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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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 5

In this part I will go trough what you must have in your back pack. These are items you might need all the time or the things you hopefully never need to use. The things you absolutely need to take with you is almost the same no matter what season you go camping. First of all you need a first aid kit. The kit should have all the basics like, plasters of different sizes(I prefer plaster I can cut to the size i want),something to treat burns with, antiseptic wipes, 2 rolls of sterile gauze, scissor, safety pins and last but not least a roll of sports tape. This is what I would have as a minimum. This is enough if you know your limits and can endure some discomfort until you can get professional help. Other things I have in my first aid kit is: pain killers,( I have four 500 mg paracetamol tablets) and a painkiller ointment like xylocain, Another thing that is good to have is a simple sowing set, just a needle and some thread. I also have some batteries for one of my flashlights if they should go out.

My primary first aid kit. I have others, but this is the one I bring with me the most.

First of all you need a knife. I use a Ka-bar knife myself, its good for regular cutting of things and it can be use as chopping down small trees and bushes. But any good quality all purpose knife will do.

A thing that is a must have is a multi tool  like a Leatherman or similar. I recommend to go for a good quality brand, because my experience have showed me that lots of the cheap unbranded ones have a tendency to break when you need them the most. You don`t  need the multi tool with all the fancy features, go for a simple one with a knife, saw, file and a good pliers. In know most multi tools have more features, but these are the things I use on mine the most. The multi tool work as an all-round tool, so if you lose your knife or saw you still have something in back-up.

Here is one of my multi tools. This is from SOG, it’s simple but useful and sturdy.

An axe is also a must, get a small lightweight one. There is always a saw in my backpack, the saw is also small and lightweight. I prefer a foldable one. These kind of saw takes up little space, are safe when they are folded, and are lightweight. They are maybe not the best to saw big trees or to forage wood for the winter but they are great for camping.

The last thing that you need to have in your backpack is some rope. I have 10 meter of 5 mm nylon rope and that has been sufficient for my needs.

I will write more thorough on every article in later posts. Hope you find my writing useful and interesting.

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Going back to one of our favorite spots.

This weekend we are thinking of going to one of our favorite places. It is a great place for a camping trip. When we are lucky with the weather, its awesome with an old fort dated back about 1500 years and a great view.

A picture taken in the fall from the place we are going to this weekend. Now its snow on it and great slope to ski and sled.

Its about a 3 km hike from where we park our car to where we are going to camp. We might bring our skis, but if there’s no tracks to it we might walk on foot. On our way in it is almost only uphill and some of the hills are very steep. So even if we use skis, I am almost certain we have to go on foot on some part of the trip. Hopefully we will get below 0C(32F) on our hike up there so we don’t sink to much down in soggy snow. Then 3 km can be pretty long. When we get there, we will set up camp inside the old fort, but we will have to make the campfire outside, so we don’t leave any marks on the old site. The fort is not to big so I set a tarp over it and we have great shelter. The plan is to stay there for 1 night, and then go to a lake to try some ice fishing again, Let’s hope we can try some this weekend, since we have not had any luck the last couple of weekends.

Here is one little fellow in the entrance of the fort we are going to camp in. This is from last fall, now its about 50 cm of snow there.
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Tough, but nice trip in the forest this weekend, part 2

After a good nights sleep, at least for the kids, we were ready for a new day. About that night, it was forecasted only down to -5C, so the camp boss decided to bring a lighter and thinner sleeping bag to try to keep the weight down on the backpack and sled. Found out the cold way that it was a bad call. It was not dangerous or anything but it was not as comfortable as it could be since the temperature dropped to about -10C and a chilling northern wind. But, its all forgotten after the first cup of coffee, so i`ll probably do the same blunder again in the near future. And the kids had a warm and cosy night in their sleeping bags so I am happy. The day started with making a fire so we could get breakfast and coffee ready before we got out of our sleeping bags. Our breakfast was pre made sandwiches wrapped in aluminum foil that we lay by the fire or on the embers until they are warm and the cheese, as we use on them, have melted. Together with coffee for the adults and warm cocoa for the kids this is the perfect sleeping bag breakfast. After the breakfast was consumed, we started to get dressed. I have learned the kids that it is a good idea to put their outer layer clothes in their sleeping bags during the night. This way, the clothes will dry up and they are warm when you put them on. In the chilling wind, they got a little bit cold before they could get their clothes on, that resulted in some tears and a little bit nagging from the camp boss to keep their bodies in motion by running on the spot or try to heat up by the fire. Nothing worked immediately, but after some negotiations and handing over some chocolate to the cold kids, they did what I told them to do and got warm again. Then they went out exploring the area, they did not get to far tough, the snow is quite deep, so it is hard to move in the terrain. But they got around, found tracks of a woodpecker that had made lots of holes in an old, dead tree looking for larvae and bugs hiding from the cold. The kids did not see any bugs, they told me. I packed my backpack and sled, and looked over the campsite to make sure we did not leave anything behind, from our outdoor gear or garbage and told the kids to get their skis. They put on their skis and started on the way home. I got my backpack on and hooked the sled to my backpack, put on my skis and fell as soon my ski shoes attached to the skis. At this point, the kids were about 100 meters away and I tried to get up from my very uncomfortable position, with skis crossed and my face down in the snow. I tried to cry for help from the kids, they did not hear me or maybe they did not want to hear me. But after some struggling I got my skies off and was able to get up again. The kids were no where in sight so I just had to get my skis on and try to catch up with them. A few minutes later I caught up with them, hearing they discuss were I could be. Fortunately they were happy to see that I was just behind them again. The rest of the way home we skied together, telling jokes and having fun. But again, it might have been a little bit tough trip, but it was also very nice. They were ready for a new trip before we even got home.

Breakfast with grilled sandwiches and coffee.
The kids discussing where I could be in the distance.
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Tough, but nice weekend trip in the forest, part 1.

Then the weekend is over for now, and a new week has begun. We had a good trip this weekend, but not without complications. The last couple of days before the weekend started, it came a lot of snow, so they had not made new ski tracks in the forest and the snow had pushed down the ice on the lakes, so the water came on top. That is not good when you are skiing. The water freeze on your skis, and it makes it tough to glide on the skis as we are supposed to do. This took its toll on the kids, and their morale sank some. Because of this we decided to find a camp as soon as we spotted a good place. We found a place by the lake with a nice view and abundant amount of firewood close by. But the ordeal wasn’t quite over, because we had to venture out from the not so fresh tracks with snow in them and into to the really deep snow. That is not so easy when you are 5 years old and have short legs. Even though it was only about 75 meters from the solid snow of the old tracks, this also took its toll. But we made it to the designated campsite, and got their morale up by handing over some chocolate. We started foraging wood after the chocolate was consumed and the morale was good again. We got the campfire going and I made our places to sleep ready. The kids wanted to dive right into their sleeping bags and eat their dinner there. We had a classic on our trips, hotdogs. They sat in their bags and grilled them on sticks over the fire, having a great time telling stories and laughing. After dinner even the camp boss, jumped into his sleeping bag, and we told stories and fairytales while eating our saturday candy till we fell asleep.

Getting ready for some dinner when cosying up in the sleeping bag.
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It`s getting warmer this weekend!

It`s getting warmer this weekend, so we are planning a weekend on the ice. Our plan this weekend is to camp by a small lake, which is a good place to catch trout. And since the temperature is getting better, we can spend some quality time on the ice, without having to try to keep warm by moving or sitting by the campfire. The kids and I looked over the fishing equipment yesterday, we noticed that some of the fishing line was getting old and snapped to easy, so awe had to change them. We agreed that it would be bad if we lost fish from faulty gear. So according to the boys, now there is no limit how big fish we can catch.They might have a little bit to high hopes about our possible catch. We still have to bring the winter sleeping bags, since it might be down to -7 or so, spring is not here just yet, but we might come closer to it. We have stayed by the same small lake the past weekends, but now we are changing location to one of our favorite summer locations. The boys are still in their start phase of doing cross-country skiing, so it might be a tough trip for them since there is a lot of steep passages. But with enough encouragement, time and chocolate I think we will have a great trip.

An ice fisher in prospective
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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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Back home after our short weekend trip

Then we are back home after our trip to the forest. The kids had good speed on their skis on our way home. They might have been pushed by the chilling northern wind we had as company. Even though we had snow and freezing northern winds, we had a very nice trip. We had a great night in our sleeping bags under a shelter to keep the snow away from our faces. That worked very fine, we slept all night and even had a late morning. The campfire gave us warmth and light in the dark last night as we just sat and chatted about life and all that is between.  We also tried some ice fishing, but we didn’t have any luck, I guess the fish had. There was a bit to windy to stay to long on the ice, so we hope for better fishing conditions next trip. We also went tracking, tried to find where our neighbouring hare had its day shelter. We tracked it for a while but could not find it. But now we know where not to look the next time. The boys are becoming more and more woodsmen. They start to move around by them self, if they start to get cold. We had to re-heat some feet by the fire, but that is just a good excuse to have another cup of cocoa for the kids.

The boys in their sleeping bags. They know how to keep warm
Mastering the art of skiing
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