Preliminary planning for 2017

I’ve gradually started to make plans for the hikes this year. I had a plan to spend 10% of the nights outside, and do at least one hiking/camping trip every month.

This is how far I’ve come in my plans, but they may change during the year.

Januari: Helgasjön – Lerike (2 days)
Februari: Helgasjön – Helgö (2 days)
March: Sigfridsleden från Asa till Växjö (3 days)
April: Österlen-cirkeln (3 days)
May: Coast2coast (2-3 days)
June: Helgasjön – east side (2-3 days)
July: Femundsmarka (4+ days)
August: Kungsleden; Vakkotavare to Abisko (14-16 days)
September: Skåneleden-Bjärehalvön or Tiveden (3 days)
October: Tresticklan (3 days)
November:
December:

I’ve already done the off-trail hike at Lerike in January and the short overnighter at Helgö in February.

In March I plan to get a lift to Asa, north of Växjö and then hike Sigfridsleden, 53km from Asa back to Växjö. I’ll try to do it from a Friday afternoon to a Sunday.

In April I’ll hike Österlen-cirkeln after getting a tip about it from Brian Outdoor. I’m still looking at satellite photos and maps to find good places to set up camp. You’re not allowed to camp inside the nature reserve, other than on designated camp sites. But as I’m not a big fan of camp sites I try to find good spots outside of the nature reserve, but still close to the trail.

In May I’d like to hike a couple of days with Coast2Coast Sweden as they’ll be passing close to home on their way to Varberg. Coast2coast is an annual 400km group hike from Kalmar to Varberg, and from what I’ve gathered there is an emphasis on lightweight hiking.

In June I’d like to do some off-trail hiking on the east side of Helgasjön, starting at the small village Stojby.

In July I thought I might try to get to Femundsmarka national park in Norway. My initial plan is to start driving on a Thursday afternoon, hike Friday to Sunday and then drive back home on Monday. I’ll start at Grövelsjön, and that’s a 9+ hour drive from home. I’m not sure I’ll do this in July though. We’ll be visiting my wifes relatives in Greece in July, and I’ll only do this trip if I’ve got the time for it. Otherwise I’ll do it in September. Initially I plan to bring my oldest daughter on this trip, but it depends on how willing she actually is to tag along when the time comes.

The big trip of the year is planned to be in August. It’s the two week hike on Kungsleden from Vakkotavare to Abisko, that I wrote about here.

In September I’ll either try to get to Femundsmarka if I can’t get there in July, otherwise I’ve planned Skåneleden, on Bjärehalvön. I’m still not sure about this trail though, as it might be more rural than I prefer. I might go to Tiveden instead.

In October I want to go to Tresticklan. I really like Tresticklan / Lundsneset and I have to get back there at least once this year.

I haven’t planned anything for November and December yet, but there’s no rush.

These are my initial plans, but of course everything has to work out on the home front. Hopefully my wife or one of my kids will tag along one some of the hikes.

The hiking year 2016

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The New Years Eve is closing in, and it’s time to sum up the past year. My goal for the year was to get out on at least one overnight trip every month of the year.

I didn’t succeed with this though, but I did get out on quite a few trips.

January:

Februari:

  • My third child was born, so hiking was not a priority in Februari.

March:

  • A two night trip on John Bauerleden north of Jönköping in the beginning of March, that nearly ruined my feet.
  • An overnighter again in the end of March on Vildmarksleden near Åseda. I got sick during the hike and spent the next few days in bed after this hike.

April:

  • I didn’t get away on a hike this month.

May:

June:

  • No trip this month either.

July:

August & September:

  • A two night hike on another trail called Vildmarksleden, this time east of Gotherburg. It was a wet rainy experience and not a trail I’ll visit again.
  • The “big” trip this year begun in late August and ended in the beginning of September and was a week-long hike in Jotunheimen in Norway. It was a great trip with mostly good weather. It was very windy though. But I can’t wait to get back to some real mountains again.

October:

  • In late October I finally got out on a trip. I had planned for a two night hike in Tiveden, but really poor weather made me change my mind, and despite the long drive I ended up with a short overnighter.

November:

  • In the beginning of November I got out on an overnighter on Helgö, just outside Växjö. It was one of the first cold nights, and I woke up to a white layer of snow. I did have some serious condensation on this trip.
  • In the middle of the month I got out again. This time on an overnighter in Lerike, at the north end of the lake Helgasjön. Everything was covered in a thick layer of frost, and the nature was absolutely stunning. I tried to make a short video of the trip, but it got quite short since I had forgotten to bring a larger memory card. I haven’t decided if I’m going to publish it or not.

December:

  • No trip this month, but in the first week of January I plan to be out in the wild again.

When it comes to gear I both added and changed a few things. My biggest purchase was the Hilleberg Enan. I actually like it better than I thought I would. I was afraid I’d find it too small and cramped, but it felt a lot roomier than expected.

I also bought a down quilt from Cumulus. This was my first time using a quilt instead of a sleeping bag, and I’m still not sure if I like it. I might end up selling it, and buying a Liteline 400 instead.

I also bought an Exped Winterlite sleeping pad. I really like my Synmat 7 UL, but as soon as the temperatures drop below freezing I find it too cold. It was comfortable and warm, but the mummyshape takes some getting used to.

During the fall I started to stock up gear for my planned ACT hike. After the trip to Jotunheimen I realised that I would have a hard time fitting 12-14 days worth of food in my 60l backpack (it’s not like it can’t be done, but I’d have a hard time making it work). The hike takes somewhere between 9-11 days, but I might also start at the Ice cap, with will add 40 km to the trail. I also want to do some more advanced outdoor cooking than just eating my freezer bag meals. It also seems to be really hard to get gas canisters in Greenland and a multi fuel stove seems to be the best way to go. For this I purchased an Exped Expedition 80 backpack, a Trangia 27 ULHA and the multi fuel burner X2 to the Trangia. I did put some thought down before I bought the Trangia, considering it’s weight and volume. But in Norway, where I was constantly above timberline and with really strong winds most of the time I did miss having a sturdy stove with a better windshield. Cooking was a pain in the ass when the windshield almost blew away and much of the heat escaped because of the wind.

I’m constantly trying to improve my gear and find the perfect gear for me and for the designated trip. I try to conserve my shopping in my everyday life, but when it comes to outdoor gear, I think I have a problem. 🙂

All things considered, I had a great hiking year. I do want to get out a lot more than I do. But it is a balance between familylife, work and my need to get out on hikes.

Next year I’d really like to buy a pair of Åsnes Sondre and get out on a winter trip. I also have loosely planned to buy a canoe, and if so, it’ll most likely be an Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga. It was love at first sight, and I’ll go to their showroom next year and look at one up close. There aren’t that many good hiking trails close to Växjö (if you don’t like dark spruce forests), but Småland is littered with lakes, and with a canoe I can do a lot of trips in beautiful scenery close to home. It’s a really big investment though and I don’t know if I can prioritize the cost.

I wish you all a happy new year, and I hope that you have a lot of great trips in 2017!

Long drive – short hike

So last weekend I was finally able to get away on a trip. The weekend before it had been very nice weather, and now in the upcoming weekend it’ll be very nice weather. The weather last weekend was, well, not so nice. I saw on the weather report that it would be rain the entire weekend, but decided to go anyways. I’m fully booked this weekend and I couldn’t wait two more weeks to get out. So last Friday I drove to Tiveden, a national park located between Vänern and Vättern, the two largest lakes in Sweden.

I drove from home a little before 16.00, and I had three hours in the car ahead of me. It rained until I had approximately one hour left to the park.

I arrived around 19.00 and by then it was dark outside. I drove to the park entrance near Vitsand and parked the car there. The moment I parked the car, the rain started falling. I saw a campfire nearby, and met a couple with a dog that had left the fire. (It was in a concrete circle with no risks of spreading).

The park entrance is being rebuilt, and it’s being prepared for an expansion of the park. By spring 2017 the park will be 50% bigger than it is today. This is both good and bad. I like that they will make the park bigger, but since you’re not allowed to camp inside the park the new borders will make me have to choose new camp spots next year.

But by now it was ok to camp near the lake Stora Trehörningen. I hiked out of the park and found a nice camp spot to set up my tent. There was a fireplace there, but no firewood. I decided to just put up the tent and start the stove as I was to tired to try to find dry firewood.

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My camp-spot with a view over Stora Trehörningen. (photo taken the next morning)

I had mashed potatoes with smoked gammon and a cup of tea and then got to bed. I read Chris Townsend’s “Out There” for about an hour before going to sleep at around 21.00. I woke up sometime early in the morning when I heard a rustle. I thought it might be mice eating up my tent. It took me a while to figure out that it was the sound of the wind in my trash-bag that I had hung up in a tree. Bears, even though we have them, aren’t a big problem in Sweden. However mice can be a problem and wise from experience I hang up the trash-bag outside the tent to minimize the risk of having them inside the tent at night.

 

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Vitsand

As soon as I understood where the rustle came from I could sleep again. I slept until 9.00 and didn’t get up until 9.30. The rain had stopped during the night, but by the time I got up the rain had started again. It was also really cold outside and the rain mixed with snow. It rained quite heavily. I made a quick breakfast and then broke camp. I couldn’t decide if I was going to stay the entire weekend or not. The weather was awful with a lot of rain, the temperatures around freezing, and the weather report showed that it would rain even more the next day and the temperatures would stay around freezing. I didn’t really feel like staying any more. I hiked a few of the trails, but around 13.30 I decided to cut it short and get back home.

It felt bad to get back early, but at the same time I felt that if I would have stayed, it would only be for the sake of it.

I’ll get back to Tiveden again. I don’t know if it’ll be again this year, but it’ll be nice to see the expanded park and the new trails next spring.

No hiking and new gear

I haven’t updated this blog for a while now, simply because I haven’t been hiking for a while now. I’m on vacation in Greece, and has been so for some time. I’d love to hike down here someday, but not now in the middle of summer during the heat. The days now consists mainly of playing in the ocean with the kids or hanging around the house watching hiking-videos on YouTube :-). I’ll probably go for a shorter hike with my daughter in a couple of days though. It’ll be an evening-hike up to the top of the island, witch will be a 40-50 min hike, with a great view at the top, and I’ll update with a post afterwards.

Being in Greece hasn’t stopped me from buying new gear though. I can’t help it, but I really am a gear-junkie. I’ve been looking for another shelter for some time now. Zpacks Duplex, Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid, Locus Gear Hapi and Tarptent Notch are all tents that I’ve decided to buy, but later changed my mind about. I really thought I’d end up with either a Tarptent Notch or a Locus Gear Hapi.

In the end I finally I put down an order for a Hilleberg Enan. I can’t really specify why I choose it over the others. I’ve been reading a ton of reviews on shelters, and looked at a lot of videos on YouTube, and I can’t put it down to more than gut-feeling. It just felt like the right shelter for me. I’ll try it and see how I like it in reality.

The Enan will however up my weight a bit. Outnorth had a deal where they include the foot-print when you buy a Hilleberg-tent, and I intend to use it. I’ve often missed having a foot-print in the vestibule to keep my gear and myself from being wet when sitting there. It’ll also help to prevent condensation. Since I bought the 2016-version of the tent it weighs 1200g, same as my current shelter. But with the foot-print it weighs 1452g.

I also included a Black Diamond Cosmo in the order. It’s a headlamp and I’ll save 33g from my current headlamp. That’s not the main reason I bought it though. My daughter needs a new headlamp for our hikes together as the one she has is a heavy, poorly build, cheapo headlamp I bought of eBay a few years back. I try to lighten her load as well.

I can’t wait to get back home and try out my new tent and get out into the wild again. I’ve promised to bring my son on a short overnighter when we get back (even though it won’t be in the Enan), and in the beginning of August I’ll go on a 3-day hike with a friend. It’ll probably  be either Tiveden or Vildmarksleden. I’ll start a new job when I get back home, but I did have a week-long hike in Norway planned for the beginning of September. I hope I can make it work with the new job since I’ve really looked forward to get to Norway again.

All the best, and I hope you all get to go on some great hikes this summer.

Tresticklan and Lundsneset in May

Finally, after almost two month without a night outside, the schedule and life at home allowed me to get out again. I had been watching hiking movies on YouTube, read blogs and scrolled through Instagram photos a lot during these months. My feet were itching to get out again, and my mind craved solitude and the peace you only get in nature.

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My gear for this trip

As said in my Pre-hike post, I planned to hike with my buddy. Things came up for him, and I ended up hiking solo after all. I didn’t mind though, since I like my solitude. I’ve been stressed out lately, and I really looked forward to disconnect from everything and just relax in nature without cellphone reception 🙂

It was roughly a 5h drive to Tresticklan and I left home a bit after 08.00. The car GPS showed me all sorts of different routes, one longer than the other, but I had a pretty good notion on how to drive since I was there with my daughter last October.

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Entrance to the park

I arrived there a little after 13.00 and set of. 6-7 cars where already parked there. There is a trail that goes straight through the park to the cabin Budalsvika on the Norwegian side of the border. In the middle of the park there is a 5km loop trail that goes around the park and back to the trail to Budalsvika.

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Lunch with a view over Stora Tresticklan

I had lunch at a rock overlooking the lake Stora Tresticklan and then started walking the loop trail. A couple with a dog day hiked a bit ahead of me. We passed each over a couple of times. When I reached the southern end of the loop trail I continued along a trail that wasn’t marked on the map. I went on until I reached a march with no foot-bridge across and then turned back. I didn’t see the couple again.

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On the loop-trail

When the trail started to go back north again I followed another trail about 1km south. That trail goes all the way to the southern border of the park, and was the one I planned on hiking north-bound if I had hiked with my friend. I turned back, finished the loop trail and headed towards Budalsvika and the Norwegian border.

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I really love my Exped Lightning

I didn’t have anywhere special to go, or any time limits, except that I should be back home sometime on Sunday. When I reached the Norwegian border I started looking for a spot to set up my tent. It was late in the afternoon, too early to set up camp, but still late enough to start looking.

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The Swedish-Norwegian border

 

The ground in Tresticklan and Lundsneset consists of rift valleys and the soil is very shallow on many places. On most places with deeper soil the ground is covered with blueberry bushes or calluna witch makes it hard to find camp spots. The rift valleys also makes hiking in east-west direction harder than north-south since it’s a lot of ups and downs. The park consists mainly of pine trees. The trees are old, and there are a lot of dead standing trees all over the place. The dead trees, and the shallow soil makes a lot of trees falling, and you see both live and dead trees fallen over the trail. Something worth taking into notion when choosing a spot to set up your tent.

 

I found a good spot on the Norwegian side of Boksjön, a litte bit south of Budalsvika. But I still thought it was too early to set up camp and started hiking a trail going south. I had the first camp spot in mind if I wouldn’t find a better one. After a while, up on a ridge, I found a good spot to set up camp. The soil was pretty shallow, but there were some rocks to anchor the pegs that didn’t get stuck in the dirt.

I made dinner and laid in the tent and listened to the birdsong. The weather had been shifting between sunny and cloudy, but had mostly been good. I guess the temperature were around 15C. Kind of the perfect temperature for hiking.

I read “A walk in the woods” on my ebook reader for a couple of hours before going to sleep. This was my first night using a Quilt and I had been looking forward to trying it out. I’m not completely sold yet, but it was nice. I did have trouble getting it to stay in position when I tossed and turned though. I really want to try it again when the temperatures are close to freezing to see how it does in those temps.

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Airing out the Cumulus Quilt 350

I slept really well. I was happy to be out there, and I felt peaceful. I woke up to a choir of all sorts of birds. The weather was a bit better than the previous day. It was still cloudy at times, but the sun was out more that yesterday.

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It’s hard to get a picture of the view but this was a nice place

I kept walking on the ridge and found a spot with a great view over Boksjön. I hadn’t walked far from my camp site but I stayed there for over 20 min just looking at the scenery and listening to the birds singing.

I kept walking the trail. It was steep decline down to the lake. The trail continued straight through a marsh and into a forest. Halfway in the marsh I lost the trail. I had to check my map several times and bushwhacked through the forest until the trail was visible again. Apparently I was on the trail all along, but it was poorly marked and I don’t think these parts were used a lot since it was grown over. The maps for Lundsneset were pretty good though. The marked trails had km-marks on them so I had a good notion on how far and how fast I was walking.

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Great way to back-flush the filter

I found a great spot at Boksjön to filter my water. I used a sports water-cap to back flush the filter witch worked out great. The cap is a lot smaller and weighs less than the included syringe, and it works just as well. The water was incredibly  clear and with no evident taste at all Every time I filtered lake water before it’s always been at least a little taste and color of humus. But the water here was as clear and tasteless as tap water.

I hiked the trail until I came to a road, and then turned back again. I went back to the lake and had my lunch there. After lunch I hiked back towards Budalsvika. I had hiked parts of a loop trail, and took the other way back to Budalsvika.

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My camp on the second night

I went back to Sweden. It was a bit early to set up camp, so I started hiking the loop trail on the Swedish side again, in the opposite direction. I found a great spot about 30 meter of the trail. It was shallow ground on some places, but fortunately there were rocks scattered to anchor the tent. I guess other hikers had used them for the same purpose.

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A nightly visitor

It was a truly wonderful evening. The weather was perfect, and it was warm outside. I sat on a rock reading for a couple of hours before turning in. The night wasn’t wonderful though. It started raining a lot during the night, and the sound woke me up several times. Condensation (I hope) dropped down in my face. I saw a slug climbing the outside of my tent. Two more were on my shoes and then two more inside my pack. I flicked them away and got up.

I had a breakfast of tortilla with sausage and tortilla with Nutella. I didn’t bother with coffee since it was raining pretty heavily, and I didn’t want to use the stove inside the tent. I packed up and left the campsite.

I had managed to keep my feet dry for the most part of the trip, but this morning during the walk back to the car they got wet instantly. The rain stopped, but the trail was really wet. It was less than an hour walk back to the car. I packed up and left Tresticklan. On my way home I stopped by Burger King and filled my body with delicious fat-food. A tradition I have to keep after every hike 🙂

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Healthy? Nah, but good for your spirit

I’m really glad that I got away on this trip. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and really needed the solitude and to disconnect from work and everything that occupied my mind. I felt really peaceful and relaxed while out hiking and it was a trip that gave me new energy. The scenery is beautiful, and I don’t think I’ll do any more hikes through spouse-plantations just because they are conveniently close to home. It’s well worth the drive to get to more interesting places.

When it comes to gear I think I’m pretty close to a perfect pack. I can’t say enough good things about my backpack. I really like it more and more. The thing I’ll change will probably be the tent. I want to get a sub 1kg tent, and as said in earlier posts I’m looking at the Locus Gear Hapi, with a solid inner. The Tarptent Notch is also on my list, witch is cheaper, lighter and with a smaller footprint. We’ll see what I’ll end up with.

Next hike will probably be in Tiveden Nationalpark.

Vildmarksleden (Wilderness trail) in late march

In the end of march I decided to go on the second trip of the month. The weather had been warmer for quite some time so I didn’t expect any snow. My plan was to try trailrunners in snowfree conditions. This time though I used both gaiters two pairs of these thin woolsocks. I also wanted to test myself and see how far I could walk in a day with the lightweight gear that I have now and still enjoy myself.

I set out to Vildmarksleden in Klavreström, about 40km north of Växjö. I have hiked this trail a few years earlier and didn’t like it. But I thought the 37km was a decent length for an overnight-trip, it was fairly close to home and I wanted to see if my impressions of the trail would change.

Sadly, it wouldn’t. Despite the name Vildmarksleden, witch means Wildernesstrail, it feels like far from wilderness. In consists mainly of sprouse-plantations, clear-cuts of sprouse-plantations and marshes. Long stretches of the trail is forest-roads. It has some beautiful passages, for example a stretch near Älghultssjön. But unfortunately the beautiful passages are in minority.

Anyways, I parked my car in Klavreström and headed out around 11.00 with the following packlist: https://lighterpack.com/e/3vgxg4

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A part of the trail next to Älghultssjön

I walked to around 14.00 before I made lunch. I had my homemade Lapsgojs, mashed potatoes with meat.

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My dinnerplace
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Lapsgojs is soaking and the ghee will be added later.

I while after lunch I actually got lost. A lot of trees had fallen during storms, and on a poorly marked part of the trail I got lost. I couldn’t see where the trail was going, and by the calculations of where on the map I was I thought I’d just bushwhack a bit and then get to the trail. Unfortunately I had overrated the speed I was walking at and was at another sections of the trail than the one I thought. The terrain was similar though with clear-cuts, heights and marshes. I bushwhacked for about an hour and went right through a marsh before I reached the trail again.

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Despite being a clear-cut this was actually a nice section of the trail.

I kept walking to 18.00 before I set up camp. I remembered from the last time on the trail that there would be a nice clearing where I could set up the tent. I was very tired and my body was aching when I reached the clearing. At that time I just thought I was tired from walking all day. Something that would prove to be wrong.

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Couscous-stew with brocolli and salami for dinner
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The clearing where I spent the night in my Luxe Outdoor Sil-Hexpeak

The moment my water for the dinnerbag boiled the skies opened in an icy rain that turned into hail. I ate inside the tent and quickly went to bed. I curled up in the sleepingbag and watched an episode of Kampen om tungvattnet (the saboteurs) and then went to sleep.

I woke up the next day feeling miserable. I skipped breakfast and quickly packed up. The tent was covered in ice.

I walked the ~12km left of the trail and got back to the car. When I got back home I discovered that I had a fever, and I was sick for about a week. I guess it has something to do with age after 30 :-). It’s not like a few years ago when you were sick for a day or two and then got back in the game.

After this hike I realised that I still don’t like Vildmarksleden. It’s ok in length but it really doesn’t offer that much when it comes to beautiful nature.

Next trip will hopefully be in Tiveden or Tresticklan nationalpark. I’ve been in both before, and the scenery is gorgeous if you like lowland-hikes.  I had planned a trip with a friend for the coming weekend, but unfortunately other things got in the way so I have to postpone it. A tripreport will come as soon as I get a chance to get out again.