Canoeing in Sweden

Ok, three months have passed since my canoe trek in Sweden in May.  As with many things, business comes first and we have been exceptionally busy since we returned, despite the recession.  I'll be breaking this trip report down into bite-size chunks in order to get something on the blog.  So much happened, a good distance was paddled over the eleven days, about 120 miles the weather was pretty good for the time of year (we had no blizzards this time!) and the food and whiskey was better than ever!  It was a good trip, full of interest with abundant wildlife, great landscapes, rivers and lakes.... and a little drama during a sudden violent storm to leave us with great memories and wanting more.

This year, we did the food shopping for ourselves.  We learnt from experience that it is not a good idea to leave the food shopping to anyone else via email, especially since I am a life-long vegetarian.  We spent the first day in Arvika stocking up with 4x 11 breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desert, multiple snacks and enough tea, coffee, hot chocolate and soup to feed an army.  We ate well, even fresh fruit and vegetables.  After a few days in the wilderness, fresh cabbage, onion, carrot and courgettes seem like a real treat.  The great thing about an open canoe is that you can carry bulk!  No reason to torture ourselves with dehydrated food, we took the real thing.

How Arvika has changed in a year!  It has never been a place to linger, but now it is just a place to leave - as quickly as possible.  It may be the global recession to blame, but there is definitely something less pleasant about the place.  The queue at the local job centre was impressive,  not for the content but for it's length and having the car vandalised right in front of us by a group of local youths did little to improve my opinion of the place.  Being public spirited as I am, I took it upon myself to 'educate' the main culprit.  He may now think twice about doing something similar in the future, I hope. 

So, that first night was spent bagging-up 1000's of much needed calories into individual daily rations.  The plan worked perfectly and was the main reason for such a successful and memorable trip. 

Yes, the boats were heavy.  I have no idea of the laden weight of the two Linder Inkas 525's, but the portages (there were several interesting ones) were a joint effort in concentration and exertion to avoid injury by the boats running away out of control.  A broken leg, or worse, would have been a disaster.

All of the gear we took between us worked without fail, the stuff we hired just about worked.  If there is one piece of hired gear I would not recommend, it is the Helsport twin hoop tunnel tents that we had.  They are pretty horrible things, heavy, saggy, baggy and always wet due to poor internal venting.

 If there is one outstanding piece of gear that I simply would not do without, apart from my drysuit and Aquagear Survivor bottles, it has to be the Bushbuddy stove.  What a gem that thing is!  We took enough meths and gas for the trip, but next time there will be less.  Woodgas rules in Sweden.  So does a £5 folding shovel from Go Outdoors.

The shot above was taken on the penultimate evening.  It was peaceful and calm on this island,  bitterns were booming in a reedbed across the lake and there were fresh signs of moose all around our camp.  They must be good swimmers, we were about a kilometre from the nearest shore.  Despite searching for several hours, we weren't able to see any moose.  We did find a couple of deer that made a rapid exit when they saw us, though. None of us were in a hurry to pack the tents up the following day.  It was a good wildcamp and a place for reflection.  That's why I took the shot.  I wanted to remember my thoughts.

Hasselblad XPan11, 45mm lens, f16, RVP 50 for the technically minded.

The story will be continued......