Crayfish

This weekend we went out looking for crayfish. I haven’t been fishing for crayfish for years, but this weekend I packed a rucksack with some warm clothes and a bucket, summoned the boys and went out. We didn’t know if there were any crayfish left as I haven’t been looking for them for years. I know they declined a lot some years ago because of acid rain from pollution from factories all over Europe. But nonetheless we went on our way to the little creek I used to go to when I was a kid.

Here is one of the boys setting out some bait.

We arrived just before it got dark, and put our bait out, the bait was some leftover grilled chicken. The grilled chicken did the trick somewhat, and we managed to catch a few crayfish. I had to catch them in the water as they thought they looked scary, but after a while they wanted to try to hold them.

Holding a crayfish for the first time.

The boys got more excited when they saw the crayfish crawling on the bottom and they tried to get me into deep water to catch more of them.

We hadn’t plan to stay over for the night so there was no sleeping bag or tent. Which might have been a little mistake as the boys got quite sleepy.

The boys got sleepy and fell asleep on the rocks.

We did not catch so many this time, but the boys had fun and we agreed to go back next weekend with tent and sleeping bag so we can catch more and make dinner for the whole family.

When we got home we put the crayfish in the kitchen sink to have them ready and fresh for dinner.
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Spring has sprung! The aftermath.

When we went home from our trip last weekend, we let our gear stay behind. We did this for two reasons. The first and the good one is that we are going back this weekend to try our luck to see the black grouse play again. The other one, that is not good at all is caused by ignorance and bad behaviour. I have been on this marsh many times during my life, the first time I went up to see the black grouses alone I was 10 years old. It really hasn’t changed much there since then. At lest not the nature it self. The one thing that has changed on the other hand is us, the humans. I have always tried to make as little impact on nature as I can when I go out to enjoy the time I can there. To me that mean to try to leave no trace of man made things behind. I’m not perfect, so you will find traces of me too, but not on purpose as I am quite sure some people do.

So, back to the story. When we arrived to the campsite last weekend some of the snow had melted and made some things visible, things that absolutely not belong in nature.

Something in this picture should not be there.

This is some of the things that came out from under the snow. To me, this is not acceptable. If you leave things behind, you use it as much as you intend, and then you bring it back. These things have been laying there for a while and it was broken I found out after examining it. So this was garbage as soon as they took it down. The boys were appalled when I said it was garbage and they told me about what they have learned about not leave plastic in nature. So we concluded that we had to bring it home and dispose of it properly. So this is reason number two for leaving our gear behind. I started to fill my backpack with the old tarps laying around and strapping the chairs on the outside of it. Meanwhile the boys took a plastic bag and picked up all the smaller litter parts they could find.

The boys filled a plastic bag of litter. They carried it the on they way home, putting litter in it as they found

The message here is, please leave no litter in nature. If you can carry it in you can carry it out. It might be just a drop in the ocean, but if every one do it, it will make an impact. It helps the environment, animals won’t get hurt and it makes it much more pleasant to the eye without seeing garbage laying around.

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Spring has sprung! Part 2

After we got into our sleeping bags it was time to recollect the days adventure. The boys were mighty proud of how tough they had been walking the 4 kilometres from where we parked the car. The camp boss had to agree they had been super tough walking for so long in terrain that was almost impassable.

Then we fell a sleep one by one. I usually wake up a few times a night when I sleep in a sleeping bag, and this time was no different. The first time I woke, the two boys were talking in their sleep, almost as they were talking to each other. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but it was enjoyable. The second time I woke up this night i woke myself up by snoring, that happens sometimes, but it’s not a good thing when we are supposed to be as silent as we can to not startle the birds that come in to sit in the trees around the marsh at night. So after falling asleep again, we slept till 4:30 in the morning. It was quiet. No birds had started playing yet, which is not usual. They often start around 4 in the morning, but not now. So we dozed of again and woke up an hour later. Unfortunately no birds had showed up, but now we could hear at least two making their distinct playing sound in some trees not too far from the tent. The boys had been surprisingly quiet, they really wanted to see the birds up close so I started to try to lure them in with my limited call skills. They didn’t get fooled this time, so we had to be satisfied with just hearing them from a distance this time.

So we got out of our sleeping bags and started the day. The boys immediately ran out on the marsh, they only had time to put on their boots before they took of. I started with breakfast, which was some bacon this time. Bacon is always good, but cooked on a campfire it’s even better. The boys got back from their morning exploring with their boots filled with snow, so we had to dry them up a bit while breakfast was consumed.

Drying up in the morning sun.

When breakfast was over we got dressed and started packing down some of our gear. Actually we left most of it, but that’s a story I will come back to. The boys got around for some more playing on the marsh while I sat down for a cup of coffee, the best kind, kettle brewed.

The best kind of coffee.

After the coffee and some lazy time in the heather, I called the boys in to get ready to go. As they got back they went to the campfire to play with some sticks and at that moment disaster struck! The teddy bear or or bunny as it is called fell into the campfire. The camp boss quickly told the boys to not pick it up by themselves so it took a few seconds before I could get it out. Luckily she got away with not to severe burns, some fur was burned away but she’ll live to be cuddled another night.

As we were ready to go the other boy almost sobbed as he could not find his teddy bear or tiger cloth as he is called. I asked him where did you see him last and he replied”in a tree” then I asked which tree? “I don’t remember” he said. So, then we started backtracking looking up in every tree he thought it could be in. After walking around for half an hour we found it! It had fallen from the tree it was stuck in and down a hole in the snow. The relief was huge as we have a leave no teddy bear behind policy.

Then we were on our way. The trip home was led by the boys, and they were not too bad finding the way, only some small corrections from time to time. The way home was a little bit easier than the way in as we walked in our own tracks so the snow didn’t give away so easy. After going for a while the youngest tripped head first down a puddle of mud, he was ok, but the bunny got the most of it. She got really dirty and might have not made it if he hadn’t been so resolute when he pulled her up.

Bunny getting some tlc when we have a break on our way home.

Luckily the rest of the trip home was without any more incidents.

As I wrote earlier in the post we didn’t take all our gear with us home. There are two reasons for this. One is that we are going back this weekend and the second I will reveal in my next post.

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Spring has sprung! Part 1.

This weekend we had a nice trip with n the forest. The snow is on its way to melt, even though we had our encounters with it this weekend too. The goal for this trip was to try to spot some black grouse playing, fighting and showing of to be the king of the marsh. We started of around midday on Saturday, a little late since it was a good long hike. But the boys were ready for the task, and trudged on even if their feet were tired after a couple of hours walk in rough terrain.

Rough terrain for short legs, but they never complained.

There was time for a couple of stops on the way to replenish some energy with the help of snack bars and cocoa. I think the camp boss needed it more than they did as they just took a sip of their cocoa and ran around looking for interesting things to see while the camp boss lay on his back heaving for air in the heather.

The split second they stood still on our break before heading out to find interesting things.

We arrived by the marsh as the sun began to set. Pinched up the tent and and laid out the sleeping bags so they were ready for us after some food and getting our duties done before jumping in. And the duties on this kind of trip is to make sure you don’t have to go number one or number two before late next morning as we don’t want to disturb the black grouses at their play. The boys got the message and took the task seriously, we had to go several times before we settled completely in our sleeping bags.

Burning out the campfire before we go to bed.

After a pep talk about how fun it will be to see the birds and that we had to be really quiet we all fell a sleep in the cool spring night exited of what the morning would bring.

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The lava stories and sledding on stone weekend

Again we had a great trip this weekend, although we weren’t all three kids as I thought we would be. With a girl in her tweens it’s not that easy to get plans to sum up, she is starting to make her own plans and I don’t want to push her too much to come on our trips, it’s better if she can keep the joy of going with us when she wants. So, it was the two boys and the camp boss who went out this weekend. We got on our way, the two boys and the camp boss. And after approximately 252 meters, we found our camp spot. We brought the lavvu this time, and we got it up quite fast and almost round at the bottom and middle pole almost straight. Next up was the campfire, we found a nice spot under an old spruce just beside the lavvu. As soon as the fire was lit we started dinner. This was again, by popular demand hot dogs. After dinner we had some exploring to do. The snow is quickly melting these days so the ground is exposed some places, especially where it’s rock underneath. So we found some big rocks without snow on them that were great to slide down. Not very friendly on the clothes, but great fun.

Great rock to slide on. Much fun, but not clothing friendly.

After some sliding and exploring the darkness came creeping trough the forest. We went back to the campfire to have some Saturday candy for the boys and some coffee for the camp boss. The boys told some great stories about lava. Their encounters with that molten rock make some pretty awesome stories. I think every geologist would be envious of these stories. We had some great laughs and much fun listening and telling these stories.

The boys telling some great stories about lava and other adventures.

As night came closer we got up and went into the lavvu to find our sleeping bags. The boys jumped inside their bags and the camp boss let them watch a movie on his phone. I am not that strict about using technology when we are outside, we use it almost all the time in our daily life, so to use it a little bit when we are outdoors is okay in my opinion. Well they enjoyed almost a whole animated movie before they fell asleep, and not long after the camp boss was fast asleep too.

Our lavvu at nighttime. Dark outside, cosy inside.

We woke up just before the sunrise. We had a good night sleep, but everything was wet after a night with really dense fog. The boys snowsuit was wet when they went to bed the night before, so I had them in my sleeping bag and they had dried during the night. Usually they have them in their own sleeping bags, but this time they were to wet so it’s better that the camp boss is a little bit uncomfortable, than to kill the kids joy of sleeping in a sleeping bag by making it uncomfortable for them. We got our clothes on and went outside to a beautiful morning. First thing we did was going down to the lake to fetch some water for coffee and to drink. We did not have to drill a hole in the ice as the ice is gone from were the water runs out of the lake. So if these mild temperatures keep up for much longer, the ice will be gone in no time.

Fetching some water for coffee and breakfast.

After breakfast and some coffee for the camp boss and cocoa for the boys we set out to try some ice fishing. We found a good spot in the sunshine and drilled some holes. Set up the fishing gear and started to fish. The boys patiently try to catch some fish, but after about 20 minutes and several holes tried, they had to take a break. Just as they had rolled some rounds in the water on top of the ice, the camp boss felt a pull on his fishing gear. It was a small perch. The boys were satisfied with the catch even though they didn’t catch anything themselves. And after rolling in the water they were wet and started to get cold, so we decided to head home after a great and fun night out.

The boys trying to catch the big one.
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All 3intheforest is ready for new adventures this weekend.

The last trips we have been on we have only been two out of three, but this weekend we will be full force. The plan is to try some ice fishing again, but the weather is not on our side. It’s raining and the temperature is around +5C. Not ideal when the kids love splashing in water and I have to try keep them dry. The fishing conditions should be good, we have warm southern winds, so the fish should be active and willing to bite.But we have to try, if they get to wet and cold, we might have to abort the trip or jump into the sleeping bags early.

One of the boys fishing on one of our earlier trips.
A picture from a trip last spring, when the weather was a bit warmer.

And due to the rain, we will be using a tent this weekend. There won’t be any stars to look at, and the kids really enjoy staying in the tent. They can play and have fun in the tent for hours, even if the weather is good, so if it’s bad weather I might not be able to get them out. Even if it’s wet and soggy outside, it gives a little warning that spring might be around the corner.

From a nice and warm trip last April.
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Our stay at the “castle”, part 2

As the day grew older, we started to think about going down to a lake and do some ice fishing. The boys ran around having fun with hide and go seek and climbing trees and I started packing our backpacks. After a while the packing was done and we were ready to go.

The camp boss trying to muster the troops.

After a little bit of hiking we encounter some interesting things in the snow. After some guessing what it could be, one of the boys thought it might have been a really big fox. But after taking a closer look we found out that it had been the day bed for two moose, cow and its calf. We also found a track from a lynx, not completely fresh, but not older than three or four days.We did not see any wild animals on this trip but we did hear the barking of a fox in the night. We know what the fox say!

The youngest one checking out the lynx tracks.

The hike homeward continued with the occasional sledding down the slopes we could find, and after some backtracking to sled some more we got to the lake where we thought about doing some ice fishing. But, after going down to the ice the camp boss decided we had to postpone it until the water on top of the ice freeze again or the water drain. The kids did not agree with the decision, they thought it would be great fun to skid around with water splashing all around. We hope to do some ice fishing without getting wet in the near future.

Sledding all the way!

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Our stay at the “castle”, part 1.

Saturday we headed out again for a night out in the forest. We did not bring skis this time, since the weather has been milder and quite a lot of snow has melted and made it more substantial, so I made a decision that we should walk on our feet. Luckily for us somebody had taken the trip before us some time ago, because it was pretty tiresome to walk in the heavy snow. And it was more snow than I anticipated, I thought the it would be almost the same depth as around our house, but the few meter higher it’s laying made a great difference in snow depth. But we made it in reasonable time. The kids are so good at making distance, they never complain anymore, just having a good time when they are hiking on their way with their backpacks.

Here we are on our way to the “castle”, this time it was the youngest one who was leading the way.

We made our way to the top of the hill where the castle is located, the camp boss made a campfire while the boys sled down the slopes surrounding the castle with shrieks of joy. The kids decided what to have for dinner, so we brought hot dogs. They love to grill them on the fire, especially the first one, then the camp boss usually have to take over and grill the rest. Then it was time to make the place for our sleeping arrangement. The snow inside the castle was in such state that i used my feet to flatten it out and it got hard enough to sleep on with some good sleeping pads on top.

A campfire is a fantastic multitasker, it gives warmth, comfort, gets the coffee ready and grilling hotdogs. I am sure it can handle more tasks too.

After a good nights sleep where the temperature dropped to not more than -5C, we woke up to a light grey day as a thin layer of clouds had sailed in during the early morning. We stayed in our sleeping bags to late morning, playing some rounds of snakes and ladders. The camp boss did not win any of the rounds. After some breakfast, which consisted of some candy from the night before and some sandwiches, we started packing to start our hike home.

A game of snakes and ladders in the sleeping bag on a late morning is fun.


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What you’ll need for winter camping, part 3

Then we have the feet. They are important for a number of reasons, especially walking. And if they get cold, your whole body will feel uncomfortable and after a while you will freeze all over. So, how to dress your feet. First use a thin wool sock, then a thicker wool sock. I only use wool on my feet. Since the feet are crammed in a quite tight place, where moisture have little chance of escaping wool is the number 1 choice since it got the ability to keep warm even if its somewhat wet. So my advice is to leave your cotton and polyester socks at home. Your boots may need some adjustment too. The inner sole of your boot may be great for forming after your foot, but they might not insulate good enough from the cold ground. I buy boots a half or one size bigger than my feet, so i can insert a wool sole inside, approximately 7,5 millimeter thick. They might be possible to buy, but i make my own from an old wool carpet I have had for decades. This is what I use in my hiking and cross-country shoes. This works great for me, i rarely get cold feet, even when it`s down to -25 C. But, there is a but, if you get really wet on your feet, you will get cold. So always have extra socks in your backpack. This is paramount. Here comes a survival tip. Change to dry socks as soon as possible and if your boots are wet, which they probably are if your socks are, have a couple of plastic bags in your backpack, pull them on outside your socks and put on the wet boots. This way your new socks won’t get wet and cold. Wear it till you get the chance to dry your boots.

Here is one of the boys getting ready for some winter fun

We are still not finished with clothing, now we go to extremities. They are very important to look after. They get cold the fastest, and when they do, things quickly get harder to do. Its not only the freezing it self that’s bad, its also that you lose feeling in what you do. For example, when your fingers get really cold, simple things like packing your backpack can seem almost impossible. It hurts and you lose your strength. So we start with the mittens. I use a double layer mitten, they usually come with a fleece inner layer and a polyester outer layer. They work fine, but I replace the inner layer with a thicker wool mitten. Call me old fashioned, but I think wool works better if they get a little wet. The outer layer is also good to use with gloves inside. The reason for the double layer is that you can remove the outer layer and have better movement and feeling in the hand for setting up a tent or cooking. I also recommend an outer mitten with an elastic band lanyard, so when you take them off they won’t get lost.

Out in the cold, eating a on an icicle. Good times!
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Plan long trips, do “near trips”

Our family do quite a lot of “near trips”. This is when we just walk out of the door and go to the forest. Since this is something we do often, we don’t plan to much. We have our backpacks packed with the basics, it’s just some extra clothes according to the weather and the kind of food we want that need to be packed. On these near trips, we are at the most 3 km from our front door. Between us and those 3 km it’s literally thousands of campsites. We never need to stay at the same place if we don’t want to. But for some reason we usually end up at the same location at least for a couple of times. I actually like that, you get a feeling of safety and comfort when you know the place you stay. And when you have found a good spot it is for a reason. There might be an abundance of firewood or easy access to water and a nice view, most of the times it’s all of those. But on these shorter trips, it’s just do it. No need to hesitate, walk out the door and find a nice spot. This is also applicable if we drive somewhere and park car. If we walk up to 3 km from the car it’s also a “near trip” .

For the longer trips, we need to do some planning. We have to go over the map to find a route and a area where we can set up camp. We get to assess the are we are going into. On the map we can spot dangers we can encounter, like steep cliffs or areas prone to avalanches in the winter. Other things to think about on longer trips is all the other small stuff you need to bring. Like a spare or repair kit for the tent poles. Or an extra tip for your skies. These are things you seldom need, but they are invaluable when you do need them. I will get more specific on this topic in later posts.

The boys are ready for a new and exciting day in the forest

On our way home, the boys have put on their skis by themselves and headed home, luckily in the right direction.

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