Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cesar's Guide to Pilgrimsleden Dalsland




Introduction

There are several different trails in Scandinavia called "Pilgrimsleden" (The Pilgrim's Trail), so this one is not to be confused with other trails fo the same name!  I've hiked on at least two other trails in Sweden called the same, but this guide is for the one that runs through the Dalsland area.  The trail goes roughly from the city of Vänersborg in the south to the border of Varmland county to the north.  Also worth noting is that past the border to the north, the trail continues and eventually goes into the Glaskogen nature reserve further north, where there are even more hiking trails throughout the park.

Pilgrimsleden Dalsland is about 110km in total, but for the purposes of wilderness backpacking I strongly suggest a modified route.  My modified route incorporates a long side-trail that begins in the town of Åmål called Storspåret, and skips a long section from the village of Upperud to Vänersborg on the southern part of the trail.  The reason behind skipping this section is simple: it's mostly asphalt walking.  And hiking on paved roads for a long time, if you ask me and many others interested in wilderness backpacking, sucks.  

But there are also good logistical considerations to my modified route.  Rather than starting or ending this trail in the middle of nowhere at the northern endpoint of the trail, one can begin or end in Åmål, which has a train station, buses, supermarkets, restaurants, etc.  And in Upperud the trail literally passes by a bus stop (see: below) where you can catch a bus to the town of Mellerud, where there is a train station.



So my way of hiking this trail goes from Upperud in the south to Åmål in the northeast, and covers roughly 75km of trail--55km of Pilgrimsleden Dalsland and 20km of the Storspåret side trail.  It's a wonderful section hike that my friends and I really enjoyed.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Cost of an UL Backpacking Kit Revisted, Spring 2017

Introduction

*Update 07/05/2017: A member of the UL forum on Reddit was nice enough to create a TLDR summary of all the gear.  So if you want to get right to the full gear list, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post.  Thanks to u/cwcoleman!

The most popular post on my blog right now (and for a while now) covers the cost of a good yet affordable set of UL backpacking gear for a beginner.  That was roughly three years ago, and I while I still think it's a pretty solid gear list, of course I have given plenty of thought on how to improve or expand on this conceptual gear list.  So here's another crack at it, but this time with a few changes to the given context going into this project, and naturally some changes in gear selection as well.

This new gear list is aimed more at either a traditional (i.e. "heavy") backpacker with some experience that wants to transition into a solid UL kit right away, or someone new to UL backpacking that has already tried things out with cheap/borrowed/DIY gear but now wants an upgraded and improved set of UL gear.  Some of the gear mentioned you may already have, or maybe even something just as good or better.  In which case, the transition to UL will be even cheaper and easier.

If you are entirely new to backpacking and the outdoors in general, then this gear list is probably not for you.  I suggest you start with some entry level cheap/DIY gear before you move on to a bigger transition like this, which is more of an investment of both money and future free time to actually get out there and use the gear.  Remember, not everyone likes or becomes passionate about wilderness backpacking, and it can be a fairly demanding activity.  You can read more in depth advice for new backpackers here.

Yet another way to look at this gear list is with a hypothetical: if my house were to burn down tomorrow and most of my gear with it, the new gear list I would buy to rebuild my gear closet would be more or less the same as the one this post describes.  And for anyone that is new to my blog and my experience, well stick around here long enough and you'll see that I'm pretty crazy about the outdoors--and especially UL, long distance, wilderness backpacking.  That's why I've been backpacking for over two decades now, got into UL around 7 years ago, and still pretty much everyday I daydream about getting back out to the woods.

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.