on, or near someone’s toilet. There was a slight smell of… poop. But I was too tired and it was too dark and snowy outside for me to wanna move camp.

Next morning I tried to find the source of the smell after I broke camp, but didn’t find it. I was prepared for a nasty surprise under my floor, but fortunately it was clean.

After breakfast I kept hiking south. In the southernmost part of the circle trail there is another trail that leads down to the southern end of Tresticklan. I hadn’t been in the southern parts before, and decided to go as far south as I could before 13.00, and then turn back. I had planned to get back home early on Saturday, and wanted the next camp to be pretty close to the parking lot.

It was a lot of snow here, and sometimes it was knee deep. It was hard to follow the “trail” and I lost track of it several times.

At around 12.30 I made lunch at the shore of the lake Stora Pylsan. I took my time, enjoyed the solitude, and then turned back north. The forest was beautiful, with snow covered trees, freshly formed ice on the lakes and the tranquility you get when no other humans are around. I walked around with a big smile on my face, and really enjoyed my time there.

When I came back to the circle trail I followed my foot steps back towards the trail to Lundsneset, and then back towards the parking lot. When I came to a section between the lakes Lilla- and Stora Tresticklan i left the trail and hiked up a hill. There I found a perfect campsite, and was able to make a perfect pitch of my tent (unlike the night before).

It had been getting colder during the day, and I put on my fleece, down jacket, wind jacket and my down booties. Boiling water was a pain, and my fingers got numb from trying to heat up the gas canister. Despite me having under my jacket to keep it warm. I was however able to make dinner eventually. I also boiled water to keep in a bottle wrapped in socks as a radiator in my sleeping bag.

I went to bed and slept quite well during the night. As so often, I woke up around 4-5 o’clock, feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and went back to sleep. I think the temperatures dropped down to around -7 to -8°C during the night.

When I woke up I really had to struggle mentally to make myself leave the comfortable warm sleeping bag and get outside in the cold. I did it gradually, and boiled coffee while still in the sleeping bag. I had brought Growers Cup coffee, which tastes really good, and can be reused. I had brought one, and the refilled it with regular coffee during the trip.

I left camp around 9.30, and hiked through the forest in beautiful weather. I could see the sky for the first time this trip, and the air was really crisp and cold.

I walked the last stretch back to the car, and at the parking lot I met three peoplewith a dog, that was going to do a short day hike. My footsteps had been the only once I’d seen in the park, which means that during my time there I’d had 55km2 of beautiful forest all to myself. I really wish I could get back here more and I would have loved to stay here a couple of more nights.

It was a great start of the year, and I hope it only gets better.