Sarek in August; Part 5

Day 6

We made breakfast and broke camp with no hurry at all. Fredrik was faster than me this morning, and looked a bit restless while I packed. I had been having problems with headaches during the night, and therefore lay down for a long time in the morning until the pain meds kicked in.

We filled up our water bottles and started hiking north, towards Alep Válak. We had planned to pitch our tents with a view of the lake Sitojaure. It was only a short hike from our previous camp site, about two to three km.

20170811_094605582_iOS
View from Alep Válak, with the stream Sijddoädno in the middle of the photo

It didn’t take long to go there. The ground was flat, albeit littered with boulders and pierced by melting water from snow and glaciers on Rådnik and Dágarlåbddå. On our way towards our new camp site we passed a locked hut that the Sámi use when they’re tending to their reindeer herds. We were hiking just along the eastern border of Sarek.

Around 12.00 we arrived and found a good place to set up the tents. The view was amazing with Sitojaure some 500 meters below us, but we were both aware that the location was anything but ideal when it came to wind. The valley with Sitojaure goes in a north-west to south-east direction, and in the north-western end of the lake there is another valley in the north-south direction. We had a lot of open areas and not much wind protection.

20170811_105233574_iOS
Great view, and (in the beginning) nice weather
20170811_105158004_iOS
I built a wind cover from the surrounding rocks

It blew really heavily, but our camp site was filled with large rocks, and we anchored the tents well, and also built wind guards around the perimeter to reduce the amount of wind that would enter under the fly, and also relieve some stress from the anchor points.

The weather had been great in the morning. Sunny and much warmer than the day before. Once we had set up the tents, dark clouds came towards us, and soon the whole sky was covered with gray rain clouds. A slight drizzle fell over us.

We had lunch in our tents, and then went out and looked more at the view. Fredrik had found a small stream a few hundred meters from the camp site. A  patch of snow, still unmelted, formed a little stream of water that we could fill our bottles from.

20170811_110219160_iOS
Dinner with a view

It rained on and off during the day. Hard wind-driven rain. We laid in our tents and read, and this day was the first one that I cooked inside my tent. I have used the floor over the entire surface to reduce condensation earlier. But with the wind on this location, condensation was no problem, so I only put polycro under the sleeping mat.

20170811_142321725_iOS
We had a rainbow between the rains

During the night, the wind blew even worse. I went to bed at around 20.30, prepared for another sleepless night, but actually slept pretty well. I used the down jacket as a pillow instead of the inflatable pillow, and it worked better and was much more comfortable. It was in a dry bag that was a bit open to be able shape it better.

I felt a little worried about the tent, and if it would hold up, but I decided to break those thoughts. If it was to happen then I would solve the situation then. And I’ve seen videos of Ultamids standing up in severe snowstorms in Alaska, and this was nothing compared to that. I slept relatively well all night.

I made a short video to show how the tents held up in the wind.

 

Sarek in August; Part 4

 Day 4

I slept very bad all night. It took a long time for me to fall asleep, and when I finally did, I slept shallow and woke up a lot. It was raining all night. When it was time to get up, it had stopped raining, but the wind blew quite hard. We had camped just east of the top Suokitjåhkkå, and had now planned to round it on the north side, below the top Niehter. We had a calm morning, chilled and took our time to get ready. Eventually we  broke camp and started walking. Two tents were set up on the other side Nammásjjåhkå, and we had seen four people near them the night before, but now we saw no one there.

20170809_065322185_iOS.jpg
A herd of reindeers passing our campsite

The day began with boulders, but fortunately they were neither wet nor at a 45° angle so they were easier to walk on than the ones we had the day before.

20170809_084924344_iOS
Passing between Suokitjåhkkå and Niehter

When we rounded the top Suokitjåhkkå we reached a plain west of it. The ground was easy to walk on, even though there were a lot of rocks spread out. We stopped to have lunch here, with a great view of the snow covered tops of Gådoktjåhkkå and Bielloriehppe.

20170809_091439009_iOS
Fredrik, on the plains west of Suokitjåhkkå
20170809_100745798_iOS
A nice view while making dinner
20170809_091550815_iOS
Me, enjoying the views of inner Sarek
20170809_091658658_iOS
Gådoktjåhkkås top covered in clouds

We had planned to go north between Niehter and Rådnik down to the lake Niehterjávrre. On the map it looked like it would be nice to camp there, with a lot of flat ground.

As we kept hiking the boulders got worse, and eventually we ended up in a seemingly endless ocean of rocks. We didn’t move fast at all. When we finally passed the highest point between Niehter and Rådnik and saw the lakes below, we realized that it would not be possible to pitch any tent there there. As far as the eye could see, there was only rocks. We saw on the map that the last of the three lakes below had an outlet that led down to a plain. This was the same plain as we seen from the camp site at Skierffe. We took aim at the far end of the last lake and kept walked. It was a desolate landscape, and we walked quietly some 30 meters apart. Each of us buried in our own thoughts.

20170809_133553
Coming up on the highest point between Niehter and Rådnik (photocredit Fredrik Storm)
20170809_140743
Looking down towards the plains where we hoped to find a good camp site (Photocredit Fredrik Storm)
20170809_132812618_iOS
The endless boulders took its toll on our feet and ankles

I was beginning to feel bad in my stomach, and started to feel dizzy too. I hoped it would be something I ate, but I was worried that I might have gotten some bad water. I’ve never used a filter in the mountains, and I don’t know anyone who does. But traces (and poop) from reindeers were everywhere, and I was worried I might have drunk poop water.

At the far end of the last lake water flowed down a slope, and below there were extensive fields with possible tent sites. We continued north and found a suitable place, west of the mountain Tjålle. There was a lot of snow left in the mountain above us, so much of the ground was saturated and carved down by melting water. But we found a good place to put up our tents.

My stomach was acting out for a while, but finally calmed down. I laid down and read for a while and then went to sleep. I had a hard time getting used to the light, and that it never gets really dark. It was difficult to fall asleep, and I slept shallow this night too and woke up a lot.

It never gets really dark. At 22.00 it is still bright as day. When I wake up at 4, it’s already just as bright. Somewhere between 01.00-02.00 it’s somewhat dusky, but never really dark. You don’t need a headlamp if you wake up and have to pee.

I have to admit that I was not really prepared for how the constant absence of darkness would affect my sleep. But the constant light gives an almost surreal feeling that messes with the sleep rhythm.

Day 5

This day we stayed in the same place as before. I had washed my underwear and socks in a zip lock bag the night before and hung them up in the tent. The idea was that they should dry during the day. The weather was bad for almost all day, with heavy rain that came and went on a regular basis. I laid in the tent and read almost all day, and so did Fredrik in his tent.

20170809_174034530_iOS
Drying my newly washed clothes

When I went to bed, I had trouble falling asleep. I tossed and turned, had a headache and a sore throat. Suddenly my sleeping mat made a sound, like it got punctured.

I got off it and saw that it was much softer than before, and assumed that it was a puncture. I blew it up to check the leak, but discovered that it was the lamination in one of the baffles that had burst, and now a large channel of two was formed. Fortunately it wasn’t in the middle, so I was still able to use the sleeping mat, although it was more uncomfortable than before. I was a bit disappointed since I hadn’t even had the sleeping mat for 3 years. I’ve always been careful about it and haven’t filled it up too much.

20170810_161115349_iOS
Our campsite for night four and five

I’ve slept bad since we came to Sarek. I think the light makes it difficult for me to sleep, and sleep deprivation leads to migraines that make it even harder to sleep.

At least I slept somewhat ok this the night, even though I fell in and out of sleep all the time. It blew hard during the night, and there was a lot of wind coming in under the fly. It had been really cold during the whole day and night, and almost felt like it was approaching freezing.

Sarek in August; Part 3

Day 3

We woke up quite early. Just like the day before, both of us woke up at 04.30 because it was already bright as day. But I fell back to sleep. We finally got up before 08.00, made breakfast and packed up. We had decided to follow some of our original route, and go west along the Rapa Valley, south of the mountain Gierdogiesjtjåhkkå. We went down from Skierffe and came to an vast plateau at about 1000m altitude. The ground was flat and easy to walk on, and there were possible camp sites everywhere. We saw that the plains stretched far away in the north, and decided that we would hike there on our way back to the car in the end of the trip.

20170808_055608325_iOS
My sleep and shelter setup: HMG Ultamid 2 with a polycro groundsheet, Exped Synmat 7 UL with a Cumulus Quilt 350

After walking in the hiking paradise in the plains in the morning, the rest of the day turned out to be the opposite. The guidebook I read before we went showed that we could hike the route we took, and keep going along the 1000m altitude line. But we found out the hard way that this meant hiking through brushy terrain on slippery rocks and boulders at a 45° angle.

20170808_122753
It started with brushes, but got more rocky and steeper the farther we went (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

I fell pretty bad once when stones shifted under my feet, and I my leg got stuck down to my thigh, with more rocks falling on it. But I got loose with only a few scratches. A while later I slipped and fell on a rock, and accidentally smacked myself hard in the temple with one of my hiking poles. I had to sit and rest for a while after that one.

We were both tired, and traversing this kind of terrain took a lot of effort. You had to weigh every step to make sure that the stones wouldn’t move. We took a lot of breaks.

20170808_131753
Looking back towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

The weather had been very nice in the morning, but gradually became worse. In the end the rain came, and it rained on and off the rest of the day. The rain didn’t make the traverse any easier, since the rocks just got more slippery.

20170808_114325316_iOS
Fredrik looking back at the Rapa valley delta, with the mountain Tjahkelij in the background

Eventually we reached the stream Nammásjjåhkå. From where we were standing there was no way we could pass. There was a tall waterfall, and steep cliffs down towards the water. We first tried to hike higher up, and see if we could pass above the waterfall, but the cliffs where to steep for us to be able to get further up. We looked further down, and saw that it was possible to pass at the end of the waterfall, just below the timber line.

20170808_122434136_iOS
Fredrik looking over the edge to find somewhere to pass Nammásjjåhkå

It was a steep way down to the water, but we slided down on our butts, and managed to get down to the stream. As I crossed it, I almost slipped on the slippery stones, and decided not to try to balance but went straight through the water instead. I wore my quick drying trail runners to be able to do just that and not worry about them being wet.

We took a short break after we had forded the stream, and reviewed our plan for how we would proceed.

The mountain side was still quite steep, but it would be flatter on a higher altitude, so we decided to hike in a diagonal line upwards to reach the flatter grounds.

It went slowly uphill, and the terrain was difficult and brushy. We eventually reached a somewhat flat area where we stopped. The sun started to shine and warmed us, and it made wonders for our morale. The sky turned blue, and beneath us in Rapa valley we saw clouds forming. We did however realized that they would rise and we would be surrounded by fog, so we continued hiking as far as we could before the fog reached us. When it finally reached us we just rested until it was gone.

20170808_142728798_iOS
Clouds forming in Rapa valley and rising to our position. Mountains from left to right: Skierffe, Tjahkelij and Nammásj

We found a nice plateau to set up camp, but it was too far from a water source. We continued to a new plateau near one of the side streams to Nammásjjåhkå. While we were setting up the tents, we saw dark rain clouds approaching fast from Rapa valley. We quickly set up the tents and anchored them with the surrounding rocks. Just when the tents were up the rain came. It rained heavily so we took refuge to our tents. I was to tired to clear out a space to cook dinner in the tent, and just ate three sausages and a protein bar instead, after changing from my cold wet clothes to my dry sleeping clothes. After “dinner” I crawled in under the quilt and read for a while. The rain was still falling outside.

Just after 19:00 it stopped raining and we went out. Five reindeers were standing just ten meters from the tents. While we were out, a couple of guys came from the other side Nammásjjåhkå. They crossed the stream and continued westward. We saw four more people coming on the other side, but they camped there instead of crossing. Both groups were hiking at a higher altitude than we had done during the day, and the ground was flatter there. We assumed that we should have the same thing, as it seemed to be an easier route than ours.

20170808_173240237_iOS
Camp site 3. We had nice views here too

Just after 22:00 a loud noise was heard. I looked under the edge of the shelter and saw that a large herd of reindeer was passing just outside. It was a cool sight, but I was too tired (lazy) to crawl out of my sleeping bag to go out and take photos of them. 

Sarek in August; Part 2

Day 2

I woke up a few times early in the morning as it was already bright as day outside. I was using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and a thin layer of white, semi transparent Dyneema composite fabric doesn’t do much to block the sunlight. When I looked at my clock, it was only 04.30. I went back to sleep, and we got up at around 09.00 instead. We made breakfast, broke camp and went up to the STF cottage to pay for our stay. A couple of hikers had pointed us to the right cabin. The lady who smoked when we arrived sat on the stairs of the nearby cabin, looking at us.

20170807_064224779_iOS
My Ultamid 2 and Fredriks Bergans Trollhetta 4 in the background
20170807_074325726_iOS
My gear: In the bottom of the pack I have an Exped Schnozzle bag (the yellow one) with my sleep gear. After that two large Pack pods with food. Above those I have toiletries (neon bag) and electronics (zip lock bag). Tent (white bag) and extra clothes + down jacked (red one) next to each other and at the top I have a small Pack pod with my stove set and food for the day. All packed in a HMG Southwest 4400

When we got hold of the hut warden, he told us that it was prohibited to camp where we had pitched the tents. The ground, and the hut near it, did not belong to STF, but to the Swedish Nature Conservation Association. We did not have to pay because we did not camp on STF’s land. However, it felt a little embarrassing to have camped where we weren’t allowed to. But since the woman in the hut didn’t say anything, perhaps it didn’t matter. She had heard us talking about paying and looking for hut warden, both during the evening and during the morning, so I suppose she understood that it was a misunderstanding.

Our goal for the day was to get to Skierffe. A mountain with an almost 700 meter vertical wall right down the Rapadalen.

20170807_140304
Me, on our way towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)

We got up through the woods, which gradually changed from spruce to birch forests, and then disappeared completely as we reached above the timber line. 

Fredrik and I have a different hiking philosophies, where I am a lightweight hiker who like to march on at a fairly good pace, and hardly even want to stay for lunch. Fredrik packs quite heavily, likes to stop more often, and wants to spend more time chilling and just enjoying the moment, instead of trying to get a lot of km behind him.

20170807_123526451_iOS
The snow covered mountains of Sarek

 

It was important to me to get back home in time, since my wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Greece and I was to pick them up at the airport when they got back. I realized that we would probably not be able to do our planned hike without having to stress it in the end, so we agreed to skip the plan and instead just go where ever we felt like for the day, take a lot of breaks and not care about the mileage. The only goal was to be back at the car at least 10 days later. It was a bit of a change of philosophy for me, but still felt nice. However, it meant that I had packed way too much food. But it still felt ok, although it meant carrying some unnecessary weight.

When we were coming close to the top of Skierffe we ​​decided to start looking for a camp site, even though the clock was only around 14.00. We passed the trail and continued towards the western side of Skierffe. There we found a really good camp site, with flat ground for both of our tents, and a lot of stones to anchor them. We could have saved weight sharing tents, but both Fredrik and I prefer to have our own space.

20170807_140143109_iOS
One of our best camp sites ever

The camp site had a very nice view over Sareks snow covered peaks. The wind blew hard when we were setting up camp, so we anchored the tents well. I wanted to go to the top of Skierffe, but Fredrik preferred to stay in camp so I went by myself. When I got up at the top there was a young family there with their child in a child carrier.

20170807_142854563_iOS
The river delta in Rapa valley

The view from Skierffe was amazing. It was uphill almost all the way up to the cliff. Then came the long cliff all the way down to Rapa Valley. It was a majestic view, and well worth the effort to get there.

I walked back to the camp and after a while we made dinner.

We went looking for water, and found a little stream a couple of hundred meters away from the camp. Fredrik went to bed quite early, but I laid on the CCF mat and read for a couple of hours. When the wind stopped, it was almost completely quiet around us. It is not often you get that silence when you live in a town. Traffic, sirens, lawnmowers, people talking, airplanes. There’s always noise, and it was refreshing to hear nothing like that.

I went to bed around 21.00, but went out for a while after 22:00 to check out the sunset. By then it had already disappeared behind the mountains, though it was still bright outside.

20170807_195220094_iOS
The sun had just disappeared behind the mountains


I went to bed and sleep pretty well. The new way of attaching the quilt has worked very well, and I have not had any drafts, even though I tossed and turned a lot and it was cold in the morning.

Overnighter on Laxaleden with the family in July

General info

Laxaleden is a 30km long trail in Blekinge, in southern Sweden. It starts near the ocean in Elleholm, south of Mörrum, and follows Mörrumsån north to Hovmansbygd. Mörrumsån is known for its salmon fishing, and all along the trail you see signs of designated spots that you pay to fish at.

I haven’t found any designated maps for the trail, but it’s well marked. For printed maps I recommend Lantmäteriets map service and print it yourself.

Trip report

A couple of weeks ago, me, my wife and our daughters decided to do a short overnighter in Blekinge. My oldest daughter was going to visit a friend, and we all wanted to spend some time in the place we used to live in.


We searched the map for different locations to set up camp, but eventually we decided on parking the car in Mörrum and hike along Laxaleden until we found a good place to camp.

We parked the car at the school parking lot in the afternoon, and hit the trail. It passes just outside of the school. We hiked north bound along the shore of Mörrumsån. We didn’t bring the child carrier for Corinne, but hiked in her pace. We knew this would mean a short slow hike, but we had nowhere special to go, and no time table. I like to let walk by herself.


Since I had bought a bigger pack for my Sarek trip, my wife used my Exped Lightning instead. My oldest daughter used her Osprey Ace, a youth pack that we bought for her a couple of years ago.

The scenery here is really beautiful, with lots of old deciduous trees, and the beautiful Mörrumsån.

We followed Mörrumsån north until we came to a nature reserve. Camping was prohibited inside the reserve, so I walked ahead to see if there were any good spots on the other side. I found a good spot, and ran back and brought the others. Corinne finally got tires of walking, and I carried her the last stretch. My wife and oldest daughter spent some time Geocaching.


We set up our tents, and started making dinner. My wife and my oldest daugher shared the Luxe Outdoor Sil Twinpeak, as they wanted an inner tent. Me and Corinne shared my HMG Ultamid 2. I’m slowly getting rid of my bug phobia, and Corinne will hopefully never get one as she gets used to floorless shelters like these from the start.


It started to rain during the evening, and the rain continued all through the night. The Twin Peak had started to sag during the night, and they had some slight water coming in. I don’t know if it was from rain or from condensation.

I liked to get out like this with my family, even though our son didn’t come along. My wife isn’t an outdoors person and has a worse bug phobia than I do. She likes day trips, but is less fond of overnighters like this. This was the first time we hiked and camped together since we’ve only done car camping trips in the past. But hopefully there will be more trips like these.

Corinnes first overnighter

In June I finally got out on an overnighter with my youngest daughter. I’ve thought for a long time that I would bring her out, but it wasn’t until now that I actually got around to it.

I had several different places in mind, but in the end we ended up driving to Helgö, very close to home. Being her first overnighter I thought it was better to play it safe, and don’t drive to far away if it wouldn’t work out.

20170620_153945367_iOS

The weather was great when we got out. We drove out in the late afternoon, and the sun was shining. It was very windy though. I parked the car on the far edge of Helgö, near the nature reserve Jägaregap. I didn’t bring the child carrier for this trip. Corinne walked by herself, and at such a short distance there was no need for a child carrier. This was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip. A chance to get out, and to let her get used to sleeping in a tent.

20170620_163938379_iOS

After a while we came to a nice flat area and I started to set up camp. Camping with a small child was a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’ve camped with my oldest daughter, and tried it with my son. But I found my outdoor-passion pretty late, and when I first started taking my older daughter out she was eight or nine years old, and at that age she was old enough to help me setting up camp. I’ve never camped with a one year-old before.

20170620_172624175_iOS.jpg

It was like she had been pumped full of Red Bull or something. She was all over the place all the time in full speed. Ramming through the tent, running on the fly, running into the fly when it was set up, wrestling with the guy-lines.

Cooking dinner was a similar experience, as she wanted to help, and the stove was super interesting. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to get it all together safely after all.

20170621_054006629_iOS.jpg

We had dinner, washed the dishes, brushed our teeth and went to bed. The ground was soft, and it was windy, so I used rocks to anchor the tent pegs.

It wasn’t time to sleep yet, so we layed in the tent, looking at stuff and playing music. I had brought a mosquito net for her, but we didn’t need one. Since it was windy we didn’t have any issues with bugs. Both her and I slept without any bug protection. This is new to me, and slowly but surely I’m getting rid of my bug phobia. Hopefully getting her used to sleeping in a floor-less shelter from the start will make sure she never gets any bug phobia at all. As a sleeping bag for her I used the Aegismax Windhard quilt, and it worked good.

20170621_063554455_iOS.jpg

She tossed and turned for a long time before she finally fell asleep. No wonder, since it was her first time in a tent, with all those new impressions.

20170621_060617582_iOS.jpg

I slept pretty bad though. I woke up a lot, worrying about her being to cold or to hot, but she slept soundly through the entire night. By morning she woke up, crawled up on my sleeping pad, and fell asleep again for an hour, burrowed down next to me.

After we both woke up, we made breakfast and packed up. This time she didn’t want to walk, so I had to carry her back to the car.

20170621_070940555_iOS

It was nice to get out again, and fun to bring her with me. But it took a lot more effort than I thought to camp with such a young curious child. But hopefully she’ll keep enjoying the tent-life.

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.