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......


Martin Rye said…
The photo is amazing. It must be an incredible way to travel the wilderness in a canoe. I am envies. Will you let us see more of the photos you took?
Steve Walton said…
Thanks for dropping by Martin. There is plenty more to come. I'll be writing the trip up in segments.
Old Winter said…
I am reserving a front row seat for this trip report, looking forward to further instalments.
Dave Hanlon said…
Fresh food and real fires! Oh the luxury of travelling by canoe. Give me a carbon prospector over an Alu Linder any time though. The only thing that didn't impress me about canoeing in Varmland was the boat. Elk do indeed swim very well.

Looking forewards to the next instalment!
Steve Walton said…
The 525's make a good tripping canoe, Dave. There's no way I'd swap my Birch Creek for one, but they are seaworthy, I'll give them that. We were hit by a storm on the last but one day, way out in the middle of a large lake. The boat only began to feel tippy when we turned to run for an island and had a beam swell. Secondary stability isn't too good because of the flat bottom. Last year were were caught by an even more ferocious storm with thunder, lightning, a blizzard, force 5-6 winds and a three foot swell. We battled against it head-on for over six kilometers across the width of Stora Gla until we found shelter on the lee shore. Frankly, I was pleased then that we were in these Linder boats when it turned really nasty. If we'd taken the Birch Creek or the Auroras, I think we may have had real problems. We did take on some water when swells broke over the bow, but not a much as our own boats, which I think would have swamped very quickly in those conditions.
Horses for courses, I guess. The Linders are a sensible choice for centre use, but they're not pretty. Like you, I wouldn't buy one either!
Steve Walton said…
Thanks for stopping by and your comment, OW.
I'll add more about the trip during the next few days. Some very nice photos on your blog, btw!
Dave Hanlon said…
Steve: Good point well made. I've not been dealt those kind of conditions yet (fingers crossed) but I do remember big swells on Glasfjorden and Mokeren. My "bow paddler" (read wife) got a bumpy ride in the Linder but it did indeed keep us (relatively) dry. My negative memories come from the weight and the klanking noises. I can see why they make comercial sense though. Suppose they last more than a couple of seasons. Birch creek canoes are wonderfull looking boats! Due to lack of space and the need to travel I own a foldable Ally 16.5DR. Not pretty by any means but effective. One day I'll strip build my dream boat!