Boots & Shoes

Probably the most important choice for a successful and pleasant hike is which shoes to wear. As much as taste and personal preference plays in there are a few things to consider.
We will here discuss different types of shoes and when to use which.
  1. Shoes v/s Boots – naturally boots are the best choice in wet and muddy conditions, when we face an abundance of shallow streams we need to cross and in rocky terrain where the extra support for feet and ancles is needed. Other than that we can roll by the rule of thumb that “the lighter the shoe, the faster the hike”. It just seems to be so much easier to move in light shoes than heavy boots!
  2. Leather v/s membranes – here we find ourselves completely in the realm of personal preference, some people swear on GoreTex while other swear at it. Basically the membrane shoe takes less work to keep you dry initially yet doesn’t even come close to the durability of a well maintained leather boot. The membrane tends to get clogged after some time leaving us with a shoe that doesn’t breath at all any more. On the other hand the repeated wear and tear of folding at the same spot every step we take tends to make it break and now the shoe has a leak. Plain leather shoes need more work greasing and waxing to keep them water resistant, on the other hand they can last for years to come if they’re properly taken care of. I’ve tried both and finally went back to plain leather after 8 years of membrane trouble. So, if you’re willing to put some work into your footwear and carry a small can of wax and/or grease I’d clearly recommend to ditch the membranes, they’re just not worth the downsides.
  3. Stability – as mentioned above the nature of the activity demand different sturdiness of boots. The soft shoes used for easy conditions left aside there are four different categories of hiking boots – A,B,C and D, A being most lightweight and soft, D very stable and used more or less exclusively with crampons and other special equipment. To cover most hiking areas I’d recommend a pair in the B/C category, enabling the use of crampons while still smooth enough for comfortable hiking under easier conditions and serving as winter boots in moderate climates.
Now, if you’ve been following me for some time you probably know about my love fore minimalistic barefoot shoes and, frankly, I’m using these as often as I can in my everyday life and on hikes. Just recently I found a pair of VivoBarefoot boots and tried them on for a weekend hike. They totally exceeded my expectations and I can not recommend them enough for easier trails and moderate packs.
For a full review of the shoe, click here!
Well, that’s about it – remember there’s no shoe that fits everyone and make sure that you really try your new ones out thoroughly. Being out in the wild and finding out that you have a bad fit and end up with blisters is a bad idea!
Good luck, have fun and love the experience!!!

Day 1 – July 28th 2017

Woke up early at home and had my regular fat coffee (about 1 tbs each of butter, coconut oil and MCT oil mixed into a cup of coffee), did my reading and started splitting the gear into two bags. Tent, gear shed and most of the food went into a big plastic bag and got secured with duct tape. I took the valuable stuff (camera, electronics etc) as carry on in the lid of the backpack.
Although everything was in one place to start with I barely made it through a quick shower before the airport coach was outside to pick me up.
Check in and security went really smooth, after passing I still had an hour before departure and went for a couple of hamburger patties.

Flight was soft, just under 1.5 hours and I even had a great Sit (that’s what we call our daily meditation session in the MKE) while in the air. As we landed on time I knew I would make it time wise doing my last shopping (gas for the stove) in Kiruna and could continue according to plan ‘A’. Take the train to Katterat and start from there!

Picking up my luggage I found that they apparently weren’t that gentle handling luggage, one container with ghee had been hit slightly ajar and some of the fat had leaked out in the food bag.
Thankfully I noticed this while waiting for the train to depart from Kiruna and I had time to clean it up decently.
Still, putting up a ‘note to self’ to secure food containers with tape inthe future, isn’t it great how we always can choose to learn something instead of being an upset victim?!

After just over 2 hours of train ride we arrived in Katterat at 17:10 (that’s 5:10PM for you Americans) and I started down the gravel road leading up to the damm right next to ‘Hunddalshytta’ (“Dog Valley cabin’ in Norwegian).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gravel road presented for the most part a slight uphill slope, every now and then leveling out yet slowly climbing almost 300m (1000ft) of elevation. Walking a road is always easy on the legs and it was a good way to start after the rather lengthy travel.Still I was more than pleased reaching the end of the road and getting onto the trail after an easy river crossing.

Continuing uphill towards the pass I couldn’t do last year due to weather conditions, I stopped after a total of three hours to raise the tent and get a timely dinner.
Finding a wonderfully soft spot with perfect view into Hunddalen was just too inviting to continue on.

 

 

Even though I motored along rather well I could feel I was not in ketosis and I need to get quite some fat with my dinner.
I really look forward to try the PhatFibre for the first time tomorrow morning.

 

The backpack is clearly too heavy to be carried comfortably and I even had thoughts about leaving stuff in a depot to come back to later. Funny how easy it sometimes is to forget all the times I already done the same thing successfully that now seems hard to do. I’m so grateful how I nowadays catch my undesirable thoughts almost immediately and can focus on enjoying the scenery instead. Nature here is just breathtakingly beautiful!!!

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Peace // Claes

Hike of 2016 – Day 13 & 14

August 31st, Day 13, turned out to be another rest day. My friend, Helge, never showed up and I had a lazy day at the cabin, read a lot, did some writing and topped it up with a sauna in the evening.
Decision was made to give Helge until late AM the day after and then leave for Mårman if the weather allows!

I woke up early on September 1st, managed to get the tent dry between showers in the morning and had everything packed and ready. Spent some time in the cabin chatting with other hikers and sorting my stuff for the next few days of the hike.
Finally at 11:15 I left Vistas and defined the weather as good enough to give Mårman a try 😉

From that side it´s a pretty tough hike (I´d actually forgotten how hard…), lots of elevation and the stones and blocks were damp and slippery. The gradient is partly rather steep and standing on the peak of the pass I felt the total of about 1100m (3300ft) elevation in my legs – awesome feeling to get up there, though, and totally worth the effort!

Hope You could get the sound on that video, wind was pretty hard up there…

Anyway, first part of the decent to Mårman Cabin was a slippery mess of wet stones, gravel and some clay. Good thing there was no hurry and I made it down without any incidents, having reached the valley it´s a comfortable hike to the cabin and I was grateful to get out of the icy wind when finally reaching it.

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Peace // Claes

Hike of 2016 – Day 12

It’s a tough day, you just have to embrace it – rest day 😃
Woke up rested and relaxed, feeling no hunger at all. Had my coffee, read and sit staying at the camp a little longer with the novel for company while the tent dried out from the nightly showers.
As I knew I’d stay at Vistas cabin and wait for my friend Helge I was in no hurry at all, we plan to meet today or tomorrow and I have all the time I possibly need and only a good 5km to go.
Arriving at the cabin just prior to 11 am I cross the bridge to find a spot at the camp site, this early all where available and I picked a really nice one.
Perfect size for the tent, flat and smooth and pretty close to the river. After fetching some water for tea the rain kicked in and I spent the next few hours relaxing in the tent.
My track record with rest days is not really convincing, I normally get bored after just a few hours and want to move on, yet this year this day this spot felt blissful. I can’t say if it’s the weariness i still experience, if I start to educe a peace of mind I lacked up to this point or if it is due to some combination of these. Maybe something entirely different is at play here, whatever is going on I’m thoroughly enjoying the hours in the tent, reading, drinking tea, relaxing,
                                                                 meditating and contemplating life.
A visit to the cabin renders more tea and some pleasant conversations with the hosts and other guests. It’s a bummer the hosts don’t want to do an interview, naturally I feel opposed to persuade them, though.
In the end I lived through an immensely enjoyable day, shot a bunch of photos and commenced experimenting with different filters, met great people, engaged in inspiring conversations and still had sufficient time for myself to relax, unwind and contemplate life.
In short it was the perfect rest day!


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Peace // Claes

Hike of 2016 – Day 11

On of these mornings when it seemed perfectly right and appropriate to just refuse getting out of the sleeping bag. The hard wind continued throughout the night and my sleep got really impaired. Hadn’t I already know that the tent could take some beating the last doubts would have been removed after this night.
As I ended the day before rather early and already spent quite a few hours inside the tent I got restless some time after my reading and meditation and got the stove going for coffee. Not really hungry so breakfast could wait until later in the am and with a couple of coffees downed I got myself going.
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The view into Vistasvagge as always breath taking yet the hike was slow and rather difficult, normally I’m really good with blocks yet with the rain that
started last evening and still came down in showers the rocks were really slippery and treacherous. I even took a couple of falls, thankfully without any real damage.
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Finding a bunch of cloud berries along the way made a short break necessary, crazy late in the year to still find these delicious treats, and I just ate what I found right on the spot. Fresh berries are a wonderful addition to the usual diet out here.
Hiking slowly has its advantages and I apparently moved silent enough to not disturb a few reindeers resting in the greenery, beautiful serene animals I’m
img_4597grateful to catch a few pictures of.
Ending the first part of the day in Vistas cabin got me some rest from the cold wind, cooking and eating lunch inside was really nice and it cost some discipline to continue past the cabin after the meal. What pushed me on was the memory of another potentially amazing camp site just over 5km (3+ miles) south along the river. I walked past that spot quite a few times and this was the perfect occasion to give it a try.
img_4616Finding the place just as marvelous as I remembered it I built camp while the clouds lifted and cleared the sky for a wonderful late afternoon and evening. There still were lots of them around the area yet I had the privilege of sitting in the late afternoon sun, reading a novel while my dinner was cooking. During all the hours I spent there only two people past by, the rest of the time was undisturbed nature with the constant soothing sound of the river right there.
Needless to say I had a very enjoyable evening and drifted of to sleep easily, especially as the night before had been anything but restful.


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Hike of 2016 – Day 10

Woke up early and observed that the rain must have stopped sometime during the night, my tent had dried nicely in the wind and for a change I got out right away and got everything down and inside while it was dry. Perfect timing, carrying the last load down to the cabin I could feel the first drops of the day falling.
Keeping really silent due to the early morning hours I enjoyed a few mugs of coffee while reading and writing in the kitchen of the cabin. Not long after I finished my first cup othimg_4578er guests started showing up to eat breakfast and get started towards the next cabin.
I was in no hurry, clouds were still heavy in Unna Vistasvagge, the valley I plan to follow, and I was prepared to wait until mid day before changing my plans.
This also rewarded me the video for part 3 of the cabin host series as things started to slow down and they had time for me.
With an almost perfect timing the clouds started lifting just before noon and I went for it, not the best view yet I did have some space between me and the lowest clouds. Unna Vistasvagge was as peaceful and beautiful as ever and I’m grateful to be off the beaten path more, as comfortable life around the cabins can be, I missed the silence and solitude. Being virtually alone in the valley quickly got me reconnected to nature and myself, hiking at a moderate pace and checking some camp sites for next year was relaxing and easy going. Weather actually cleared up and I could even see the sun a few times looking back towards Kungsleden, though, after passing the highest point and looking towards the opening into Vistasvagge, I knew that sooner or later I’d get wet again.
It looked murky already from a distance.
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Good thing I could pass the really stony parts leading past Unna Vistasjaure before it got any more rain, wet rocks are frankly more challenging than fun.
Moving rather swiftly downhill towards where Unna Vistasvagge opens up into Vistasvagge the weimg_4586ather got rougher again, an icy cold wind came down the valley and hit me in the back intermittent bringing rain mixed with some snow. Knowing there are no places to camp for quite a while once out in the larger valley I kept my eyes open and found a really nice spot with a magnificent view on the glacier.

Utilizing a short interval between showers I got everything set and lay down in the tent for a while before cooking dinner in the vestibule facing away from the wind.
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Even this early in the evening I was already sure about two things, first that my sleeping bag had to prove itself and that the tent once more would be thoroughly storm tested.
Turned out I was right, the wind was magnificent and I was grateful to have the warmer sleeping bag despite its higher volume and weight.
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Though my sleep got vastly disturbed by the wind, I was never even close to feeling cold and managed the night in short sleep periods frequently waking
up, yet always got back to sleep again almost immediately just focusing on the sound from the stream next to the tent!

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Hike of 2016 – Day 9

Waking up rather early I hear the rain on the tent and can feel the wind still pulling at it, the weather had been rather rough throughout the night and I did not sleep that well, leaving me weary in the morning, lazily staying inside the sleeping bag grateful for the decision of crossing the water yesterday. Once again considering myself the luckiest guy on earth, waking up on the other side and crossing this morning had been clearly a cold and wet endeavor.2016-08-27-10-31-18
Weather prevailed and after a few hours I got myself ready, for the first time this year I packed everything while still inside the tent before going out in the rain and break the camp.
Gloomy day, cold wind from the north and the light yet constant rain made it an easy decision to head straight for the cabin in Alesjaure. Already I had spent more nights near cabins than planned at the start, and considering the weather with showers most days and the wind getting colder day by day I accepted that the trend would continue. Reminding myself that I’m not here to prove how much hardship I can take, looking forward to the evening sauna became increasingly easier as the day went along.
2016-08-27-10-46-06Considerably more water in the streams now than mere days ago I was happy for my high shafted boots, still taking in some water from the drenched vegetation pulling my rain trousers and moving moisture up the boots.
Coming close to the Sami camp it was impossible to discern which of the many paths to follow, I stayed too close to the lake and hade to pass through the camp before I found the trail emerging from Vistasvagge and followed it the last few km.
After a chat with one of the cabin hostesses, during which we agreed on a time for the first interview here, I put my tent up to dry in the wind. Ironically enough the weather got more and more friendly once I got inside, the next valley I planned to hike through still covered in clouds, though, made my decision to stay valid.
I spent the afternoon taking care of some long overdue cleaning, greased the boots and re packed my stuff as the amount of provisions decrease day by day and the pack needed rearranging.
img_4565Several pleasant conversations, one interview and a very enjoyable sauna later, dinner was on, it was raining again and I fully enjoyed the luxury of being clean, warm and dry.
Soon after there was a gap between two showers and I made it to the tent, leaving boots, socks and rain gear to dry inside over night.
The tent stood on highest ground possible to keep the rain water from gathering around it, wind had almost died completely and I drifted off almost immediately after last nights disturbed sleep.

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Peace // Claes

Hike of 2016 – Day 8

Rest day yesterday did wonders for my tendon, probably supported by some anti inflammatory drugs I got from fellow hikers. Normally I don’t do that stuff, by hey, this was kinda a special occasion 😇
Swelling went down fine and I’d say it healed more than 50% since my arrival here.
My original plan was to head east south east and cross the high plateau towards Alimg_4541esjaure spending one night at over 1200m (3600ft) yet looking at the clouds having gathered up there over night another change of plans was an easy decision!
I had actually never done the “normal” trail from Unna Allakas towards Abiskojaure and so this should be the day. As you might have picked up I like to keep of the all too beaten path and stay on more deserted trails, now at the begin of the off season seemed like a good time to try this trip out.
Staying an extra hour or so while drying my tent in the wind assured a complete dry start, trail was super easy and actually very enjoyable. Nice views of The Valley, virtually no people, except the Austrian mountain bikers overtaking me, before I met two other people from the cabin who started earlier and just stopped for lunch.img_4545
I decided to join them and after the meal we had company until I left the main trail to cross the river and head east while they continued to Abiskojaure.
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After crossing the bridge I got lucky and found the original foot trail leading east despite the area
being full of quad trails from the Sami’s driving reindeer from one area to another and gathering them for marking earlier during the summer season. It was a beautiful hike first through birches and soon passing the tree line opening up a nice view again.
Reaching Kungsleden (the Kings trail) I turned south and followed it just a few km before heading east again crossing over to the eastern side of the lakes just north of Radujavri. Something I definitely only recommend if you’re very experienced and preferably in a group of two or more people, that crossing was rather difficult. Water up to knee deep, partly slippery stones and the river wide enough to put the cold water into play, I’m grateful for the still warm rays of the late afternoon sun fighting off the cold wind. Anyway, after a quick wash I didn’t take long to get the camp ready and some dinner cooking. Just shortly after food was ready it started raining again and I retired to the tent, to be frank just as much because of the cold wind as the rain.
Despite the hike having been far from strenuous I felt weary after good 25km and the river crossing, grateful for the tendon still feeling a lot better than the day before I had an early night after reading a little.

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Peace // Claes

Hike of 2016 – Day 7

img_4526Woke up when the sun starts heating up the tent (it disappeared behind clouds pretty soon, though…), unzipped the sleeping bag and just enjoyed being lazy for a little while before leaving the tent and breaking camp.
Right tendon more swollen and I decided on a short hike of just 3-4km to Unna Allakas and spend the rest of that day resting at the cabin, already looking forward to the evening sauna.
Funny how the close proximity of a sauna can enhance the feeling of needing to clean up 😉
Upon arrival I raised the tent in my favorite spot before entering the cabin and greeting Torgny who was pretty surprised to see me again so soon.
Inside the cabin is another guy on rest day, Birger, who started his hike on July 10th and now is on his way to meet his girl friend I’m Abisko, hike the next part together with her and then finish alone towards the very northern parts of Norway.
Amazing conversations, great company and lots of food made the day fly by while the cabin slowly filled up with people, leaving us with a very international lot from 6 different countries including a couple from Austria mountain biking along the trails, a guy from Belgium who had hikes the glacier of Storsteinfjellet alone (NOT recommended) and was lucky enough to come down alive…
And a group of mountain runners arriving later in the evening!
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Birger
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Belgian Alpinist
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The Runners
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Lisa from Germany and Guido from Italy
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Sauna was fantastic as expected and the view extraordinary!
After some more chatting, dinner and a few cups of tea I was ready for the tent.

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Peace // Claes

Cabin Host Series, Part IV: Abiskojaure

Every cabin that is served by the Swedish Tourist Organization (STF) is hosted by one or more mountain cabin hosts working as volunteers to make you visit both safer and more pleasurable.
The series introduces you to some of these “heroes of the mountains”!
Meet Bosse in Alesjaure:

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Peace // Claes