Tour of 2018 – Day 4, July 30th 2018

Camp at Vassajavri
Turned out none of us slept any good at that last camp, personally, I woke up repeatedly and in the first half of the night never went deep enough to notice I actually slept at all… Only a look at the clock told me how much time had past.
It rained rather heavily around 1:30 am and this again interrupted everybody’s sleep.
Still, I woke up at 5:40 and felt rested enough to start my day with some reading and a couple of coffee with coconut oil!
We had agreed on waking at 7 and I made sure everyone was up, from that on until we could finally dry our tents and get packed up, we got another two rain showers.
The first half of the hike up to the security cabin at Mårma was very pleasant, easy walk, nice temperatures, and a welcome breeze!
Then we started catching some rain again, light showers at first, yet then some heavier rain that not only made us wet but also made the rocks pretty slippery and slowed us down quite a bit. Nearing the cabin the rain stopped, still, we decided to have lunch inside to escape the cold wind!
Side note: The cabin at Mårma is in a horrible state, it’s doubtable if it would even do much good in an emergency situation. There’s no firewood in the shed, people have used the stairs to the outhouse and parts of the floor of the shed for firewood.
Trash has been accumulating for God knows how long and nobody seems to take responsibility for the place.
Upon coming home I’ll send an email to the organizations who are supposed to care for the cabins and ask who’s actually in charge.
During our break, the sky started to look friendlier and we decided to give it a go!
I must say that the girls did great, totally overthrew my wildest expectations and behaved like seasoned hikers on the whole stretch. Tons of respect and a big shoutout for them, I’ve never heard of anyone doing a tour like this on their first time in Lapland, or even the second or third for all that matters.
And they handled every part of it equally well, ascent, descent, river crossing, etc.
I’ll take these two on a hike anytime!!!

Finally, we chose to stay up here in the ‘Lost Valley’ instead of continuing to the planned destination. We’d been delayed several times during the day for different reasons, it was already 7 pm when we got here and the evening sun was so inviting!
I treated myself to a (very short) swim inVassajavri, super cold and very refreshing, before making camp and cooking dinner.
By 9 pm we were all inside our respective tent and looking at an early night.
Hopefully, all of us get some good sleep and wake up rested tomorrow!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 3, July 29th 2018

Camp at bridge over Vierrojohka
We went to bed early last night and everyone was probably asleep by 9pm, I know for sure that I was. The frenzy of the last week before departing obviously had caught up with me when I started relaxing out here in nature!
Slept super well and woke up just after 6:30 in the morning, turns out I was the only one up and I let the girls sleep in while doing some reading and enjoying a great meditation.
After a long, relaxed morning we got going at 11am, maybe half hour earlier Ashleigh got some Advil out of her bag and offered Cornelia for her knee pain. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the tour as we all finished today’s hike felling really well. Cornelia felt a slight discomfort at times, no pain.
The trail through Bessesvagge was, for the most part, in better shape than I’ve ever seen it. Still I lost it once on the stretch through the bushes and found it again after some struggling with vegetation.
I followed a creek uphill until I got back on the trail and then got back down to get my backpack and the girls. Super impressed by their effort, they did 100m (300ft) of steep elevation in just about 20min!
After a short break we continued along the trail, turned south towards the bridge over Aliseatnu and crossed over to the south side.
Side note: there’s a new trail heading eastbound when the wetlands start to show up, I checked it out and highly recommend to stick with the original one!
Reaching the intended campsite at the western shore of Vierrojohka we ignored the cold of the glacier water and first got cleaned up. Then setting up camp and having dinner down by the little pebble beach, starting a small fire to fend off the mosquitoes that appeared when the wind went down.
Tomorrow we need to get started a few hours earlier to have enough time for the Mårma pass so we’re all heading for another early night!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 2, July 28th 2018

Camp at Nissonvaggijohka
This was another great hiking day with amazing weather, actually the sun woke me up at 5am and I had to get out of the sleeping bag to cool down and fall back to sleep.
Next I woke at 6:20, got out of the tent and was met by the unexpected sight of both my hiking companions having breakfast outside.  Normally I’m the early riser in most companies yet the last week before departure I let myself get pretty sleep deprived and I needed that extra hour badly. Still I can feel the need to catch up!
Anyway, really nice to take two that self reliant girls on their first hike up here!
After a slow and lazy morning we got started about quarter to nine and made quite a few stops to fix emerging blisters on toes and drink lots of water. So happy about this weather, sun is shining and the temperature is well over 25C (77F) during the day.
What a welcome contrast to last years cold and rain!
Now, one of the girls had an old knee injury flare up and we decided to make camp right after lunch. Beautiful grass area right next to the Nissonvaggijohka.
After everything was set Ashleigh, the other participant and daughter of good friends in Minnesota, and myself went up to the nearest summit, named Goalkascohkka, to enjoy the view from there and just move around in the fantastic weather.
Quite a climb up there, we first went around the mountain and up the valley towards Guhkesriehppi. After enjoying the view of the glaciers we turned southeast and switchbacked up the slope to the summit. Marvelous view down Rautasjaure and, a little further west, up the valley all the way to Mårma pass.
Descending towards northeast there was a very steep area where everyone must find his own path down. More to the north was an easier route that was just slightly longer.
Everyone of us is rather nackered and we plan on an early bedtime after having dinner already around 6pm!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tour of 2018 – Day 1, July 27th 2018

Camp at Cuonjajavri
A day of travel, it turned out that there were no really good connections from Kiruna that fitted our arrival from Stockholm, ARN, and we ended up spending over 3.5h in Kiruna.
The day started a little challenging with one from the group sleeping in, yet our driver was super friendly and agreed to a detour to pick her up. Challenge successfully solved!

Finally at 4pm we got off the bus in Abisko and hit the trail!

Beautiful hike in fantastic weather, actually the heat made it necessary to force down extra water at every creek. One of us was especially challenged by the hot sun and had to wet her cap repeatedly to keep her head cold.
Needless to say we took it very easy and reached the camp site after around four hours of hiking, taking several breaks to cool down!
After pitching our tents we sat down for a late dinner and soon after it was time to hit the sleeping bags!
From a personal perspective I’m super happy that I start the hike this year being fat adapted. Didn’t eat for nine hours between lunch and dinner, felt super great, full of energy and no hunger at all!
I cannot recommend enough that You make sure to be fat adapted when going on a longer hike, it’s a total game changer!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Hiking the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay, Ontario

September 19th 2018
Camp at Lehtinen’s Bay
After getting off to a rather late start this morning, I stopped at the ‘Bay Village’ coffee shop to pick up some gear they offered to lend me. Naturally, I stayed for a nice ‘Bulletproof’ – and didn’t get on the road until after 11 am.
Luckily I just made it to the parking permit office 5min before they closed for lunch, got my paperwork in order and continued to the parking lot at the trailhead!
Around 12:15 I started on the trail towards ‘Sawyer Bay’, planning to climb the head of the giant on the first day.
‘Sawyer Bay Trail’ does frankly resemble a quad track more than a hiking trail, it’s also very easy to walk and should be ideal for groups as two or three people can walk beside each other and chat comfortably.
Where the trail reached ‘Sawyer Bay’ there are several, really nice campsites and fireplaces. Beautifully arranged right at the shore!
The trail continues as a clearly visible, and easy to follow, footpath, soon reaching the fork where the ‘Head Trail’ takes of up the hillside.
 
I followed it up to the top, and the view is totally worth the effort of climbing the trail. And, yes, partly it is more a climb than a hike, just take it slow and You’ll be good!
Once back at the fork I continued the ‘Kabeyun Trail’ along the shore of ‘Lake Superior. The trail is very easy to find and follow, mostly close to the water and with very few changes in elevation.
After leaving the western shoreline and starting the climb over the giant’s feet, the ground gets clearly rougher. First, just an uphill slope, later steeply downhill on the east side. Closer to ‘Lehtinen’s Bay’ the trail climbs over large rocks and progress slows down immensely!
Just a short way past the rocky area I found this beautiful camp between the trail and the shore, the view over the lake is truly amazing and I look forward to falling asleep to the sound of the waves hitting shore!

On the next morning, I got started around 9 am and headed for the Talus trail to get to the crossing that would take me to the top of the giant. This was a much more mellow hike than to the head, still partly steep, yet with beautiful steps built into the trail, making the steep parts so much easier.

I found it a little weird when finding the sign for the ‘top’ pretty much in the woods and not even near the highest point in the area.

Continuing further up the trail got me to the western cliffs and opened up a beautiful scenery!

The sky, that had been overcast already, grew darker the longer the day went towards noon and, also considering the fact that I didn´t find any water in the streams, I decided to head back to the car. Finally leaving the park just after 1 pm for the hour-long drive back to town!

I really enjoyed hiking the area and am rather happy to have left the ‘chest’ for a later occation, giving me an excuse to come back!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Day 22 – August 18th 2017

08:00 Camp in center of Kaskasavagge

The night here in Kaskasavagge was cold and comfortable, what a difference when not having to make an effort to just keep the equipment dry.
Frankly I can’t remember when I woke up with a dry tent last time, I’d have to go back and look through my journals.
Today is overcast yet it looks like it will stay dry for now at least, the clouds give this valley a more sinister atmosphere and a feeling of ancient times. It would not be surprising to see a woolly mammoth turn up behind a huge rock.

I’m setting out to start the day going over the pass to Goubirvaggi, then follow that valley westwards back to Tjäktjavaggi and enter Sinnivagge. A few km up that valley I know a really good camp site that I intend to use the coming night.
Then the weather will determine how I continue towards Kebnekaise.

As the afternoon snack yesterday really bumped both my Ketonix readings and my energy levels I chose to complement my fat coffees this morning with some nuts, jerky and ghee. We’ll see how that turns out during the day!

17:05 Camp in Sinnivagge

First let me break the news that I hiked in my normal hiking pants all day, can’t even remember the last day I had no need to change into rain pants!
I’m so incredibly grateful for this beautiful weather, it’s been a little on and off all day yet dry all day through and now I have the sunshine hitting the tent from the east and a beautiful view over the Ruskkas mountains I past on their eastern side just days ago.

The hike today was marvelous, first the ascent to the summit – beautiful views and quite a lot of snow to walk on. I prefer the snow though it’s more physically demanding than rock as one has to kick hole into the snow for each step. It’s just so much easier on joints and ligaments!
It took me about an hour to climb the pass and I made a little video at the summit.

The way down was a lot of fun yet very demanding – I could utilize a few huge snow fields to avoid descending on rocks and it takes an enormous amount of concentration to stay in control on the snow.
Once down at the bottom I hiked a few more km before my eyes and brain needed a little rest and refueling so I took a snack break right down at the lake.


Continuing 45 min later I was perfectly ok with having to go all the way down to Kungsleden and use the bridge to cross Guobirjohka. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary, I kept pretty much south and soon after clearing ‘Drakryggen’ (the mountain is called ‘dragons back’ due to its shape) I saw not only Rabots glacier and a grassing herd of reindeers, but also a wide area of the river where it looked passable. It was indeed and I didn’t even have to get my feet wet!

After the crossing I went down quite some in elevation to round Guobircohkka and turn back east into Sinnivaggi. Nice soft grass to walk on and very easy to find reindeer tracks to follow.

 

 

The actual trail along Sinnjijohka is on the south side of the stream, yet that’s a well worn out trail and I prefer to hike on the north side instead. The first ascent into the valley is physically much more demanding as one needs to climb up to avoid a steep field of rocks. After that it levels out and follows the stream up to the grass field in Sinnivagge.
Once arrived here I just set up camp and got myself some hot tea so now it’s time for an early dinner and probably an early night as well. I’m a little weary after the last two days, more mentally than physically.
Most guide books recommend doing one of these passes per day only and there’s been quite some additional hiking these days.
I guess I just need some rest and recovery and we’re all good again!

Time to relax and enjoy the beautiful spot here in Sinnivagge!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Day 21 – August 17th 2017

20:15 Camp in center of Kaskasavagge

 

Sitting in my tent looking through the valley towards Kungsleden in the far distance and enjoying the reflection of the beautiful evening sky in the perfectly still water of the lake in front of me. For the first night in quite a while I don’t need to hide in my sleeping bag to stand the cold or camp by a cabin to get dried up.
And that’s not the way this day started out…

I woke up rather early around half past six to the sound of… (drumroll!) raindrops falling on my tent again. The rain that started during my hike yesterday hadn’t really stopped – rather just taken very short breaks during the night. I even had a light rain falling when I put up the tent last night.

 

During one of the breaks I grabbed most of my stuff, except sleeping bag, mattress and, of course, the tent, and relocated into the kitchen of the closest cabin to make some coffee and start the day.
Naturally I met the same people as yesterday and had a very sociable morning and was able to help quite a few people with tips and ideas for the continuation of their tours.

Twice I was out wiping of the tent before finally it stopped raining for about half an hour and got my stuff packed reasonably dry.
In the meantime I got an interview with one of the hosts, which we had to do inside due to the weather. It was after half past eleven before I finally got away from Sälka and onto the trail towards Nallo.
Using the trail kept me roughly away from the wet bushes and scrubs, thereby helping to avoid soaking the boots within the first few km.After about 7km I left the trail and started working my way up the mountain side and turn into the western part of Unna Reiddasvagge. The ground was almost inconceivably drenched were there were no rocks and the rocks themselves were wet and slippery. Approaching the opening of the valley I suddenly found myself at about the same elevation as the clouds and really thought it’s have to hike in fog for the rest of that part.


Thankfully the clouds lifted and I had a wet and cold hike with good visibility up to the Unna Räitas cabin. This is one of the few cabins without a host and frankly it is pretty worn down and would definitely need some love and construction work. Now it’s more like an emergency shelter, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sleep there except for a real emergency.

Location is just fantabulous, though, with a view of the Reaidda glacier, a beautiful meltwater lake and several summits at around 1900m.
Here I had my midday break with some tea and snacks, and while I was inside getting my stuff prepared out of the cold wind the miracle happened.


Within less than an hour the clouds opened up and revealed blue sky and sunshine, I dare to admit that I had to really look around to believe the change that had happened. This I had been wishing and praying for for days now and finally we got a nice and clear afternoon sky again.
Knowing that I’d be doing the pass crossing, I still had a thorough break before departing from the cabin and approaching the climb.


Not only was the snow field large enough to allow the crossing, most of the ascent could be done on snow, which is so much easier on joints and ligaments then hiking rocks, and I reached the summit of the pass after just an hour. The view was marvelous and well worth the climb, unfortunately pictures can’t show how steep it really is. I really had to kick my boots into the snow wall to be able to climb it without slipping and sliding back downhill.


Naturally the decent into Kaskasavagge was less physically demanding, yet it’s quite taxing mentally to keep focus on where to step next. There was some snow fields on the way down as well, yet mostly rocks, which thankfully had dried completely since the rain stopped. And what a different experience it is to walk on dry rocks compared to having them wet and slippery.

Already on the decent I spotted a possible camp site and even if I checked a few others I ended up in the place. Right in the middle of the valley and close to a stream it makes a perfect spot for me and a good starting point for tomorrow’s hike.
Now I just hope and pray that this preferable weather change will stick for a while. I’d love the weather to be like this for the remainder of my tour!

The journey continues, please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Tents

So, lets talk some about the “home away from home” – choosing the right tent is worth some thought, evaluation and due diligence as most people don’t want to acquire a bunch of different tents for different purposes. A good tent is quite and investment for most of us!

As we´re all about hiking on this blog I’m just presuming that weight matters to You as well, there’s not much fun carrying more than necessary (unless You feel the need to punish Yourself for something…). On the other hand there´s an inverse relationship between weight and price and, just as with other gear, the real light weight stuff can be ridiculously pricy.
One more thing to consider is the comfort of having a slightly larger, and therefore heavier, tent – especially on longer tours when it can be expected to get wet some of the days.
Personally I don’t mind using a 1-person tent for shorter tours while I definitely prefer a larger tent on my longer hikes, and even willingly carry an extra gear shed, that can be hooked on to my tent, when going out for two weeks or more. The comfort of never having to worry about wet gear inside the tent is totally worth the extra 900g (2lbs) in my pack.
Besides size, weight and price we have two basic models to consider:
  • Dome tents
  • Tunnel tents
Which to choose is basically up to Your preferences, though there are a few advantages to both models that might influence which one suits Your needs best.
Dome tents are self supporting, making them ideal for camping on surfaces where tent pegs are hard to use, like cliffs, very hard soil or sand. On the other hand they are mostly a little heavier than a tunnel tent of the same size and You can only sit upright close to the center. Most dome tents have two apses, providing the comfort of keeping backpacks on one side and using the other as entrance. They’re also ridiculously easy to pitch as You only need to insert the poles into the marked channels and fasten them, which all is rather self evident.
A tunnel tent need a little more ”getting used to” and I definitely recommend raising it a few times at home to make sure You know what goes where, I remember one year hiking with a friend who just bought a new tent and pitched it for the first time that first evening of the hike. I had my tent pitched, a pot of tea ready and was quite amused watching the struggle he went through getting all the lines in place and tightened.
Once You know what You’re doing, though, its all smooth sailing and the lower weight is an advantage on longer hikes (on weekend trips the weight doesn’t really matter that much as the pack is rather light anyway).
Please don’t expect me to recommend any particular brand here, as not all are available everywhere, and there are a ton of great tent manufacturers out there. Just let me say that if You want to be serious about You hiking and get really of the grid in regions where weather might get rough, You should definitely stay away from the lower end of the spectrum. There are some tents out there that are considerably less price than the high end stuff, and they might work excellently in the back yard or even in woodlands, yet there is a reason for the lower price and I would not risk saving on this important piece of gear if You wanna go into the mountains anywhere in the world.
I hope this article is helpful to you in choosing your equipment, please leave a comment and let me know, ok?

Thank You so much for checking out my blog, please share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes

Mattresses

Oh yeah, this seems like an easy one, right? Just something to lie on, nothing special at all…
Well, there still are some decisions to make…
Mattresses basically come in two varieties, static and inflatable.

Remember the greyish roll of styropor mattress from the 80:s? They haven’t developed that much since, upside is they definitely kept there sturdiness. You just can’t break them by normal use, only remember to keep them out of the fire…
Downside: not very (or, to be frank, the least) comfortable

So, God bless Thermarest, giving us one of the first mainstream “self inflating”
mattresses some 20 years ago. Of course there’s nothing like a truly self inflating mattress, the foam filling somehow remembered its former volume and sucked some air into the device making the final filling with air so much easier.
Thankfully we’ve had quite some development here and today you can chose from a variety of different producers and models.
That mentioned you could probably find a pretty decent used car for the price of a high end mattress, filled with down, almost 4 inches thick and inflated by a built in pump, providing a level of comfort that is unchallenged by your bed at home. At the same time weighting down your backpack with 2kg (a good 4 lbs) or more. While at the other hand getting away from that bed at home might kinda be one reason for this whole hiking adventure.

In the case you intend to go hiking in polar conditions, or are extremely sensitive to cold climates, I’d definitely recommend a down filled mattress 7cm (roughly 2/5 inch) or thicker. For a summer hike while camping on soft ground a traditional static camping mat might be sufficient, leaving you huge budget space for other extravagances.

It all boils down to the same old questions to ask ourselves:
Where, when and how is the equipment to be used?

And then we chose the most appropriate option!

Please leave a comment below to let me know if this was helpful or if you have questions!

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Good luck, have fun and love the experience!!!

Peace // Claes

Stoves


Meals and hot drinks are always highlights of any tour and we need a stove to prepare them.
There are countless different stoves available in the market, yet the wood fired ones are really only workable in forest areas and often too large and heavy to carry on a hike.
Therefore I limit this article to the three types of stoves normally used for hiking:
  1. Spirit
  2. Gas (picture shows my gas stove from Primus)
  3. Multifuel
 Let me give You some details:
  1. Spirit stoves are fueled almost 100% pure, denatured spirit. The advantages are that spirit is easily available and affordable in most places and burns well even in colder conditions. The downsides are mainly pretty low heat and therefore quite time consuming cooking. Some spirits leave a lot of soot on the bottom of the pot which then easily stains other equipment unless properly cleaned and stored separately. There’s also a risk of spilling fuel into the meal, just one drop ruins everything… And putting out the flame can be an adventurous endeavor. I used a few different ones for many years and they are very reliable when operated correctly.
  2. Gas stoves are easy, clean, safe and fast to use and modern stoves often utilizes special heat absorbing and concentration designs to cut the cooking time considerably. Personally I moved over to the use of gas quite a few years ago and never looked back except with winter hikes. When temperatures hit close to 0 centigrade (lower 30’s F) the pressure in the cartridge decreases to a point where the cooking time is painfully prolonged. As long as were operating in non frozen environments in regions where the cartridges can be easily obtained I definitely recommend gas stoves.
  3.  Multifuel stoves use different exchangeable valves to enable the use of several fuel sources. The most common one is chemical grade gasoline, yet they can be fueled with gasoline from any filling station, strong enough alcohol, kerosene etc. Slightly more complicated to use than a gas stove and clearly less potentially messy than spirit burners they are a great choice for colder climates and all year use in moderate ones!
Good luck, have fun and love the experience!!!
Please leave a comment to tell me what You think and share this with friends and loved ones who might benefit or be interested!

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Peace // Claes