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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Preliminary planning for 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shortest trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A freezing overnighter

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The ice was just setting on Thursday morning

On Thursday I finally got away on an overnight trip. Last time had been in mid-November, and I had really missed having some quality time alone in nature. Spending a night out in the woods the first week of the year has become a sort of tradition. It was the third year in a row, and the coldest one yet.

Temperatures where down to -10°c when I left home. My sleeping bag had a comfort value of -6°c and a limit value of -13°c. My personal limit lies somewhere between those numbers. But I thought I’d be fine, and if it got cold I could just sleep with my fleece jacket on. This proved to be wrong though, as temperatures dropped down to -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. But more about this later.

After I got up on Thursday morning I drove out to Lerike. I hadn’t decided where to go until the last minute. But Lerike is beautiful, close to home, and I still had lots of parts to explore.

I got out to Lerike at 10.30, and parked at the same place as last time, at the far edge of the cape. But this time I decided to follow the shoreline north east instead of west, as I did the last time.

The air was really cold, and the skies where clear with just a few scattered clouds. After 20 minutes or so I stopped at a gravel beach. I decided to roll out my cellfoam mat and relax in the sun. I laid there for about half an hour, listening to the wining and singing sound the ice made as it was setting on the lake. The sun warmed me, and it didn’t feel like -10°c.

After a while I rolled up the mat and continued north along the shore. Parts of the time I was able to hike near the shore, other times the dense vegetation forced me to hike further inland. There aren’t any marked trails here, but every once in a while I stumbled on what looked like animal trails that I followed for a while. The route I took would have been challenging if it hadn’t been freezing. I hiked over marshes and parts covered with reed that would have been impossible to pass without being soaked if the lake hadn’t frozen over.

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The reed in the middle of the picture was taller than me

After a while I came to a small beach. There was a fire ring on the beach but I didn’t try to make a fire. I wanted to try my multi fuel stove and it was time for dinner.

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My first use of the Trangia Multi Fuel X2

I set up my stove and made dinner. I tried Knorr spagetteria, Pasta bolognese, and it tasted great. A lot better than I expected, and affordable with a price of ~15 SEK. I’ve never used a multi fuel stove before, and it takes some getting used to, to get a perfect flame that burns efficiently. As soon as I put the pot in windshield the blue jet flames turned yellow and produced a lot of soot and I had to fiddle a lot with the valve to get a good flame.

I continued my hike along the shore line. After a while I came to a road and passed three houses. After I passed them I turned back into the woods and followed the shore, this time going south out on another cape. I thought I’d start looking for a place to set up camp, But at the far edge of the cape there wasn’t enough open space with flat ground to set up the tent. I carried on further along the shore and finally found a great place to make camp. It was in a deciduous forest with a few scattered really old pine trees.

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My home for the night

I set up my tent, forcing the tent pegs into the frozen ground. After that I made a half assed attempt to make a fire. I had collected tinder along the way, dry grass and birch bark from fallen dead birches. A couple of times I actually thought I’d get the fire going, but it died out, and I gave up. I used my stove instead to boil water for the coffee. I took the water from the lake, and by the time I’d got the stove burning a thin layer of ice had already formed on water.

After I had my coffee I discovered a 7 cm rip in my pants. I guess it’s one of the hazards of hiking off-trail. I laid in my sleeping bag fixing the rip. It was the first time I had to use anything from my repair kit. The end result might not be pretty, but it does the job. When I got home I waxed the thread to make it more durable.

A risk of hiking off-trail

I read for a while and then made dinner. By now it was really cold, and I heated up some water and put it in my pet bottle to have with me in the sleeping bag as a radiator.

I’ve always thought Nalgene bottles to be a waste of money. Pet bottles are both cheaper and lighter. But after this trip I’m actually considering buying a Nalgene bottle for winter trips. Pet bottles, however great they are for three season use, does have a serious weakness. They can’t handle warm water well without deforming. Because of this I made sure not to heat the water too much, but the bottle still deformed from the heat. Nalgene bottles can take boiling water, and with that warm your sleeping bag for a longer time.

I went to bed, read for a while and also watched parts of Beasts of no nation as I downloaded it before to try Netflix new offline mode. But at 20.30 a started to fall asleep. I woke up at 22.30, already feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and fell asleep again. I woke up on and off, feeling cold. Outside the tent I heard something screaming once in a while. I don’t know what kind of animal made the sound, but I haven’t heard anything screaming like that before. I woke up later with it screaming louder, and with the sound of a fight. I guess what ever was screaming, it got eaten by a fox or something. Is was silent after that. At around 4 in the morning I was really cold and had trouble falling asleep again. Eventually I decided to fire up the stove and reheat the water in the bottle. I did this, and went back to sleep.

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It was a great morning to wake up to

I got up around 8.30 and made breakfast. It was really cold and I was freezing a bit, despite wearing two fleece jackets. I made bannock for breakfast and then packed up and left camp. I walked back to the car in a faster pace than when I hiked out. I had to be back home rather quickly, and didn’t stay for any breaks, despite the weather being perfect. The hike back to the car only took roughly 75 minutes, and I was soaking in sweat when I got to the car.

When I got back home I found out that the temperature had dropped down to between -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. No wonder I was feeling cold and had slept bad the entire night.

Despite being cold I’m glad I got out. I learn a little every time. I could have had a comfortable night even with the temperatures being below the sleeping bags rating, if I had brought a silk liner, a pair of thick wool long johns to wear over my thin base layer and a water bottle that handles boiling water. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

Plans for the next year

In a few hours from writing this 2016 will end and 2017 will begin. I’ve never really cared much about New Years Eve as a holiday. For years I’ve been working nights either on New Years Eve or started early the morning after. But I do like to make plans for my life in a year to year basis, and I have started to lay out the plans for my outdoor life in the next year.

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2016 offered stunning views
Plans for 2017

  • I plan to get out on at least one overnight trip every month. I didn’t succeed with this in 2016, but I’ll make another attempt this year. I got better hours on my new job, with no work on weekends, and that will probably make it easier to get away.
  • I want to spend at least 10% of the years nights sleeping outside, under the stars, in a tent, in a lean-to or otherwise out in nature. That’s 36 night, and shouldn’t be impossible to do.
  • Travel to Greenland and hike the Arctic Circle Trail. The planning is nearly done, and I’ve done some gear purchases, put away money for the plane tickets and notified my boss about vacation for the planned weeks.
  • Lots of day hikes with my youngest daughter since I’ll be home from work with her quite a lot up until August when she’ll start to go to kindergarten.
  • I’ll start with some more advanced, yet lightweight, outdoor cooking this year. I’m getting tired of eating the same freezer bag meals as always, and it will be fun to expand the culinary experience.
  • Buy a canoe and have overnight canoetrips on both Helgasjön and Åsnen. Åsnen is the second largest lake in Småland, and parts of it will most likely be transformed to a National park in the near future. This goal however is depending on whether I can afford to spend that much money or not.
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    I got my eye set on this beauty
  • Work on getting a hiking trail around Helgasjön. I’ve been in contact with the local authorities and it’s been up for discussion, but they won’t fund it right now. But I know there are more hikers around Växjö who’d like a trail there, and I’ll try to get more people to push for it.
  • Make the blog more active and write at least once a week, preferably two times a week.
  • Start making movies of my hikes and movies with gear reviews.
  • This year I also want to seriously start planning for a shift in my life, with more passive income than today, and find ways to cut down on office time and maybe find a way to make an income from my outdoor interest. I have both Angeliqa Mejstedt from Vandringsbloggen and Philip Werner from sectionhiker.com as role models. Both of them have a larger outdoor experience than me and have a really large number of readers, but you got to start somewhere 🙂

These are the plans I have now for the next year. Some will be easier to succeed with than others but in general, I’ll try to spend more time in the outdoors and focus more actively on finding alternative ways to make an income. In a year or so I’ll summarize how well I did in reaching my goals.

Happy new year everyone. Let’s make it a great one!