As part of my plan to put together a video for every Wednesday in December, I decided to finish of a project I’ve been working on to tie all various bits of video from various trips I’ve been on into one montage.
Here you have “Welcome To My World“. If you can, I strongly recommend watching fullscreen in 1080p HD.
I recently got back from an epic backpacking adventure in Northern Sweden. It was essentially 12 days of walking through the Swedish mountains, in the Arctic Circle, on my own. Every day (ish) I made a video blog, and whilst I’ve not finished (not started actually!) processing the mass of photos and video I took, I’ve finally got this sorted and uploaded.
Take a look:
Update 1 – Day 1 – From Nissunjåkka campsite near Abisko
Update 2 – Day 2 – From wild camping just outside Abisko National park, ~2km from Abiskojaurestugorna
Update 3 – Day 3 – From wild camping 10km between Abiskojaurestugorna and Unnas Allakastugorna
Update 4 – Day 4 – From the woodshed – Unnas Allakastugorna
Update 5 – Day 5 – From the hut – Allejaurestugorna
Update 6 – Day 6 – From the hut – Tjäktja Stugorn
Update 7 – Day 7/8 – From the mountain and Nallostugan
Update 8 – Day 8/9 – From wild camping at top end of Vistas Vagge and Radugastugan Shelter
Update 9 – Day 9 – From outside the huts at Abiskojaure Stugan
Update 10 – Day 10/11 – From Nissunjåkka campsite near Abisko/Abisko
So despite many exciting stories, I’ve returned from Northern Sweden, better than ever.
Over the time I was there, I managed to amass about 80GB of photos (JPG not RAW) and video – that’s roughly equivalent to 57,000 floppy disks or 117 CDs. As my current storage capabilities at home need a bit of a refresh, there may be a slight delay whilst I process things, breath, and start to write things up.
When I first thought about going hiking in Northern Sweden, I had considered doing it in summer, with beautiful sunshine beating down, swimming in glacier fed lakes… In fact, I chose not to do it then because I didn’t fancy 24 hour sunlight if I was trying to camp in a tent…
In October, there will be no swimming lakes. With an average temperature of 5 degrees, it’s no exaggeration to say that this is probably going to be the toughest expedition yet, and to make things even better, I’ve barely prepared myself in terms of kit, let alone physically or psychologically.
In many ways, the trip that I suspect will have prepared me most was a 2 day epic in the Lake District in January, over a damp and very windy weekend, except longer, and hopefully not as grim.
As backpacking goes, I’ve dedicated an inordinate amount of weight to food, and cameras, whilst minimising weight on clothes. Let’s do a bit of a kit list:
Sleeping and Shelter:
- Mountain Equipment Xero 550 down sleeping bag
- Themorest Neoair
- Vango Helium 200
- Silk sleeping bag liner
Food and cooking
- 3 litre Platypus
- Trangia stove + 1 pan + 500ml meths + flint/steel spark lighter
- 1 plastic spork and two sharp knives
- 2KG spaghetti
- ~1KG of “just add water” ramen noodles and rice
- ~1.5 KG of cheese in one-per-day-sized sealed packets
- Tomato puree and salsa as ad-hoc sauce.
- 1kg of dried fruit
- 24 chocolate bars
Cameras and electronics
- Nokia N900 smartphone
- Sanyo CA100 + spare battery
- Propono external battery pack (fits above devices) + continental charger
- Canon 5D mkII + 24-205 f4 lens + camera bag
- About 88GB of CF storage and 16GB of SD storage
- 9 Canon batteries
- Glidecam XR 2000
- 3 quick drying lightweight t-shirt vests
- 2 lightweight/quick drying synthetic long sleeved shirt
- 2 cotton/slow drying thermal long sleeved shirt (thanks Zhelyo!)
- 2 pair of shorts and one pair of tracksuit bottoms
- 3 pairs of boxers
- 2 waterproof, windproof, breathable microfibre fleeces
- 1 pair of padded sallopettes
- 2 pairs of dual lining socks, 1 pair of fluffy ‘extra warm’ socks
- 1 pair of Raichle hiking boots
- 1 pair of fingerless neoprene sailing gloves
- 1 pair of thick, padded sailing gloves
- Osprey rucksack
- Whistle, compass, headtorch and spare batteries
- Collins SAS survival guide
- First aid kit (painkillers, general meds, plasters)
- General toiletries
- Space blanket and towel
- Ice Axe
- Glasses and sunglasses
So the big question: how much does it weigh? I’m not sure. More than would be completely comfortable, but I think I can optimise the weight distribution further to put some heavy stuff higher up my back. I tried wearing it round the house and running up and down stairs a few times with it on. Unsurprisingly, after 6 or 7 sprints up and down the stairs, I was a bit tired, but I think it’s probably a good sign – it wasn’t completely unachievable.
Clearly, in the time not spent walking, sleeping, eating or thinking, the cameras are my main source of entertainment. The mobile phone is largely going to be left switched off. It’s worth noting that, for me, this is a quite bold technological setup as it does not include a laptop. As strange as this may seem, almost every serious expedition I’ve been on, has included a laptop for battery/connectivity/extra storage reasons. This is not very efficient, so hopefully I can manage without it. It’s also worth noting that this is likely to be the longest time I will have spent without internet access for, years(?). We’ll see how that goes.
Clearly, with minimal clothes, I’ll be forced to do some washing of clothes – hence the preference for quick drying synthetics that will drip dry, even in cold weather. The gloves sound a bit unpromisingly, but work surprisingly well together. I’m a tiny bit nervous that an extreme burst of very cold weather, or very wet weather, I might not be very well prepared for, but I think I have effective waterproofs, and I think that in the event of cold, putting on the maximum layers (or simply pitching the tent and calling it a day) should work ok.
I’m flying to Stockholm Arlanda, then getting the 19 hour sleeper train from the airport station, to Abisko – a tiny hamlet, in the Artic Circle in Northern Sweden and the trailhead of the Kungsleden. My plan is to do a 12-13 day circuit to the south of Abisko, returning on the 15th to head back to Stockholm and Manchester.
One thing is for certain: this trip will be like nothing I’ve done before it. Probably.
The Swedish Tourist Association – read “Tourist Information” – which looks after all of the paths and trails had this gem on it’s website. Clearly, those annoying puzzles that have irritated school children and programmers for years about Foxes, Donkeys, rowing boats and rivers originated from Sweden, because this was actually on their website:
Rowing trails with at least one rowboat on each shore are located where the trails traverse larger watercourses or lakes. Those who use the boats are responsible to ensure that one boat is on each side of the water. This can mean that the rowing must be done three times.
First, you have to row over to the other side to get the boat there, row back with it in tow, pull this boat up on the shore to then row over again to the spot from where you will continue you hike.
In October, I’m going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for sometime. My plan is travel to northern Sweden to a place called Abisko in the Artic Circle and the walk southwards, on the long distance hiking trail called the Kungsleden (The Kings Trail), through one of Europe largest remaining wilderness areas.
I’ve no idea how far I’ll get, what detours I’ll take or any specific details, but the time is booked, the travel sorted. All I need to do now, is make sure I’m fit enough!
Bring it on!
…in Sweden we have the first political party, that, if you like, is allying itself with a particular age group – the Pirate Party.
I don’t think this is true. I mean sure, in Sweden there’s a political party called the Pirate Party, but it’s hardly focused on a specific age group.
Let me explain: actually, there are Pirate Parties in over 40 countries, inspired by the Swedes. In Germany, I was there for the run up to an election which saw the German Pirate Party get 14 seats in the State Parliament. So whilst Sweden was where the movement started and has had some success, (Sweden is represented in the European Parliament by two Pirate Party MEPs), the concept is hardly isolated.
In the UK, we have a Pirate Party. If you’ve read this blog before, you may have noticed that I’m currently the Education Spokesperson and that I contested the parliamentary seat of Manchester Gorton in the 2010 General Election.
I think it’s also worth thinking about the other point that Keri made; is the Pirate Party allying itself specifically with a certain age group? Rick Falkvinge – the founder of the Pirate Party movement – puts forward an interesting explanation:
As Rick says, “it’s a little bit more than that; let us explain” and I hope this post has helped people to understand and clarify the original statement.