Saturday, August 24, 2013

Update and Improvements to My Favorite DIY Shelter

For about half a year now (and currently), the most popular post on my blog is My Favorite DIY/MYOG Camping Shelter.  So I thought it would be good to write another post that focuses on this fairly easy and very cheap project, and one that can be very useful for a variety of reasons.  

These shelters are a great solution for someone looking for an affordable yet decent backpacking/camping shelter for themselves, or as a loaner/gift to a friend or family member that travels with them.  Also great for parents that want to set up a functional play tent in their backyard, and when the kids break it (which they most likely will, just like they will probably break a store-bought tent or tarp), no big deal.  Used with care, I have been able to re-use these shelters many times.  

Not your best option for a thru-hike (unless you make several and have them in your bounce-box, perhaps), but a great alternative for section hikers and weekend trips.  Hard to give an estimate how many nights one of these shelters will last, but I would say at least 10 nights used with care and under normal circumstances.  I still have my Deluxe Hobo Tent, and have used it out in the field half a dozen times or so, as well as set it up in my backyard a handful of times as well.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cesar's Guide to Bohusleden: Stage 8

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This post covers Stage 8, Bottenstugan-Grandalen, of the official guide to the trail.

Here is a link to a map for this stage in PDF format.


You can also check out my report on the section before this one (hiking southbound), Stage 9.


If you have not already read the introduction to this trail guide, you can check it out by clicking here.  It has a list of reports on other sections I have hiked plus other important/useful background information in general--so please read the introduction first before reading my reports.


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A short and sweet stage that I very much enjoyed, with one excellent vista spot a to take a break, along with one shelter and several welcoming places near a few lakes to set up camp.  If you are traveling south I suggest filling up on water someplace in the middle of this section, as the next stage is a bit dry at times; and if you are going northbound, here is where you can fill up after tapping your reserves from Kungälv through Stage 7.  It is a very well maintained section of trail, some of the best marked areas on Bohusleden, and there are even handrails, benches, and stairs for hikers to use.

There was quite a bit of hiking under thick woods, and in the late spring to early fall expect a thick canopy above and around you.  This is a very green part of trail, full of not just the leaf canopy but also plenty of ferns, moss, and reeds.  This was a fairly easy stage to hike for me, but I can see why the official guide marked it as being "average" difficulty due to some hills and occasional steep climbs.  Though it should not present much trouble to most people, and as is the trend on the more southern portions of trail, again my feet remained pretty dry completing this path.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tagged: My 3 Favorite Bushcraft Items

I was recently tagged by Stick in a blog post of his, himself also being tagged by another blogger, and the chain seems to go on and on from there.  Bushcraft seems to have become a somewhat mainstream topic/hobby, thanks in no small part to the many survival-type TV shows.  I don't even think I need to list examples, nor do I bother to watch most of these shows.  But I do need to clarify my opinions of Bushcraft before I answer the question at hand, which is what my three favorite Bushcraft items are.

As the son of a US army veteran who was enlisted for over 20 years, from an early age I was taught survival knowledge by my father because I have always had an interest in the outdoors and nature.  The older I got, the more advanced information my father passed down to me, along with field manuals from the military on the subject to read.  Back in the 80's and 90's I never heard the term "Bushcraft," but then again I was more of a lone wolf when it came to going out into the woods to put what I had learned to use.  Sure, I went camping and backpacking with friends back then, but it was mostly car camping and traditional backpacking, so there was hardly any emphasis on the survival or primitive knowledge aspects when I was with others outdoors.

Then about 5 years ago or so, as I looked to further my skills (and sharpen ones I already had) by researching/reading online, I discovered two survival experts and their respective TV shows that I enjoyed watching and also learned from.  One was Ray Mears, the other was Les Stroud, and their TV shows as far as I am concerned (or that I am aware of), are the exception in this genre when it comes to both artistic merit and actual providing solid survival skills.  I highly recommend their work.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cesar's Guide to Bohusleden: Stage 9

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This post covers Stage 9, Lysevatten-Bottenstugan, of the official guide to the trail.

Here is a link to a map for this stage in PDF format.


You can also check out my report on the section before this one (hiking southbound), Stage 10.


I have since returned to do a section hike of this stage, the side trails around it, and parts of the next few stages as well.  You can read more about that here in my trip report of an extended exploration of Svartedalen nature reserve.

If you have not already read the introduction to this trail guide, you can check it out by clicking here.  It has a list of reports on other sections I have hiked plus other important/useful background information in general--so please read the introduction first before reading my reports.


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*   Easily one of the most beautiful stages on all of Bohusleden, much of the trail goes through the heart of the Svartedalens nature preserve and offers many gorgeous views.  These vistas come at a cost, of course, and the strength of your legs will be put to the test climbing up and down many hills and cliffs.  Some of the climbs are steep enough that ropes and makeshift handrails have been installed to aid hikers along the trail at certain locations.

This stage will not only demand your attention because of the scenery, but you also need to literally watch your step on many paths in this section--especially less experienced backpackers will need to be extra cautious.  Yet that being said: it is not the most difficult hike I have ever done either, but certainly not an easy one.

The hike is well worth it, of course, and I must apologize to my readers for my admittedly amateur photography.  Looking back over the pictures I took, I feel like they don't do this stage justice for how nice it really is.  Though in fairness to myself, it was an overcast day for most of my hike, and a bit dark and tricky to take pictures using natural light, especially under the canopy of the forest.  This is one stage that I will surely return, so perhaps I can take one of my friends that is a better photographer than I am and update this report in the future.

I have quite a bit to report before getting to the pictures, so please bare with me; and don't worry, there are many (42) pictures.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cesar's Guide to Bohusleden: Stage 10

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This post covers Stage 10, Hasteröd-Lysevatten, of the official guide to the trail.

Here is a link to a map for this stage in PDF format.


You can also check out my report on the section before this one (hiking southbound), Stage 11.


If you have not already read the introduction to this trail guide, you can check it out by clicking here.  It has a list of reports on other sections I have hiked plus other important/useful background information in general--so please read the introduction first before reading my reports.


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* This is an easy, straight forward, and pretty section of trail.  I am again at odds with the official trial guide, which gives this an orange "average" difficulty rating; but I found this stage to be quite pleasant hiking, plus there is plenty of water sources, and one shelter on the trail and another one very soon after the endpoint (both of good quality and location).  This is not to suggest that it is not without challenges, of course, as there are a fair amount of hills to climb up and down and thick plant life to plow through (not to mention lots of bugs if you are here in the summertime), but nothing that was too crazy.  And my feet stayed quite dry, though I again had good luck with sunny weather. 

There is also some confusing information given on the official guide, which states that there is a "natural...virgin forest" in the northern portion (around Gunnarsvattnet lake)--yet much of this area (as you will soon see in the pictures below) has clearly had logging done on it.  Perhaps this is an editor's prank on the part of the official guide? 
In spite of a good bit of logging done in the area, there is still plenty of thick woods to hike through, with a lot of both broad-leaf and pine trees.