Tuesday, 30 March 2010
You know you are in a remote location when there are two buses a day, one at 7 am and one at 4:30 pm, such is the case with travelling to Åkeholm. I alighted from the bus along with the only other passenger in a 60 seater bus. The lady walked across to her car, I just walked knowing that the campsite for the night was about a km away. It was a beautiful warm night though I knew there was some rain predicted for the next two days. arriving at the shelter site I chose a place a little distance away from the shelter with a view of the the rapidly flowing Mörrumsån, it seemed like an ideal place for a Tenkara, maybe next time. I set about putting the the DuoMid up, getting the stove going and generally settling in for the night.
After a pleasant and quiet evening only punctuated by the sound of the rapidly flowing river I retired to my solo inner net within the duomid.
I woke up the next morning and looked outside to be greeted by a man asking me where was it legal to fish? I don't know was my reply and then he said maybe those people will know, I looked around to see a leanto tent with 5 people inside as well as 3 vehicles (all danish) and on closer inspection 5 people asleep in the shelter and about 80 full cans of beer stacked next to the shelter. Their canoes were still sitting on the trailer, but to be fair I never heard them at all that night, the next night could be a another story.
I set about having a leisurely breakfast, followed by packing up and headed off with most of the canoeists still sound asleep. As I followed the trail along the river it became evident that it was a popular fly fishing area with several cars and fisherman, the season goes from March 1 to September and you are allowed to catch only 2 salmon a day ( I would be happy with one).
As I turned a corner I noticed two large birds, it took me a moment to realise they were most likely a pair of storks, once they had seen me they gracefully flew away, a wonderful site ( a first for me).
After the sighting of the storks I continued wandering along the roads and trails to Kåringahejans naturreservat, where once again the Mörrumsån flowed powerfully through a gorge before opening out into flatter country, the trail finally met up with an old railway line, now a cycle path which took me across the river and from there it would be a climb away from this wonderful river.
I followed the trail through the forest before coming to Röshult with the remnants of many old buildings along with the blacksmiths oven, it was about this time that I began to notice that it was getting gloomier.
Soon after I crossed a main road with a bus stop nearby (always useful to know) before heading to Bredasjön, and lunch, originally I had planned to camp there but the wind was blowing of the ice on the lake and campsites were non existent along with no flowing water so I decided to continue for another 12 km to Slagesnäs.
After lunch it became increasingly gloomy and I knew I was going to get wet when there was a loud clap of thunder followed by a down pour of rain. The downpour continued for about 4 hours with the wind increasing and the wind blown rain finding every nook and cranny of my gear. It was two hours before I reached the shelter for the night and at that time the lake was about 2 metres from the shelter, I decided the shelter was the best option for the night and I set about the usual camp chores as the rain continued to pound down on the roof, with the occasional branch being blown down as well. My waterproof gear Haglöfs Oz Pullover and Paramo Velez Adventure Trousers were okay but in both cases there was some leakage, I will write about that later. However, I was using a borrowed Aarn Natural Balance Pack with a waterproof liner and not one thing inside the pack was a damp, you can visualise a smile here. However, I did wonder how the canoeists fared, no doubt getting wet was not an issue but I could not see the leanto tent lasting long, I guess I will never know.
I awoke the next morning to find the water lapping at the sides of the shelter, it had risen about 5 cm over night which with a lake about 1 km in length and half a km wide indicates there was a lot of water flowing into the still frozen lake.
After packing and heading off I realised that the trail was to follow the outlet of the lake and then I begun to wonder if I was going to able to get through the narrow flooded valley.
The trail in the most part did stay just above the flood line as it headed south, there was a couple of bridges which were used to cross the fast flowing river and I was very appreciative of the work done by volunteers and kommunes to maintain and build such bridges, without which it would have been very difficult to get to the other end of the valley in such conditions.
Climbing out the valley the trail takes you through open forest as well as crossing a railway line before arriving at the northern end of Halen, a large lake on the western side of Olofström. The trail skirts the Western flank of Olofström before passing through a caravan park and then returning to the forest. I did wonder if ice axes were advised when using the diving board during winter.
Further along the lake there is a large rocky outcrop overlooking the lake as well as a day picnic shelter and a shelter, it was evident that this area was very popular in warmer weather but for now I had the place to my self.
After a climb and a descent as the rain begun to fall I reached the southern end of Halen, it too showed signs of being well used but I was able to find a spot overlooking the lake and watched the sun disappear over the horizon and the changing shades of blue on the ice as nighttime took control.
The following morning was to be a short day much of which was over familiar ground of the Kust to Kustleden, however, there was surprise left in store a hazy view of Halen from a cleared hill as I climbed away from the campsite.
As I approached the end of the trail I passed what could be best described as two black boxes facing each other across the trail, I can only assume they were some form of counter, interesting.
The final section led me across the bridge over flood swollen Holjeån river, reminding me once again of the importance of the work done by many people to allow us to walk the hills.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
The Marathon Magic is a 33 litre pack made up of a 30 litre main bag and 2 front pockets capable of holding 3 litres in total.
There are all sorts of fancy names for the harness system such as Omni Flow, U Flow and Conus Clip chest strap, however, what they do is ensure a snug fit of the pack with the body and as a result the the pack moves with you, partly as a consequence of shoulder harness where each side is connected using the U Flow system allowing the shoulder straps to move as you do. The conus clip which is perhaps best described as the alternative to the chest straps found on conventional packs, connects the shoulder straps together. The shoulder straps are in turn connected using the uflow strap. The net result of the harness system is that you are not “fighting” with the pack as you walk.
The hipbelt has a central buckle between the balance pockets and is connected to two points on each side of the pack, each of these straps are adjustable thus allowing the tension to be varied resulting in the ability to reduce pressure on any points or areas of discomfort that may occur.
The other unusual feature of the pack is the front balance pockets (which can be removed) these are designed to distribute the load with some of the weight placed on the front to counter balance the weight in the main sack. It is recommended that the pockets are loaded with heavy items such as water bottles etc.
For my recent trip trip the balance pockets contained a camera, my Velbon vpod tripod, tent stakes, approx 1 litre of water, all my food for the day as well as maps and other items for use during the day. In the past I have often used hipbelt pockets and shoulder strap pockets, to enable easy access while on the move, the balance pockets have replaced them, and have allowed me to access items such as camera and tripod without needing to remove my pack. The pockets may look strange but I felt that I was walking more upright, however, one trip does make a full test. One question that is often asked is can you see your feet, yes is the answer and the balance pockets do not interfere with my use of my pacer poles.
According to Aarn's website the main sack holds 30 litres, I have no reason to disbelieve that as I was able to carry my bivy, tarp, sleeping bag, neo air mattress, down jacket, pot and stove as well as odds and ends with some space to spare. It has a draw string closure with a flap with a small zippered pocket on the inside of the flap. Of note is the aluminum bar across the top of the flap which allows the shoulder straps to move as you walk providing a “load lifter” effect. I was able to place my Haglöfs Pullover under the flap when not wearing it.
Between the back and the pack there is Matrix Mesh, which I found to be very comfortable and have no doubt that in warmer weather would provide some airflow on back as you walked.
The front of the pack has a mesh pocket which is ideal for placing small items in it such as gloves, hats etc. The cross straps allow the securing of items to the outside such as sleeping mats. Also tucked away under these straps are points to secure walking poles.
I loaded the pack up with 8.5 kgs of gear for my over night trip with the front balance pockets holding about 2.5 kg. I quickly felt that I was walking more upright with the pack and noticed how it moved with me as I walked, there did not seem to be any weight on my shoulders as well there seemed very little pressure on my hips, though the hip belt was tightened.
I believe that this pack will be ideal up to 3 days 2 nights using lightweight gear and I am looking forward to using it again very soon.
There is an increasing number of dealers of Aarns packs, mine was purchased from Outlandia in Copenhagen, a visit to Aarns website will soon find more.
Aarns website also has several videos on how to fit and use the Aarn pack, which I found very helpful.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Recently we celebrated our 100 th post by running a small competition which showed how many stoves we have, when you can really only use one stove at a time.
Whilst the number of entries was low, the quality was high, demonstrating that there are others out there who know their stoves, meaning they surf the internet a lot looking at stoves.
Firstly the correct answers.
In the number one was
the Optimus Stella, Bushbuddy Ultra, Svea 123 and Ti Tri Caldera
The first "0" clockwise from the top
Snowpeak GigaPower Manual Titanium. Whitebox Solo, HPS Esbit, MoGo Firefly, Trail Designs 12-10 stove, Thermojet Micro stove, Trail Designs Gram Cracker, BPL Firelite and the Evernew EBY254
The second "0" clockwise from the top
Pack a feather XL stove, Whitebox original, Brunton (Optimus) Crux. HPS Esbit, Trangia, MoGo Firefly, Trail Designs 12-10 stove, Vargo Triad and Trail Designs 12-10 stove.
So who won, well it was very close and congratulations to both Lighthiker and the Armchair adventurer who between them were able to name all the stoves.
The winner is Armchair Adventurer, with Lighthiker one stove behind, so in consideration of their expertise I have dug out 3 prizes from the stoves pictured have asked them to send me 2 choices out of three and they each will receive one of their selections as a prize.
Well done and thank you to Dave and Roman
Monday, 8 March 2010
Like Hendrik, I had the chance to get away for a quick over night trip. The focus of the trip was very much on testing some gear for up coming longer trips. I chose the location of my last visit the Bjärehalvön Penisula to explore and with temps around negative 10 at night it would be a good test of the clothing and sleeping gear. However, I was more interested in using the MLD Trailstar for its first trip along with the Aarn Marathon Magic 33.
After alighting from the bus I headed through the quiet streets of Torekov, these streets would normally be very busy in summer but at 10 am on a cold friday morning it was quiet. I sat for a while looking out to sea and watching a large Coast Guard vessel pass between the mainland and Hallands Väderö (in Swedish). It was then south along the coast with a calm sea to right, the sun in my face and the ground covered in snow or frozen water. The ice patches were thick and slippery and care was required with every step, however, I was soon warming up in the sunshine regretting not having packed either sun glasses or a peak caped.
A short stop allowed me to take a look at the view and made me realise how beautiful the coast was in the winter sunshine.
The remainder of the day passed uneventfully with my mind on the evening campsite and beginning to wonder how far below the surface would the ground be frozen, would I be able to get a peg in the ground, why did I not pack some Ti nails, would the water pump be working .... As I walked it was also obvious that very few people were out, even the dog walkers were noticeable for the absence.
I arrived at camp and quickly grabbed a 9” Easton alloy stake and started walking around pushing it into the ground, some spots were rock hard and others were less so, finding a spot on the east side of the trees to get the early morning sun and I set up the trail star, it was an easy task and though it required some adjustment I was pleased with the speed of the set up and reflected upon how in wet weather it would be easy to get some shelter quickly.
Having set up camp layed out my bivy and mattress, I spent some time just looking out to sea and enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine.
A wander around the area soon found enough firewood for the stove and as the sun began to set I started a fire in the caldera inferno to cook dinner.
By the time dinner was finished, the sun was setting behind Kullaberg Naturreservet and the air was cooling. I wandered around for a while enjoying the peace, only punctuated by the bird song from Inre Gryteskär. I headed to bed and was soon asleep, as the night wore on even with a 1/4" Gossamer Gear Thinlight under my neo air there was some sense of coolness but I was never cold and slept till about 7:30 before the sun begun to brighten an already bright Trailstar, I love the yellow colour.
After breakfast in bed I set about packing up and after a further hours walk I was at the bus stop and 4 hours later at home.
It had been a very pleasant and relaxing walk and whilst it was old ground the scenery and the relaxing environment ensured a pleasant trip and one that I will happily do again.
As has been stated by other authors, the MLD Trailstar is a great shelter, it is spacious, easy to erect, packs small, and has ample space to move around inside as well as offering a variety of pitches. For this trip I used a ID eVent Overbag wth the Therma rest neoair inside and the Gossamer Gear Thinlight (1/4" inch mat) underneath on a thin silnylon ground sheet. In warmer weather I probably use a BPL Vapor bivy or Six Moon Designs Meteor bivy for insect protection as well as a draft stopper.
I used a BPL 550 pot partnered with a Ti Tri Caldera Compact Inferno built for the MLD 850.
The pack as mentioned previously was the Aarn Marathon Magic 33 litre pack, I will provide a more detailed report of this pack in a later blog, however, I was very happy with it and enjoyed the experience of carrying the pack.