Monday, April 17, 2017

Cesar's Guide to The Ed Loop



Introduction

I must admit that I am pretty excited writing this guide.  For one, well the trip that it is based on went great--better than my expectations even.  But also because what I am attempting to do here is effectively create an entirely new hiking loop that can be done on its own or in addition to another long hiking trail.  So because of this context, this will have to be longer guide and report with lots of background information.  You've been warned: big wall-o-text to follow.  Otherwise just scroll down for more of the pretty pictures.  Let's begin.

Dals-Ed is a municipality in south-west Sweden that boarders Norway, and has a vast amount of forests, several national parks and hiking trails, and lots of potential for great wilderness backpacking trips.  One feature of this area that I personally find quite appealing and somewhat unique is its rift terrain, which has many long, tall hills/cliffs in narrow ranges throughout the landscape.  Along with this interesting elevation also come many rift valleys that form plenty of lakes and tarns (often long and narrow), as well as winding rivers and streams.

I've been hiking and exploring the western parts of Dals-Ed for nearly a decade now, doing a variety of trips from off-trail bushwhacking, to following marked trails into the area--such as Bohusleden, which goes very close to the boarder of Dals-Ed at several points--to a mix of both.  And I've really grown fond of this area, which is of course why I have returned so often.  It's full of natural beauty, is low in population, and is hence more wild and unspoiled.  Plus there always seemed like there was more to discover about this area, and this proved true on my most recent trip there.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What's in Cesar's Daypack/EDC for 2017


Ah the old "What's in your backpack?" question. 

I get asked about this a fair amount, even when I'm not in the woods--especially when people see me pulling out useful stuff. So this will be a short, sweet, and fairly straight forward answer to that question. The only context is that this is my daypack/EDC, or in other words, what I carry with me on "normal" days. You know, like to and from work, or on day hikes or walks around town. Yep, same backpack, and mostly the same gear. The only things that change are a bit of clothing depending on the season, and whatever book I am reading at the time.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cesar's Guide to Bjursås Vildmarksleden


---Introduction

Bjursås is a small town in central-ish Sweden in the country of Dalarna that has a lovely little looping wilderness hiking trail called Vildmarksleden. Not to be confused with other trails, as there are a few others with the same name, such as one in Västra Götalands county, which I have also hiked and you can read more about here. This Vildmarksleden trail is about 35km long and begins and ends in Bjursås, but one could begin and end it at other points too.

Here is the trail's official page (in Swedish), and here is a PDF map of the trail that is quite good and serviceable on its own. You can get to Bjursås by bus from the small city of Falun, which has train connections to various other cities. I discovered this trail because it is somewhat close to the Swedish E1 trail system, which goes by the town of Leksand (30km from Bjursås). So I would recommend it to section hikers and thru hikers alike, because not only is it a great trail, but it is logistically convenient to include as part of a longer section hike in the area or a more ambitious thru hike of the E1.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Long Overdue Update, Winter 2017

Been a while.  Over half a year since my last post.  So what the hell is going on?  Well, it's pretty simple in some respects, more complex in others.  Let's start with the simple: life has just been really busy the past year.  Having small kids, working full time, social life, etc. have all been more demanding, so my free time has suffered because of it, unfortunately.  Then on top of this, a few trips I had planned recently fell through due to illness.  So yeah, some bad luck too.

However there are other factors that have contributed to my outdoor life sinking into a rut.  I vented about them at length on the forum for Ultralight backpacking over at Reddit, which you can read here.  Long story short, after several years of devotedly section hiking trails in my area, I ran out of new places to explore, and this made me lose the motivation to get out as regularly as I did in the past.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cesar's Guide to the E1 Trails in Sweden: Sälen to Mörkret


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The E1 Trail connects Vasaloppsleden and Södra Kungsleden via the village of Sälen, and goes through a few nature reserves, most notably (and the largest) being the Fulufjället National Park.  This is the second to last stages of the Swedish E1 trails in the north, and its length can vary considerably depending on how one chooses to hike it.  There are several side/alternative trails and potential loops that can be hiked, though on a map following the most direct route the length is roughly 80km.  However the route my friends and I hiked ended up being around 110km according to an average of several smartphone pedometers we had with us.  Here is a link to a basic map and general information of this area (in English).

This stage presents some logistical challenges due to how isolated the area is, and will require plenty of planning ahead of time.  For the record the map we used was the Lantmäteriet Fjällkartan W2, Fulufjället-Sälen, November 2013 edition.  You will absolutely need a good and current/updated map of the area and of course a compass, and I would personally advise doing this and the next and last stage in the same trip if you have the time.  Unfortunately my friends and I did not have the time and exited the trail at one of the northern ends of Fulufjället near the hamlet of Mörkret after about 5 days of travel.  Another issue is food supplies, again due to isolation and general lack of civilization on or around the trail.  So make sure to have ample food supplies before setting off into this big patch of mountainous, wild nature.

Getting to Sälen is easier, with daily buses going into town.  Mörkret however is another story, with its closest bus stop around 24km away in the village of Särna.  There is a hostel/campground in Mörkret that offers a shuttle service for a small fee to and from Särna (we paid 150 SEK per car with 4 hikers stuffed inside).  You will need to ask for this shuttle service, as it is not advertised, and here is a link to the hostel's website (in English).

Going southbound the E1 trail continues on Vasaloppsleden, and you can read my report on that trail here.  Going northbound the E1 continues on Södra Kungsleden until it ends at the Norwegian border at Grövelsjön.  I intend on hiking this final stage next year (summer 2017) and will write up a report shortly thereafter.  Please note that there is a roughly 20km transitional distance between Vasaloppsleden and the beginning/southern entry point of Södra Kungsleden, however you can take a bus from Sälen to the trailhead at Sälen Högfjällshotell.

If you have not read the introduction to this trail guide yet, you can do so here, and there is also a list of links to other completed reports of the Swedish E1 trails.  Please keep in mind this is still a work in progress. 

Now on with the report!

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Having hiked all but the final stage of the entire Swedish E1 trails, let me start by saying that this is what I would consider to be the crown jewel of the entire trail system.  Granted we got lucky with good weather (mostly sunny, with very little rain--this is rare in the fjälls!), and I had amazing company, but that being said this was easily what I would consider the highlight of not just the E1 trails, but one of the single best hiking trails I've ever done, period.  I took over 350 pictures and was absolutely enamored with this trail, though I will add that this trail is not for everyone.