Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Need for forest and lakes

January had been a challenging month with a number of personal commitments which consumed considerable personal energy and time. I felt it was time to seek out some forest and lakes and Raslängen seemed like an ideal place. 

Late evening sunshine Raslängen

My first stop was Malmo as I had discovered that my JoJo card (Skånetraffiken discount card) no longer wanted to Yo yo. A visit to their office in Malmo and the matter was resolved quickly, and a rebate on my previously purchased full price ticket was given, I  am not accustomed to such excellent service from a public transport operator.  

Alighting from the bus in Jämshög with light snow falling and mist on the surrounding hills, I did wonder if a better option was to get back on the bus and return home. I must have seemed a strange sight in the middle of this quiet township as I had plenty of looks from the passers by. My first challenge was to get out of town, I seem to have more difficulty navigating in towns than I do in the bush. Having successfully left the township I entered Hålan nature reserve. In places there was some snow others it was slush, my feet were soon damp. 

Once in the nature reserve things looked up, the snowing stopped and the sense of being out the forest soon had me thinking of what lay ahead especially as most of this trip I had done before. Following the snow covered trials it was evident that many others had covered the same trails before the last snow fall, but I saw no one. Eventually I met up with the Blekingeleden and turned westward arriving at on the banks of Hålan for lunch.

The sun was now beginning to make an appearance and as I climbed onto a ridge the views across Hålan were impressive. I left the Blekingeleden and descended along a series of old forestry trails to Raslängen, my home for the next two nights.

Soon a campsite was found and the afternoon was spent experimenting with the new shelter, and just doing not a lot. With sunset at 5pm it was soon dark and after dinner it was into bed to the sound of a couple of owls. 

Campsite on banks of Raslängen

It was a long night as they are at this time of the year but I was warm and cozy, in the morning I took my time admiring the changes in the patterns on the ice, 

Early morning Raslängen

 as well as the clearing skies 

Blue sky Raslängen

I was now heading further around Raslängen to find another another campsite, it was early in the afternoon when I made camp, but with weak afternoon sunshine providing some warmth and photo opportunities I happily explored the surrounds. 

Ice Raslängen

Calm waters Raslängen

As evening closed in I retired to the sounds of the Natugle (Brown or Tawny Owl) and settled down for the last night for this trip. 

Setting off the next morning in my usual daze thinking about the day ahead whilst making those minor gear adjustments, there was suddenly a loud crack behind me, what I said cannot be repeated here but I turned around to see a pine tree breaking off about 1.5 m above ground level and majestically falling to the ground g across the trail about 100 m behind me.

I was now awake. 

The remainder of the walk was uneventful apart from a fox who took one look at me a ran. Ultimately I made my way to the bus stop through more snowy slush which and the passing sleet. More importantly however, I now felt refreshed and after 2 and a bit days wandering the forests and lakes the world seemed a lot brighter. 

Gear Reflections

For this trip I used the Luxe Sil-Hexpeak, with only two nights usage, in cold and calm conditions, my comments should be read in that context. I will likely revise them in due course.

As a mid it is an easy pitch, especially with the included connectors which connect opposite diagonals of the hexagon. Once erected the mid is robust and the side panels are taught. See Robin's post for some photos in strong winds. 

Things I liked about the outer are:

  • The hook and eye for the door zipper, simple and efficient and better than the clips on a TT Notch for example. 
  • The J zip door which allows the top of the door panel to be left open for air flow.
  • The large entry.

Things I have concerns about regarding the outer are:
  • I would like to see more Mid panel base tie outs
  • Seam sealing, the instructions state seam seal on the outside, I feel that the outside is a better option, I have not dine mine yet.
  • The slope of the sides, means that the area around the perimeter of the shelter is only good for gear storage and reaching down to unclip the hook and eye at the bottom of the zip will most likely result in some condensation ending up on your clothes. Plan accordingly.
Now for the inner, in my view it is a work in progress for me at least. I found it fiddly to adjust and setup and if I was in a gale then I am not sure that I could set the inner up without stepping outside. The inner is a pentagonal shape and in some ways I fell that the shape cause some problems during erection, certainly a rectangular shape would be easier. My observations are as follows

  • In my view the inner should have a tie out to the outer wall at the apex of the pentagon half way up the side.
  • The corners of the inner have struts similar to an Oooktub but the Hex inner is attached to the pegs of the outer, I wonder whether using separate sheppard hooks is a better option and possible redesigning them similar to the Oooktub as well. I note that Chris Wheeler in his video has down just that.
  • Cord, there is a lot and it is all the same colour as the outer and I would prefer (and will) change the colour of one set of cords to make it easier to determine which to adjust. Note if you are using Shepard hooks for the inner then this point is less important.
  • The inner is approximately 110 cm at the centre but slopes away and thus you soon find yourself touching the mesh, I do not see this as a problem however. 

One other observation I have is packing the shelter, if the outer is wet and inner is dry, then packing separately is the key for a dry night, it maybe best that users plan for this eventuality accordingly. I experienced condensation on both nights which was not a surprise given my location near icy lakes in damp forests.