Sigfridsleden – for those who love pavement

 General info

Sigfridsleden starts in Asa, north of Växjö and goes 88 km south, past Växjö, down to Knapelid south of Åryd where it connects to Utvandrarleden. From Asa to Växjö the trail is approximately 50 km. Trail is the wrong word though, as most of this route is on paved road. The route is part of a 4000 km network of pilgrim routes  that goes from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

My packlist for this hike

Trip report

Last Friday I asked my father, whom my son would spend the weekend with, to drive me to Asa, where the trail starts. I’ve been here two times before, in the first week of January 2015 and 2016 on short overnight trips. Those times I only hiked a couple of km before setting up camp. This time though, I planned to hike the trail back to Växjö.

After studying the map I was prepared for a bit of road walking, and I didn’t have high expectations on the “trail”. But I saw it as a chance to get out, and as a workout as I planned to push myself and do high milage. The weather report predicted lows below freezing, so I decided to bring my Cumulus Panyam 600 and my Exped Winterlite, as I hate being cold.

I was dropped off at Asa church at around 18.30. I planned to hike for an hour or so, but I ended up hiking for two hours, and did ~9km. The first part follows a small road, which then turns into a logging road. After that you follow a trail next to the lake Asasjön. This part of the route was great, but short. I saw two roe deers and a crane on a field. They observed me, but as I came closer they left in a hurry.

IMG_0695
Asasjön, a couple of hours before sundown

I either walked through uneven forests or next too fields, so it took me a while to find a good camp site. I had checked the map and planned to set up my tent near Skärsjön. When I came there I saw that there was a shooting range, with the targets in direction of the cape where I had planned to set up my tent. I walked past the shooting range and found some flat ground on the shore of Skärsjön, outside of the danger zone.

The whole evening had been windy, and the wind really picked up after I set up camp. The rain started falling just after I got my shelter up. The ground was loose, so my stakes didn’t get a good grip. I made a quick dinner and then went to bed. I was to tired to even read.

A little before 01.00 I woke up after falling in and out of sleep since I got to bed. I saw that the wind was about to rip a couple of the most exposed stakes. I got up, put on a rain jacket and started looking for big rocks. Wet snow had started to fall. I anchored the most exposed stakes with rocks and crawled back into my sleeping bag. As I laid there I was afraid for the first time while hiking. The trees around me made cracking sounds, and I was afraid that one would crack and fall on me. When the gusts really picked up I actually felt the ground sway. At first I thought I was imagining it, but after a while I realized that it was the roots of the nearby trees that moved beneath me as the wind shocked them. I went to sleep with an image of me being impaled with torn off roots from a falling tree.

IMG_0698IMG_0703

I woke up to a beautiful morning with clear skies. But the wind still blew hard, which made it hard to pack down the tent.

I left my campsite and started hiking a gravel road. There were a few short parts with trail, but after that the long, seemingly endless stretch of pavement begun. The route had changed, so my map wasn’t accurate, but I had a newer map in my cellphone.

IMG_0727

After I had passed the village Tolg, I saw a strange tower on a hill in the distance. I Googled it, and apparently it was Nykulla Observation Tower, built in the late 1950s. I thought about going up there, but from the sign near the parking lot it looked like it opened in May.

After the tower there was a short section of actual trail through a pine forest.

IMG_0735

But then came the paved roads again. Endless paved roads for kilometer after kilometer. My feet cheered the few times they touched actual trail. I was in a bad mood, and thought to myself that the people that made this route must hate hikers, since most of it was on pavement. But I had myself to blame, since no-one forced me to be there.

As always I was looking for the perfect campsite. The route passed many fields and uneven forests, and I had planned to camp near Toftasjön, in Notteryd nature reserve. In the end my feet, calves, knees and thighs hurt. I was really tired as I had hiked nonstop, except for a 30-minute lunch break. I did the hike as a way to exercise and to see how far I could push myself in a day.

IMG_0753

When I came to Notteryd I left Sigfridsleden and turned to the Notteryd circle trail. I followed the shore of Toftasjön out to the cape “Tungan” where I found a decent spot in a birch forest. The ground was pretty uneven, but at this point I didn’t care.

IMG_0814

I was exhausted, and went to bed right after I had put up my shelter, at 20.00. I didn’t even make dinner. I had hiked somewhere between 37-40 km, which is a new record for me. I fell asleep and slept good the entire night.

I woke up at around 08.00, but stayed in my sleeping bag for a while. After that I took it slow, aired out the sleeping bag and dried out the slight condensation I had on the inside of my shelter.

A little after 10.00 I left my camp site and headed home. I followed the circle trail to the road, and then walked the rest of the way on the road that cuts through Fylleryd nature reserve, and I was back home in less than 2 hours.

I didn’t take a lot of photos on this trip. I saw a lot of small villages, farms, fields and pavement.

Would I recommend this hiking route? No, not unless you have a hiking nemesis that you want to trick into doing a really boring route. Or if you like hiking on paved roads. There may be a target group for a route like this, but for me, who hikes to disconnect from everyday life and to get in touch with nature the route was a disappointment.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 – First impressions

As I’ve wrote before I made some gear changes this spring. The biggest change was a whole new shelter setup. Before, I had a Hilleberg Enan, a great tent that I was mostly pleased with. But I decided to try Dyneema Composite fabric (former Cuben Fiber) and bought an Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, a polycro groundsheet from Gossamer Gear and a Borah Gear Bivy.

I’ve had a 2014 Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex-peak before, but always used it with an inner. This was my first experience with a floorless shelter.

I’ve only done one test pitch in the garden, and after that, used it for one night in the woods. This is not an in depth review of the Ultamid 2, but more a note of my impressions after using it for the first time.

20170322_170507850_iOS.jpg
Test pitch in the back yard the night I got it

When I first received it I realized that Cuben Fiber is quite bulky. Despite being so light, the bag itself was quite large. I weighted it, and the tent, with the extra 100′ of guy line weighs 663g. The tent with three ~12̈́’ guy lines attached weighs 591g. It was heavier than listed, but it really doesn’t matter.

The first thing I did when I received it was to unpack it and check all the seams. Everything was in order, and the shelter really had a quality feel to it. I also made a test pitch in the garden. It was roomy inside, but I think it will take some practice to get the corners in a perfect 90° angle. I think that I’ll be able to fit three people inside, if I offset the pole a bit.

After I took it down I cut the 100′ of extra guy line into eight ~12′ lines. I made a loop, with a taut line hitch, on each line to easily be able to tighten and loosen the guy line. I tied three guy lines to the center panel guy points using two half hitches. I stored the extra guy lines in a zip lock back. For regular below-tree line hikes I don’t need them. But above tree line, where the wind really picks up, I’ll need all of the guy lines.

On the inside of the shelter there are two D-rings. You could tie a line between them to dry your socks, or use it to strap the shock cord from your bivy to get the mesh off your face, like I did.

20170326_061925310_iOS
The hiking poles are strapped together using HMG Poles straps
20170326_061951973_iOS
There are four guy points in each corner, plus three mid paned guy points. One on each side except on the entrance side

The Ultamid 2 was spacious and bright. I guess my preference in general is to have a darker color that matches the forest more, but I liked how bright it was inside when the morning sun shined through the fabric (and the spruce green was to expensive for me).

I use my hiking poles as the center pole. I strap them together using Hyperlite Mountain Gears Pole straps. It worked better than I expected, and I did get the poles tightly together. But I do consider making a “missing link” or something like that to connect the poles easier. I might buy a spare bottom section to my hiking poles, and cut it to an appropriate length and then use that to connect the poles together.

You could buy both an inner with a floor, and a floorless net inner. I plan to try mine in mosquito infested areas without either before I decide if I need one. I’ll probably go for the floorless one if I decide to get an inner.

After one nights use I’m happy with my Ultamid 2. It’s light, bright, spacious and well built. So far I really recommend it. I’ll write a more in depth review once I’ve used it for a while.

Disclaimer: I don’t know if I need to add this, but I buy all of my gear for my own money. There are no affiliation links, but I add the links for convenience of the reader. Should a company offer affiliation links I’ll add information about it in the disclaimer.

Österlen circle trail in March

General info

Österlen circle trail is a part of Skåneleden, and the trail goes through beautiful deciduous forests outside village Brösarp in the south east of Skåne. The circle trail is 34 km long, and it’s connected to the rest of Skåneleden, both in south east from Piraten parking lot, north from Agusta shelter area and south from Verkasjön.

You get here by following road 19, and the trail goes straight through Piraten where you could leave your car. There are smaller roads that you could use to drive closer to the shelter areas at Agusta, Verkasjön or Vantalången.

Much of the trail goes through the nature reserves like Drakamöllan and Verkeåns nature reserve. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to camp inside the nature reserves, other than on the designated camp sites.

My packlist

Trip report

I have to thank Brian for recommending this trail. He wrote a trip report from his hike here a couple of weeks before I did the hike.

My first plan was to drive down to Brösarp on a Friday evening, and set up camp pretty close to the car and then spend the Saturday and Sunday hiking. But when it was time to get to the trail I ended up driving down early on Saturday morning instead.

It was roughly a two hour drive from home, and I parked my car at Piraten parking lot, just north of Brösarp, at 09.30.

The weather couldn’t be better. The sun was shining and it really felt like spring was in the air. I decided to hike the trail counter clockwise, a decision I came to regret later.

The first section of the trail went through a really beautiful deciduous forest. This section was not a nature reserve, and if / when I get back to this trail I’ll probably camp here.

IMG_0391
Coming from the dark spruce forests of Småland, this felt almost exotic 🙂
IMG_0396
Drakamöllan nature reserve

After this section of deciduous forest I entered Drakamöllan nature reserve which to a large degree consists of pasture and heath on hills of sand and gravel formed during the ice age.

Just before the trail turns west, out of Drakamöllan, it crosses a stream. I sat down and decided to have a coffee break.

IMG_0401
First real test of my DIY windsheild. The water quickly came to a boil

After the break I continued down the trail, and after a short while I came to a road. The trail follows the road for about 2,5 – 3 km before it turned back into the woods. It crossed an interesting landscape filled with junipers before it passed Hörröd church and back into a nature reserve. Despite being in Skåne, the flattest part of Sweden, there was some great views. I had lunch in a beautiful forest with tree covered hills.

IMG_0405
A stream cut through the forest

Eventually I came to Agusta shelter area. It had a lean-to shelter and a lot of places to set up your tent. The shelter area was bordering an enclosed area with boars and deers. The trail follows the fence for a while. I didn’t see any deers, but I saw two flocks of boars, that started to run in the opposite direction once I came close.

After hours of walking through very scenic environment I came to the only boring section of the trail. First, a stretch of spruce forest, and after that a stretch passing a clear cut just north of Alunbruket.

My initial thought was to set up camp at Verkasjön shelter area near Alunbruket. It was getting late, and I was tired. When I came to Verkasjön though I didn’t find any good spot to set up my tent, and after looking at the map and satellite photos I decided to keep going and try to find a nice spot just outside the border of the nature reserve. This proved to be harder than I thought as the parts just outside the nature reserve was dense spruce forest. After a while I was to tired to keep looking for a better spot, and ended up in the spruce forest after all. I wasn’t happy about it. After hiking a whole day in really old beautiful deciduous forests I ended up in dark spruce forest after all.

The sun had already begun to set when I got my tent up. It was the first time I used my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 and my Borah Gear Bivy. Earlier in the week I had cut the extra guy lines in appropriate lengths to the guy points. I used a taut line hitch for the loops, to be able to easily tighten and loosen the guy line.

Once I got my tent up I made dinner. At first I felt to tired, but I made dinner after all. After that I cut some shock cord and tied it to a mitten hook and to the bivy to be able to strap it to the D-ring in the top of the Ultamid to get the mesh of my face.

I went to sleep early and slept fairly good. I woke up with the sun shining through my tent, and a chorus of bird songs. The disappointment I had felt over my site selection last night was gone.

IMG_0428
My palatial home for the night

There was some slight condensation on the inside of the tent, but it vanished quickly when I opened up the doors.

After breakfast I got back to the trail. I had somewhere between 8-10 km left to hike. The trail followed Verkeån for most of the time. I passed Vantalången shelter area. There where a couple of newly built lean-to shelters in the area. There was a group of campers there, that was airing out their tent and their sleeping bags.

IMG_0449
Verkeån
IMG_0456
The last forest before Brösarps backar

I left the forest behind me and came to Brösarps backar. The last stretch of the hike was on the hills, with nice views of the surrounding area.

IMG_0485.JPG
Brösarps backar

I came back to the car around noon. Not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures around 15°C. It was great, and I could easily have stayed for one more night.

I definitely recommend hiking the Österlen Circle trail. Except for the road section, and the short section through the spruce plantation and clear cuts, the trail went through idyllic fairy tale forests.

Change of plans and change of gear

As I’ve wrote in previous posts, my big trips this year was planned to be the Arctic Circle Trail between Kangerlussuak and Sisimiut in Greenland. I had really been looking forward to it, and basically everything was planned, except buying the plane tickets. The thing is though that I’m also going on a week-long hike with my childhood friend Fredrik, who hiked with me in Jotunheimen last year. Three weeks away from my family this summer was to much, and I decided to postpone the trip to Greenland. It actually felt like a hard choice to make as I was dead set on getting to Greenland, and my planning had to start from the beginning again. My wife has told me though that we’ll make sure I can go to Greenland next summer instead.

I still wanted to go on a two-week hike, but Fredrik wanted to hike for a week at the most. To make this work, I had to come up with a route that would make it possible for me to start hiking a week in advance, meet up with Fredrik and then continue together. I also needed to make sure there were shortcuts to our meetup point if weather or my physique would keep me from reaching it in time.

If I could make this work, I would still get the solitude I wanted the first week, and then a second week of hiking with a good friend. I started to look at Sarek, but I’ve never been there, and from answers in Swedens largest outdoor forum I came to the conclusion that it would be hard to put together a 1+1 week trip that didn’t include Fredrik flying out with a helicopter to a meetup point. I knew before even asking him that this wouldn’t be an option. I also felt that hiking for the first time Sarek, with no marked trails, shouldn’t be done with a timeschedule like that.

Eventually I looked at Kungsleden, the Kings trail, and the possibility to meet up at Nikkaluokta and hike to Abisko together. My plan was to start south of Nikkaluokta about a week before Fredrik. The starting point had to close enough to reach Nikkaluokta in time even if the weather forced me to have a rest day or I would hike slower than I had planned. But I also wanted to be able to take a longer route if I hiked as fast, or faster than planned.

kungsleden
My planned route to Nikkaluokta

After looking at the maps and searching for places to get to by bus I planned to start at Vakkotavare, in the lower left corner of the map. I would then follow the green line to Singistugorna. Here, I could turn east and hike to Nikkaluokta (the red line). This route should take approximately 3 day. But my initial plan is to keep following the green line until 2,5-3 km before Sälkastugorna. Here I’ll turn east along Gaskkasjohka. I could turn south again and take a shortcut to Kebnekaise mountainstation and then hike to Nikkaluokta (the orange line), keep hiking to Kaskavagge and there turn south to Kebnekasie mountainstation (the yellow line). But the plan is to hike around the mountain Palkastak and then hike south along Visttasvaggi until I reach Nikkaluokta (where the red and green line meets in the right part of the map).

The planned route, following the green line, should take somewhere between 6-7 days. The rest of the hike, between Nikkaluokta and Abisko should take somewhere between 5-6 days.

I have also done a few gear changes. A few very large gear changes. I did spontaneously bought the Exped Expedition 80 backpack, but I realized that I didn’t want to go the heavier route, but instead will try to fit two weeks worth of gear and food in my Exped Lightning 60 pack. If I come to the conclusion that I’ll need a bigger pack I’ll probably just go with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest instead. A sub-1kg 70l backpack.

But I’ll do my best to get the gear to fit in my 60l backpack. I thought I’d use this summers trip to test it. Otherwise it would be easier to have just one weeks worth of food in the backpack and then post a food cache to Nikkaluokta and restock for the second week. We’ll see how I’ll do it.

Anyways, I’m a bit embarrassed to write about it, but I sold the Expedition 80 pack without even using it. I don’t want do start using heavier gear again, and I think I’ll be fine using the Lightning. I also sold two old backpacks that haven’t been used for a long time, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak.

I did get quite a lot of money for the gear I sold, especially the Hilleberg and the Exped pack, and I used the money to buy new gear. I’ve ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, polestraps and a Gossamer Gear polycro groundsheet from Backpackinglight.dk. They have great service, and if you order for more than 5000DKK you get at 10% discount on your order. I also ordered a Borah Gear cuben bivy with a sidezipper.

With this setup my shelter, with polestraps, groundsheet, tent pegs and bivy will weigh ~900g. And it will be large enough to use with my wife or with two of my kids. Hopefully this will subdue my gear ADHD and I’ll stick with what I got.

The shortest trip

Last weekend I got out a short overnight trip, from Friday to Saturday. I had packed my backpack the evening before, and when I got off work on Friday I went home, changed my clothes, got my backpack and drove to Helgö.

I choose the same spot as I did on the overnight trip in early November. I parked at the entrance of the nature reserve and hiked on the trail for a short while, then turned away from the trail and into the forest.

img_8605

After a short while I got to the same spot that I had camped in on my last overnighter on Helgö.

The ground was covered in snow, and I quickly set up my tent. This time I used my Luxe Outdoor Sil Twin Peak. I have sold a lot of gear this last month. Two old backpacks being sold, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex Peak to.

I did like both my Hilleberg and my Sil Hex Peak. But I’m planning on buying a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2. And when I do, I’ll use that on my solo trips. Together with the Twin Peak the whole family can go hiking together. The one-person tents would just be collecting dust. I’m trying to clean out my gear closet and only keep what I need and what I will actually use. (I guess I could sell a few of my many stove-sets to)

img_8608

When I had set up my tent I realized that I had forgot to bring my cell-foam mat. And since I had planned to bring my cell-foam mat I didn’t bring any sit pad.

I made a quick dinner before I crawled down in my sleeping bag. Many times when I sleep outside I can hardly keep my eyes open when I’ve crawled down in the sleeping bag, even when it’s early. But this time I actually stayed awake for a few hours reading.

I went to sleep, but woke up in the middle of night from the sound of an animal outside of the tent. From the rhythmic thumps it made I suspect it was a hare or a rabbit.

I woke up several times during the night, feeling cold from the ground. It felt like the sleeping mat didn’t insulate enough.

When I started packing up my gear I realized why. The floor in the tent wasn’t completely waterproof, and my body heat had melted the snow under the tent floor and the sleeping mat had been soaked in the middle. The sleeping mat itself should be waterproof, but I guess the insulation gets compromised by having it in a puddle. The next time I’ll use this tent I should bring either Polycro or have my cell-foam mat under the sleeping mat.

img_0244

Before I packed up I stayed in my sleeping bag boiling water for coffee. It was nice to get some warm coffee before I left my cozy sleeping bag. After breakfast I quickly packed up and headed back to the car.

It was just a really short overnighter. Driving out after work, hiking for 15 minutes or so, setting up camp and leaving directly after breakfast the next morning. It wasn’t as relaxing as I had planned to.

Next weekend I’ll probably get out on an overnighter with the local outdoor group on Facebook. I have also planned to hike Sigfridsleden from Asa to Växjö one weekend in March. It’s 53 km and I think it’s possible to do it comfortably from a Friday afternoon to a Sunday. I know I made a previous statement of my feelings towards these low-land trails in dark spruce forests, but I’ll use it as an exercise for the summers longer hikes.