Sunday, October 3, 2010

Section hiking Rondanestien

As some of you might know, I'm planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2012, a 2650 mile trail that runs from the border to Mexico and all the way to the border to Canada. Why? you might ask, and plenty have done so when I've mentioned it. Well, ever since I graduated as a master of science in informatics in 2000, I've basically just been working and living a pretty standard life. I didn't even take a break when I graduated like many do - I just jumped straight into my first job and got going. By all means, I like my job, but somestimes it is scary how similar days, weeks and months are, sometimes to the point that I can't tell them apart. I think I really need to get out of the daily grind and take the time to experience something completely different, and that's where the PCT comes into the picture.

I know the PCT will be a huge challenge, so I'm trying to accumulate as much experience as possible before I leave. Lately I've begun section hiking "Rondanestien", a trail that starts in downtown Oslo (the capital of Norway) and then runs all the way to the center of Rondane, a beautiful mountaineous area with several peaks above 2000 meters. The trail is 430 kilometers (267 miles) long and is supposed to take 23 days. Since I don't have the time to thru-hike it, I'm doing it section by section with my friend and colleague, Glenn. We've so far done three sections and made it to a spot a couple of hours from "Eidsvoll verk".

We're both trying to keep the carried weight to a minimum, but since these are weekend trips we are not being hardcore about it, bringing for instance what we want in terms of food and drink. One way we've decreased weight though is by sharing a 3x3 meter polyester tarp which provides lots of space and protection for the two of us.

The pictures above are from the previous weekend when we hiked in pretty cold weather, and the first day in rain too. Our first pitch, though at a beautiful spot (loved waking up to the view there), gave us a chilly night. We should've pitched the right wall all the way to the ground to block the wind. Even Glenn in his winter bag inside of a bivy got a bit cold. The next night (second picture) was better, but I still got a miserable nights sleep, having my bivy sliding on the slippery surface of my Neoair and having no pillow since I wore it (my MYOG west) to be warmer. My quilt, the JRB Sierra Sniveler, is definitely warm enough, and gives great freedom of movement for a side sleeper like me, but I'm missing the cocoon feel of a mummy bag with zero drafts and less adjusting needed, so I'm therefore probably going to invest in a Western Mountaineering Ultralite next year which is rated down to -7 celisus - a bag which has gotten rave reviews and seems to be the most commonly used by thru-hikers of the PCT.

Getting a good nights sleep in the outdoors is something I'm working on, and is essential if I'm going to have a chance of completing a trail as long as the PCT. Last weekend I slept kinda ok the first night and like I said, miserably the second. That coupled with having been cold most of the day because of wet feet and more, brought me to a poor state. I've got to find a way to be comfortable at night and warm at all times during the day to keep my energy levels high.

I mentioned shoes - I've been a big fan of using trail runners this season, using them for instance in Rondane with no problem whatsoever. The difference this time was that my Sealskinz socks were ruined from a hole developing in the heel area, so I opted to go with just normal hiking socks. For some reason I chose to wear quite light socks too, the "Trail light" from Bridgedale I think, which are for "warmer conditions". This should prove to be bad setup. I didn't take long before my feet were soaked from walking in boggy conditions and my cold and wet feet started to sap my body warmth. Glenn lent me some thick pure wool socks which I wore on the inside with the Bridgedale on outside, which helped a lot since they provided a thicker layer of insulation and being wool they felt warm(er) even though they were wet. Still I would've preferred dry feet. Next time I will leave the trail runners behind and use boots, or maybe buy gore-tex oversocks and thick wool socks to use with the trail runners.

Hiking with Glenn has been great. A highlight on the last trip was when revealed that he had stealthily brought beers and potato chips!

I can't begin to describe how good that tastes at the end of a long day walking when you're thirsty, hungry and lost a lot of salt. Yummy!

I leave you with more pictures from the two trips, as well as my gear list for the last one. Take care and have a great week!

Jam 2, 2008 model I think. (great pack!, only miss hipbelt pockets) 624
Montane Halo Stretch eVent jacket (great!) 415
Mount Hardwear Epic rain/shell pant (main pant) 222
MYOG thru-hiker vest with Climashield Combat insulation (so light and warm!) 178
Beanie 62
Polar Buff 59
BPL Beartooth 277
Fleece gloves 69
Helly Hansen synthetic bottoms 141
Bridgedale hiking socks, wool and synthetic mix I think 55
Viking Tracker trail runners 1015
Integral Designs shortie gaiters66
Driducks rain jacket (to be used close to the fire to protect my shell from the sparks, but we never made one) 151
Montane Jetstream wind shirt 80
MLD rain mitts 31
Smartwool mid calf socks for sleeping 97
Stormberg synthetic long top191
Stormberg synthetic bottoms (didn't really need, but nice to use two long bottoms when I was really cold) 186
3m x 3m Dovrefjell Polyester tarp 733
Stakes 83
Tyvek Homewrap groundsheet 144
Tigoat Raven XL bivy 235
JRB Sierra Sniveller, stored in sea to summit 13L drybag 716
Neoair regular, carried in stuffsack 424
Recta thermometer and compass incl. Nite-ize biner13
Panasonic LX3 camera 261
3L Camelback with inline filter 357
Helsport rain cover (I have to admit that rain covers doesn't work, the pack gets wet eventually) 89
Sea to summit long handled aluminium spoon 11
Small stainless steel knife (should have left it at home and just used my Moira) 20
Moira Classic knife 52
Kuuksa 86
Downmat repair kit (Glenn borrowed my Exped Downmat 7) 14
Mesh wire bag 26
Powermonkey charger for the iPhone 84
Camera mount for the tigoat pole 8
Some extra guyline 10
Mini Bic 9
Petzl e+lite 27
Small cree flashlight, very bright (didn't really need it) 74
2 x grip-clips 10
Spinn stuff sack with: 6
Lightload towel 15
Toothbrush and tiny transparent jar with organic toothpaste 22
2 pack paper handkerchiefs 42
cleansing hand gel, small bottle 22
4 pcs paracetamol 2
Small bottle with a littel bit of dr.Bronners (didn't use) 15
Tigoat poles (not so happy with these, have ordered Fizan ones to replace them. Will probably sell the Tigoat ones) 234
(I started out with 1-1.5l water and about 2 kilos of food, and I of course wore some of the clothes in the list :). When I started my pack weighed about 9.5 kilos. Note that I didn't carry a stove or a pot. Glenn carried that for the both of us. )
- Biggest lesson learned: didn't bring the sealskinz socks since they're leaking in the heel area, so I had wet feet almost all the time which made me cold and miserable :-(. Didn't help that I brought too thin socks, the Bridgedale ones. Borrowed some pure wool ones from Glenn, my hiking buddy, and wore those with the Bridgedale ones on the outside, which helped, but too be honest I would have preferred heavier boots and dry feet. I will try some gore-tex socks to use with wool socks inside next time, or just wear boots
- Should have brought a mid layer that covered the arms, not just a vest. Will bring the Thermawrap parka next time, maybe some insulated pants too
- Neoair and tigoat bivy is a bad combo, slides all over the place


  1. Is there room in the bivy for the mat? I find it prevents a lot of draughts to have my mat and quilt all wrapped up in the bivy, although I guess if the bivy is tight it can prevent the quilt from lofting up enough?

  2. Actually, I haven't tried because I've read that it's a no go with my version of the bivy. They're (Tigoat) supposed to release a version that fits a Neoair, maybe they already have. And yes - the problem I think is that the quilt gets compressed.

  3. Great post again Thomas. Looks like a nice place for camping. I'm still looking for a low lying, forested area for my trip next week.

    As Tomas says, having all your sleeping system inside your bivy helps keep things much snugger. My first bivy was too small to have the mat inside it severely compressed the lost of my bag when I tried. I will be switching from my quilt to a sleeping bag again soon (also a WM Ultralite). The 'cocoon' feeling will be especially useful in winter (sometimes with a quilt on top in very cold temperatures).

    As for wet feet: I too love trail runners and thin socks but the time for that set-up is passing as Scandinavia heads towards winter. Gore Tex socks, thicker wool socks and slightly bigger trail runners is one option but when it starts to get colder and wet, slushy conditions I often switch to Gore Tex lined footwear, just lighter versions of it like Inov8, Salomon or Montrail mids & boots.

  4. Joe, thanks for yor comment. What Gore-Tex socks do you use? I've been wanting to try the inov-8 model that resembles a mid-height boot, but haven't been able to find a dealer that carries it in Oslo.

  5. Thomas - I use the Trekmates Amphibian Gore Tex socks but I would try to find some Rocky Gore Tex socks if you can. They appear to be more fitted and better for wearing during the day.

    I'm pretty sure that you can mail order Inov8's from Ultralight Outdoor Gear in the UK and have them still cost less than buying them here.

  6. Yes, I know, but then I would have to guess on which siz e would fit best. I would prefer to be able to try them on first. I know Løplabbet in Oslo has the trail runners from Inov-8 - I'll check if they sell the "boots" too, but I doubt it.

  7. Agreed Thomas, it's always best to try them on if you can but I know I take a 10.5UK in Inov8 shoes and will order one full size bigger (11.5UK) for winter (thicker socks and an extra insole). UOG are good with their return policy.

  8. Hi Thomas!
    Nice that your share your experiences and telling us also what did not work so well. Concerning the wet feet, how cold was it on this trip? I do not have that much experience of temperatures below 5C, but around then my feet started to become cold even when on the move. However, I'm not sure it's only the feet that are the problem. According to theory, when your torso gets cold you start to feel cold in your extremities as well. Maybe you should have had more clothes on while hiking too.
    On other thing to try is neoprene socks. They work even wet and with holes in them, but when you get to camp you still need something dry to have on your feet. I've heard from several places that SealSkinz are not so durable.

  9. Hi Gustav! Thanks for your comment. The temperature hovered around 5C with a cold breeze present most of the time. I definitely think I brought too little torso insulation - my thermawrap parka would've been great to have.

  10. I love the sleeping set up.
    And I really want to do the PCT one day - looks amazing.

  11. First off - congratulations on your decision to hike the PCT. I wish you the best and applaud your desire to take some time for yourself.

    I use a Neoair and a MLD superlight bivy and they also slide all over the place, mostly because I toss and turn a lot at night. Staking it out doesn't help. Not sure what the cure least the bivy keeps me on the pad all night (like a straight jacket.)