Disclaimer, read first... what ever you want to call it...

Anything you see or read on this blog is mine...
My pictures (unless otherwise stated), my thoughts, my feelings and my opinions, my experiences and my way of dealing with things. If you think I'm wrong or should see things differently, please feel free to comment and tell me why with sound arguments, but do it with respect. I will reconsider my views and might or might not decide to agree with you. Either way I thank you for your input and I hope you'll respect my point of view as I will yours. If you can not agree with that, please feel free to leave at any time.
Nothing shown here is to be used, quoted, duplicated or otherwise used, unless I approve and give permission.
I will not be held accountable for any damages, injuries or other unpleasant effects to people, animals or property if someone tries to copy the things I do, show and write about, here. If you do so, you do it entirely at your own risk!!
When working and dealing with potentially dangerous tools knives, fire or situations, use your head! Think befor you do!

If you are ok with that, sit back, relax, read and enjoy it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Basic "providing for"...

Thursday and friday I have been out in the woods all day.... gathering firewood!
From one of the local landowners I got permission to take away trees that had been cut down in order to maintain the forest/plantation.
Armed with bowsaw and axe I went to business. The forest was strewn with downed timber! Long and thin trees, no thicker than a grown man's leg, but "slightly" longer.... I did not know where to begin.... so I began with the first tree, right in front of my feet and worked my way from there.
What a satisfying work this is. This is what man should doing! Not slaving away behind some desk, cooped up in a building, not doing some meaningless work for a boss, who generally wouldn't care if you were there or not, as long as he can justify the correct figures and paperwork to the companyleaders, hoping to acquire enough salary, so you can buy your kids the latest and greatest gadget. No, this is what "providing for" means in the most direct sense of the word. One's fysical labor yields direct result for the family. In this case wood for warmth in winter.
For me this type of work is new and the sense of accomplishment, freedom and pride is genuine.....
Being in the woods all day, swinging an axe, occassionally listening to the birds, seeing and hearing the winds coming in as waves, caressing the trees, was a very nice bonus. My wife coming out with a backpack full of food for lunch made it all even better! The best lunch I/we had in a long time! She also made the pictures with her phone....

We found this nice burl.
Unfortunately it was attached to a still standing tree, so it remains where it was....

This tree show the dimension of the logs I wrestled with, kneedeep in spruce- and birchtwigs...
There is another nice bonus; I now know how to sharpen an axe to such a degree I can literally shave the branches of the trees. So that is one more skill to add to the total.
Another thing I learned was to allways keep a piece of wood between the axe's blade and you. Working in the woods like this requires large amounts of energy and eventually you get tired and sooner or later you'll make a mistake. In my case the axe glanced off and swung in a direction I did not intend it to go, biting in the log just in front of my left shin. I shivered imagining what might've happened without that log there.
Not mine, but just like it.
Carrying out the logs from between the trees was actually the most demanding part of the endevaour. I made the mistake of cutting them to size on the spot and carrying them out, instead of just dragging the whole stem out in one piece using a handheld clamp/hook, which I have..... but forgot at home.

Dumb rooky...

I was allowed to loan a book, which happened to be just about this subject. Ved meaning wood... It is written by a Swede and aimed at Swedes, so unfortunately no translation in English.
It deals with all aspects of using wood for domestic use as in heating and cooking. Written in a very pleasant way, sometimes bordering on sarcasm a little, all the facts, science, history, filosophies and emotions around it are addressed; from cutting down a tree to using it as fuel and all the steps of the proces in between.
To those Swedish reading readers here; get this book if you have interest in this matter. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jean M. Auel - Earth's Children

Well, as promissed I'll try to do a review of some books.
The kickoff is with this 6 book series by Jean M. Auel.

Part 1 - The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980; "Grottbjörnens folk", översättning: Mikael Mörling)
Part 2 - The Valley of Horses (1982; "Hästarnas dal", översättning: Mikael Mörling)
Part 3 - The Mammoth Hunters (1985; "Mammutjägarna", översättning: Mikael Mörling
Part 4 - The Plains of Passage (1990; "Stäppvandringen", översättning: Margareta Eklöf)
Part 5 - The Shelters of Stone (2002; "Nionde grottan", översättning: Tove Janson Borglund)
Part 6 - The Land of Painted Caves (2011; "De målade grottornas land", översättning: Tove Janson Borglund, Helena Sjöstrand Svenn, Gösta Svenn)

I have been thinking how to do this in depth, without giving away all the clues.

For me it started with reading the first book in Dutch and that caught me so much that I ended up buying all 6 books in English, since I think that books should be read in the original language, because often the deeper meanings get lost in translations. And lately I started collecting these books in Swedish as well, simply because I so like the story, which would help me wrestle through it in a foreign language in order to learn that better. The translation unfortunately did not capture the thrill I experienced with the English books, but that might also be because of my still to limited knowledge and understanding of the Swedish language.

The story is based around the main charactre; Ayla, a cromagnongirl ending up being adopted by a group of Neanderthals. You follow her through her childhood as she grows up to become a young adult (we'd say teen these days), when she leaves that group and goes out into the wide world to find her own kind.

What attrackts me to this series is, of course, the Stone Age/outdoortheme and the remarkably deep knowledge AND keen eye for detail the author shows. I often was just blown away by this combination. Many of the skills so admired in the bushcraft/outdoorscene are descibed in detail; firemaking, foodgathering, hunting, knowledge of plants both as food and medicine, use of animalresources, flintknapping, cordage.... you name it!
Add to that the exciting world of Cromagnonman meeting Neandethals, mammuths, giant bears and lions and all the other species of the Ice Age/stone Age world and you can begin to picture it. The author's detailled description helps with filling in any blanks you might encounter.
Another very appealing aspect to me, was the intricate manor in which the author blends all that knowledge, adds a large dose of spiritual subjects and creates a story that is, sometimes painfully, appliqable to our times as well.
She sure did her homework on this epic story and has a very compelling way of writing. I gotted sucked into the books, forgetting the world around me, not hearing or seeing anything
Is it all glory and glamour? No, there are aspects which I did not like all that much; the repetitive nature of writing, when it comes to describing several things, like the previous history in the story. I guess that comes when you create semi-independent stories within a larger series, so you could read the books one at a time.
Also the quite explicit erotic scenes that get drawn out, described in detail, agian and again. It's fun and exciting at first, but after a while it gets annoying and I ended up skipping those repetitions, since I read the books chronologically and thus know what happened. The same for the erotic scenes. Reminded me a lot of those 50cent trashnovels my mom and sister used to read. (Yes, I did peek into those, just to see why they thought those were so exciting...)
And the end of the last book, part 6, left me feeling like the story was not done yet. It was an open ending, without an ending. It feels not finished...

The most exciting parts for me are when the maincharactre is on her own, exploring, foraging, hunting, acquiring and using all sorts of skills and the wonderfull descriptions of the scenery and nature's beings, topped with a thin layer of spiritual essence. (Book 1,2 and 4)
The least liked part is where societies come in with all their complicated human interactions and social activity. Books 3,5 and 6 of which I like the last the least.

All in all, if you are interested in ancient crafts, this era, bushcrafty stuff ( the real deal, not the buy-and-show-part), or anything related, I can wholeheartedly recommend this series!
I went through 3300 pages (5 books) in Swedish in 6 weeks! The 6 English were devoured in under 2 months, too.
Go get 'm! I am on the hunt for the final book, part 6, in Swedish......

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I have a dream....

.....said a man once..... 
His dream covered a large area, both geographical and political.
Mine is much more modest and focussed locally....

Yesterday I had a second, long talk with Esbjörn from Bär o. Plant and it quickly turned out he was actually looking for someone to continue his business. He is nearing the retirement age and his fysical wellbeing leaves something to be desired.
He agreed on educating me on the business of growing plants, herbs and medicinal plants in this case, and showing me the ropes on beekeeping on a commercial basis. The goal is to get me ready to take over and continue! The agreement is there, the mutual will too, but we have to work out all the technical and legal issues still.
So the Trying Woodsman is going to become a Trying Nurseryman or even Farmer!

I allready have many plans, not just for the beginning, but also for the future. Bigger plans than growing herbs. Plans involving growing vegetables, holding poultry, even expanding to a second location here in the village. A location where a large greenhouse in disrepair, a barn in a similar state and a large open area, all owned by an other elderly couple with similar plantgrowing background/knowledge and similar fysical limitations, are involved.

Vegetables, herbs, bees, poultry..... Hell, I might even throw in some sheep and small game!
This all should be sufficient to support the vision I have; To create a situation where I can support myself, my family and the community with organic, healthy and locally grown food. All grown and bred on an all natural basis and in harmony with the ways nature intended. Because of all that I have to think on a bigger scale, just to get it commercially viable. This would provide us with an opportunity to live largely independently, when it comes to food, but also provide us with the means to generate an income or even provide the possibility to barter for other things we need, like meat, firewood or services.
Parttaking in a community, which is allready evolving towards a community with a focus on a local, and often ecologically friendly, foodbased economy, is another one of the motivations.

Tools are to be handoperated or have to be powered as much as possible without the use of petrochemicals, fertilisation is an all natural business and resources are to be based on natural and/or biodegradable foundations as much as possible. The no-petrochemical-principle will be like a red-thread-guideline through the entire operation. All of this would also include, of course, an absolute NO to gmo's, monocultures, pesticides or herbicides, unless they are in line with the previous thoughts.
I am even thinking about plans involving the WWOOF-organisation, but that's just an idea. First things firts...

I got carried away and started designing a companyname and -logo..... but with very basic and limited software like paint.

I love preplanning and daydreaming about this, but... hey, everything starts with a dream and an idea!

Now "all" I have to do, is learning the tools of the trade, get the people involved, some of which I have to meet for the first time still, to go along with it all, write a companyplan and maybe even a manifest, convince the bank that investing in my idea actually is a good idea and...and...and....and....

During this meeting it also turned out the Esbjörn is a hunter. He participates in the hunt for moose. He showed a lot of interest in me mentioning the upcoming natural tanning of the moosehide, currently residing in our freezer. He said that the hides were usually discarded after the hunt...... which might be a future source for hides, brains, maybe even tendons, (small) antlers and other "waste".

Talking about that with my wife later that evening made our brains run at topspeed, cooking up all kinds of ideas.
We probably need to attend markets to sell our grown products. Why not combine that with other things? Like selling the wool figures my wife makes? There allready is quite a demand for them as it is. Having bees mean having wax. That could be sold as is, used in products like ointments or candles.
Drying and selling excess herbs could be another possibility. Selling the worked hides, a possible winteractivity, maybe even some woodwork (the footoperated lathe, remember?) might open up other, growing markets too. Like the ever increasing middle age markets and L.A.R.P-gatherings....

The possibilities are vast and it is a good thing planning and dreaming do not cost anything, but a little energy.....
And all this diversity should keep us busy, spread risk (or increase it?) of failure in one area and avoid overexposure or loss of interest in another.

Am I or are we biting off more than we can chew?
I don't know. All I know is, is that we are more like jack of all trades instead of specialists. I love gardening and working with plants and we both love to do the things I mentioned. The plantgrowing business is seasonal and will take up most of the time between the beginning of april and the end of september, maybe october. That leaves us with 4 months in between with short days and long evenings to fill.
It remains to be seen how we will fare as businessfolks, but I know it will not be my strongest quality...
We have taken one huge step to fullfill one part of a twopart dream by moving to rural Sweden. I feel now is the time to make the second and complete the picture and become semi-independent, whilst giving something back to the world by providing people with good food and cutting down on the overall ecological footprint, making our world a little bit better.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The last day of winter!

This was supposed to be a great write up about the last day of winter with lots of outside pictures of frost and snow and white awesomeness, but......
That did not happen, allthough untill last night I was actually planning on it. But then, later that night and this morning all sorts of reasons and excuses stated to pop up not to go. One of those reasons is that it actually is my son's birthday today. He turns 13, so I am now officially the father of a teenager and officially and old nag.
But the real reason actually is that I want winter to be over. I do not want to frolic around in the snow anymore and I do not want the cold to last. I want it gone! Spring is all around us and we had a good deal of it last week, before Jack Frost launched his final offensive bombarding us with loads of snow and dropping temperatures. So no real reason to enjoy it any longer. Than why the last day of winter? Because today is the last day that temperatures will remain below freezing all day and we are expecting a load of snow... again. Up to 10cm of it. However it was not nearly as cold as predicted. The -16C was altered into a -9 to -10, but the thermometer never sank below -7.
But spring is forecast to be back by the weekend! And it looks like it will stay here after that.

Another reason is that due to the seasonal change I feel fatigued and a bit devoid of energy and vitality. Happens every year, but thankfully it is not nearly as bad as it used to be. I did not suffer from mental depressions or anything, but I still do feel it fysically. My batteries need more than just a few days of solar recharging. Yet I am also urgeing to get going again. I want to go out and work in the garden... actually more than I want to go out into the woods.

So spent the day doing some chores, looking at the birds and seeing more and more species returning. This week we could add the stare (Sturnus vulgaris) , the bofink (Fringilla coelebs) and we saw a small, brown bird of prey swooping through the garden and in between the trees. Judging by the description it could have been a stenfalk (Falco columbarius), but we can not confirm that.... yet.
The image to the left comes from www.avibirds.com and depicts the shape, size and colour quite good to the upper right.
During a brief and unexpectedly warm period yesterday afternoon, while sitting on out balcony, we heard the duvhök calling again and it received and answer from quite a distance away! I guess from the other side of the lake.

I hope that the returning sun and higher temperatures not only will boost my will to do gardenwork, but also provide me with power to shorten my very long projectlist. I made a "short" inventory of all the things I have been working on, planned and lying around. Having my mancave, a "place of my own", where everything gets dumped into, while passing it, does not really help to keep things organised and create a fun workingplace either. I myself am guilty of that too....

And to give this vaguely outdoorsrelated post at least a little significance I'll add a touch of gear and want to show you our latest acquisition; a set of steelstrikers!
Our blacksmithing friend Erik Vargtand at Svartkonst made them for us. It was a learning experience for him too, since these are his first. We gave him a picture of what we would like to have, but other than that we left it up to him. He came up with this design, which holds a little twist; a bottleopener at one end! He also personalised them by punching in my wife's and my name. It is a unique and matching set.
My wife won a 500kr cheque last year during an event, that's called Konstspaning, where local artists open their workplaces to the general public and show their work. With that cheque you could pay anyone of those artists and we chose to ask him. This way we could at least support a local artist and craftsman.
Tack Erik!!

So you might ask yourself ;"What the hell have you been doing??" So do I....
Well, I've been reading a lot. After I finished Jean. M. Auel's Earth's Children series in English the previous winter, I got myself the Swedish-version too. At least part 1-5 and that was good for 3300 pages of readingmaterial in a foreign language.... It does take it's time, but it does boost my knowledge and understanding of the language as well. There'll be a review on the series soon as well as on other books I have been sinking my teeth in..
I know I promissed that before, so I better keep it this time!

And it's still snowing.....

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spending time with my son in the woods

Today saw the converging of some circumstances that made it possible for me to spend some qualitytime with my son in the woods; the weather was good, he had a day off from school, the ladies of the family were of to work or school, so we could spend some time alone AND he actually felt like going.
So after the ladies left, we got our things and went... The sun was shining, birds were calling and it was just an overall great springday. We decided to take an appropriate route, called Svensvägen.

We found some really great and fresh badgertracks. First ones I've seen around here. Sven also had a first experience; drinking water straight from the source! We found this stream of meltwater; chrystalclear and stonecold!

During our hike we found the remains of an old kolarkoja (coaler's cabin). The fireplace still was in great shape. If we'd had cleared the chimney we could have used it right away. The ridge in front of the Sven is a remaining wallsection. A bit further into the woods we found a place which I believe to be the site of the kiln; flat, round and no vegetation.

At one point we came across a clearing and we noticed that as soon as the treeline was passed, there was snow remaining on the ground, which was quite remarkable, since the clearing was laying in sun. We walked onto that clearing, sat on some rocks and soaked in the sun..... We used the opportunity to have a little meal and I dropped one of the eggs we brought along. Yet that did survive its fall, due to the container it was being transported in; an empty, plastic spicecontainer. I used that trick a few years ago for the first time and now it came in handy! The raw egg was cracked a bit, but still in one piece and useable. The container bears the scar of the rocksedge it landed on.
While sitting there and just talking a bit, I spotted a large bird gliding through the air.... The buzzards are back!

After the break we moved on, scouting out new parts of the woods. I had left the map at home and since we did not know the terrain we kept to the tracks made by the woodcutters machines, both new and old. After a while we were getting hungry. We figured that the "nearby" viewpoint would be a good spot for lunch, but that still meant a good hours walk at least. It has a fireplace, plenty of wood and would be facing the sun, so more vitamin D to take on board.
We saw quite a bit of animalsigns today; moose tracks, droppings and feedingsigns. Even a very fresh track, having crossed a dirtroad after we had passed that place and we discovered the fresh imprints on our way back, heading toward the viewpoint.
As we were on our way, Sven discovered a sign I had not seen before. It showed a significant shortcut to the viewpoint. I allways thought that path belonged to someone else's driveway, but it turned out to be not. So we took that path. It should be a 400meter hike, instead of a 3km one. The terrain however was "slightly" more challenging, but all the more worth it!

As my son saw me...
When we reached the viewpoint, which had wood and a small hatchet present, we prepared lunch, boiled the eggs and made tea. Sven had brought his old German army messkit and I my Dutch army canteen. We took it easy for quite a while, sitting in the sun, relaxing, chatting and I learned him a few tricks, such as making a brush from a birchtwig and how to use it as a dishes brush, together with the ashes from the fire. He then made a brush for himself, pounding the twigend with the backside of the hatchet.
I had brought my binoculars and they came in handy. We looked at the terrain around and below us and watched first one, then two buzzards gliding through the air. I am sure one of them we had seen earlier.

After lunch we took the long way home. We were getting tired, especially Sven, since we did not just casually stroll through the woods, but kept a bit of a pace. He certainly is not used to this kind of exercise. But we both had enjoyed it and each other's company.....
Days like this make good memories!

Passing one of the many miningholes on our way home and we made it just before my oldest daughter came home from school. Good timing.. ;)

Some of today's afterthoughts;
Small boys get bigger real quick! Sven was wearing one of the Dutch army jackets I wore in service some 25 years ago! Whilst I was wearing the matching pants and noticed that these were starting to fall apart literally, the jackets are still going strong. So I can pass some of my own old military gear down to him. I somehow think that that is a bit special... He also loved the daypack, so that is his now as well.

Spending such a day with someone else is great fun. Sharing trouble is half the trouble, but sharing fun is double the fun.

I really like the canteen from Sven's German messkit. It is an aluminium one with a large bottleneck and an cap that has a wider screwthread which makes it easy to open and close. The water it contained tasted a lot better than the water from my plastic bottle, too.

My bag was loaded to heavy. I need to carry the waterbottle separately in order to reduce bulk and weight. Adding a wider shoulderpad is on the to-do-list too.

The belt was handy in winterconditions, but cumbersome in warmer weather, when you want to take off layers of clothing. I think I will transfer some "essentials" to the bag, but most of them can easily be left in the pouches, since I have doubles or can easily make or get them. I'll have to think that over.


And after having spent a good portion of my day with my son, I ended up spending a part of the afternoon with my oldets daughter.....helping her baking cupcakes..... The life of a dad can be full of surprises.....

And while I am at it, I want to show you something our red cat caught, and I saved, yesterday....
Me and the Mss were strolling though the garden, looking at all the signs of spring and watching him hunt and catch something. Something that did not look like the usual mouse or vole!

Pay attention to that look in its eyes!

Is it a beauty or what

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is here!!

This morning we got the final confirmation by a passing flock of cranes over oue house; spring is here!!
And with them they brought the sun and warmth!
we had a very sunny day today and temperatures rose to above 10C.

The signs have been all around us and quite visible for a few weeks now.
We saw a woodpigeon on very rainy, cold and miserable thursday, februari 21st, male blackbirds a few days later, a couple of swans on the first day of marchand the last week we heard and saw geese.
The snowdrops started blooming on march 4th, followed by crosuses 2 days later. But in between, on februari 21st, Jack Frost flexed his muscles one last time by dumping a good 20cm of thick, heavy, wet snow on us, followed by a good thaw the next day and a strange sunset through the clouds, casting the world in a saturated, deep reddish pink light. very surreal!
And as an encore we were visited by a large group of sidensvansar (Bohemian waxwings or Bombycilla garrulus) You can actually hear the group moving!
The first day of gardeningwork is a fact too and so is the reminder that the body slips out of shape after a "winter" of inactivity.
Yesterday I also had the pleasure of meeting the couple that used to keep bees and grow herbs and medicinal plants on a commercial basis and it turned out that we do have quite a lot in common. It was quite a pleasant meeting and when we left, both my wife and I had the strange feeling that they had been probing and reaching out to see if there would be possibilities for a future cooperation in said fields. I also left with the assurance that I'd be welcome to come over and tag along and learn about it all, when the season starts in about 4 weeks.
All in all very interesting and exciting times!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Peeing in the woods by Melinda Palmer

After our familyhike of januari 12th, seen here, I stumbled across an article which regards the female side of natural necessities in the woods. It is an article by a Mrs. Dirty, who wrote about that in her blog. I asked for her permission to share that article, yet received neither permission nor was I denied it.
So I'll just post it anyway. The info and the article are to good not to be share and since I am shortening my "to-be-published-someday-list" I might as well add it today, too...

*update 2014-03-06; just got the confirmation and approval from the author.
Thanks Mrs. Dirty!*


Peeing in the Woods

" Let’s face it. Whether we like talking about it or not, everyone who has ever ventured into the woods for a significant amount of time must eventually pee in the woods. It’s going to happen…unless you are severely dehydrated, which I do not recommend. For boys, like Mr. Dirty, this is such a small issue that it doesn’t event register on his radar as an issue. Boys are taught to pee on trees from a very young age. In fact, our son – Dirty Boy – went through a stage (when he was 2… not recently) in which he would ONLY pee outdoors. It disturbed the neighbors so we had to put up a privacy fence. For those of us who are less equipped for the situation (read: females), peeing in the woods can be traumatic. The misters who are reading this right now are probably thinking that I’m over exaggerating by using the word “traumatic.” Trust me, guys, I chose that word for a reason. Want an example?
Just this summer, Mr. Dirty & I took Dirty Boy and his friend (shall we call him Dirty Friend? I don’t think he would be offended) on a short backpacking trip to one of our favorite destinations: Panther Creek Falls in North Georgia. The trip was amazing. We pitched our hammocks right beside a large gazing rock that overlooked a small series of falls. It was perfect. Perfect weather, perfect food, perfect setting, perfect company. In summation, it was perfect. Except for the peeing in the woods part. Before I climbed my worn & weary body into my well hung hammock for the night, I had to venture far into the dark woods to pee. Did I mention that the woods were dark? I grabbed my yellow bandana (reusable toilet paper – just wash & dry) and forded a HUGE stream – okay, now I’m exaggerating. I hopped over this tiny stream to find a nice secluded spot, well off the trail and away from the water source, where I could do my business. I found an awesome spot with a downed tree that I could use to balance in order to avoid peeing on my shoes. It’s not as easy as guys might think. JUST as I was unzipping my pants and they were traveling to my knees, from behind me came a low but steady growl. It makes the hairs on my arms stand up when I even think about it! Needless to say, I whipped my pants up and took off running. I jumped that stream like I was Lolo Jones at the London Olympics!! All of the boys on our trip like to tease me about it being a rabid squirrel, but I know in my heart of hearts that it was something much bigger and with scarier teeth than that! After that trip, I made it my mission to find an easier way to pee in the woods.
I researched hiking in skirts – with or without undies. I was all set to go sans skivvies until my lovely mother informed me that I would be quite miserable if I happened to get ticks in places where ticks should never go. Thanks, mom. I had already purchased a few running skirts for my upcoming section hike of the Appalachian Trail. These are awesome skirts. They wick moisture & are quick drying. At the time, I planned to remove the inner compression short so that peeing in the woods would be an easier task. But that was before my conversation with mom – who, by the way, thinks I have lost my ever loving mind.
As I was stalking the trail journal of a female AT thru hiker, I came upon the mention of a certain product that I never knew existed: the pee funnel. Apparently, this is a big industry! A quick perusal of Amazon.com brought multiple options for how to pee in the woods ranging in price from $8 to $30. Being the cheapskate that my mother raised me to be (thanks again, mom), I knew that I had to find a cheaper alternative. Off to Wally World I went in search of a funnel that I could use as my very own pee funnel.
My search of the Wally World shelves made me feel a bit like Goldilocks. The first one I found was much too wide. It was bigger than both of my hands splayed side by side. It simply wouldn’t work. The second one was too long & much too phallic-looking. I could imagine the looks and comments that I would receive with THAT thing attached to the outside of my pack! The third one that I found was – as we all know from the story – just right.
“What funnel did you find, Mrs. Dirty?” you may be asking. Well, in the camping section of my local Walmart, I found Coghlan’s fuel filter funnel… (also available on Amazon.com)!! Let me tell you about this funnel. It is made of a yellow (love it!) polypropylene and is 2.25 inches in diameter. The best part is that it only weighs half an ounce and comes with a handy little chain that I can use to attach it to a small carabineer for hanging on my pack. I didn’t measure it; I promise. I looked it up.

Yesterday, Mr. Dirty & I went out for a small hike at our local state park. I wore my new North Face Cirque-U-Late running skirt – which I highly recommend for its total awesomeness.

When the need arose to pee in the woods, it was magical & completely liberating! What is to follow may be a little TMI for some of you (read: guys), but the ladies will want to know. So here goes. The compression shorts under the running skirt are very easy to move to the side; therefore, enabling the use of the pee funnel. I didn’t need to remove my pack to pee. I didn’t need to expose my backside to bears, bugs, boys, or baneful botanicals (read: poison ivy or poison oak… I needed another “b” word to keep up the alliteration). Another bonus of using the pee funnel, which I have dubbed the shenis (don’t judge, just laugh), is that it cut down on wasted time on the trail. We covered more ground in less time.
I highly encourage any hiker who is feeling emboldened to purchase a pee funnel. Yes, I said ANY hiker. Guys, help your lady hiker friend out… gift her with a pee funnel. Ladies, get you a pee funnel. It’s equal to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution."

Thoughts on snowshoes

I am no skier... yet, but I do need some (easy) means to propel myself in snowcovered terrain. The easiest way to do that would be with snowshoes. However I do find very little on the subject here in Sweden. Appearantly it is all skis around here, yet some internetdigging brought some interesting iformation to the surface. Gustav Vasa appearantly used them when he was caught by people from Dalarna, while he was moving toward Norway. I found a bit of information about the use of snowshoes in Sweden at around 1500, but other than that information seems to be sparse.... or well hidden.
What I found seems to originate from "Olaus Magnus Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus, bok IV, kap. 13", according to http://blog.svd.se/

I kept looking for images too and strangely enough I found it all at a site called Digitalt Museum.
The following images come from their databank and give some idea on shape, size and materials used.

A snowshoe belonging to the collection of friherre Emanuel Thure Cederströms (1848 - 1920), which he donated to the university of Uppsala in 1918. I could not find anymore information on this type, how it was used etc.
Info on this snowshoe here
A type of snowshoe from the Sundsvall museum. It doesn't look awefully hard to make and I suspect it actually does increase flotation on the snow. No info on how old it is or where exactly is originates from.
I found another, similar one, with more space between the slats and that originates from Uppland 1912
info on this type here
I love the next one!
Appearantly produced between 1850 en 1900 and can be found in the armémuseum, so it obviously has a military origin. The design of the shoe itself is very similar to WW2 snowshoes as used by The Brittish, US and even Germany.
How the ski would make going easier..... I don't know.
Info here
The next one dates from 1940 and was donated to the armémuseum by Försvarets Materialverk, meaning Defence matérialfactory.
It is made from a metal frame with weaved leather strands. Length 780mm. Width 300mm
The snösko fm/1968. There are version with a metal frame and bambuframe. The webbing is woven cloth.
If I chose to get snowshoes, and I most löikely will, it will be this type. It seems to provide better floatation, the webbing is not so much prone to damage or distortion by wet conditions and it just seems a better type for negotiating filling and rocky terrain. They do come with cleats, if I am informed correctly.
You'll find even snowshoes for horses in Sweden;

Swedes in Canada

Reflections on my night out...

A memo to me.....

- Sled; worked great and is large enough for trips like this one. I had plenty of room for all the things, but I need to rearrange them. No more framed backpack, because that one ruined the sledcover. If I want to go real wintercamping I will need a bigger one in order to take the sleepingbag (that I will be having), a tent, a tentstove and other extras that a multidaytrip would require. If I'd pile it all onto the little one, it would become topheavy, so prone to topling over and too much weight on a small contactsurface. But first I will start to fix the damages this one has, so I can take it out more often. Maybe I'll just take off the entire topsection of the cloth or even the entire cloth and redo it, if that is possible.
A small sled works good on the rough terrain, but the long poles make it quite difficult to make short turns. I guess these are meant for use with skis, so maybe I'll make sorter ones for use on foot. The poles I have are incomplete and damaged anyway.
- Blankets; Nice on my bed at home, virtually useless in winterconditions. This setup might work in a heated enviroment, but out in the cold not that comfy. I must say that the blankets used feel more like summeritems than winteritems. They are not all that thick and fluffly. Maybe sewing them into tubes, sliding them in one another, adding a canvas cover and a flanel innerbag would increase their insulatingcapacities, so the swagidea is still on the to-do-list.
- Water; the metal canteen next to the fire worked. The water would warm up fast enough to not mess up my stomage. I think I need to carry my canteen on my body instead of hanging it from my belt. Maybe a loop around my neck to hang it in front of my chest? I will want to bring more water with me, but how to keep it from freezing, while on the move? An all steel thermos might do the trick, I think.
The small oval canteen is good for on the move-use, but I really need to get that old British one fixed up! It's bigger and has a flat bottom.
- Use of time; moving, making camp, doing campchores.... it all took much more time than I thought. Actual travellingtime- and distance in winter is at least cut in half.
- Snowshoes; I have a sneaking suspicion that the long traditional (American/Indian) style snowshoes will not work in this terrain; far too uneven and rocky and not enough snow to level that. I fear that travelling this terrain might damage or even cause them to break. Maybe those smaller ovalshaped bearpaw-styled ones might work. Plus traditional ones might get badly damaged when thaw sets in. I dug up some info on Swedish snowshoes researching this subject, but I'll put that in a separate post. far too interesting to do it just here... and it makes it easier to find the info, not just for me.

How did people travel this sort of terrain with skis??

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All good things come to an end..... A wonderfull morning in the field. Picture heavy!!

This morning I went for, what appears to be, the last hike for this winter.... as far as we have had any winter. In my previous posts you can read why. According to the forecasts this would be the last, true winterday with temperatures of about -6 up to around freezing at midday.
After the kids were off to school and the mss. off to work and gym, I headed out towards the busstop to pick someone up. He is one of the scoutassistants of the scoutinggroup I help out and we were supposed to meet at 08:00. The plan was to both take our cameras along, have a hike around, shoot some pictures and have a warm lunch. I waited untill 08:15, but he did not show up. So I took off on my own.... and knowing from the get go, that I made a wrong decision regarding the clothes... It was no where near as cold as predicted or at least it did not feel like that and those winterboots were a size too big and roomy for my liking, with just one pair of socks. Didn't want to turn back right at the start, so I figured I would just make due.

I walked a short bit along the road next to the lake to the east of us and the sun started rising behind my back. It was a great experience to hike into the sunrise again, seeing the line of light approaching me and then crossing it. I stopped at the edge of the lake to take some pictures..... and got startled as the lake suddenly gave of a loud noice! It sounded like a distant rumbling thunder, yet I could here that thunder travelling through the ice for some distance! Weird... Never heard anything like that before! It did that several times with sounds ranging from the thunderlike one to some moans and groans and an occassional loud crack. The surface of the lake had a strange, wavelike surface. I guess from the thawing and refreezing.

Then I headed toward a known route toward the western lake, but quite at the beginning I decided to do things differently today; I was going to follow the edge of the lake cross country. Never did that before, so I was curious to see what that might bring. It sure would make some great pictures!
The going was a little tougher than I had expected. A lot of the lakeside is made up out of grassy fields, so the underground was knobby en lumpy, covered by refrozen snow and ice. I had to cross some ditches as I went along, knowing or suspecting that there would be icesheets underneath the snow and probably some water underneath the icesheets, so care was to be taken. The icy snowcrust had one serious disadvantage; while it supported my weight, when standing on it, walking across it was troublesome, because the moment I propelled myself forward, the foot, with which I did the propelling immediately broke through the crust, ending up 10cm below the surface.
I came across the usual hare-, deer- and foxtracks, but those were barely recognisable as such, due to the thaw of late. This lake too made noices, but not as loud and more supressed. It made more whoopp-whoopp-like sounds as if someone was bending sheets of metal.
A bit furtherdown the shore I suddenly spotted a darkgreen shape. Turned out to be an upturned canoe and some lobstertraps... all waiting untill the ice would release the lake again, so they could take to the water once more.

I continued to trudge along the shoreline, incidentally veering a bit off into the fields, when the going looked to become treacherous. I did not trust the ice anymore and reports have stated the ice across all of Dalarna was in a general bad shape. A definite no-go!
The western lake has a distinct peninsula in it and I wanted to walk up to the very tip of that, just to see what it was like. From a distance one can see a group of larger pines and birches, but it also looked like those were situated on top of a small hill. Right at the beginning of the peninsula I came across moosesigns; droppings, but older ones. I walked on towards the treegroup, which seemed to be so close, when looking from "our" side of the lake.... Going over land the distance turned out to be a bit longer! yet, when I was getting close, I was starting to feel a bit of a stinging feeling, just below the outerside of the right ankle and I knew what that was... either a developing blister or that patch of skin was being rubbed sore...
When I reached said spot I was pleasantly surprised by its appreance; the trees were indeed quite large, the ground was snowfree and defrosted, the terrain was hilly with large bolders and above all... it was sunny! So I decided to take a break. I took off the backpack, hat and mittens and just sat there for a while. It was so peacefull and silent.... No wait, not silent. I could hear the ice, the wind, a goshawk in the distance, several blue- and greattits, a crow.... and a few minutes later an approaching helicopter, whose rotorsounds boomed across the frozen lake. It flew high, yet very slow, almost in a hover and the tranquil moment was shot to pieces....
With the mood ruined I decided to do a gearfotoshoot, knowing I would be putting most of it away soon.

This gives a bit of an idea of the groundconditions

I can not decide which one I like best...

After the shoot I got dressed again, feeling the still cold and increasing wind. The gentle breeze had lost a bit of its gentleness, here on the peninsula. I kept following the shoreline, knowing it would reach a forestroad later on. There was a small island situated, which, in the light of the sun, would make for some nice pictures, too.

A hidden surprise underneath the snow

plenty of thawwater all around
My favorite picture of the day!!

Ice and frost create amazing patterns

At this point I decided to head "in land" more, heading for a small island of old pines in the middle of younger growth. There is a "road" heading towards that island and encircles it. I had been there before. On the way there I saw very clear foxprints, including the nails. Funny thing is that I did not make an imprint in the same snow, but stayed on top of it, so the tracks must have been older, yet kept their detail in spite of the thawing weather. No pictures, since by now the camera had shown me that the battery was going.... So I wanted to save it, since most know what a foxpawprint looks like.
Upon arrival on said island, my feet were really starting to become a bit of a problem. So I took of my boots for an inspection. The right ankle was quite a bit raw and the left large toe was feeling sensitive too at the point where it touches the boot. I hope I am not growing a corn there!
Then I got this crazy idea of putting my feet on the thawed moss. Well, actually more in.... I sank about 10cm... What a refreshing experience that was! Not just temperaturewise, but the sheer sensation of touching the soft, moist and quite fresh moss was excilerating. It felt so..... I don't know.... good. A bit of a childlike feeling of joy.... My feet were steaming in the sun and putting them into the moss made me feel reconnecting... After I had put my boots back on again, I just remained there, sitting in the sun, replenishing the serious lack of vitamin D and while I was there I had some food and water too.

On the way to and from this little island, there is this steep cliff, covered with old and large pines, between which large bolders and rocks are strewn. I got curious as to what might be up there, so I started climbing. The terrain wasn't the easiest to negotiate, but a challenge everyonce in a while is a good thing. The total hight is somewhere around 20-25 meters. This was not the smartest decision of the day... allthough in part it was too.
On top were more rocks and bolders.... well, actually just rocks and boulders, with nothing but holes inbetween, as if some giant has poured giantsized pebbles on a heap and over time these got covered by mosses and trees. And I found the same sort of ferns growing there upon the rocks, as it does in our backyard.
If the grassy, snow and icecovered terrain proved to be bad for your feet, while wearing loosefitting boots...

The way down was as laborious as the way up and I ended up on the lake's edge again, seeing what probably made that noice in the ice or at least part of it....

An then the battery died......

So there I was, no camera, so no pictures and that was the actual purpose of this trip, along with resupplying the vitamins S and FA (Sun & Fresh Air). It was around lunchtime, yet I somehow did not feel like going through the trouble of making a fire, brewing some coffee and making bacon and eggs...
No one ever accused me of being normal!
I decided to just head back home. I had done what I set out to do and I had enjoyed a wonderfull morning in the open air in peace, basked in sun, lifting that grey gloom of the past weeks.
Going by now however had become very uncomfortable and I was seriously overheating by now too. Allthough the forecast temperature should be about 0C, it was much warmer in the sun. A lesson I should have remembered, when looking at the thermometer on our balcony earlier this week. Yet I was wearing a t-shirt, a thick woolsweater and my anorak. Taking off layers, worked fine between the trees, but as soon as I came out in the open, the still cold wind, which by now had stopped being gentle and breezing, had picked up a notch, thus blowing straight through the woolsweater. I already had switched from Finnish hat to knitted wool hat and from mittens to thin gloves, but all of these now came off, same as the wool turtleneck. The anorak remained in place, as did the sweater. Without either one it was just plain cold.
On the upside I noticed that combining my belt & pouches with a backpack worked surprisingly well. The waistebelt of the pack settled on top of the large pouch and the combined weight rested comfortably on my pelvis.

So to me this surely was a morning well spent......