Back from Hornstrandir

After a good nights sleep at the guesthouse in Ísafjörður I'm about to start my journey home. Flight going out from here to Reykjavik in the evening and a midnight flight to Gothenburg, it's gonna be a long day…

Hornstrandir was great, the weather was as kind as Icelandic weather can be, in that area. The hike was interesting, fun, scary and offered very beautiful scenery.

Done a lot of recording and now comes the hard part with choosing, cutting and colour grading everything.

Stay tuned for a written trip report and some pictures during this week!

Spot Gen 3 overview

Several people told me that they’re worried about the remote areas I’m going to in Hornstrandir, Iceland. Just because I might very well be all by my self for the whole duration and that the cell phone coverage isn’t the best. Better to be safe than sorry if something happens. Also Safetravel.is recommends carrying on combined with a compass, map and a GPS because if winds are blowing in from the north or north-west it comes with very dense fog and visibility is usually around 50 meters or less.

Of course safety is always on the top of the list, especially when going solo. After a little researching if I was to rent a PLB (personal location beacon) at Ísafjörður or buying one, I bought myself a Spot Gen 3. The price tag of renting a PLB from West Fjords Tours was about 20€ per day so it was quite expensive as a Spot Gen 3 costs about 200€, for the unit.

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*Not the carabiner that it comes with

It would be nice if it was done there but for 200€ you get a piece of plastic and a strap so that you can attach it to your backpack. Noup, you need a yearly subscription too, 180€ with VAT. This includes the possibility to set tracking intervals between 5, 10, 30 and 60 minutes. The renewal is fortunately enough cheaper, about 100€ less, depending on if you want to have the possibility to set the tracking on anything other than real-time. If you want to be able to send text-messages to phones you can either pay per text or buy a SMS-bundle of 200 for an additional 20€. If you don’t want to buy this, e-mail and a smart phone app is included. The checkout process feels kind of like buying airplane tickets… You want this too? And maybe this?

Registering on the site takes a few minutes but is not complicated. Just follow the instructions and keep the serial number and the authentication code ready. Ones you’re done this is what the setup page looks like where you manage your device(s) and can set your different messages for Check In, Custom message and Help/SPOT S.O.V. The last one being the “I need help but not helicopters and search teams” – here you can customize the message being sent. Mine reads something like “Something has happened, it’s not urgent but I need help. Please check my location and try to call my phone”.

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Everything is good!

With all of this in place you’re good to go. Plug it in to your computer, there’s a mandatory update, run that and you’ll also “download” the tracking profile. Tracking settings is the only thing you can’t do wireless. Then just go outside, fire up the unit and wait for it to get connection with the satellites. After that you can send the Check In message to see that everything works.

You can even run different profiles if you’d like. Each profile can then of course hold different messages and tracking intervals.

Quite easy!

All the specifications such as weight, size etc can be found here. It’s currently on sale in the US, 50% off, unfortunately not in Europe.

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Battery life with tracking

Food for 8 days in Iceland Hornstrandir

Food, the thing that keeps you going on the trail.

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For the past couple of years I’ve been opting for freeze bag cooking. I think it’s really neat, packs small, no dishes to do and you got mini-trash-containers for each meal. Is it always the most fun things to eat? No. But for me personally, the food I bring on a trip I see more as fuel rather than a dinner at a fancy restaurant.

For this 8 day trip I’m bringing 7 breakfast soups, 16 bags of noodles, 18 powerbars and 4 bags of nuts and candy for that extra punch. Total weight is 3900g so roughly 490g per day. Between 400-500g per day is good enough for me with the things I’ve chosen.

8 days worth of supplies is quite a lot for my Zpacks Arc Blast backpack, almost bursting at that point, but it’s doable. Best thing with food is that you consume it and after even two days it’s way easier to close the bag.

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Before I leave my tent in the morning I always bump the meals that I’m gonna be using through out the day. Putting Noodles in the back mesh pocket and snacks goes in the side pockets for easy access while walking. If it’s a really small meal I can even put it inside my cooking kit that I have right now. All of the above will save you time and not having to dig through your food bag inside your backpack. If possible I try to have everything I need during the day in the mesh pocket so I don’t have to open the main compartment of the backpack.

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Before going to Vålådalen, Sweden, 2016. 7.5 days worth of supplies.

John Bauer Trail

Coming full circle on this trail or rather where we ended a trip 4 years ago down from Omberg to Gränna. Click this for the old reports, check the ones posted 2013. Them backpacks back then, pew, 25-ish kilos! I could wear about three backpacks now to get to that weight 🙂

It was a good trip with superb weather, 26-28 degrees Celsius and a light breeze. But from a scenic point of view only the first 5-8km from the start (south section) is worth while and the last section (north section) is good for the most part, especially the last bit when you get the view of lake Vättern.

 

Ticks loves this trail, or me, I had 19 of them but only two attached. Jon got away with two… Lucky.

Västra Vätterleden section 8 & 7

On Good Friday around 11.15 I started walking from Mullsjö towards Fagerhult. I’ve previously walked the two sections up to Mullsjö via Bottnaryd a couple of years ago, Södra Vätterleden.

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The weather was cool, around 4 degrees Celsius, when I started walking. I soon found myself a little confused as to where I was to go. The trail markings (orange) were not the best at times and I actually managed to go off trail after only 5-600 meters or so. I’ve been here before because one of my friends used to live here so I knew this area a little but with a quick glance at the map I soon found out that I could just keep walking on the gravel road I was standing on and I would link up with the trail a kilometer or so later. My initial thought was to go on the black and white trail but I didn’t want to risk it. However it wouldn’t have been a problem as they crossed paths further down the trail. If I were to redo this part I’d follow that one instead and jump on the orange marked trail later.

DSC00844The first part of the trail is a good mix between gravel roads and trails in the forest. All in all these sections runs more on roads rather than trails but it was ok.

For the most part it was easy to follow the trail but at times you really had to stop and look at the map and try to find the trail markings as they where missing from logging machines driving through or they were just hidden behind younger trees or even very faded to the point that they were hard to spot.

This is no hard trail to walk. Mostly flat with the odd hill or two but nothing fancy.

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The first longer stop I took was at Julared mill. Roamed this place for 5-10 minutes and then tried to find the trail again. It was well hidden and I lost it again. The tip here is to follow the lake towards the ziplines and connect with the road there. That’ll get you directly on the trail a little further up that road.

Easy walking with quite a lot of gravel roads up a head. Coming ut of the woods on to a road I found this sign. Wasn’t sure if I was to call him or not but I decided to do so. He was very thankful that I called him so that he could take the dogs inside as the trails passes right on his front porch.

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Lunch in the sun. Found two stumps with my name written all over them.

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I didn’t meet a single sole for long periods of time. It was when I hit the Hökensås area that I came a cross some people fishing at the lakes and a bunch of people training hunting dogs to track. But all of that happened more or less within 45 minutes and then I was alone again.

The area around Hornsjön is very beautiful and there are plenty of good spots here if you want to pitch a tent and call it a day. There are even some “campsites” that you can use.

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Gagnån

I arrived at Fagerhult around 5 pm and it had started to hailing about 30 minutes ago. I’d expected rain as that was what the weather forecast said but I was happier with this as it doesn’t get you wet. I took some water from the stream and kept walking to find a spot to pitch my tent.

I found one not too far from here up on a hill away from the trail and with no trees above as I didn’t want any branches falling down on my tent or head during the night. The ground was covered with moss so I took a spot where I could have some of it where I were to lay down but tried to not have it where I would be storing my gear etc not to disturb the ground. I found a good place with a tractor track on one side and moss on the other. As soon as I had pitched my tent, it started snowing…

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The white dot is my aproximate campsite

Saturday

The night was cold, freezing my butt off at some points. I did get to try out my new lantern but I’m not that sure it’s something that I’ll use that often. I’m very used to hanging my Petzl there anyway and it produces way more light than this. I felt it was kind of redundant. But who knows, I’ll bring it again and get a proper opinion on hit.

I slept in and didn’t break camp before 11 am again. As I sleept poorly between midnight and 2 am I wanted to get some extra sleep as it got “warmer”. Had a quick breakfast, a sandwich I had made at home and boiled some water for a cup of tea.

I think my fingers and toes have never been that cold packing up the tent. It was to the point that I couldn’t feel my fingers packing the ice cold tent and it took me a few kilometers of walking until my toes came back to life. Just love that feeling when you start getting warmth back in your toes, it brings forward such a nice pain that can’t really be described but have to be experienced, haha.

Walking from Fagerhult towards Hökensås Semesterby is quite boring. Not much to see and you’re mainly walking on forest roads where most of the trees where cut down. It’s not until you come up towards the lakes the landscape changes and it gets very beautiful. The pictures below are not giving the place justice. The overcast did however give it a moody feeling but at the same time very calming. For long periods of time the trail goes next to the water or on ridges where you can get a good overview of the area.

As you’re getting closer to Semesterbyn (vacation village) you start meeting people running on the trails, camping, fishing etc.

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Very typical trail at the last bit of the section.

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End of the line.

Gear

I used my RAB event gaiters for the entire time. I’ve never really used them before but I wanted to give it and them a go. I found gaiters to be quite neat at times but this particular model leaves some room for improvement. They’re “bulky” and not very form fitted. I do believe it’s a good thing to have but maybe something like Inv-8 or Dirty Girl Gaiters are a better choice.

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This is however the result of two days of walking with them on soft terrain. I don’t want to know what walking on stone paths or similar would do to them. Some kind of hooks or velcro that attaches to your shoes would be better.

Was also happy with my new Injin toe-socks, they were very comfortable.

Out and about

Sometimes it’s just nice to go out on the weekends and get a fire going with some wood you brought. Put a kettle in the coals and enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the crisp air.


The coffee always taste better outside and when you’ve made the fire by hand so to say. Really starting to get the hang of it with making a fire with just a knife/axe and a fire steel.

Here are some pictures from the last three weekends or so.

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