Monday, September 22, 2014

Back to Back Episode 1 is Up on Youtube

Just a quick announcement that Ross from the Wood Trekker blog and I have put up the first episode of what will hopefully be a series on wilderness backpacking called Back to Back.  I have to say the title is growing on me, being a good shorthand for "from one backpacker to another."  The first video is more if an introduction and setting up the format and first topic, and Part 2 and 3 are our in depth discussions related to the first topic.

Here is Part 1 of the episode, my video setting things up.

And here is Part 2, Ross' video.

And here is Part 3, my response.

Keep an eye out on my Youtube channel in the future for more episodes of Back to Back if you are interested.  I am glad we got the ball rolling, and I think it will be great to be able to bounce ideas and learn from Ross and hopefully other backpackers as well.  I have to say, I am excited about the prospect of this project continuing on and maybe expanding, and have really enjoyed collaborating with Ross.

That's about it.  Just wanted try and get the word out some.  As always, feedback and questions are welcome and encouraged.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Swedish Warp Zone: The Beauty of Flugsvamp Mushrooms

This post will be short and sweet.  I was looking over the pictures from my last section hike and noticed there were a lot of pictures of mushrooms that I didn't include in my trip report.  I liked the way some of them came out, so figured I would do a whole post just devoted to these pictures.  The granola bar in some of the pictures is for size reference.  Seeing all these mushrooms out there had me humming the Super Mario Brothers theme song quite a lot on my trip.  For those of you that didn't ever play SMB on NES, this is what I am talking about:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cesar's Guide to the E1 Trails in Sweden: Bergslagsleden Part 1


Bergslagsleden is the longest stand alone trail that is a part of the Swedish E1 trail system, and spans 280km.  As such, it will require a slightly longer introduction before the actual trail guide due to some complications it presents.  Its endpoint in the south is the campground Stenkällegården, and the endpoint in the north is the village of Kloten.  For more general information about the trail in English, Swedish, and German, here is a link to the official trail guide.

The trail is divided into 17 stages.  This report covers the last stage of Västra Vätterleden hiking northbound, which leads directly to the southern starting point of Bergslagsleden, as well as the first three stages of the trail (17-15).  I include the last stage of Västra Vätterleden for pragmatic reasons as a section hiker, which has mostly to do with public transportation, using the lakeside town of Karlsborg as a start/endpoint.  Stage 15 ends close to the town of Laxå.

However if you are a thru-hiker and need to stock up on supplies, want/need a hostel or hotel, craving a good cup of coffee and/or a warm meal, or just want to do some sight-seeing, I recommend paying Karlsborg a visit.  There are regular buses that connect to the village of Forsvik (where the E1 continues), and also to the city of Skövde where there is a train station for further connections.

Below are links to PDF maps of these four stages that make up this section of the E1:

Stage 1 of Västra Vätterleden

Stage 17 of Bergslagsleden

Stage 16

Stage 15

While the Bergslagsleden maps are functional, in English, and had especially good symbols and information for useful or interesting things on the trail (shelters, fresh water, views, etc.)--there were some things that I personally didn't like about the maps, and feel could use some improvement.  The maps are a bit sparse, and roads often lack much information and are mostly just black lines that intersect with the trail.  These are not the best maps for backpackers that are section hikers and/or like to bushwhack, and it comes off like the creators of the maps just want you to stick to the trail and that's it.  For my next section hike I intend on buying a more detailed map of the area, but also printing out all the useful/interesting tips from the official maps to compliment my hike.

Hiking southbound on the E1 the next trail is the northern half of Västra Vätterleden, and you can check out my guide from Stage 2 (Forsvik) to Stage 4 (Hjo) here.  Hiking northbound the E1 continues on the Bergslagsleden, and you can check out my guide from Stage 14 (Laxå) to Stage 10 (Ånnaboda), which is coming soon (October).

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 show!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wild Mushrooms: A Good Haul Today!

Today my family and I went out to pick some wild mushrooms out in the woods, and had a particularly good haul.  

This is yet another aspect I love about being outdoors--and that I have written about on this blog before--so I figured why not take some pictures and do a quick video to show off our harvest.  For those of you that are into mycology, you might appreciate this; and for those of you that are not into the somewhat strange world of fungus hunting, perhaps this can shed some light on the subject.  From my experiences I have found that people that are not in the know tend to think that I am crazy for picking and eating odd looking mushrooms, but so long as you know what you are doing and take some simple precautions, it's really not a big deal.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Physical Fitness for Long Distance Backpacking: What I Do to Make Hiking (and Life) Easier

Obligatory disclaimer: I am just reflecting on my own personal goals as far as physical fitness is concerned, as well as what exercises and techniques work for me.  Everyone is different, has different needs, physical abilities, genetics, limitations, etc.  Basically, I am just talking about what level of fitness I want to maintain and how I go about doing that.  I'm not a doctor or a trainer, just my opinion, don't sue me, etc.

I just shot a video where I spoke at length on the subject at hand, and where I cover a lot of ground, so I'll begin with the video this time and then move on to writing the rest of this text.  Please watch the video first before moving on with this article: