Sunday, November 7, 2021

The Boulder and The Fox

About 10 years ago I was on a self imposed mission to fully explore this one big patch of woods about an hour away from my home here in Sweden. It began with looking for a good spot to pick wild mushrooms. The deeper I hiked looking for delicious shrooms, the more I fell in love with the area. So I bought a map of the area and just really got into trying to walk across and up and down and all over this chunk of woods. There were a few local hiking trails that went through it, but other than that and an occasional hunter during hunting season, these woods seemed like they were all mine. Like I had it all to myself, and for the most part, I did. I'd be all alone out there.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Cesar's Guide to Nordvärmlandsleden: Ransby to Höljes



Nordvärmlandsleden is a roughly 55km hiking trail that follows the Klarälven river valley in northern Värmland county.  The trail technically has a southern terminus in the village of Branäs, but this guide and trip report will cover the trail from the village of Ransby (just across the river from Branäs) to the northern terminus in the village of Höljes.  This section is a continuation of my alternate Swedish E1 trail called The Troll Trail/Trolleden.  Click here for more information on this trail system.

Here is the official website for this trail in English, but there is not much to it.  Nordvärmlandsleden is generally well marked and maintained, and has some nice views as it traverses up and down the peaks and ridges of the long and beautiful valley. It even goes up to Värmland’s highest point, the small mountain (or big hill) called Granberget, 700m above sea level. There is also a really cool lookout tower built on its peak.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Troll Trail in a Nutshell Full Guide

An Abridged Guide to The Troll Trail:

An Alternate Trail to the Swedish E1 Long Distance Hiking Trail

Version 3.0

By Cesar Valdez

Note: If you prefer to download a PDF file of this guide, you can do so here.


This is a condensed but full guide to The Troll Trail, a long distance hiking trail that I created. The longer, unabridged guide--which includes additional details on the various areas/sections, hundreds of photographs, and trip reports of my personal experiences hiking the trail--can be found on my blog (click here). The goal of this shortened guide is to provide just the most essential information to help hikers plan and hike this trail. What I recommend if you are seriously considering hiking this trail is to read the longer guides and trip reports on my blog while you’re at home preparing, and then on the way to the trail and/or while you’re actually out hiking the trail you can switch over to this shortened guide.

Or if you’re restless and just want to get out there and hike, say you’re an experienced backpacker, etc.--I get it. This guide should be enough on its own and you can read the whole thing in less than an hour, then revisit it on trail as needed. Make sure to download all the custom maps that I created for the connection routes, and have fun being on autopilot most of the time hiking the longer marked trails.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Breakdown: My 2021 Sleeping Systems for Every Season


It's been a while since I posted a big breakdown of my various gear combinations.  Back in 2015 I wrote one that focused on my sleep systems, for example.  That's the last time I did a big breakdown of my sleeping gear here on my blog, but I've written and discussed sleep systems quite a lot on various forums, such as the UL subreddit. One such post over there got a fair amount of up-votes and positive feedback, which was me making a case for using only two quilts to take care of one's year-round backpacking needs. I called it a case for a two quilt system, and you can read that post here.  You should definitely give that post a read if you are unfamiliar with the two quilt system and its benefits and nuances.

But when I wrote that post I was in the process of upgrading one of my quilts (the summer Apex quilt), and since then all of my sleep systems are more or less complete.  So this post will breakdown my current sleep systems, as not only has a lot changed (and for the better), but sleep systems are one of the combinations of gear that I get asked about or comes up in conversation the most.  Both the novice camper or backpacker to the grizzled old outdoors enthusiast, everyone seems to have their own preferences and opinions about the best equipment for a good night's sleep.

And rest is very important when you're out there, so I often recommend to others (especially greenhorns) that if you are going to splurge or spoil yourself when it comes to gear, you should prioritize a good sleep system.  This can be tricky for someone who is new to sleeping outdoors, as you have to dial in your preferences and everyone has different needs when it comes to being comfortable.  So it may take some trial and error if you're new to all this, and you should also not expect to sleep 100% as comfortable as your own bed at home (assuming you have a comfy bed at home).  But that being said, some of the best sleep of my life I've had sleeping outside under my tarp or in a trail shelter.  So here's the gear that provides me with pretty damn good sleep while I'm out and about.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Cesar's Guide to the Värmland Connection Route: Röjden to Ransby


This section is a continuation of my alternate Swedish E1 trail called The Troll Trail/Trolleden.  Click here for more information on this trail system.  The southern end of this section is at the south tip of the huge lake Röjden, which is a nice place to swim and has a few trail shelters.  The northern end of this section is the village of Ransby, which has a bus stop, a few resupply options, and a hotel.  Note that bus service here is limited, as this is fairly isolated/low population area.  One small supermarket is in the ski lodge area of Ransby on the west side of the river (up on the mountain), and the other more normal supermarket is 8km northwest of Ransby on the highway.  Ransby is also the southern terminus of the next trail that hikers can continue to follow northbound, Nordvärmlandsleden.