First solo overnighter in a long time

When I first started this website and my Instagram I had a goal to spend at least one night a month, and 10% of the nights of the year in a tent. I never actually made it to 10%, but the point is I was out hiking, camping and canoeing a lot more than I’ve done the past couple of years.

I can’t really point out any specific reason to it. I still love it, but I guess short overnighters on the same spot time and again just didn’t do it for me anymore. I guess I want more. Longer hikes and paddles, multiday trips and trips further into the wilderness and mountains. I really miss the mountains, and my heart aches when I look at my old pictures from Sarek and Jotunheimen.

I also missed solo trips. I love going on trips with C, but for years my solo camps was my go-to way of winding down, getting rid of stress and recharging my batteries.

Since it’s been so long since I’ve been out on a solo trip, and I’ve just been out on two camping trips in total this year, I was looking forward to going on a solo trips this weekend. It would just be a short overnighter, but I was looking forward to the solitude, and most of all the silence. I had visited my planned location before on a day hike, and there wasn’t any man made sounds there. Living somewhat central in the city means it’s almost always sounds of neighbors, traffic, sirens etc. Just disconnecting from all those sounds is a great way relax.

I quit work a bit earlier on Friday afternoon and packed my bag for the overnighter. I was going to Lunden nature reserve, about 20-30 minutes drive from home. It’s a relatively new nature reserve, and the northern section has a lot of oak meadows and pastures, while the southern part consists of mires and pine forests. I have camped in the northern section with C before, but this time I would camp in the southern parts, where I had a lot of different camp sites checked out from my previous day hike.

On my way out I stopped at a supermarket to buy ingredients for my dinner, as I had planned to make Pasta Carbonara,.and also stopped at Systembolaget to buy a couple of beers. I ended up buying two locally produced ales, that where brewed just 14 km from my campsite.

I got to the parking lot, and my car was the only one there. I started hiking north, and in the beginning there was an abundance of blueberry- and lingonberry bushes. They where completely full of berries and I picked blueberries while I hiked.

I came to an intersection where the left turn would mean I’d follow the circle trail around the northern mire, and the right turn would lead across with mires on both sides.

I choose the right path, as that was the quickest way to my planned camp site, and I wanted to get my camp up right away.

I passed a few possible campsite until I finally choose one. I had wet lands on both sides, and camped on the somewhat narrow stretch of dry land.

After I’d put up my tent I put up the hammock. I had hesitated whether to bring it or not, but I was glad I did. I almost fell asleep laying there, but wanted to stay up so I wouldn’t have trouble sleeping at night instead. It was really relaxing, but the down side was all the black flies and moose flies. There where a lot of them. And I do mean a lot. If I hadn’t brought my mosquito net I would have gone insane.

With the mosquito net on it was easy to just ignore the flies. I forgot I had the net on a few times though, and tried to put cheese in my mouth through the net.

After chillin’ in the hammock for a while I made dinner. They only had pre chopped pancetta at the store, so it was really easy to make. I mixed the egg yokes with the pecorino romano and fried the pancetta. Then I cooked the pasta and mixed everything together and added some of the starchy pasta water. It was delicious. I choose to bring my full Trangia 27HA set. It weighs around 1kg with the chopping board, spice box, spork and dish brush. But I just love using it. I think it’s really fun to cook on it, and on shorter trips where I do more than just boil water for freeze dried food I think it’s well worth the weight. If I could only have one stove set for the rest of my life I’d choose the Trangia 27HA that I have now.

After dinner I got back into a horizontal position in the hammock, and tried the local beers that I bought. They where really tasty, and I preferred the lighter one, Småland Haze.

The sun disappeared and I thought it was time to get into the tent. It was quite warm and sticky, and I really wouldn’t need the quilt until later in the night. I had planned to read, but my ebook reader had died (and unfortunately I would not be able to get it back to life again). I watched half an episode of Westworld and then I just laid in the tent and listened to the birds nearby.

I slept somewhat ok, but while I’ve had worse pillows, my stuff sack pillow isn’t the most comfortable. I’m a side sleeper and woke up with neck pain every now and then.

I woke up at around 06.00 and laid there for a while before I mustered enough energy to get up. I planned to lay in the tent and make coffee in the vestibule with the door open, but the black flies stormed through the entrance right away. I thought it was better to get up instead of having the whole tent invaded by them.

I got out, got the Trangia up and boiled water for coffee. But when I was going to get the coffee I just couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere, but realized that I had forgotten it at home. Disaster, but I would have to endure. Fortunately I had brought a bunch of chanterelles that I had picked the other day so I had something to comfort myself with. I chopped the chanterelles and finely chopped half a red onion. Then I fried it in butter, before adding salt, pepper and cream. I let the cream boil in to a stew. Then I fried a slice of bread in butter and added the chanterelle stew. The stew would probably have been even better with a few drops of brandy in it, but it was still a really tasty breakfast.

After breakfast I packed up camp and left. I took the longer way back to the car, and picked a few blueberries here and there on the way. I saw the feathers of a bird, probably taken by a fox, and later I say a dead mouse on the trail.

I got back to the car and drove back home. I was back at 09.30. It was a short trip. Too short really, to actually wind me down. But it was still nice to get out again, since it’s been so long. Next time I’ll probably try to make it a full weekend and two nights, to really get a chance to disconnect.

Kids camping with Outdoor Life Växjö

There’s a Facebook group called Outdoor Life Växjö where we share tips and tricks about gear and sweet spots nearby. The group has meetups every now and then. Since a lot of the members in the group has kids I thought it would be fun to have a meetup with the kids.

In mid September a bunch of us met up on Skälsnäs on the northern side of Helgasjön. Christoffer and E from Friluftsfrämjandet Skogsknytte also joined, and Christoffer also brought E:s little brother. A couple of the guys who came with their kids only stayed for the evening but four of us camped with our kids.

Skälsnäs is a good place for car camping trips. There’s a shelter, privys, a sandy beach, several fire pits and lots of room for tents.

I had brought the Tentipi with the HeatPal. Since it was a car camping trip I wanted as much comfort as possible. I had also brought a lot of good food, with a couple of beers and tasty cheeses and sausages. But despite having the carriying frame I wouldn’t want to carry this setup any longer distances. It really is heavy.

We had a fire next to the shelter and hung out there most of the evening. The kids where playing, but C was a bit shy until Christoffer and E came. C was very happy that E came and they played together for the rest of the evening. When it was getting darker they went inside the tent with snacks and an iPad to watch a movie. The kids had been soaked from playing near (in) the water and I hung up the clothes to dry and fired up the HeatPal.

The adult stayed by the fire, chatting and eating. It was really nice and relaxing. By midnight it was time to go to bed. Dario, who started the Facebook group, and his daughter and friend used the shelter, while the rest of us used tents.

Next morning Christoffer and I had to leave pretty early, since we where going to Skogsknytte with the kids. It was more important for Christoffer since he is one of the leaders om Skogsknytte.

It was a fun trip, and nice to be out with the kids and meet other patents. I’d love to do it again, but next time I would like to do a hiking- or paddling trip instead of a car camping trip.

C:s first thru hike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camping with “Skogsknytte” friends

C has been going to Frilufsfrämjandet Skogsknytte for 1,5 years. Some of us have talked about going camping with the kids, and in the middle of May we got out on a camp with E and her father Christoffer.

We had scouted suitable areas, and I had found a nice looking oak meadow, just south of a nature reserve close to Växjö. Camping is prohibited within the reserve, but allowed outside through “Allemansrätten”. To be fair, the oak meadow was more beautiful than lots of the reserve. There are pastures around here, so one isn’t allowed to camp here if there are any animals there.

Under the old magnificent oak trees the ground was covered with Wood Anemone and Heath Peas.

C and I arrived first, and found a nice spot for two tents. After a while we heard E and Christoffer coming through the meadow. We set up our tents, and it started raining. We’d had sun and great weather all week, but once we got out we had rain. And it rained a lot. A litteral downpour all evening and all night. Having a Mid with a full inner provided some difficulties in a never endimg downpour, as it kept raining in everytime we entered or exited the tent.

We made dinner, and on the meny this time was tortilla pizza. I liked them, but they weren’t C:s favourite. Perhaps because she just wanted to play with E instead of eating.

The kids played with My Little Ponies in the Ultamid at first, but later in the evening they retreated to E and Christoffers tent, where they watched movies until late in the evening. Christoffer and I stayed outside, eating snacks and having a couple of cold beers. When it was time to put the kids to sleep we asked ourselfs why we had stayed out in the rain instead of just sitting in the tent.

C was super tired when we got back to our tent, and she fell asleep right away. I didn’t though, because I had found out that the tent was leaking. Water seeped through somewhere, and dropped down on the inner, and through the mesh onto the gear. I got pretty upset with it. The tent costs a fortune, and all the reviews holds it up to be some kind of super shelter, and I had water dropping down. I’ve had the Ultamid 2 before and didn’t have this issue. I mailed Hyperlite Mountain Gear right away, and later got a roll of DCF-tape sent, and a description on where the trouble spots usually are. (The story unfortunately will continue in my next post)

The next morning I had to wake C up. It felt like she could’ve slept forever. I made french toast for breakfast and we explored the area around the meadow before packing up.

It was fun to camp with E and Christoffer, and the first time to camp on that place. The rain was unfortunate though, but we’ll definitely come back here again. Christoffer and I talked about bringing canoes the next time.

Starting to plan for the summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woodcraft and camping – UL in the 19th century

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading “Woodcraft and camping” by George Washington Sears. The book was first published in 1920, and is an instructional book on outdoor life, with described trips from 19th century North America.

The book can be downloaded for free as an ebook at Gutenberg.

In many aspects it feels like it could have been written today. The author describes the need to get out in the wild to de-stress, how fewer people have to do more in shorter time, and describes burn-outs as a result of an ever increasing work load. This as early as in the beginning of 20th century.

The book describes how one can enjoy themselves a lot more with a lighter pack and lighter shoes, and that the outdoor magazines try to sell you a lot of stuff that you don’t need, and that might only make the trip into the wild a misery because of the weight.

He describes in the book that his own base weight never exceeds 26lb (~12kg), and that includes a canoe. He did however have a custom made canoe.

It’s an interesting book, but it’s far from “leave not trace”. The weight is kept down from making shelters by cutting down trees, long fires, fishing and hunting. All aspects of it might not be applicable today, but it is an interesting read, and much of the lightweight principles can be applied. In some aspects it reminds me of today, with the author buying expensive “cottage gear” to get the best custom made lightweight gear, to the amusement of his friend.

A big part of the book is about fly fishing, but since I’m not that interested in fishing, I only glanced through those pages.

A thing that’s a bit sad is how he describes how much land and wilderness that has been destroyed in the name of development, in his lifetime already. He writes a detailed trip report and ends it with how the forest he described is now gone.

It’s an interesting book, and I recommend it. If not for actual instructions, but for trip reports and history of hiking.