Monday, May 17, 2010

24: Hakadal to Skar

This was a trip of many firsts: my first tarp+bivy experience, my first real overnight trip of the season and first trip with a new friend and colleague, plus some new gear to try for the first time. Read on to learn about the trip and the experiences we had with the gear we used and the conditions we faced.

My colleague Glenn and I had been talking about a bivy+tarp trip for some time and we were both psyched to go, so when the weather forecast turned out very poor we checked and rechecked to see if it would turn out better then it looked. Well, we got some short glimpses of blue sky the first evening, but other than that we faced rain, fog and very soggy ground. Anyway, we decided to go because we were so motivated. Glenn is very cool that way, talk about positive frame of mind! Not like my mum who after being told later about the trip said "Oh, that must have been awful". No mum, it was great in a rainy, soggy but high spirited way.

The route we chose, Hakadal to Skar, is a well know trip of maybe 15-20 km, traversing some of the nicest parts of the Oslomarka area. The highest point is close to 450-500 meters and most of the trip is well marked and well maintained trail. All in all a very nice walk. We took the train to Hakadal which took about 35 minutes, got off and put the rain cover on, and then proceeded down the road to the trail head.

Like I said, the ground was very soggy because of all the precipitation, but also because snow was still melting. I was wearing Viking trail runners without a membrane and Sealskinz socks and it turned out to be a great combo. I was dry and comfortable and traversed ponds, mud and snow like a 3 year old without worrying about getting wet.

We had a late start so after maybe 2-3 hours we made camp on a small hill not far from the trail. Spruce branches we're put on the ground to flatten things out to give a nice comfortable surface to sleep on, and then the SpinnTwinn went up, followed by bivies etc.

I had some problems getting the stake for the front line to stick in the ground, so I ended up laying a big rock on the stake.

Later that night I woke up with the tarp close to my face because it somehow came lose during the night. Must have been a freak blast of wind. Securely tied to a root of a small tree it stayed up the rest of the night without a problem.

After putting up the Spinntwinn, we put up an extra 3 x 3 metres tarp to use as a place to eat. That worked out great. Doing that under the Spinntwinn would have been too cramped. Mintuu (inspired by Hendrik), barbecued steak and sausages were had and we went to sleep full and content.

The night was not undisturbed, but I managed to get some hours sleep. Like I said the tarp went down once, but I also awoke some times because of condensation dripping onto my face when the wind shook the tarp occasionally. The condensation on the tarp was massive, not surprising since the air was very saturated and only a light wind blowing. After sunrise it started blowing more and the condensation evaporated, a good thing since it rained cats and dogs too. It's kind of fascinating to be laying dry and snug under a thin piece of fabric while it is raining hard. The tarp worked great, as well as my Ptarmigan bivy which experienced zero condensation buildup, an impressive feat considering the pro-condensation circumstances. It also proteced me from the condensation splashes, well the ones that were not hitting the bug netting that is.

This was also my first time using the JRB Sierra Sniveller and that worked out great too. I really like the freedom of movement a quilt provides. The night temperature of 10C was of course no match for since it is rated to 25-30F. Glenn used a winter bag and bivy and was toasty warm and snug too. He was being bugged by the bugs though and swore to get a bug net as soon as possible.

It was still pouring down when we got up in the morning and after packing everything and taking down the SpinnTwinn we went over to the other tarp to have breakfast.

(Glenn having a good time)

(me having a good time)

Porridge and hot sweet tea was had and we then walked onwards to Skar and the bus home. The original plan was to walk the whole day, but we decided to cut the trip short because of the conditions. On the way back we stopped by a couple of DNT cabins/shelters that Glenn hadn't seen before. Reading the visitors log we saw that some french people had stayed their that night and we're the ones we passed on the trail earlier. Too bad they got to see the area under such bad conditions, and not in a few weeks time when it'll probably be sunny and nice.

The last stretch down to the bus stop was like walking in a river. The snow melting caused the trail to be filled with running water.

So how did the gear work out:


Mountain Hardwear EPIC pants and jacket - kept me nice and dry, I left the pit zips open most of the trip to get maximum venting

BPL Merino Hoody - rocks as always

Ti-Tri Caldera Cone for the MSR 0.85 Titan Kettle - continues to impress me with its performance, ease of use and fuel economy.

GG SpinnTwinn - easy to set up nice and taught. Enough space for two hikers and their gear. Only nitpick was that it actually sagged a little when wet, something I thought Spinnaker didn't do.

Fleece gloves + MLD Event mitts kept my hands warm and dry


MYOG G4 : this was a BIG fail for me. After adding 3 litres of water (had to carry because of few good water sources) and food (0,5kg?) I had a total weight of 9.5kg when I left home. During the trip I couldn't get the pack to feel comfortable:

- the padding in the shoulder straps was insufficient and they were too narrow I think (I found out I've mad them 0.5 inch to narrow, but still)

- the lack of a sternum strap was apparent. I felt the need to use the tumb loops, but I want to have my hands free to use walking sticks. One of the thumb loops tore lose too

- the shoulder straps slid out of position because of the wet weather soaking the strap, so I had to constantly re-tighten them

- the hip belt is a joke, the padded part was too far back to make a difference, and when I tightened it I was forced to use the thumb loops to make the pack hug my back

I ended up carrying the pack without the hip belt attached, so the weight was mainly on my shoulders. This wasn't as bad on day 2 as the pack was lighter then without the water and some of the food.

I think some of these issues can be solved by packing the pack better. I didn't use a rolled up pad for structure for instance, only the z-lite in the pad holder. Maybe I should consider ordering the premade shoulder straps from thru-hiker to retrofit with. We'll see. Next time I'll be using the Mariposa Plus.

This was basically the only fail for me, so all in all my gear did ok :).

Hm, this ended up being a very long and detailed report. Let me know if you think it was too long and tedious to read.

Have a great week!


  1. Awesome report Thomas! Not 'tedious' at all. I like hearing about gear observations after trips.

    Aren't quilts great?! I don't think I'll be going back to a sleeping bag any time soon.

  2. Great report. I would also be interested in more detail as to the food cooked and eaten. I tend to try to only use grocery store things, not pre packaged dehydrated stuff. What is your preference?

  3. A great report Thomas, tarps are fun, I have never noticed any sag in my solo spinnaker tarp, maybe it is the larger area. I find it fascinating that you needed to carry extra water, it is a bit like me in southern Sweden, you expect there to be plenty of water, but low country does not have a lot of run off.

    Looking forward to the next report.

  4. harttj: on a multiday trip I would carry as much prepackaged dehydrated stuff as possible to keep the weight down, but still carry some morale boosting food like chocolate bars etc :). On this trip however we didn't care since it was only an overnighter, so we brought food for a barbecue, as well as some dehydrated porridge for breakfast.

    nielsen brown: we could've gotten water from still ponds, marshes etc., but then I think we would've had to use some kind of filter or water treatment agent. I don't have that kind of stuff, but will buy a system for it this summer to learn more about it. Do you have any recommendations?

  5. Hey Thomas,

    You're right about the need for a sternum strap on the G4. I planned that as an added modification before starting on my G4 since my previous heavier pack had it and I thought it would be necessary.

    Also, about the shoulder straps - the ribbon type material used to attach the bottom of the straps through the buckle is too slick for the buckle to properly grip it. I found out very quickly that the ribbon slips, loosening the straps. I had to tighten the straps every 15 minutes or so while hiking. Not a huge problem, but I plan on replacing the ribbon with nylon webbing that should grip better (per a recommendation from the G4 mailing list on Yahoo).

    Overall you were at a lower weight than me on my first overnighter with the G4 (I had about 14 kgs including about 3 liters of water) but I felt very comfortable. I hope you can figure out how to make that pack work for you.


  6. Scott: Thanks for your comment about your experiences with the G4. Yes, I will definitely see if I can make it work. Btw, do you have a pic of your completed pack? I am especially curious about how your shoulder straps and hipbelt look compared to mine.

  7. RE water, Thomas I have been using a Travel Tap from BPL UK, and have been happy with it until the last trip when it was evident that it was blocked/that is at the end of its life. I did not think I had used it that much. I reverted to a very fine mesh filter bag and micropur tablets. There was a taste in the water but otherwise fine. I have experimented with an Aquamira® Frontier Pro™ Water Filter and will possibly return to that. Either filter will remove the micropur taste which is nice.

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  9. Thomas, I've got photos of my pack on my Flickr:
    Let me know if you want any extra closeups.

  10. Scott: thanks, nice looking pack!

  11. Nielsen Brown: thanks for your comments about water filtration. I will take a close look at the aquamira. Gravity water filters is also on my radar.