Tuesday, August 21, 2012


No, not from mafia thugs or an alien invasion, but from close encounters with condensation laden silnylon walls. I do love the Tarpent Moment, but being a single skin tent, and a small one at that, it is nice to have some protection.

Last morning on my trip to Krokskogen with Joe.
While in Slovenia this summer (UL Summit 2012) we had nights with no wind, high humidity and wet ground, perfect for condensation to form, and believe me it did. I remember watching the drops hanging from the roof of my tent, just waiting for a rain shower or a gust of wind to release them to a bold dive into my face or quilt. Great then that Tarptent offers a breathable, water resistant ripstop liner for the Moment and Rainbow/Double Rainbow. It attaches easily to existing hooks and loops.

After returning from Slovenia I quickly ordered liners for Helen´s Double Rainbow and my Moment. My first impression is very positive. I had anticipated to lose some of the available space in the tent, and I did, but not to an extent that it is a negative at all to me. It just feels natural to have it installed and I was surprised to feel some added warmth, but that may just be me imagining things.

After installing the liner in my Moment, and pre-attaching guylines on the sides, my Moment weighs in at 977g (excluding pegs). The cost of the liner is 30 dollars + shipping. From my first impression I highly recommend getting one, but I have of course yet to try mine in anger. I´ll report back soon :).

Please note that Moments manufactured prior to December 2010 lack two of the clips needed, but Tarptent provides them with the liner, including instructions on how to install them. It was quick and easy to sew them on. I used a sewing machine, but hand sewing works too.

22. August update

Henry Shires commented in an e-mail:

One quick note is that our documentation for the Moment liner is incorrect. We wrote that instruction sheet some time ago with the intention of actually manufacturing the two extra clips into the Moment at our Seattle factory.  That hasn't happened yet but we do install them here for people who order the Moment with liner (and send out clips for people who order liners retroactively).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Krokskogen loop with Joe

A weekend of bog hopping in my neighbourhood with my hiking buddy Joe Newton? After experiencing terrible weather and bug conditions in Vassfaret, hiking with Beni and Marco, I think Joe was looking forward to some sunny days in the forests and hills around Oslo.

My original intent was to take Joe to Østmarka so he could packraft and summit "Pølseberget" (Sausage mountain) which can only be done when the conditions are right and after years and years of study and mental preparation. Sausage mountain will always be there though, and I found I wanted to see if we could hike at higher altitude than we´ve done previously. The highest hills in Oslo reach up to 7-800 metres and they´re to be found in the northern area.

The book "Markas 150 beste sommerturer" described a loop of Krokskogen of 38 km which I thought looked suitable for us. Krokskogen is in the western part of Marka, an area I´d never hiked in before. From the pictures it looked interesting, offering some amazing views from the area around the hill "Gyrihaugen" (682 metres). So that´s what we ended up doing.

Joe arrived with the overnight train, trying desparately to catch some sleep while having two talkative and constantly moving italian women in the seat behind him. It didn´t help much then that NSB (national railway service) had graciously given him a luxurious kit consisting of a fleece blanket, ear plugs, eye mask and inflatable pillow. After my attempt at a fry-up at me and Helen´s place we headed downtown to find the bus to "Sollihøgda" ("T4 buss mot Hønefoss") where the trail starts. Didn´t find the bus stop in time so we had time for coffee and gear sightseeing before the next one. We almost lost the bus once more when it just drove by, the driver pointing at the other side of the street. Bolting through the heavy rain we got on the bus and we were off to a new hiking adventure. When we got off the bus at Sollihøgda we were dry again and eager to go.

It was great being on the trail again in the warm and sunny weather. A gentle breeze brought smells of flowers, grass, pine and heather to our noses. We weren´t in a big hurry so we took time to take pictures and shoot some video (I think Joe is putting one together later).

When we´re not shooting photos, we were catching up on recent events. It was very interesting to hear about the recent trip to Vassfaret. It sounded like they´d faced some really challenging conditions with awful weather and masses of bugs. I hope Beni and Marco will return to Norway at some point to have a nicer experience.

After a while we entered a lush area which reminded us both of the scenes from Endor. Joe did a Chewbacca impression which made made me laugh.

The trail is very varied, but it´s not the most maintained. Trees had fallen over it at places, some trail markings were in need of refreshing and so did some of the signs. We were now climbing steadily, closing in on Gyrihaugen and our planned camp close to a small lake.

The trail was at times muddy and boggy, but never as bad as last year when we hiked Jotunheimstien, after an especially wet summer, which also meant that the bugs had a lot of catching up to do - yes, that meant sucking blood form as many humans as possible in the shortest time possible. Believe me, we noticed. On this hike we didn´t see many mosquitoes, but the noseuums were out at times and were having a field day until we got out our headnets.

After a while we realized that we´d chosen the wrong trail at a junction, but that was a lucky coincidence as the trail went parallell with the cliff to the west of the hill. We were 5-10 meters from it but in a strange way I could feel the dropoff beyond the edge. The views were beautiful though with a sense of looking down at the landscape, like from an airplane.

It was great getting to camp, having some dinner and relaxing after a long day hiking.

View from camp.

I used my Tarptent Moment, Joe his SpinnTwinn and Yama 1.25 bug shelter.

Joe cooking dinner with his Ti-Tri. He did a good job, especially since he wasn´t using the Inferno insert with it.

We were both surprised to see the temperature drop to 4-5 C during the night, making it quite chilly. My "new second hand" Neoair short surprised me by leaking, even after I had repaired it the night before the hike and tested it. I ended up having to reinflate it 2-3 times during the night, not exactly helping warmth and sleep. Luckily I had brought a section of CCF to sit on that I could place under my torso for some extra insulation.

The next day was as beautiful weatherwise as the first. Joe even made me a steam baked muffin which combined with some nice coffee gave me a great start to the day!

Mmmmm, steamed baked chocolate muffin, gooey inside.

Close to camp there is a geographical feature that has been given the name "Mørkegangen", a spectacular crack in the hillside with a very steep path leading through it. A ferrata style metal hand rail has been placed on one side so that hikers have some support while going up. It´s not dangerous to walk up, but quite physically demanding since so much height has to be gained in such a short distance. After breakfast we decided to take a look it. We hiked maybe 500m and then arrived at the very top of it.  We´d talked to some locals the day before that said it´s not recommended to descend it, so we just watched the views and took some pictures. The drop down to the forest floor below is huge and it felt pretty exposed. I wouldn´t have brought kids up there for sure, or any person that isn´t predictable. For us two though it was a great experience. Fantastic views. I would never have guessed we have something like this near Oslo.

A scary place to stand.

All smiles, we continued on the trail, climbing up to the vantage point, Gyrihaugen, which provided views in all directions.

Tough going.
But well worth it for the views. Strange to see a lake/pond so close to the drop off beyond it.

The rest of the day was spent walking trails through the forest, now turning south towards our destination, Skansebakken. We saw very few people on the trail, in fact we only met 2 persons on the trail during the first day.

Lunch was had at Løvlia, a place that we hoped would provide waffels, cinnamon buns, soda and the like, but turned out to be closed for the summer and being taken over by sheep who had pooed all over the place. Still we found a bench and table where we could sit down and enjoy the sun and more of the savory, fatty raindeer sausage that Joe had brought. After a while a bird photographer turned up and joined us. He was just out for a day walk and had also believed the place to be open.

After lunch we studied the map and saw the blue fork and knife icon next to a place called Heggelia. Burgers and fries and other naughty food was on our mind as we closed in on that place some hours later, only to find out that they too only served food during winter. We could get some limonade the old lady said, but we passed on that offer, instead moving on to find camp. Turned out it was a long road walk to the place we had planned to camp, and then it started raining. After maybe half an hour the old lady came driving in her red car and gave us a lift to the lake "Søndre Heggelivann" where she said people use to camp. She had the heater on full and sitting in the front seat, close to the heater, I immediately started drying, steaming up part of the front window. We probably didn´t smell that great either :). After she dropped us off we spent quite a while finding a place to camp, ending up pitching in the forest and eating our dinner close to the lake.

Taste this! (Dates and apricot couscous with raindeer sausage, it was nice actually)

As I lay in my tent with the sun going down I had a great display of color and shapes on the tent fly.

The view wasn´t as nice the next morning when I had heaps of condensation, some of it dripping on me. No surprise really since the ground was damp from the rain shower the previous evening and since it was chilly and no wind. Going to get the liner for the Moment for these conditions.

Joe had condensation on his tarp too, which goes to show that ventilation isn´t enough under certain conditions.

We now only had 8 km to the finish line, so we again took time to shoot video and take pictures.

Joe setting up a video shot.
And so ends another great hike with Joe. I hope we get to hike again next summer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Red team, blue team

Getting to know and meet another lightweight (ultralightweight?) enhtusiast is a chance not to be missed, so when Tor Magnus asked if I wanted to hike with him in Nordmarka last weekend I jumped at the opportunity. We´d already been in contact through www.fjellforum.net where Tor Magnus eagerly spreads the message of small packs and big smiles.

Tor Magnus met me at work in downtown Oslo. Before heading out on the trail we filled some meths into our bottles, getting curious glances from my colleagues wondering why I was dressed for outdoorsy pursuits and refilling pink liquid :). I was quite impressed that Tor Magnus had been able to pack everything he needed into his huckePACKchen. Myself I´d reached for my red Golite Pinnacle the previous night, quickly filling it with what I needed for some proper glamping.

Since Tor Magnus needed to catch a flight back to the Netherlands on sunday we decided to start at Sognsvann and do a loop from there. Sognsvann and the area around it is maybe the place with the most foot traffic in the whole of Nordmarka, but since he hadn´t been there before I thought it made for a sensible choice for a weekend of hiking. The subway got us there quickly. Out the windows we saw the suburbs of Oslo pass by under a grey sky, just like the forecast had said. The forecast also said something about snow, but at the time I wasn´t completely convinced it would happen. I think it was more on Tor Magnus´ mind since he´d only brought a summer top quilt.

We got off the T-bane at the Sognsvann stop, put on an extra layer and hit the trail. Light, soft rain was in the air as we moved along the well-trodden trail. Since it was already quite late we aimed to camp next to the pond called Lille Åklungen, only a couple of miles from the station but still well into the forest. I had images in my mind from being there last summer and hoped to see no ice on the water, but it was still there.

This didn´t detract too much from our eagerness to pick the ideal campsite for our two hammock setups. One of the big attractions about hammocking is the almost limitless possibilities when enough trees are present. Put two slightly geeky outdoor people there with too much time on their hands and it´ll take quite some time to find the right trees and that feel good pitch.

Tor Magnus´ rig in front: a modified Hennesy Backpacker hammock, Hennessy hex tarp (nice). My rig in the back:  Warbonnet Blackbird hammock and OES Maccat Deluxe tarp.
After geeking out we went over to the lean-to that some previous visitors had set up, complete with a small fire ring Since it was cold and raining we decided to drape a tarp we found over it. Tor Magnus proceeded to build a small fire, displaying solid skills from his time as a scout (why wasn´t I one, dad?). Even though it was small it provided some much needed warmth and cheer. We had dinner and hot drinks while discussing gear (he´s even more into gear than me) and life in general.

Both tired from the week that had been we retired to our hammocks. In cold and wet weather like we had it always feels plain wrong to take of shoes and warm clothing, but it sure felt good to step into a world of down. I moved around quite a bit to find a nice position and after a while Tor Magnus let me know that he could feel everything I did since we were both anchored to the same tree :).

It took me a while to go to sleep and I woke several times during the night, sometimes a bit cold and sometimes to change my sleeping position. Didn´t get as much sleep as I wanted but what I got was good quality. A lie-in would have been nice, but around 0630 Tor Magnus started his day, quite evident to me because of the movement of the tree connecting our two hammocks. He proceeded to have breakfast from the hammock while still covered with down.

I spent some time looking at the surroundings which was now covered with a blanket of snow and snow was still in the air.

After having had breakfast and lots of hot drinks we proceeded to Store Åklungen and on to Ullevålsseter where *everyone* goes on sundays to have a coffee and a pastry.

We bought some coffee there from two older ladies who didn´t seem to be expecting guests that early, and then went out again to enjoy the sun. I laid my hammock out to dry since one of the ends had gotten a bit damp. My Pinnacle was a bit wet too since during the night snow flakes had slowly drifted sideways through the air, cheekily ignoring tight pitched catenary curves and landed on top of it where it was laying beneath my bum - the underside of my hammock that is.

Small birds, tame from all the encounters with people, darted to and from, trying to grab small crumbs where they could. It almost felt like cheating to be able to study them up close, being used to studying them from my living room window through binoculars.

We proceed northwards, aiming for Bjørnholt at the south end of the lake Bjørnsjøen. On the map Bjørnholt was shown with a blue cup icon so we hoped to see it staffed and offering hot coffee and a place to have lunch. The first leg was marked trail, but since it was quite slow going because of a thick snow layer, we opted to follow the forest road for a while.

After a while the forest road ended amidst a cluster of old buildings. My GPS told us that we could follow an unmarked trail to hook up with the blue trail to the north. We decided to trust electronics and satellites and was soon on the marked trail as promised. The first part was quite slow going though because of lots of trees that had succumbed to high winds and crashed down to block the trail. Nobody seemed to have bothered clearing the trail from all the debris which probably is because it isn´t the most travelled.

The northbound trail took us over a hill which sapped a lot of strength from us since we were postholing here and there and having to navigate some slippery bits.

Bjørnholt was finally in sight and we quickly located the cafe, finding it filled with all sorts of goodies but deserted. A nice fire was going in the big cast iron oven in the middle of the room. Nobody showed up so I went to the next house to locate the owner. She smiled and apologized for not being around. Lots of goodies were quickly bought and we enjoyed ourselves immensely lounging in front of the oven. A cat was there too, one of those cats with an extra toe which always makes me think of sail ships. It was white with speckles of black and with superbly soft fur. I enjoyed running my hand along its coat, thinking of my own cat which died a year ago. Soon after he was moving over to one of the other guests, making sure he felt at home too and at the end retired on a big pillow close to one of the walls.

Full and content we moved south, following the forest road again to be able to be at our camp close to Sognsvann in time. The weather was improving and we both enjoyed being out, but we were also mindful not be run down by the many mountain bikers which  were out too, speeding along the forest roads that criss-cross Nordmarka. We left the road and got onto to the trail again, following an unmarked trail that my GPS confidently said would take us where we wanted to be. A steep climb and descent took us to the pond where we had planned to camp, a nice nice place with few people passing by on the trail next to it, and with lots of dry wood to be found.

We had dinner and hot drinks and discussed the day that had been, both being quite content. I was pleased to hear Tor Magnus saying he´d had an excellent time on our first hike together.

The night was uneventful. I slept toasty warm after having adjusted my setup since the last night. Tor Magnus reported the next morning that he´d being a bit cold which was strange since he had been very comfortable the first night. A warmer top quilt is about to be ordered he said. I had some thoughts about gear too, but most of all I thought about giving my girlfriend a big hug when I got home. Ok, I have to admit that I thought about a warm shower, beer and crisps too.

A new layer of nice had started forming during the night.
So that´s how this little report ends. Wait a minute, you might wonder why the post is called red team and blue team? I think you´ll figure it out ;).

Have a great week!