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Updated: 2017-07-28T08:22:51.006+02:00

 



I can now be found at:

2016-01-03T18:59:09.068+01:00

Approximately 12 months ago, I moved the blog to Wordpress and it is located at NielsenBrown.






Recent posts include:


A windy, winter wander, along the Danish West Coast

Tramplite Shelter 

Wandering around the dunes.

Why I prefer Klymit Mattresses.


I look forward to seeing you there.







The Last Post

2015-10-08T19:18:42.554+02:00

This blog has moved to www.nielsenbrown.com   I look forward to meeting you there.

The title may sound dramatic but read on, as it is not the end only the beginning.

(image)


Some of my readers will be aware that for a while now I have been running parallel blogs on blogger as well as a Wordpress hosted site. The time has come to focus on one blog which will be the wordpress site at www.nielsenbrown.com as a consequence I will not be adding any new content to the blogger site and comments will be closed, but as a resource this site will remain for the time being. However, note that all posts from this site can be found at the wordpress site.

Looking to the future, there are a number of post in various stages of completion which include


So update your feed and point it to www.nielsenbrown.com

In closing a few statistics for the blogger site
Commenced in May 2010
Number of page views: 362 216 (with the USA providing 109 394 page views, followed by the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine, Australia, Russia ...)
Number of posts: 256 including this one.
Number of comments: 2014 (interesting coincidence)


We look forward to seeing you again on the other side. Have a wonderful festive season and never stop hiking.



E6: Svendborg to Nyborg

2014-12-04T17:38:43.755+01:00

I set off from Svendborg in the early morning light, the air was cool and with a hazy sun promising a fine day I was looking forward to the walk.Following the path as it wound its way around the harbour through the docks area, before entering the nature reserve. The views back to the harbour in the early morning light encouraged me to slow down and enjoy the experience.The grass was damp as I crossed the parklands before climbing past the large houses towards the Gammel Hestehave (Old horse garden)Gammel Hestehave is a large parklike area where several burial mounds are evident.With the mist lifting of the fjord I followed the well manicured path through the open parkland into the forest.These well maintained walking paths took me through the forest before depositing me at the Nature school in Rubjerg Forest. I had quick chat with some of the staff as I filled my water bottles then set off along the less well used path which descended to the road before sidling around the slippery slopes, and finally descending to a gravel road that would take me away from the coast and past a number of thatched roof houses.After wandering a long a few quiet country roads I reached a section of the trail that I had been looking forward to. Here the trail followed a narrow strip of forest along the banks of Vejstrup Ådal and it was here that I chose to stop for lunch. This section of the walk had met my expectations and provided a pleasant change to the minor roads.Once I passed through Øster Åby I left the forest and again followed a number of minor roads, however, I was also impressed by the size of the farmhouses it seemed that this was a very wealthy area. It was getting late and the biting wind had me donning on more clothing as I approached Broholm Castle.  I was impressed by the grounds around the castle as well as the large horse dressage arenas. Crossing the main road I entered Møllegårdsmarken which presented a much more sombre experience, knowing that more than 2500 persons were buried in the area, which was previously the home to Denmarks largest Iron Age community. Adjacent to the area was the Tange stream and the trail followed its meandering route as it took me past past a stone grave mound.A campsite was located and I settled in for the evening whilst being serenaded by a couple of different species of owls as they scoured the moonlit ground for food, I fell asleep.After a night, in which I decided, I preferred rectangular sleeping mats, for their extra width and comfort,  I was soon up and away adopting the “I will have breakfast later approach” . Under a moonlit sky I passed by Hesselgergård which has been in existence since the 1200’s then turned towards the coast. It was here that I diverged from the E6 as it headed inland whereas I preferred a coastal route by following a cycle route which would keep me closer to the coast.Along the way I admired the curves in the ploughed fields before deciding it was breakfast time on the coast.I was now on the Klintholm coastline, the home to the Klokkefro (also known as European fire-bellied toad) an endangered species in Denmark, with only a few groups to be found. Consequently there has been an ongoing EU project to protect them around the former Klintholm chalk mines which are the recipient of a EU life project. Interestingly I discovered there is even a song contest and if you are interested to hear the different sounds from around Europe.At this time of the year there is no singing and with a cool wind I did not hesitate, but kept moving northwards, passing an interesting scuplture in the middle of a field.My wandering took me along several minor roads whilst the forests were alive with orange clad people eager to shoot at anything that moved. At this time of the year I was grateful for the safety of the roads which ultimately took me into Kajbjerg forest. The forest is owned by the nearby Holckenhavn Castle and presented pleasant autumn colours as the road wound past a monument to someone (Can any o[...]



Freeze Dried Foods: There is nothing like a free feed.

2014-11-25T19:58:06.049+01:00

A little while ago I published a post on my choices of freeze dried meals. Soon afterwards I received a message from Alpkit, via Twitter, asking whether I would be interested in trying a new product they were about to launch. Well I am always interested in a free meal so I said yes.

(image)

In due course a small package arrived  containing a Mild Chicken Korma and a Chocolate Chip Pudding appeared in my letter box. Perhaps, I should have advised Alpkit that I do not eat pudding on the trail, instead I munch on a few dried apricots after dinner, as it saves fuel and I like them.


My observations, when the food arrived, was of the intelligent packaging design, with the foil envelope being wide and not tall when compared with Lyo and Fusion meals. The flatter design makes it easier to use my Light my Fire Titanium Spork to get to the bottom of the package. The style and size of packaging also reminded me somewhat of the Blå Band brand that I have purchased in Sweden.


Recently I travelled south to Svendborg and took the Chicken Korma with me, my first observation was that the dried mixture has less texture (or lumpy bits) than the Lyo, Fuizion or Real Turmat meals. To prepare the meal I added the 300 mL of boiling water and waited 10 minutes or so.

(image)

Well I was impressed, the Chicken Korma was mild but tasty, and was easily digested and enjoyable.

Would I use it again, yes. But, probably not, because I would need to buy it in the UK and then pay postage charges which for me makes it a little expensive. However, if you are in the UK, Extreme Food is yet another choice in the lightweight food stakes. Enjoy.

The pudding?, I hear you ask, well with Christmas approaching I am looking at menu options that incorporate Chocolate Pudding, mint and a touch of alcohol. Do I hear anyone suggesting Minttu?



My thoughts on the Primus Eta Lite

2014-11-14T19:23:10.155+01:00

My readers will be well aware of the fact that I have been a long term user of a Jetboil Sol Ti, having purchased the original version of the Sol Ti in 2011. The pot remains in good condition and the burner (with aluminium threads) was replaced by a newer brass threaded burner in 2013. The Jetboil Sol Ti has continued to work fine. However, earlier this year I noticed the Primus Eta Lite  (soon to be renamed the Lite+) with its unusual (for me) triangular shaped burner attachment to the pot, I was somewhat intrigued. So, when a local store had it on sale I did not hesitate to buy it.When the package arrived I eagerly opened it, and was surprised by the feeling of “quality”, yes it felt heavier, and is, but there was something about the look of the pot, the heat exchanger (HE) fins, the burner and the way they fitted together which defined quality to me.Comparing the connectors of the two pots, Primus on the left and Jetboil on the right.Below is the Sol Ti (on the left) and the Eta Lite on the right. The measurements for the pots are given in the following table. table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; } Primus Eta PackLiteJetboil Sol TiPot Diameter (cm)9.59.6Pot Depth (cm)1111.6What is noticeable is that both pots are essentially the same size and both will hold about 730 millilitres of water (the Jetboil pot will hold about 750 millilitre). I have found that I can easily boil 600 millilitres in the Primus pot as I can in the Jetboil pot which is sufficient for my evening meal.The burner head of the Primus stove is very similar to the Jetboil burner head  shown on the right.Now to the weights, the following comparative table provides an overview of the weights of the Jetboil Sol Ti and Aluminium (both soon to be discontinued) and the Jetboil Minimo (yet to arrive in the EU as far as I know) along with the Eta Lite. I have used John Abela’s Hikelighter website to collect some of the data along with the weights he provided for the Minimo on Backpackinglight in the USA. table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; } Primus Eta PackLiteJetboil Sol TiJetboil Sol AlJetboil MinimoWeight in gramsBurner151103103130Pot 140108132158Cover 619924Lid48171730Total400237261342Of course once you have a stove you modify it to you own liking, which is what I did the Eta Lite;1. I removed the handle, which also holds the spare pot stand (saved 24 grams)2. I replaced the Cup Lid with the Ruta Locura CF lid (saved 41 grams). I use a cut down Trail Designs Caddy as a cup/bowl which weighs 27 grams.The new weight of the pot, burner and lid is 335 grams, still heavier than the Jetboil  at  237 grams but something I am prepared to live with. A closer inspection of the pot shows two different types of cutouts around the HE fins (I have wondered whether this was for wind protection).The heat exchanger fins are welded to the pot, and the welds are wider than those on the original Jetboil, from a visual inspection it would appear that there is a 2mm weld between each fin on the base of the pot as shown in the photo below.I have also noted that in one of the photos of the Jetboil Minimo at BPL.com that the welding method appears to be the similar.Use in the field:1. Lighting the burner with the Piezo, I have read elsewhere that users have had trouble with the Piezo igniter and in the beginning I did too. But I found if the gas is flowing very slowly then the Piezo works, turning the gas on to high at the beginning did not work for me and I s[...]



NordKystien: Part 2 Gillelje to Hundestead

2014-11-13T17:58:22.049+01:00

Four weeks after my trip between Gilleleje to Helsingør, I set off again to Gilleleje to walk the 40 odd kilometres to Hundetsaed. As I began the trip the sun threatened to expose itself as it got out of bed, but soon returned to the comfort of its grey blanket where it would stay for the 2 day tripHeading west from Gilleje I followed the Gilbjergstien, with its outlook over Øresund to Sweden. Ultimately I arrived at the Soren Kierkegaard stone, apparently he visited the area in 1835 and had a few words to say, which have been immortalised in stone.Loosely translated to “What is truth other than living for an idea” I will leave you ponder the importance of these words as I continue along the path.As I wandered I was alerted to the sound of geese heading south, clearly indicating, in their mind at least, winter was coming.Having wandered around Gilbjerghoved followed by passing by the Kystegården Cafe and Steakhouse, I descended to Smidstrup Strand.Heading along the beach I noticed 3 persons (ladies as I later discovered) who were keen to get into the water as I passed, they were equally happy to leave the water when I was well away from them. Hmmm, I wonder what they were doing I thought?  After which, I spent a lot of time on the beach, admiring the old timber pillars, as well as appreciating the firm sand which made for easy walking.I was taken by the colour of the sea weed.The variety of old pillars rotting away in the sand.A pool on a pillar.Finally, I found the stairway to stars, there are many stairways along the coast mostly private up to grand houses overlooking the water.During a large storm late in 2013, many of the bases of these staircases were damaged and the evidence of the storm still remains with some stairways having undergone extreme makeovers. It would seem to me that these stairs would make ideal training areas, for hikers, especially with a fully laden back pack.Later in the day, I finally reached Tisvelde and was pleased to see that the sword was still firmly in place, maybe next time.By now it was getting late and having located a campsite I settled in for peaceful night. The weather remained unchanged and if anything there was even less variation in the shade of grey. In this area the coast faces west and as a consequence and is subjected to many winters storms and high winds and the forests bear witness to these winds with their wind swept coiffures.Leaving Tisvelde I entered the area around Melby Overdrev and was soon wondering about the brightly coloured signs, as I headed along a trail which was signposted a the "health trail". It would seem, however, that it may not be that healthy to wander off the trail.I wandered through the forests admiring the water along with the erosion protection barriers.After passing through some very quiet summer house areas and realised I was approaching Hundetsaed as the lighthouse appeared on the horizon. And as always I missed the boat as I sat in the old gun emplacement above Hundestaed.So I began the decent into Hundstead, and soon I was being whisked away by train and home.As I headed home I began to realise that the efficient public transport system here in Denmark and Sweden is what has enabled me to always find a place to go for a walk, something that is much more difficult in other countries. Thus are at least some benefits in high taxes.[...]



Nordkystien: Part 1 Gillelje to Helsingør

2014-11-09T15:25:06.555+01:00

I arrived early at Gilleleje station and quickly headed to the coast, at 8 am in was very quiet as I passed through the shopping centre but it was less so around the fishing wharf.Leaving Gilleleje the path, bordered by hedgerows, climbed up to a park providing views back to the wharf area. By now I had warmed up and after removing a layer I headed into the forest ultimately reaching Nakkehoved LighthouseThe area around the lighthouse provides views across Oresund but with the wind coming off the water is was somewhat cool, soon I was back into the forest where I came across a grave. The grave is the last resting place of Kristian Faber  who was a lighthouse inspector, it seemed like an ideal resting place for a lighthouse keepers' final resting place with views across the water.  I pondered that if he was able to look out across the water today he would see a much busier waterway with ships heading to and from the Baltic Sea.Leaving the grave I soon came across a well used canoe/kayak campsite which provided a pleasant outlook over the water. However, all too quickly I was into a built up area and hoping the bitumen would soon end. After what seemed like an eternity, but was less than an hour I was back on the beach seeking the firmest piece of sand to walk on as I continued west. I continued to hope that the sun would appear through the greyness of the featureless sky, sadly it never did. Following the beach and then a gravel trail I passed through the outskirts of Hornbæk before reentering the forest. Stopping briefly to look back towards Nakkehoved, and the breakwater at Hornbæk.With the sun high in the sky (behind the clouds) a suitable spot for lunch was found and whilst cooking my noodles I watched the Cormorants airing their wings and hunting for food with Sweden as a backdrop.After lunch I followed the what was left of the well maintained bicycle path as it wound its way along the foreshore, before turning inland.The forested section followed the railway line towards Helsingør and the end of the journey.Travelling home on the trail I was already contemplating the next section of the Nordkyststien, and hoping for sunnier weather.[...]



What works for me: Rucksacks, backpacks

2014-10-21T20:27:13.631+02:00

When I first started backpacking with the Boy Scouts I carried a pack, but I cannot recall what it was. But I do recall my first A framed pack which was similar to this one.I recall happily using this pack on a number of trips in the mid sixties until the next best thing came along “The H frame”,  a better load carrier. The pack was a Flinders Ranges H frame Venturer pack, as shown below. It worked well, but as was normal at that time the hip belt was a thin leather strap and the shoulder straps were also minimalist and I can recall making foam pads to protect the shoulders.For those wondering, I am behind the camera, and cannot recall the names of those in the photo.An improved H frame pack appeared on the scene from New Zealand which was available from an independent retailer Loch Wilson, (a picture of the Mountain Mule, can be found by scrolling down on the following link Mountain Mule Picture ). Reading the history of the Melbourne Bushwalking club, I came across an interesting quote regarding H frame Packs “Because heavy loads could be carried more comfortably in an H-frame pack, their advent turned the emphasis away from lightweight bushwalking. Before then it was a matter of pride how lightly one could travel. Really keen walkers would trim excess straps and would even cut down the handles on their toothbrushes.”  See the following link H frame and UL hiking. Indicating something we already knew, that Ultra light hiking is certainly not new, and the quote perhaps also indicates that evolution in pack design impacted on the weight carried.The Gear chapter continues on to describe the construction of an UL H frame pack by 2 members, using an aluminium frame and a “Terylene spinnaker fabric” (p.126) I wondered if these were the first Spinnaker fabric packs made in the world?Anyway I digress, it was about this time I took a hiatus from “Bushwalking” before returning in the mid 80’s, By now the H frame pack had been replaced by internal frame packs and I acquired my first Macpac (a look at some historical photos from "Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear”) , it was a revelation with a padded hip belt, frame and padded shoulders but it was big, I carried approximately 35 kg in it around the Western Arthurs in Tasmania, which was something I would prefer not to repeat.Soon afterwards I was heading to Europe and then the USA. I started with my Macpac, but once in the USA I experimented with many packs, including the ULA packs, which at that time was owned by Brian Frankle, as well I tried Six Moon Design Comet (shown below), GoLite and others.I tried the BPL Arctic Ultra , now known as the ULA Epic, I found it to be okay, and certainly your gear stayed dry, I eventually sold it, as it was “overkill” for my needs also recognising that frame sheets did not suit me.I finally decided to invest in a McHale, custom made pack, it was not lightweight but fitted well and carried even better, so well that I ended up with 2.This pack accompanied me on many trips in the States as well to Norway. But I always felt it was overbuilt for my needs and I contacted Dan and had him make me a minimalist pack using Black Dyneema, in hindsight “this is the one that got away”, it was a favourite and only recently its new owner took it to the Swiss alps.At the time, however, I was planning long trips in Lapland and needed a good load carrier for my less than perfect back. Along came Aarn packs and I purchased and used the Natural Balance for weights of 20 plus kg, it worked and was very comfortable (or at least as comfortable as 25kg load can be.) the pack still hangs in my cupboard for the next BIG trip, though I am not sure there will be one requiring such a load.Meanwhile my enthusiasm for Aarn spawned further purchases especially the Featherlite Freedom. No[...]



E6: Korsør to Hvalsø

2014-10-18T20:02:20.802+02:00

The European Walking Trail E6 is one of the two trails that pass through Denmark. I had set off from the railway station at Korsør following the bike path as it paralleled the railway line in the direction I had just come from.As I walked I past a cyclist who was fixing a puncture and was soon passed by other cyclists with large saddle bags. I thought to myself t would be a busy campsite tonight with all these cyclists.  I entered Svenstrup and then headed north to the beach. Whilst to was sunny, with an on shore breeze it was a little cool.After a pleasant walk along the beach it was onto the roads which would be my constant companion for the next 10 kms or so. The roads took me through a variety of farmlands and summer house areas before depositing me at Trelleborg with its Viking ring fortress, one of 5 in Denmark the most recent of which was discovered only recently.It was late in the evening and I set up camp in the open spaces designated for camping, at this time of the year it was quiet but when the museum is in full operation it would be much busier. After dinner I set off to investigate the area and soon met a person from Aarhus who was photographing the area for the museum, in particular he was using a drone, so I was somewhat fascinated by it, as well as, expressing my concerns about their use in the future.But for now I was amazed at how quickly it climbed from the ground to its legal height limit of 200 metres. With the sun descending after a warm day I was attracted by the patterns in the shingle roof. The roof is a work of art and no doubt took many hours to construct.The sun was setting as I entered the ring. It was at this time the drone was launched from the centre of the ring as I sat quietly to one side. We were both trying to get the sunset pictures, for those wondering the area is grazed by sheep, the evidence of which is on the bridge.As I was leaving the ring fortress another couple arrived and climbed to the top, perfect timing I thought.It was another sunny morning and the best thing that can be said about the mornings walking was bitumen, towns and a couple of grave mounds. Once past Slagelese the scenery began to improve with forests and small villages. I stopped for lunch in Lorup forest and finding a comfortable spot a quick resting of the eyes was in order. With the weather warm and the bitumen warm it was not the most pleasant of walks, but the changing scenery ensured that the kilometres past quickly and I was soon descending to Tystrup Sø.Climbing away from the lake I continued passing by the village of Vester Broby which is adjacent to the Kongsgarden and has its origins in the 12 th century. The rolling hills which had been recently cut for hay and the Sus river valley encouraged me to revisit the area and take the time to wander the trails in this picturesque area. Evening was approaching and I felt it was time to start looking for a campsite. Surprising a deer as I found a spot in the forest I was soon settled in for the night having covered 41 km, which was a little too far for me. I was awoken from my slumber during the night by voices of young people, possibly returning home form a party. I did wonder where they came from and where they went to but was soon asleep again.The weather the next morning was overcast and threatening as I headed through the village of Alsted, it seemed that everyone was out walking dogs as I was being greeted my dog walkers as well as lady on a motorised wheel chair, I wondered where she was going as it was evident that this village no longer had any shops nor a post office. Which is something I see all too often perhaps leading to the demise of many of these small towns. More roads led me to the small house on the prairie on the outskirts of Høm.I decided to stop in the garden of the Høm church and have mornin[...]



What works for me: Camera case

2014-09-27T16:46:01.232+02:00

I enjoy taking photographs when I am out wandering and over the years I have experimented with many different arrangements for carrying a camera. Over the last 2 years the  Zpacks Multipack. has become my go to camera case, here is why.Firstly my priorities for choosing a camera case includeEasy access, I want to be able to get quick access to my camera without removing my pack etc. The case must be lightweight and tough.Waterproof or at least water resistant.Able to hold my camera, I use Micro 4/3 cameras which whilst compact, with additional lenses mean that it is not a pocket camera. My current camera is an Olympus EPL 5.The Zpacks Multipack has met all of these requirements.  I first used the multipack on my trip to Lapland in 2012 and it has accompanied me ever since, whether it be to Lapland or on the local trails in Denmark. As a result the multipack has seen more than 50 nights of use. It has survived being rained upon, left on the ground, hung in trees and it has rested for the night in many tents and has never complained.  The only damage to date is the loss of the Zpacks label, though the stitching is still evident.Initially I used it as a chest pouch as shown in the photo below, it was secured to the shoulder straps at the top with two mini biners and the lower attachments were attached to the hip belt. This setup worked well and somewhat replicated the Aarn pack front pocket design. However, in warmer weather I found it a bit warm, and have since reverted to using the case as a shoulder bag. The benefit of this set up, being, it is easy to access, and remove when stopped for a break.I find the shoulder bag approach comfortable and in most occasions it barely moves. For those looking for alternative set ups, Ryan Jordan attached it to his hip belt and the side of his HMG Porter as shown in photo found here. I tried this arrangement but was not entirely happy with it, your mileage may vary.The following photo shows the EPL 5, View Finder and Olympus 40 to 150 mm lens packed. In wet weather the contents are placed inside an Exped draw string bag. I have found the the Cuben material combined with a water proof zip stops most of the moisture and the Exped bag is extra insurance. In very wet conditions it is placed inside my pack.When traveling to or from the start of the trail, the camera bag is easily packed into my Sea to Summit day pack and is also quickly deployed at the start of the walk.The total weight of the Zpacks Multipack, padding for camera and Exped bag is 105 gms.  What is your preferred camera and case when hiking? And most importantly what do you do with your camera when it is wet, or the terrain is challenging?[...]



Čuhčajavri to Nikkaluokta, the end.

2014-10-20T19:33:02.557+02:00

As always I awoke early, with the plan for the day descending to the Kungsleden and then climbing up along the Sinnijohka the Sinnivaggi and camp high from which I could set out the following day to climb Kebnekaise then descend to the Fjällstation area to camp. Whilst having breakfast I was buzzed by the first helicopter for the day as it flew down the valley, I assume depositing fisherman, it soon returned. However, aside from that interruption it was a pleasant morning as I sat and watched the world go by. Finally. after the third helicopter flew overhead, it was time to leave. I descended towards the Kungsleden, passing the chair, it had moved a couple of kilometres since my last visit, and it did look worse for wear. The descent was somewhat uneventful and soon I was crossing the Tjäktavaggi, finding a place to relax I decided to have lunch. The weather remained overcast and humid as I set off towards the Kungsleden. Approaching the north south highway I strained my eyes looking for the expected crowds on the Kungsleden, and yes they were there. There were groups heading north and south and as I reached the Kungsleden I saw 2 groups heading south. These were the first hikers I and seen for 3 days.  As I headed south I soon passed others heading north but within an hour I was leaving the Kungsleden and heading up the Sinnijohka valley. I was somewhat surprised to see that there was another solo walker following a path diagonal to mine and I realised that we would meet.  I arrived at the junction before he did and waited. We spoke briefly he was on his third trip to Kebnekaise his first being about 50 years ago. He was aware of Jorgen Johannson and his featherlite practices. Soon he and I were travelling the same path but at different speeds and once I hit the boulder hopping he was well behind.  The Sinnijohka valley is a fascinating valley and as you climb you are presented with a rock wall, it was later after studying the map I realised that it was here that the rivers flowed in opposite directions one to the east and the other west. Above all else I was immediately impressed by the view along the Sinnivaggi to the east with the obvious drop at the end toward to the Kebnekaise Fjällstaion valley. However, I was to swing south and up, the weather was deteriorating and as the air became thicker and the wind increased I followed the valley before climbing and sidling, by now I was looking for a campsite and I spied a ledge a couple of kilometres ahead and felt it would be the perfect site, or at least I hoped so. I could sense the storm approaching but with very step I approached the ledge and soon I was boulder hoping again, there are a lot of rocks out here. Eventually I reached the ledge and quickly found a campsite a near a stream and with the increasingly loud claps of thunder the tent was erected and I was inside as the first drops of rain fell. Soon the wind was howling and the outer of the tent was taking a pounding, but inside it was a different world, calm and relaxed. Well, at least it felt like it, I checked the wind ward pole for movement but it was rock solid, it was then that I recognised that this was the tent for me in Lapland. Eventually the storm passed and I looked outside to my astonishment found a group erecting tents 20 metres away, I will not repeat what I thought but suddenly I realisd that I would be sharing this site with a group of 7 people and 4 tents. I was not entirely pleased by this development. But it was dinner time so I setup the stove cooked dinner as the weather deteriorated and quickly dived into the tent as the rain began to fall. After an interesting storm during the night I awoke to a brilliant sunny morning but I knew rains as expected today so after a quick [...]



What works for me: Shelters

2015-06-11T21:01:14.670+02:00

NOTE THAT, ALL MY MOST RECENT POSTS CAN BE FOUND at NielsenBrownA look at the Tarptents Stratospire and the Notch.Most of my readers will know that I prefer to hike with pacer poles, which I have used for the last 8 years or so my review of them can be found here.So when hiking I would prefer to use the poles as support for my shelter, thereby saving a little weight. Over the years I have experimented with a number of walking pole supported shelters but it is only in the past couple of years that I have found what works for me.Having recently returned from a trip above the Arctic Circle, I felt it was time to write a comparison of my two preferred shelters, the Tarptent Notch (originally purchased in 2012) and Tarptent Stratopsire 1 (purchased in 2014). You would be right to say that they are practically the same so why have both? In the following paragraphs I hope to explain what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of each shelter in particular environments. But first some details.Weights (on my scales)NotchStratospire 1Fly with guy lines463 gm583 gmNet Inner272 gmUnknownPart solid inner327 gm385 gmTotal weight with part solid inner (excluding pegs)790 gm968 gmInner spaceNotchStratospire 1Distance between walking poles80 cm90 cmGround to centre of roof95 cm110 cmLength (end to end)275 cm220 cmInner length230 cm215 cmInner width50 cm80 cmInner area from TT website1.4 sq. m.1.77 sq.mTotal Vestibule area (approx)1 sq. m2 sq. mStakes/PegsTo pitch the Notch you require 6 stakes, I normally use 2 8" Eastons at the pitchloc ends and 4 y pegs on the sides (at the base and the guy lines).To pitch the Stratospire you will require 8 stakes and I often use 2 8" Eastons on the pitchlocs and 4 y pegs on the sides with 2 8" Eastons on the guy lines, though I tend to mix and match depending on the ground. So, in summary for the Stratospire I carry 2 extra Easton pegs, which is about an extra 30 grams. All up then the Stratopsire 1 weighs an extra 308 grams on my scales. Is the extra weight worth it?Firstly, the Stratospire  has a larger inner sanctum than the Notch, and I would describe the Notch as a long narrow shelter whereas the Stratospire 1 as a hexagonal shaped based pyrmaid or it could even be described as a modified A frame.The similarities.Both shelters have 2 doors, and vestibules, they are each supported by 2 walking poles providing headroom at the centre of the shelter, thus giving the occupant sufficient room to move around, unsurprisingly the extra space is more evident in the Stratospire than in the Notch. Both shelters come with full mesh and part solid inners and are provided with the minimum necessary stakes. The inners for each shelter are removable.Taking a closer look at each shelter.The Notch in my view is a one person shelter, the inner has sufficient room for a regular Thermarest Xlite, with some space to spare the ends. But because the inner tapers towards the ends a rectangular mattresses such as the Thermarest All Seasons will impact on the inner. The ends of the shelter have venting panels which can be opened or closed, I rarely close mine. I have used the Notch along the Norkalotteleden with a mesh inner (the part solid inner was not available at that time) it worked well, my only concerns were in cross winds where the side panels tended to impact on the inner, this would have been less of a problem with the part solid walls. Otherwise it stood up well, albeit with minimal space inside when the weather turned wet and windy. The shelter packs up small and can be easily stuffed into the side pocket of an HMG Windrider. I have recently modified the Notch by adding shock cord to the clip at the bottom of the doors on the opposite side to the cord. My reason for doing this is it replicates somewhat the S[...]



What works for me: Freeze Dried Meals

2014-08-31T16:52:43.646+02:00

I was first introduced to freeze dried meals in the late 1960’s when a New Zealand company Alliance Freeze Dried meals first released Freeze Dried meat products. If I recall correctly they were okay, but more importantly they enabled the hiker to carry meat on longer trips.Roll on quite a few years as well as a change of hemisphere and the Freeze Dried meals have changed significantly. Over the past couple of months I have used the three brands shown in the above photo. So what are they like? What do I like/dislike about them? Taste of course is one issue and is very much a personal choice. For me, I prefer non spicy low fat meals and as a consequence I have spent some time reading labels for the contents and nutritional information.Preparing the meals: No matter which brand of meal I use my preparation follows the same procedure, determine how much water is required from the label, then add a bit more (maybe 10% or so) boil the water add to the bag, place the bag in the cozy and wait the 10 minutes plus a bit before eating.So lets take a look at the three offerings.Real Turmat this Norwegian Brand is easily recognizable in their orange packets and is found in most outdoor shops in Scandinavia and further afield, like many such companies they are suppliers to the military, and thus it is also possible to find green packages containing the same meals. My preferences in Real Turmat are Chicken in Herbal Sauce and Game Casserole. Though I have at some stage tried most of the meals and would if needed use any of them. I find the Real Turmat meals to be filling, have reasonable taste and very robust packaging. One of the attributes that sets this product apart from the others is their vacuum packaging which ensures that there is no excess bulk in your pack.Fuizion Food this brand came on to the market about 4 years ago and immediately created an impact for their variety of meals and the taste, for 2 years I took them on my long trips and was immediately impressed, however, the company ran into financial difficulties and disappeared for a while but as of writing this September 2014 they are operating again. In my experience the meals are tasty, weigh a little less than Real Turmat, their packaging seems to be oversized for the contents, even when water is added, as well the packaging does not seem as robust (though a package has never broken open in transit). My one reservation has been since their return to the market their seems to have been subtle change to the recipes and as a consequence I now find the meals that I prefer, Kung Po Vegetables with Noodles and Kung Po Chicken with Noodles seem to have become spicier, as well I have found that the chicken is not fully re-hydrating as it did in the past. Another downside, for me, is that the meals need to be ordered online which adds to the overall cost of the product.Lyo Foods is the "new meal on the block" having entered the market in 2013 and winning the Gold Award at the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen that year. I have tried 3 of their meals and felt that they sit somewhere in the middle between RealTurmat and Fuizion. Taste wise they on a par with real Turmat and the packaging is similar to that offered by Fuizion, but more user friendly. That is, the Lyo food packaging has one neat feature which is its 2 stage “tear off” set up. There is the normal tear off top near the snap lock so that water can be added, then once your meal is ready a second tear off can be used which reduces the height of the packaging such that a long handled spoon is not required to get to the bottom.  I did find it strange however, that the Mexican Dish, required 277 mls of boiling water to be added, I wondered who would be carry a measuring cup to[...]



Back to Sweden: Čuhnojåka to Čuhčajavri

2014-09-27T20:18:03.560+02:00

Prior to retiring, Chris and I had agreed to leave together at around 9 the next morning. A little bit more about Chris’s gear, he was not using a Hilleberg tent but a Tatonka look alike (Narvik) also he was using a Fjällräven Kajka, and what attracted my attention was the wooden stays as a frame, I did suggest that he could always use them for firewood if he got desperate. So we set off together the next morning along the trail as it contoured around Caihnavarri, it was still windy and there was the occasional shower as we climbed. We turned southwards into the head wind it was very much head down and keep climbing. However, at the least the sun was shining and ahead lay the glacier fed river and Caihnavaggehytta in the distance. Caihnavaggehytta sits adjacent to a glacial fed lake and is located 1000 metres above sea level. I had decided to stay there for the night whilst Chris intended to push on. He had hoped that he could convince me to change my mind but with improving weather I wanted a day to enjoy the high pass which lay ahead. After chatting to a solo hiker who had camped nearby the night before we unlocked and entered one of the 3 huts and sat down to eat lunch. Chris was immediately intrigued by my tube of Vegemite, he was well aware of the song  “Down Under” by Men at Work and in particular the words “Vegemite sandwich” but never knew what it meant. Now he did, and what’s more he even liked the taste, which was more of a surprise. Chris intended to search for Vegemite when he returned to Berlin at the end of his 4 week trek. After lunch we said our goodbyes and I watched as he ascended up onto tho the rock covered slope, he was soon gone. I spent the afternoon taking it easy, reading, relaxing watching the changing moods of the clouds and and colours of the lake. I wandered around, looking at the scenery, including the following sign which is common around DNT huts, I will leave the reader to conjure up all the possible variations around the theme. The next morning I set off and was soon confronted with fields of rocks, boulders and even bigger boulders. The pleasing thing is that in most cases the larger the boulder the less likely it was to move and thus providing a stable platform for the lunge to the next boulder. As I climbed there were plenty of boulders and then there were more boulders and ... But it always pays to turn around a take a look back, as no matter how hard the climbing is, you soon realise that you have come a long way on all these boulders. The hytte is out of sight below the rocks to the right. I was soon over the top of the 1200 metre pass and began the long descent to Gautelisvatnat a place I had visited three years ago. Only this time it was sunny and I could see for ever it seemed. I was soon confronted by one of the most picturesque sights I had ever seen. the rock islands sitting in a crystal blue Gautelisvatnet it was just magical and none of my photos really do it justice. Finally I joined the Nordkalotteleden and descended to Gautelishytte, seeing my first reindeer for the trip as I descended. As I approached Gautelishytte I noted that there were people there and much to my surprise when I spoke with them one of the persons had been there in 2011, now the new hut with sauna along with 2 double rooms was completed and they were doing some finishing touches. We chatted as they had lunch which consisted of prawn sandwiches washed down by a range of drinks, I suspect that there was not going to be much work done in the afternoon. It was a pleasure to chat with the foursome about DNT, their work and the surroundings, it is such friendliness that keeps me coming back.[...]



Katterjåkk (Sweden) to Čuhnojåka (Norway)

2014-09-27T20:26:15.380+02:00

I arrived at Kiruna airport and having collected my HMG Porter I waited for bus 91 which would take me to Katterjåkk, a town close to the border with Norway. My first surprise was the need to pay in cash, in the past the buses had accepted cards. Not this year. Before alighting from the bus I was chatting with a Swedish hiker who was using the Calazo Map App on his mobile phone, I was quite impressed by the capability of zooming in on the 1:100 000 map and the better detail that it provided, something to consider for the next trip. The map below gives an outline of the route, Abisko is on the right, with Nikkaloukta at the bottom, total distance was about 150 km. For the uninitiated, including me, some definitions thanks to Lars at The Ironism   a ‘jåkk’ or ‘jokk’ as a river or stream, ‘vaggi’ is a valley and ‘javri’ a lake. In a little over 2 hours I was alighting from the bus and a quick visit to the Coop Konsum in Katterjåkk to collect the last remaining gas canisters which had preordered through their Facebook page, I was on my way, well almost. I had to do the usual fitting of hand luggage (carried in a SeatoSummit day pack) into the Porter. Then I was ascending under a sunny sky with temps in the mid 20’s and with a fully loaded pack it was bit of a shock to the system. As I climbed I was in my own world and then suddenly someone said “Hej” I looked up and saw the 3 hikers who had alighted from the bus at the same time as I had, I said "Hi "and then wandered on. Passing 2 day walkers with dogs I soon reached Katterjuare a lake some 250 meters higher than my starting point.  The climb had been steady and warm but as I climbed the vistas opened to the north and south became increasingly impressive and after a couple of hours Katterjuare came into view and with the blue skies reflected in the lake it was wonderful sight. Soon I was passing the sign reminding me of the tenuous situation during the Second World War with Norway occupied and Sweden being neutral. So the soldiers from each side were able to look across Katterjuare at each other.  It felt wonderful to be out in such picturesque surrounds finding a campsite along the old trail I began the routine of setting up the Stratospire unpacking the gear and cooking dinner. A procedure I would repeat with increasing efficiency over the coming nights. Having set up camp I quickly settled in for the night it was a little breezy but fine apart from a few drops of rain early in the morning.After a restless night, I was up early and continuing my journey south along the banks of Dossagemvaggi. The morning began with a steep climb up and over a spur down to the river, I passed the first of many Hilleberg tents I would see on this trip. I find it fascinating that in my many visits to this area I will often see tents but no occupants. Does Hilleberg just put tents up all over the mountains to attract customers? I was now in the area that Jorgen had described to me, the area was covered in massive somewhat flat surfaces of rock reminding me of “the Elephants hide” in the Grampians in Australia, I assume they were formed in a similar manner.\ After crossing a river and taking a detour into the Hoiganvaggi valley (I really should look at the compass occasionally) I arrived at Stuor Kärpal. I noticed a set of walking poles at the door so being the social type I opened the door only to frighten the hell out a german hiker who had arrived late and was sound asleep. I apologised and sat outside, relaxing. Whilst the hiker, Christoffer as I was later learn, went about his chores I headed upwards, the weather, as expect[...]



Reflecting on my walk from Kebnekaise Fjällstation to Nikkaluokta

2014-09-28T13:09:26.717+02:00

I am back from what has been perhaps, my most enjoyable trip above the arctic circle. Over the coming weeks I will write up the trip, sift through the photos and of course provide comments on gear usage. For those that cannot wait all the gear performed as expected.. For now I will provide a some what light hearted commentary on my observations as I walked from Kebnekaise Fjallstation  to Nikkaluokta.  Some preliminary information about the trail, depending on which sign you read, the distance between Kebnekaise Fjällstation and Nikkaluokta is about 18 kms. The trail is undulating one and is at least a metre wide with many boarded sections over rocks and watercourses. Where there maybe mud or rockier sections many sidetracks have been established by walkers.  With this context in mind I offer my views on the gear required to complete such a walk, these views are gleaned from the hikers passing me as they headed to the Fjällstation whilst I headed in the opposite direction to Nikkaluokta. Gear you needFor such an arduous journey there appears to be items of gear that are necessary for the trip, the items are listed below and are not necessarily in any particular order. Leather boots given the challenging nature of the trail, leather boots are compulsory, and ideally go up to well above the ankle (Medium High). The benefit of wearing such boots is clear they will keep your feet dry as well as protecting you from the snakes that roam the area.  Bush knife ideally with a blade of not less than 20cm. The knife can be used to further widen the trail and may even be useful in obtaining a campsite near the Fjällstation. Furthermore if you do not have a tent then maybe you will be able to persuade someone to lend theirs to you for the night (you would of course allow the owner to use the tent during the day)  Small hand axe, has similar applications as the bush knife, as well it could be used to bash tent pegs into the ground (if you have a tent) or it can be used to clear a new path altogether and if you are desperate you can turn the boards on the boardwalks into wood chips.   Teapot every group needs a teapot, preferably a silver one. But please make sure it hangs on the outside of your pack so we know how big it is.  Flip flops (sandals) if you are going to pack sandals make sure they are a bright red it makes them easier to see.  Fluro colors bright green and pink are "in" ensure that you wear as brighter coloured shirt as possible and have as many brightly colored water bottles attached to your pack to ward of dehydration. Sleeping yes you may want to sleep, it appears that you should have the thickest foam mat you can find then have it loosely tied to your pack so that it floats along the trail with you. Too much gear?, never fear, find 2 backpackers and ask them to carry a large duffel bag between them, the trail is wide enough to them to hike 2 abreast with a duffel bag in between. Of course you could just book the helicopter from Nikkaluokta if required. Please always carry your mobile phone in your hand so that you will never miss a message on Facebook. Who knows you may even read that you have climbed Kebnaikaise while you were texting. Jonas? There are those who prefer iPad’s (or equivalent), perfect, carry one in your hands and you can take movies as you cross the bouncing suspension bridge. If the trail is a little monotonous you can always put on a movie to watch as you stumble along the trail. And don't forget to walk with earplugs as it helps you to focus on the trail without having to hear any of those strange sounds [...]



Heading Up North, what am I doing, where am I going, and more importantly what am I carrying?

2014-07-28T12:45:26.471+02:00

I have been fortunate over the past few years to have the opportunity to head north of the Arctic Circle and explore new areas. This year is no different and I am travelling to Riksgränsen (on the Sweden Norwegian border), by air and bus before being deposited at Katterjåkk, where thanks to the local Coop I will collect some gas cartridges before wending my way south along the Swedish Norwegian border. My ultimate aim is to climb the highest peak in Sweden, Kebnekaise, before arriving in Nikkaluokta from which I will return to Copenhagen. Unfortunately the timing of my arrival in Nikkaluokta is not ideal as it is also the start of the Fjällräven Classic, so I expect to see more people in a couple of hours than I will have seen for the whole trip.The total trip length is about 150 kilometers and I am planning a leisurely walk over 9 days. Now to the gear, at the bottom of the page you will find the complete list, much of what I use has been tried and tested over a number of trips and my readers will not be surprised by my selections, however, there area few new items within the list. The reasons for my selecting these new items is outlined below.Kovea Spider, I have written many times about the Jetboil Sol Ti and I still believe it t be a great water boiler, but as Hendrik has pointed out even Jetboil no longer feel it is the best option and are replacing it in the coming months. Likewise I have continued to seek out a setup that I could use with alcohol or gas.  To achieve this I firstly needed a pot; my selection criteria included having a volume of about 900 ml., a diameter such that it could be used as a cup, ideally made from titanium and finally being readily available. When visiting Bogong in Melbourne I came across a SnowPeak 900 pot which I immediately fell in love with. It is a Ti pot and is made of a thicker Ti than the Evernew pots, however, more importantly it ticked all my boxes, so I left the store with a SnowPeak Trek 900 Ti cook pot. The only downside of the setup was the “frypan/lid” a quick search around the web brought up a Ti lid at Four Dog stoves, which I quickly purchased and received. The weight of the lid is 22 gms. which compares favorably with the original Snowpeak frypan lid weighing 52 gms.Montane Further Faster Jacket for a while I have recognised that my Rab Demand has begun to show the signs of wear and at times has been challenged in the conditions that I use it in, that is, the warm, moist conditions of summer. Having read reports (by Terry Bond and Chris Townsend) on their experiences with jackets incorporating Polartec NeoShell fabric I was interested to take a look at such garments. When visiting Melbourne recently I was able to take a look at Further Faster jacket at Backpacking Light Australia and needed little convincing to purchase one, even though it is a little on the heavy side.  Given the forecast, I expect that the jacket will get some use and I will comment on its breathability, rain protection and suitability for my purposes upon my return.Tarptent Stratospire, whilst the Tarptent Notch remains my favourite shelter, I have often felt that on long trips in Lapland I need a little more space and wind protection than that offered by the Notch. After considerable research I felt that Stratospire 1 would meet my needs for such trips above the Arctic Circle, I will provide a detailed report on my experiences when I return in a couple of weeks.The complete list. table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; marg[...]



Tin Mine Cove to Five Mile Beach: A wander across northern Wilsons Promontory

2014-07-25T07:37:37.731+02:00

It was many years ago that I first visited the Northern end of Wilson Promontory. My first trip in the mid 60’s was with a group of scouts and we walked out along the 5 mile road then to the beach, during that trip we visited Johnny Soueys Cove and 3 Mile Beach with the trip culminating in rock hoping around the coast from five mile beach to Sealers Cove before finishing the trip at the Oberon Carpark.  It was a very enjoyable trip and one I have often thought about. Soon after I had the opportunity to revisit the area with the Melbourne Bushwalking club on this occasion we were dropped off by boat near Mt Singapore and the travelled south over Mounts Singapore and Hunter ultimately arriving at the end of the Five Mile Road.Many years have passed but the allure of the Northern End of Wilsons Promontory National Park has remained. The park is much more regulated these days and for the northern prom you need to complete a “Wilderness permit application” . Whilst I can understand the need to ensure that hikers in this area can navigate along poorly marked trails (which are often overgrown) ford or swim rivers which can be over head height, navigate trackless swamps but the area is not wilderness, as the there are marked trails and designated campsites.   So to cut a long story short an opportunity arose and I took it, the boat that is. With the help of my brother we contacted Kraken Tours  and they were willing to take the 2 of us to Tin Mine Cove, furthermore, they picked us up at the Foster YHA and within an hour we were standing on the beach at Tin Mine Cove considering which way to go.The choice was simple we set up camp and decided to walk tomorrow. As a result I spent some time considering the surroundings, relaxing and enjoying the serenity.The lights of the towns across Corner Inlet were clearly evident, as we settled in for the night. We awoke to a grey morning with the prospect of a shower or two along with a long walk through scrub. Now scrub on the prom can be high, and very prickly as well there are many varieties of grasses willing to attack you at any point. For this trip I had chosen to wear gaiters something I had not done for a very long time ago, I had also resurrected my Inov-8 370 boots for their final swan song trip. They survived well and I really wish Inov-8 had continued to produce them, as they were ideal for foot protection in the prickly and somewhat impenetrable scrub.We climbed away from Tin Mine Cove into the scrub which had been severely burnt in the 2009 fires.The resurgent ti tree forest made for somewhat challenging track finding and reminded me of my earlier experiences on the prom, where tracks were wombat tracks, that is anything above 30 cm was covered in scrub some of which would attack you at the first opportunity. As we rounded the spur connecting Tin Mine Hill with Corner Inlet, Chinamans Long Beach came into view. Whilst some walkers will continue south to the other end and the swamp with its challenging navigation and very deep river crossing we chose an easier route. As we walked along the beach the soldiers crabs were evident as the tide receded.There were many crabs and I did wonder just how many there were. I did not have the time, nor the inclination to count them. Having turned inland we followed a trail that was much drier than I had expected, the trail passes through the saddle between Mt Hunter and Mt Roundback and as we approached the saddle I was surprised to come across a series of poles connected to a large steel cable. I assume that these were used t[...]



Responding to Fozzie

2014-07-01T16:27:14.071+02:00

Keith Foskett, author of two excellent books "The Last Englishman" and "The Journey in Between" is a well known blogger and long distance walker and if you have not visited his site then you should, it can be found at www.keithfoskett.com . Recently he “tagged” me as part of The Liebster Award and listed 11 questions that he wanted me to answer. It appears that the award started in Germany and the rules tend to vary a bit.So my answer to Keith’s questions follow.1) Is it the freedom, the scenery, the solitude, the inspiration, the adventure? What is it about being in the outdoors that you are passionate about?For me it is being outdoors, wherever that may be and whenever I can. Yes I enjoy the solitude, the scenery, the sounds of the outdoors, discovering new places and camping outdoors. Simply put, I enjoy being in the outdoors and experiencing what nature has to offer.2) What part of the world do you live in and where is the local place that you always go back to?An interesting question, I originate from Australia, live in Denmark and the place I like to go back to is anywhere north of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia or the Bogong High Plains in Australia. More often though you will find me wandering the trails and byways in Skåne in southern Sweden.3) Where and what would be your dream hiking trip and why?Anywhere, that offers a wilderness perspective, an openness, a variety of terrains and stunning scenery. Thus my love of walking in Lapland. There are so many options that no one location is more important than the other.4) Assuming you expect good weather on a mid-summer trip, would you prefer boots or trail shoes?I wear trail shows all year round, winter or summer, snow or sun. The only difference being that I use goretex lined shoes in winter for a little extra warmth.5) Name the one night you camped that sticks out in your mind as being the best.There are many to choose from whether it be atop the mountains in the Bogong High Plains, witnessing the midnight sun in Lapland, the sound of surf hitting the beach on the West Coast of Denmark, each is special in its own way.6) . . . and the worst?Camped in a blizzard near Mount Kosciuszko (Snowy Mountains Australia) with 16 students and snow approximately 75 cm deep around all the tents. Walking out in deep snow drifts the next day was a challenge.7) This question may seem a little strange but it relates to a blog post I have coming up. Would you be capable of finding your way, without a map, on a circular route around the town where you live? If you live somewhere huge, like London, I’ll let you off this one.In Copenhagen, yes, even though I have only lived in the suburbs for a few years. What challenges me is having spent most of my life in Australia, my sense of location is not fully adjusted to having the sun in the south not the north.8) What is the best bit of advice you have ever been given in relation to hiking, and who gave it to you?I have been listening to advice for many years, and with all the social media these days the amount of advice on offer is phenomenal. Thus, I listen to (or read) everyone, and then determine if it is right for me.9) You’re on a remote stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the High Sierra and you get lost. You manage to get reception to make a call to search and rescue but it could be up to 6 days before they find you. What would be your first plan of action?Conserve energy, food and water, which will most likely mean not moving far from your current location. And don't panic.10) When are you next due to go hiking and wher[...]



Roskilde to Kastrup

2014-06-27T15:26:13.351+02:00

One of my interests is to hike all the European Walking trails which pass through Denmark including the E1 and E6. Now, these trails do not pass through remote wilderness here in Denmark, but each have their own surprises as you wander. I quickly recognised that the trails are a series of connected paths linking important historical, geological and nature areas.  As the E6 approaches Copenhagen the trails still manage to find areas of parkland as well as an ever changing variety of urban outlooks.I alighted from the train at Roskilde, and set off through the suburbs of this important university town, Roskilde is also famous for its viking ship museum which is well worth a visit in itself.  The  well marked trail leads you through a variety of residential areas and parklands and soon I was crossing the main freeway and entering the adjoining farm lands.You may wonder what I was attracted to in this photo, well my focus was on the design and metalwork around, what essentially is a garbage burner. The burner produces heat and energy according to their web site and I was fascinated by the design. The tower is constructed of steel  and is visible for many kilometres. Making a garbage incinerator a focal point is an interesting concept.The distance between Roskilde and Kastrup (Copenhagen airport) the end of the E6 in Denmark is approximately 54 km, in other words a 2 day walk, and given the easy access to public transport I decided to to complete it, as 2 day walks. I did consider sleeping in my backyard and cooking dinner over an alcohol stove but … maybe next time.Part 1 Roskilde to Ishøj LandsbyHaving set off from Roskilde, and marvelling at how quiet it was as I passed through the residential area, I was soon entering the surrounding farmland adjacent to Vindinge. There was some Asphalt walking as I wandered through the village, however, once again the track designers had considered the route and took me through the old part of the township ensuring that I wandered through parks and along foot paths. After I short stint along the road I entered Hedeland  (Heath Land) Nature reserve with its undulating land forms. Hedeland Nature reserve occupies an area of 16 square kilometres and could be best described as an outdoor recreation area, with free access. As it was a week day it was very quiet but on weekends I can visualise how popular the area is. I was somewhat surprised by Hedeland, in part because in my usual fashion I plan a walk but do not get into the detail, nor do I seek out information on what I will see, instead I prefer to consider the trip as a discovery tour, experiencing what is around me as I pass through it. Here in Denmark this is a safe choice as you cannot get into too much trouble with such a carefree approach, however, in Lapland and other locations, such an approach can be fraught with danger, or at the very least providing many unplanned challenges.After passing Vindinge Langsø, I swung past a sign indicating that only pilgrims from down under followed this path,then I crossed the narrow gauge railway line upon which a train runs every sunday during summer, and according to their website it is the longest narrow gauge line in Denmark.Soon it was coffee time and finding an idyllic setting I relaxed in the sun and after an extended  break I continued along the trail soon to be confronted with what appeared to be a chairlift atop a hill. I set off to investigate, and sure enough, after a steep climb there it was, complete with a ski slope on the [...]



Coast to Coast Sweden: Smålandstenar to Varberg

2014-06-08T12:16:57.332+02:00

I first became aware of Jörgen and his lightweight hiking website in 2009 and met him in 2010 on the Scandinavian bloggers meet up in Vålådalen. Jörgen is an experienced and well travelled UL hiker having hiked in the Swedish Mountains, as well as Montana with Ryan Jordan and in Alaska and Canada and will soon set of on a 4 week walk in the Brooks Range in Alaska. As a consequence Jörgen is one of those persons who I am happy to go out of my way to meet up with. Jörgen is also one of the co founders of the Coast to Coast in Sweden, a 400 km walk from Kalmar to Varberg (Castle to Castle). I have  been a willing participant (albeit section hiker) of the walk for the past 2 years, partly due to my desire to spend time with fellow lightweight, long distance hikers. The Coast to Coast is an annual event which coincides somewhat with the TGO Challenge in May and ultimately may provide an alternative hike for those who cannot participate in the TGO walk across Scotland. The benefits of such a trip include the variety of terrain, the historical perspective on the areas that are passed through, walking with a group of like minded hikers of different nationalities, as well it is just plain fun.Now for the trip, having walked from Växjö to Burseryd last year I intended to meet up with the group at or near Burseryd and then walk with them to Varberg. Växjö, itself, has an interesting history which is worth reading and can be found at Växjö history.I started the walk from Smålandstenar which has a railway station providing links to Copenhagen via Malmo as well as to the east and north. Arriving at Smålandstenar, I firstly stopped at the bakery for an ice cream, the cakes were appealing but maybe next time. Passing the steakhouse restaurant and the picture theatre I was soon out of town and into the forest. I swung north past a farm and entered a small stand of forest, where I was able to take a break and begin the winding down process after travelling. Before long I was passing Ingemars US cars with some very nice looking convertibles out front. From here I descended to Borlången where I would meet up with the group for the night of festivities and Sauna. Gradually the hikers arrived till there were tents dotted all over the lawn.As the evening progressed, some hikers swam, some sat in the Sauna and then swam, some lazed around and ultimately everyone went to bed. I like several others were awake early and set about the task of breakfast and packing, with several groups leaving around 7:30 am. I set off heading on a route that I expected to take me through Burseryd and then onto the Gislavedsleden on to the beautiful church at Sandvik, before ultimately depositing me at Fegen. The Gislavedsleden also forms part of the E6 a trail that is of interest to me.Well sometimes plans don’t work out the way they are intended, and today was to be an example of that. I had loaded the gpx trail that I intended to follow.  However, I soon realised that I was actually on the old trail from last year. Yep, I had forgotten to activate the new trail. Oh well it just meant a bit of extra walking as well as seeing some sights I would not have otherwise seen, the first being the following sign, loosely translated it says “drive safely, wild children, tame animals” which bought a smile to my face.Further along the trail I came across what I believed to be a Crane feeding, it quickly flew away, but as I passed I noted the feed tray with a s[...]



Along the North South Trail

2014-05-22T21:01:01.823+02:00

The Nord-sydleden runs from Hårsjö in the north of Skåne to Malmö and further south to Trelleborg as well the trail forms part of the E6 walking route connecting Kilpisjärvi in Finland with Alexandroupolis in Greece, a length of around 6300 km.  But for me it was a shorter trip from Löberöd to Malmö. I was fortunate with the weather as there were 3  days of glorious sunshine. The trail south from Löberöd passes through an ever changing landscape including farmland where the Rapeseed crops with their striking yellow flowers are visible for many kilometres.Stopping for morning tea at Höghult shelter I was impressed by the wooden water race that sat below the hand pump, someone had taken a lot of time to carve it.Perhaps that is because the woodshed was padlocked and they needed some kindling for the fire.On the side of the shelter, and in the only location I found one, was a sign indicating the E6.The efforts, at all levels to fund, support and  maintain the marked trails, and shelters should be commended and supported wherever possible. Leaving the shelter and the locked woodshed, I continued my journey southwards, passing through farmland and stands of forest. The birds were active and apart from the occasional vehicle on nearby roads it was quiet. The trail took me past the oldest bridge in Skåne before following a newly mown grass trail around a paddock, I wondered how long would it last. The next barbed wire fence was the answer.Clambering over the stile making sure not to touch the electrified barbed wire fence I was now in a lush green grassy paddock and my mind turned to ticks. There was no way to avoid the long grass in such warm conditions and it appeared to me that the trail, or perhaps better described as the marked route followed the western bank of the river and without the nearby fence it could have been a pleasant walk. However, I also noticed the Petasites Japonicas foliage these large trumpet leave shaped plants spread quickly especially near watercourses and are evident in many of the places I wander.As I wandered a little further I was confronted by the following sign.I thought to myself the Swedish Defence forces have come up with a new strategy for stopping invasions, just tell them not to come. Maybe I should have paid heed to the sign as I was soon confronted by about 6 soldiers pointing guns in my direction. They were spreadeagled in the long grass, I did wonder if the soldiers worried about ticks.  They were in full camouflage including the regulation shrubbery growing from their helmets. What gave them away was someone chatting away a little distance further back. I laughed and kept walking knowing that my pacer poles would win any battle with an AK5. I also noticed 2 dark silhouetted figures in the fork of a tree nearby, I hoped they did not think they were invisible.So now I was passing by Krankesjön, with its bird viewing platforms and towers, as I sat eating lunch and could hear the tanks rumbling along the trails nearby accompanied by the occasional explosion. I wondered if the tanks, or at least their drivers, obeyed the signs. Given my experience with drivers in Denmark, I somewhat doubted it, but there again Swedish drivers do stop for you are on a pedestrian crossing. As I continued along the old railway line embankment I was soon in Torna Hällestad waiting for a train, more importantly though it was a pleasant spot to sit and relax in the afternoon sunshine.Leaving [...]



Around Raslängen, almost

2014-05-13T11:33:15.051+02:00

I have visited Raslängen  a number of times, and I have been aware of the possibility of circumnavigating the lake on foot, recently with some inspiration from a local hiking website Outsite.org I set about planning a trip.One of the difficulties in accessing this area is the lack of nearby public transport  with the nearest bus approximately 3 hours walking away. But with access to a car then the ideal access point is Bokestad, and after 2 hours driving from Copenhagen I was erecting the tent and enjoying the view across Raslängen from a spot I have camped at a number of times.A leisurely start the following morning, had me wandering along the western banks of Raslängen towards Fuglabacken.  Raslängen is a popular canoeing destination and there are many shelter places around the lake, some accessible by foot others are normally accessed by canoe. Leaving Fuglabacken, I initially followed the Skaneleden as it wended its way west to Immeln and ultimately the coast, soon however I was turning northward through the forest looking for, but not finding, a track or trail of any kind. With some persistence and a little bushwhacking I found a road, well it was not lost, I just located it.I followed this road to its end, and again searched for some sort of trail, but to no avail. Retracing my steps for a little while I then headed cross country to another road and after skirting a nearby house I picked up yet another road which led me to a turning circle at its terminus. It was at this point I found a trail, I thought, which appeared to head in the right direction, following what could be best described as an animal pad I ultimately descended to Raslängen. The shoreline provided a handrail to follow, however, the occasional rocky out crop, had me climbing ”up and over”  eventually arriving at a recently cleared forest area. It was here that I had lunch and decided that some road time was in order. A couple of roads soon had me descending through the forest along a foot trail to the river which links Gillesjön and Raslängen.The bridge itself was somewhat dilapidatedHowever it seemed like the best option considering the alternative,and the warning signs to canoeists upstream.But with the sun shining I could not complain. Having crossed the river I then followed a series of foot trails before following a road to Alltidhult. Harry Martinson, a Nobel Laureate, attended school here whilst the well known Swedish author Sven Edvin Salje used the area as a backdrop for his first novel.Altidhult also provides a connecting link between Hallen to the east and Raslängen to the west for canoeists. I wandered along the canoe trail to the banks of Raslängen and sat appreciating the peacefulness and beauty of the area.Soon I was climbing along the eastern side of Raslängen and with a campsite in mind, I followed the road out of Alltidhult before descending to the lake and then headed towards a preferred campsite which I had located on my previous trip in February. Sadly with the warm weather the ants had taken a liking to the same location, so with a little bit of a search a site was found nearby. Being the first trip with the Tarptent Stratospire 1, I spent a little bit of time setting it up, however, I was soon impressed with the speed with which it could be set up as well as the interior space it offered. The dimensions of the inner would suggest that it is a replica of the Scarp 1 inner and it certainly p[...]



Around Häckeberga, almost

2014-04-06T15:37:33.674+02:00

A while ago I met a couple of Danish hikers who suggested I should visit Häckaberga, Sweden, and ever since then it has been in my to do list, especially given its proximity to home. Furthermore, this trip was also to be part of my training for the Sweden Coast 2Coast. Leaving work I was soon crossing Øresund Bridge into Sweden,  and after a short bus trip I was on the Nord-sydleden at Kniveåsen. A couple of hours later I was climbing onto the Romeleåsen Ridge having passed through the quiet village of Bjömstorp complete with the option of renting of Buda Velocipede to travel the rails between Björnstorp and Veberöd. As evening approached I found a suitable site with views to Malmö and Lund and settled in to watch the sunset. It was a beautiful sunny morning, albeit a little cool, as I admired the view and relaxed drinking coffee.After a couple of short but somewhat steep climbs, I meandered along the trail enjoying the amenity of the forests, whilst being serenaded by many different birds.However, the peace was soon disturbed as I found myself at the starting line of an orienteering race. A person with a pack and hiking poles does not seem to fit into a group of lean mean racing machines ranging in ages from 5 to 70. Crossing the start line I was off and was soon passed by young and old alike. However, not to despair the further I went the less orienteers there were, as they soon headed back to destinations unknown. One sight that will stay in my mind for a while was the youngster (under 10 y.o) bounding "off trail" through the forest in search of the next place to stamp his card. From then on it was quiet trails with the occasional mountain biker and walker.  Arriving at Billingabacken with the sun streaming down it seemed like an ideal time to sit and relax.Awoken by a barking dog I continued my wanderings through Häckaberga Nature Reserve which whilst still displaying its late winter colours, however, it was evident that spring was making its appearance.  The further I wandered the more I appreciated the advice provided by the Danish hikers who had encouraged me to visit the area.A series of quiet country roads bought me to Risen Natuurreservaat with it's rolling hills and forest, by now I was looking for somewhere to stop.  Finding a suitable spot I settled into the evening routine during I watched the fiery red ball in the sky disappeared below the horizon.The air was cool as I settled in for the night serenaded by at least two different owls. The next morning it was the start of summer time and I was up early, too early for a wild dog (or large fox or  ? ) which howled as it bounded away through the forest. The frost was still evident on the ground as I made my way towards Genarp. But the forest with its park like features was pleasant. and apart from a large herd of deer the forest was devoid of other animals.I crossed over Höje å and headed towards the final climb of the trip.Once over the last climb and having crossed the main road I crossed a small stream, where a moth created circles on the water. Arriving in Genarp it was time to head home on what had been an enjoyable a rewarding wander around Häckaberga. Gear observationsI took the  As Tucas Sestrals Quilt this trip and whilst 2 nights is not sufficient to test it's longevity nor it's temperature range   I have the following observati[...]



A wander South of Borup

2014-03-23T19:35:22.835+01:00

I took some time to wander the forests south of Borup, there was no plan, except to complete a circuit. The weather was pleasant but cool, many trees and plants were in bud, spring is coming.

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The lyrical notes of many different birds provided the background music, whilst the sun spent most of its time hiding behind a thin layer of cloud.
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All in all, a relaxing Sunday walk.