torsdag 2 juni 2011

A weekend stroll through the local woods

This blog has been a bit quiet lately. Being on parental leave with three small kids tends to take up a bit of time and also a fair amount of energy. Luckily however I managed to squeeze in some time for a weekend walk in the forest close to our summer house north of Stockholm. The plan was to spend two nights outdoors and to have a nice time. There was not really any gear to be tested and quite frankly still my pack ended up a lot heavier than usual due to poor planning. On such a short trip however that didn't really matter.

A female moose near lake Largen spotted from the car on the way out

We started the walk a bit late on friday night since we were delayed by the pleasant company of my parents. So late in fact that when we started to walk through the forest next to the beautiful lake Malmsjön it was already getting dark. Finding a good site for the tent when night is falling is seldom a good idea. Luckily we managed to find an OK spot for our two tents and soon the night was filled with the noise of amateurs in the woods: breaking twigs in the darkness. I also had to use my new lightweight Muela pocket-knife to clear my tent spot from aspen saplings that would otherwise threaten to ruin my sleep. I'm sad to say the knife did not pass the test. When used for serious cutting duty the handle was simply too uncomfortable due to it's rectangular shape. I will switch back to my beloved Opinel. It has a rounded handle and is beautiful in it's simplicity.

A nice roaring campfire

Luckily our chosen campsite was full of dry wood (As is most often the case in the boreal forest) and within minutes we had a nice fire to warm ourselves by. It was quite welcome since the evening was in fact a bit chilly. As always the fire got us in good mood and my hiking buddy Jesper skillfully prepared marshmallows which we washed down with some nice Serbian šlivovic.
A master marshmallow roaster at work
After a large amount of banter it was time to retire to our tents and I found good use for my head-torch.

The Canon S90 working at iso 12800 conveys the darkness. I find the noise adds realism in this case.

I slept reasonably well under my Gatewood Cape. One of the pleasures with sleeping in the woods are all the sounds. This night we were treated with the characteristic cries of a Tawny Owl (Kattuggla, Strix Aluco) just a few meters from our tents.

A bit of condensation on the Gatewood Cape, but nothing too bothersome. I find the Gatewood Cape to be quite ideal for lightweight forest camping.

In the morning we packed up early and left without breakfast in the "Ultralight style" propagated by Mike Clelland!. It was still pretty chilly and we did not feel like lingering around. Jesper even had frost on his tent. It was the first time I tried the postponed UL-breakfast technique and I think it has some merit in cold weather. After an hour or so we had warmed up from the hiking and sitting down was a lot more pleasant.

 Birches in beautiful spring light (not properly conveyed by this photo I'm afraid)

We hiked north along Malmsjön and then turned northwest towards Långsjön by compass bearing. We had no trails to follow on this hike. I just used my Iphone maps and sometimes took compass bearings to keep the course through the forest.

Remnants of a more agricultural age

From Långsjön we just had a few hundred meters to our intended breakfast spot, the lake Mörtsjön in the nature reserve with the same name. Apparently this lake was used by a fly-fishing club. They had installed jetties on several places around the lake. I found that this took away some of the untouched charm from this nice typical forest lake with no road access, but I guess it makes it a very nice place for fly-fishing. There are thousands of lakes like this in Sweden so there is not much harm done.

Preparing hazelnut boosted blueberry soup oatmeal on the Bushbuddy

Jetties or no jetties, the lake was still a nice place for cooking breakfast. I prepared my favourite hiking porridge on the Bushbuddy. I still have some things to learn about this. I managed to severly burn the bottom of the pot. I still haven't managed to properly clean the pot. I must learn to simmer better. Any hints are welcome. I guess one thing I could have done was to put the pot in the pot cozy a bit earlier when the porridge was boiling.

Homemade pot-cozy made by padded aluminium from Bob and Rose doing it's work

The pot cozy really is a nice invention. It saves fuel, time and energy since you don't have to maintain the fire. The extra weight is negligible. In this case we prepared the coffee while the porridge was having a nice time.

Breakfast is finished

After breakfast we walked through the forest roughly following the old boundary between two properties. Somewhere east of Mörtsjön we found what was likely wolf droppings.

Wolf droppings?

This trip took place at the end of April and there was an abundance of spring flowers around. 


Blue anemone and Wood anemone (Blåsippa and Vitsippa)

Vätteros, Lathraea Squamaria. A strange parasitic plant which feeds on it's host.

The sun was shining and we weren't the only ones enjoying it. I nearly stepped on a poisonous black adder in a forest clearing. Lots of dogs have been bitten by these this year. Unless you are allergic their bites are not dangerous, but you should go to the doctor if bitten. From what I've heard you get an an extra tetanus shot.

Black adder

Soon after the snake encounter it was time for lunch. We found a nice place near a hunting tower close to a moss. Out came the frying pan and we had a delicious meal of Nurnberger rostbratwurst and homemade french potato salad (prepared in advance before the trip.). Frying on the Bushbuddy is a bit of a technique as the flames are normally too hot for the pan. You need to hold the pan a bit above the flames and move it around a bit to cover the whole area. When using a normal fire the best thing is to fry over embers, but this doesn't work with the Bushbuddy since the embers are too far away.

Luxury food

After lunch we continued walking. My chosen campsite proved to be quite far away and we noticed that my route was perhaps a bit too long for one day, 20-25km off-trail through forest is quite a distance. The wind was also picking up and it was getting a lot colder. Anyway we plodded along towards the lake Däningen where I had intended to camp. Here we ran into some trouble. The water in the lake really didn't look or smell nice. We had almost run out of water, we were tired and it was almost cold even when we were walking. The lake itself wasn't too interesting either and we didn't really feel like putting up camp there. Maybe I'm starting to become old, anyway we decided to go back home. The last few kilometers to the car we realized just how tired we were. Next time I will research my route better and reduce the distance. Better research as to reliable water sources would also be a good idea.
Even though we aborted the trip a bit early it was great to get out and a great way to switch environment. 

7 kommentarer:

  1. Nice.

    I've resigned to using a water filter in southern Finland. It probably even saves a little weight, since you don't have to carry that much. One hundred percent reliable water sources are far between.

    The ultralight style breakfast doesn't sound too appealing. Drinking the morning coffee slowly while still being halfway inside the cozy sleeping bag and enjoying the morning view is one of the great pleasures of being out.

  2. Terve Yeti,
    I might try the water filter one day too.
    I guess staying in the sleeping bag is very comfy, but it's not very compatible with Bushbuddy cooking. I would be too afraid of burning my belongings.

  3. I quite enjoy the 'quick start' morning routine. Last year I camped with a friend deep in a sheltered forest after running out of time and energy. Low on water in the morning we hit the trail early and ended up enjoying an amazing breakfast, high on a mountain ridge, next to an alpine lake. And yeah, you don't want your sleeping quilt anywhere near a BBU.

    Avoiding burnt food in the pan? I pretty much always freezer bag cook. I can remember watching one guy desperately trying to shift burnt cheese sauce from the bottom of his titanium cooking pot... ;)

  4. Joe - Hm, who could that guy have been? Do you think the freezer bag thing will work for oatmeal porridge? I wonder if it is instant oatmeal that I have.
    I have the "Freezer bag cooking- Trailfood made simple"-book, and have done a few recipes. My main complaint about this book is that a majority of the recipes include ingredients that I have never seen in Europe, such as chicken pouches.

  5. Yes, oatmeal porridge works great in freezer bags. I have it every day on trips. It's good to add dried berries and nuts in summer and chocolate and nuts in winter :) I have also eaten it cold in summer and it tastes like muesli.

    The lack of meat pouches in Scandinavia is a problem (they're available in England). I usually use dried sausage or cheese as a replacement.

  6. The look of that luxury food made me hungry =)

    Proper research of the route is a key principle of lightweight backpacking, Gustav - you're getting sloppy ;) Seriously though, sometimes it is just nice to have spent a good night outdoors, in good company, and then head back to the warmth and comfort of home, especially if it gets cold and safe water sources are few.

  7. Being on parental leave with two turbo charged Amazons I can hardly imagine it with three, Why do they call it "pappaledig"? ;)

    Good to see that you managed to get a weekend anyway. About quick-start mornings, it works, but if I don't get something hot to drink like tea or coffee there is no point to being outdoors :D