Video from first canoe camping trip of 2019

This was my first attempt at filming a trip. It’s sort of Slow-TV, with no talking, so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The trip it self was great, and I’ll post a written trip report soon.

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Day trip with the canoe

Spring (summer?) came quickly here in southern Sweden. While the temperatures still drop below freezing on occasional nights, the day time temperature rise to above 20° C. I’ve been waiting for a chance to take the canoe out for a paddle, and last  weekend I put it in the water for the first time of 2019.

All of the family, except my oldest daughter, joined me, and we drove to Tolgasjön. Near the peninsula where I’ve been camping with C the last few times, there’s a perfect parking spot, wide enough for a few cars. We parked there, walked out to the far end of the peninsula to make some coffee before we put the canoe in the water.

The farmers had been fertilizing their fields, so every time there was a breeze, the air was filled with the sour smell of what I think was pigs manure. Other than that, it was perfect.

The weather was warm and sunny, and most of the times we only had a slight breeze. Perfect paddling weather.

We paddled to an island in the lake, where C and I had camped in November last year. It was almost dinner time, but when we walked up to the nice sunny area where we planned to lay out the cellfoam mats and make dinner, a Canada goose started yelling. It stood up, trying to look big, and shrieked endlessly. Another goose flew in too. We saw that it had a nest with eggs in it, so we decided to move away, and make dinner further away from in. It calmed down, but kept looking at us.

The rest of the afternoon we did as little as possible. The kids played by themselves most of the times, and enjoyed the simple pleasures of throwing sticks and stones in the water. Maria, my wife, rolled out the sleeping mat on a cliff an dozed off in the sun, while I hung up the hammock between two trees next to the kids and relaxed in the sun.

We had a really relaxing time. Apart from the occasional airplane passing above us, we didn’t here much man-made sounds. The wind blew through the trees, but when it died down it was absolutely quite. When you live in the city, where there’s constant sounds of traffic, dogs, sirens, music and people, getting out in nature and get this sort of tranquility is really remedy for the soul.

Eventually it was time to pack up though. I would have loved to stay overnight, but this was only a day trip.

We made coffee one last time, before we put on our life vests and packed the canoe again. We slowly paddled back towards the car, on the calm beautiful lake.

It was a nice day trip, and I’m really glad I bought a canoe. It makes it so much easier to find secluded beautiful spots near home. Småland is littered with lakes, filled with small islands like this, perfect for short getaways.

We’ll see when I’ll get out on a canoe camping trip again. But I’d really like to get out on a trip again soon.

Day hike at Stora Mosse National park

A few weeks ago I took C with me to Stora Mosse National Park, about an hours drive north of Växjö. I’ve been here before, and last March I camped here.

Stora Mosse is a large mire, the largest in southern Sweden, with dozens of km of footbridges across it. Spread out in the “mire-ocean” are several islands. Camping has been prohibited before, but since a couple of years back you’re able to camp on a few designated places in the park.

The mire consists of a southern and northern part, cut in the middle by a road and a railroad. The previous times I’ve started at the northern end of the south section. But this time I wanted to see the northern section.

I parked the car at the main entrance and we started to walk the trail around the lake there. We hiked for just a short while, until we stopped to make some coffee and hot coco.

While we stopped I changed my mind, and decided that I wanted to go to the southern parts anyways, where there are more vast views. This time though, I would start at the southern tip of the mire instead.

We drove to one of the southernmost entrances instead, and started to hike.

After only a short while, we stopped at a bridge with benches to make lunch.

The first part of the trail stretched through a pine forest, but after a while the trail turned and became footbridges that stretched some 6km north across the mire.

C hiked on in a good pace, and even though she missed a couple of steps and put her foot down in the wet mire she was in good spirits.

When we came to an intersection we turned west towards the “mainland”. We where going to hike a circle trail with an observation tower on a hill in the forest.

Once back in the forest the trail went uphill. C preferred to ride on my shoulders in the uphills.

On top of the hill there was a large observation tower, made for bird watching. We climbed the steep stairs to the top, and enjoyed the view. I’m a bit scared of heights. But when I told C that, and said that I wanted to go back down she replied that it was NOT scary. It was JUST exciting to be up there. So we stayed there for a while longer.

When we got back down we hiked the rest of the loop to get back to the car. We had been out the entire day, but C still didn’t want to get back home. She was disappointed that we’d only gone on a day hike, and wanted us to camp there. I promised her that we’d camp the next time we got there.

Snowy overnighter and first time skiing

All of February I was on parental leave with C, and though we didn’t get out as much as I had planned, we did two overnighters and a full day trip.

On our second overnighter, 21-22 February we finally had some snow. It had been pouring down the night before, and I was really looking forward to trying my new skis. A couple of weeks earlier I had ordered a pair of Åsnes Amundsen with Alpina Alaska BC boots. There was a lot of snow when I ordered them, but by the time I got them, all the snow had rained away. Needless to say, I was happy to see some snow again.

We went back to our usual spot at Tolgasjön. I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t be able to drive all the way down, since the logging road wasn’t plowed. But going down to the lake wasn’t an issue.

Once down at the lake I set up the camp while C was asleep. I woke her up and we tried the skis for a little while. I had bought cheap plastic skis for her, and she tried her best. So did I, since I hadn’t used skis since I was a kid.

When C got tired of skiing we went back to camp to warm us up in the tent.

It’s always nice to get into a warm cozy tipi when it’s cold outside. When we where about to make dinner I realized that I had forgotten both butter and olive oil. Fortunately there was a little store in the nearest village, and we went back to the car to drive there. Getting up from the logging road proved to be a bit more difficult than going down though. It took a couple of tries, but eventually I had enough speed to get the car up to the real road.

We bought more supplies and went back to our camp, where we made dinner and just had a good time. C fell asleep and I read for a while.

The next morning I woke up before the sun had come over the horizon. It was a really beautiful morning.

I got a fire going quickly, with pre made fire sticks and finely chopped wood. We made breakfast and then skied a bit more.

Our plan was to stay for two nights, where we would pick up my wife after work. C was sad, and a bit cold, and after we’d made dinner we where out of fire wood.

She wanted to go home, and since I just want our trips in the outdoors to be fun without demands or hardships I decided to cut it short and pack up camp. We went back home and had a cozy evening in the couch instead.

It was a nice trip, and I really liked skiing. I hope we’ll get a better winter next year so I can do a ski camping trip.

Most of the trips lately have been more camping than hiking. It’s been nice and comfortable, but now I’m looking forward to spring and to go hiking again. I think I’m going to go either to Skåne or to Stora Mosse on my next trip.

Camping or hiking

I begun my interest in the outdoors with hiking. I had traditional heavy weight gear, and though I enjoyed the outdoors there was too much discomfort with it. I learned about Ultralight backpacking and gradually reduced my base weight, one item at the time and I did quite a few hiking trips. I found a perfect balance between camp comfort and hiking comfort. This last year, and the trips this year too, has mostly been camping trips though. Trips with heavy gear, focused on comfort, and that’s been really nice too.

I’ve been less inclined to leave my wife with all the kids at home, even though she’s ok with it. And I do love to bring C with me (the only one in the family except me who enjoys the outdoors), but I really miss hiking. The trip with Brian last November was very much needed. Camp comfort and munching on a big fat load of good food is nice, but as a remedy for the soul, hiking does the trick better. I like the monotony of hiking from dawn to dusk, barely stopping to eat, but just snacking on route. Pushing myself, clearing my head and emptying my brain of thoughts. It’s a meditative state and a form of mindfulness I guess. I’ve gone back to watching UL hiking videos on YouTube, and I long to get back into hiking, and I miss the mountains.

I hope I’ll go to Hardangervidda this year, and I’d really like to hike the Arctic Circle Trail soon. We’ll see what the future has in store.

Winter camping with a three year old

I’m on parental leave for all of February, and I had planned to do a lot of trips with C. But it wasn’t until last weekend that I actually got out on an overnighter with her.

Since it’s still cold outside I wanted to use the stove. But with the lakes frozen over and no snow on the ground to be able to bring the heavy gear with either a canoe or a pulk, I had to choose a place that was fairly close to the car. So I got back to our new favorite spot at Tolgasjön.

The first half of February had rained away, but this day we had great weather, with the sun shining and the temperature a few degrees above freezing. It felt like spring.

As usual, C had fallen asleep in the car, and I carried the gear out to the peninsula before I woke her up. We then set up the tent and the stove, and got our sleeping gear out.

I’ve bought a Fjällräven Duffel no. 6 for the stove and the cooking gear. The reason I choose this one and not the one from GStove was the retractable shoulder-straps, that makes it possible to carry the bag as a backpack. I also like the look of it better.

I had brought some firewood, but I wanted to harvest some from all of the fallen trees around. I had recently bought an Eka Viking foldable saw for occasions like this, and wanted to try it out. It worked a lot better than my Bacho Laplander copy from Kershaw that I’ve used before. We didn’t take a lot of firewood though, but just enough to keep the fire going.

I sawed the branches in appropriate sizes and C carried them back to the tent and put them in a pile. I worked up a good sweat and had to remove a couple of layers of clothes.

Once the firewood was done we got the fire going and got a nice warm temperature in the tent. C mostly want to hang out in the tent and play, so we did that, with the door open.

Eventually it was time for dinner. This time I had chosen to do a beef stroganoff with rice. I cooked the rice in my Toaks 750ml pot, and fried the pre-cut beef in my frying pan. I’ve bought a Ronneby Bruks UL cast iron frying pan. It’s not UL by any means, but lighter than a regular cast iron pan. When I hike I like to use Ultralight principles and I have a fairly light base weight of roughly 6kg. After a lot of trying I’ve found that this gives the perfect balance between hiking comfort and camp comfort. But when I go on trips like these, where I don’t have to carry the gear any longer distances I like to go all in on the luxury, like cooking real food on a cast iron pan, on a heavy stainless steel woodstove, in a comfortable heavy canvas Lavvu.

Once the beef was fried I added cream fraise, ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, salt and pepper and let it simmer for a while. It tasted great, even better than when I do it at home.

Outside the ice kept singing and cracking. We saw a couple ice fishing on the lake, but I have a phobia about being out on the ice, and wouldn’t dare to get out there.

As dusk fell, the moon came up, and lit up our campsite through the trees. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the stars where everywhere. We heard some screaming across the lake, and I couldn’t hear if it was human or from an animal. I screamed back a couple of times: “Is it someone who need help!” but once I’d screamed back the sound stopped. Maybe it was an animal, and the day after we found a pile of feathers from where we had heard the screaming.

We mostly stayed in the tent, since C like to play in the warm cozy tent. As usual we had a lot of snacks with us.

When it was time to sleep, C fell a sleep pretty quickly. I stayed awake for a while longer, reading and listening to the sounds of nature.

Both of us slept good through the night. I woke up a couple of times, and listened to the ice. It was making sounds almost constantly.

By morning I woke up before C for once. Most of the times she wakes me up with a: “Is it morning now?” and I just want to keep sleeping. Since she was still asleep I decided to get up and get the fire going before she woke up.

We fried some pita breads for breakfast and then put on all our clothes. It was time do do some exploring.

The stove was going to take a while to burn out and cool down, and I wanted to explore the area around the peninsula.

We followed a logging road to the end, and then we walked down to the lake. The small peninsula is on one end of larger cape, and we followed the shoreline to get back to our campsite. There had been a lot of logging in the area, and the surroundings consisted of different patches of clear cuts or young birch forests, but down by the shoreline the trees where left mostly untouched.

Now and then we stopped to play. A fallen tree became a bus, and a tree stump was a bus stop. The sun was shining in full force, and the shift in temperature from the freezing night made the ice sing and crack constantly. It was a fascinating sound, and I really enjoyed listening to it, while my little bus driver was going from station to station behind me.

We slowly came back to our campsite, where the stove had cooled down completely. At first, C didn’t want to get back home, but by now she was ready. I’ve gotten a good routine now, and quickly got the camp packed. We left the unused fire wood in a nice pile next to the existing fire ring and headed back to the car.

I had a great time, and it’s always fun to be out with C. I miss hiking, and I miss canoe camping, but these trips are great too.

We’ll probably get out in a two-night trip from Thursday to Saturday this week. My oldest daughter is in Athens, and my son is going to visit his grandparents, so if we’re lucky, my wife will join us too on Friday after work. She’s not that outdoorsy though, so maybe she’ll just enjoy the peace and calm of having the house to herself for once.

First 2019 camping with my 2-year old.

I really hadn’t planned to get out last weekend, and at first I didn’t really feel like it. But my wife needed to study and wanted the house to be a bit calmer, so she asked me if I wanted to take C on a camping trip.

C was excited to get out in the woods again, since it’s been two months since she spent a night outdoors.

I had decided to go to Tolgasjön again, to the “secret” spot that I had discovered a couple of weeks earlier.

I packed up the car with a bag of firewood, my canvas tipi – the Tentipi Safir 5, a backpack with the sleeping gear and other stuff and my duffel bag with the stove and the cooking gear. I go all in on luxury on trips like these.

We stopped by the store on the way and bought snacks and ingredients for our dinner. Then we set off toward the camp site. C fell asleep in the car, and I carried the gear out to the peninsula and set up the tent before I woke her up. When I was back at the car to get her two cars slowly passed us, and we waved to them. One of the cars had a brand name on them, and I think it might have been the land owner. I hope they don’t put up a gate at the beginning of the road but let us still have access to this place.

When they had passed we walked out to the end of the peninsula together. C made herself comfortable inside the tipi while I chopped up some wood and made some feather sticks. We loaded the stove with fire wood and quickly got a hot fire going.

Temperatures outside the tent was below freezing, but it didn’t take long for us to get sweaty, and we had to remove layer after layer.

C barely wanted to leave the tent, but just wanted to stay inside the cozy warm tent, play and eat snacks. So that’s what we did for most of the afternoon and evening.

When it was time for dinner I boiled potatoes in the pot and made reindeer stew in the frying pan. We ate it in flat bread rolls. This time I remembered to bring the lingonberry jam. It tasted delicious.

The rest of the evening we just played and relaxed in the tent, before it was time for her to sleep.

She fell asleep pretty quickly, and I spent a couple of hours reading and watching Netflix.

I slept pretty good, and C just woke up once to go out to pee. I woke up a couple of time, and listened to the sound of snow falling on the tipi.

The next morning C woke me up, and wanted us to get up and make some breakfast. I didn’t want to leave the warm sleeping bag, but I got up and quickly made a fire with the pre chopped small pieces of wood I had.

The skies where covered in clouds at first, but after a breakfast of fried pita breads with cheese and salamis, we got out again. This time the sun had come out, and it was really beautiful outside.

C didn’t want to get back home, and neither did I. The weather was perfect, with snow, sun and a couple of degrees below freezing. But we had other obligations so we had couldn’t stay too long. While we waited for the stove to cool down I packed up the rest of the gear.

When the stove was cold enough we packed it down, packed down the tent and headed back home. Once again it had been a short overnighter, but a great time outside. I got one more week at work before I got four weeks of parental leave. I’m planning on spending a lot of the following weeks outside with my little rug rat.

First trip of 2019

I’ve been pretty idle here lately, and in December I didn’t get out on any trip at all. But the first weekend in January I finally got out again, on my traditional camping trip the first week of the year.

The temperature here had been pending around freezing for a a couple of weeks, and I thought the lakes might be ice free and that maybe I could make one last canoe camping trip for the season.

My plan was to drive up to Tolgasjön, and put the canoe in on the same place as my last trip with C. But when I arrived there the road was closed off with a gate, and I couldn’t pass with the car.

I kept driving, and found a small logging road that wasn’t marked on the map. I followed it, hoping for the best, and eventually it ended up next to the lake, with a nice place to park the car too.

Once there I saw that the lake was already frozen over. There would be no canoeing for me. At first I thought about driving to Asa, where I’ve camped a few times before. But then I saw that there was a trail out to a peninsula next to where I had parked the car.

The peninsula turned out to be a prefect campsite, with a fire ring and a couple of makeshift benches. This was probably used by the people that lived nearby, or by the landowners.

I carried my gear out to the peninsula and set up my camp. I haven’t had a bag for my Gstove before, but recently I bought a Fjällräven Duffel no. 6 medium. This was perfect for the stove, heat shield and the more voluminous cooking gear I bring on hot tent camping trips. The main reason I choose this was that it has shoulder straps and can be carried like a backpack.

The weather was perfect. Sunny and below freezing with crips cold air. I had liked to do some paddling, but the campsite was great.

I set up the tent and the stove, inflated my Exped Winterlite, fluffed up my sleeping bag and got the fire going in the stove.

There was a large partly downed tree hanging over the trail on the peninsula, and it hung loosely on a thin tree at the end. Just touching it made it rock a lot, and it was dangerous to keep it there. It could fall any time, and maybe while someone was walking on the trail. I put some more pressure on it, and the whole thing crashed to the ground. At least no one will have to have that tree falling on their heads now.

For lunch I made pepper steaks with rice and fried bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. It was delicious, as always. The rest of the afternoon I just relaxed.

I had brought a spoon knife, and planned to do some wood carving, but I ended up making a fire in the fire pit, and reading by the fire instead. The where a lot of larger pieces of wood laying around, and I made a star fire to not having to spend a lot of time collecting firewood.

I’m reading “One bullet away, the makings of a marine officer” by Nathaniel Fick. In the HBO-series Generation Kill, he’s one of the few officers that are portrayed in a good light. I found the book is well written, and well worth reading.

When the sun set I returned to the tipi and heated up the stove again. I laid in the tent, and kept reading with the warmth of the stove keeping me comfortable.

When it was time for dinner I made Reindeer stew with potatoes that are eaten in rolled up flatbreads. Unfortunately I had forgotten the parsley and the lingonberry jam, but it still tasted great.

I read for a while longer before I retreated to my sleeping bag and let the fire in the stove burn out. I watched Netflix for a short while, before going to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of snow falling on the tipi. It’s always hard to get out of the warm cozy sleeping bag when it’s freezing outside. I mustered all my willpower to open up the zipper and crawl out into the cold.

I had a bunch of smaller sticks prepared from the previous day, and quickly got a hot fire going in the stove. Soon it was warm enough for me to start ditching my layers. I boiled some coffee and had a breakfast of salami, Brie and the left over bell peppers and flatbread.

The world outside had changed during the night. The brown ground covered with pine needles, and the icy blue lake had both turned white, covered with a thin layer of snow. The clear blue skies had turned grey. I prefer the weather I had the day before, but I do long for some real winter weather, and the possibility to do some snow shoe hiking. I plan to gradually upgrade my gear with more winter gear.

After breakfast I packed up, and headed back home.

It was a short trip, like most of my overnighters are now, to fit in with the rest of the everyday life. But these short breaks, with the possibility to just wind down, relax and enjoy the silence, solitude and beauty of nature is really valuable. For me it’s one of the best way there is to recharge energy and to keep my spirit up.

Autumn canoe camping in a canvas tipi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second time in a heated tent

Last weekend I was out camping with both my daughters. It was the first time I tried hot tent camping, and while the gear was very heavy, I really liked the comfort. For car camping trips, where weight isn’t an issue, it’s perfect.

it turned out that my wife was going to have a girls night at home with a few old colleagues the weekend after, so I was exiled this weekend too. My son was away, my oldest daughter was at her friends place, so the only one joining me this time was C.

We drove to the same place this weekend too, as it’s a great place and pretty close to home.

A couple of cars where already there when we arrived, and though we could hear kids in the distance, we didn’t see anyone. I set up the tipi on the same place as last time, set up the camp and started a fire in the stove. After a short while two families with baskets full of mushrooms passed our camp. They where only day-hiking, and left shortly after.

We started with lunch, and I fried pepper steak, red onions and bell peppers, and had Mediterranean rice to that. It was delicious.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chillin’ in the tipi or exploring the area around camp. We searched for mushrooms. Either chanterelles or Boletus edulis, the only eatable mushrooms I can identify without risk. A fun fact about the Boletus edulis is that in Sweden is mostly knows as Karl Johan mushroom, after the Swedish king (a former french officer) who brought his french habits, and introduced the mushroom to the Swedish kitchen.

We didn’t find any mushrooms that we where looking for, but we did explore the forest, while we both chanted: “Karl Johan, where are you? Come out so we can eat you!”

In the evening we made dinner. C had decided that we where going to have burgers for dinner, so that’s what I fried up. We made pretty simple burgers. Buns, meat, sauce and cheddar. But it tasted great. We just hung out in the tent for the evening, before it was time to put C to sleep.

I stuffed the stove full of firewood, and closed the vent to get a slow burn. It stayed hot for a long time.

But the night was pretty awful though. C woke up time and again, being sad, and wanting to get out to pee. Over and over again she woke up, and by the time she finally slept good, I barely couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned a lot the rest of the night.

By morning rain came, and really poured down. Since I couldn’t sleep anymore I got up early. I had a head ache, and thought about heating up the stove. But that would mean a couple of hours before it was burned out completely, and a couple of hours more to get it cold enough to pack it out. In the end I decided to go with a cold breakfast and then pack down camp. We had a few baby bell cheeses and a couple of mini salamis, before we packed down camp, and left for home.

In general, the trip had been nice, but the lack of sleep, the heavy rain and the headache the next morning made it great to get back home too. But as always, it didn’t take long for me to miss the woods, and I’m already eager to get out again.

Next trip will be in the first weekend of November, when I’m going on a hike with https://brianoutdoor.wordpress.com

I’m really looking forward to it. Both to do a real hiking trip again, and also to finally meat Brian in real life.