Lightening up again, more tracks in the last of the snow.

My normal Swedish trips involve me chucking handfulls of gear into the back of the car while shouting goodbyes at my fiancé on Friday evening and tearing off down the road hoping there’s nothing forgotten. For Norway I knew I might have to drive ten hours back if I did leave something important behind, like shoes or food, which acts as a solid incentive to make a list and check it twice. This unusual levl of preparation allows for a lot of analysis, especially regarding weight. Last time I cut weight with a nice titanium spork, which did leave me a few grams lighter, although I’m really not sure about the benefits of titanium over plastic. A plastic spork costs less and is surprisingly resilient, they come in a variety of nice bright primary colours (do they design them for kindergartens?) and if it breaks, it can be easily recycled and you could replace it ten times before coming close to the price of a titanium spork. I think the price difference is just due to peer perception, it’s hard to flash our cash on the hiking trail so we buy titanium sporks and carbon-fibre pimp-canes. I like the size the foldable Ti-spork packs down to though, so my plastic sporks are only used by sporkless friends (should I even call them friends if they don’t own a spork?), and the titanium one is packed down for every trip.
For this Norway trip I turned again to titanium, this time to replace some cooking gear. What I normally bring on a trip is shown below, an aluminium Trangia pot, kettle and lid, coming in at 250 g.
I usually have the little Trangia pot holder too, another 50 g. You might scoff at bringing along a kettle instead of just using the pan, but we Irish must have at least ten cups of tea a day – anything less and we begin to get cold sweats and blackouts.
Enter the replacement, a Primus titanium pot and lid, weighting in at 140 g.
It comes with a little light Ti-micron gas burner, which weights in at around 100 g and has a lovely little push-button igniter. I always have a firesteel along, so the igniter might seem superfluous, but actually it’s so handy to have it’s worth the few grammes. Gas can be stopped and started at will with no effort, rather than the usual kerfuffle with the firesteel.
So altogether my new kitchen weights less with the burner included than my old one did without. I took it for a test drive out in Dalarna. It’s supposedly the Swedish redneck area, and the bullet-holed traffic signs backed that up.
The last heavy winter snow had recently fallen, and the access roads were not yet ploughed, so it was a long six hour ski to get in to the valley I wanted to camp at. Nothing to get me down though, I can never get enough of Winter and relished the idea of having to ski along a blocked road.
Road signs buried up to the arse, where’s the plough-man at?
Excellent conditions for tracks, feel free to guess what the hell left these ones below. I’m guessing a turkey that had it’s feet cuffed together and was trying to hop away from the turkey police. Maybe he had done something fowl! The basket on my poles is for scale and is 12.5 cm in diameter.
Adorably cute tracks of a vole or mouse or a tiny little hobbit.
Also fresh moose tracks. The snow was typical late Spring snow, super sticky and wet, perfect for tracks. A bitch to ski through though.
I have no idea what the hell this following print is. My fiancé said it was a bear, but I think she was just being nice to me.


Shitty spring snow was so sticky and disgustingly thick I had to ski along the edge of the road in the shade to get any kind of glide. I think this time of the year is the time of the year all the Swedes put klister (crazy sticky ski wax/glue) on their skis, but from what I’ve heard about the performance of klister, it’s as useful and a lot cleaner to spread peanut butter all over yourself and your skis than to use klister, so I stuck to my grip tape and soon was carrying 10 kg blocks of sticky snow on the bottom of each ski.
Once I got off the road and headed across the valleys, I found some beautiful little burrows. Each one had a lovely track of a wing outside it.One of them even had a little shit inside the burrow! Naughty little bird couldn’t hold it in. I have checked with some experts and gotten the verdict of Lagopus! What a lovely track they have left!

The snow was truly shit to ski in, but every track was perfect, this kind of soft sticky snow was a perfect canvas for animal feet.As I got closer to the forest a burst of sound hit me and a huge fat cock-pheasant flew up from my feet, but was lost in the trees before I could fumble my camera out from my jacket. He had left this amazingly telling track, which completely illustrates the delight tracks bring me. His fat little seat on the left, where he was resting, then his leap forward onto one foot, a smash of his powerful wings, and a final brush-goodbye of his wing-tips. A tale of departure reliefed in snow. I found a spot to play in, and took out my new toys. I had been inspired by this post from light as possible, in which the dude makes a supremely beautiful and minimal heat reflector for his stove, so I had hacked at a piece of tinfoil for a minute and squished it around my stove, you can see it below in all its beauty. Along with a sneaky bottle of Jameson. They say it’s bad to drink alone, but what else can make instant coffee palatable I ask you?This was a really indulgent trip, I wanted to have one last ski tour in Sweden, the snow was going rapidly so I just fecked off and spent a lazy day reading about John Rae and having cups of tea. The new titanium gear was fun to use, but how different can one propane-valve be from another? The pot has some nice handles on it and a cute lid, the burner has extendable legs and is fairly quiet. I guess I can write a review of them when I get to know them better.I’m not one for learning lessons, so I tried again to make a snow cave with the Ice-box, and failed again, this time I took a hint from Korpijaakko and used my skis to make a better roof. It had mixed results. One neat snack I tried this time around, was dried biscuit. There are two types of dried biscuit that I have tried on camping trips, one is ‘double baked bread’ or zweibacke, and the other is the Italian biscotti, a double baked sweet biscuit. It was super easy to make and tasted amazing, and is perfect for hiking (relatively low weight, high calorie). Cannot recommend it enough, throw away your jaffa cakes and snickers, and enjoy some biscotti on your next expedition. The whole new titanium kitchen, including gas canister, cup and spork, wrapped up neatly in the primus sack, which is just about 1 litre in volume. Really a nice neat packet.  Heading back in the morning revealed some lovely clear fox-tracks over my old ski tracks, he had followed them up to where I had stashed my rucksack, but hadn’t screamed in my ear like his forest-mate the lynx had done last time. And further out by the edge of the forest I found these beauties, but I have no clue in the world what the hell made them, answers on the back of the postcard to the usual address please.

5 thoughts on “Lightening up again, more tracks in the last of the snow.

  • April 25, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Great stuff. I envy your location. Love the snow track forensics. If your going to have a lazy day kicking back and reading about Rae then what better setting is there to do it in?

  • April 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Nice one – interesting track analysis. The last one looks a bit like wolverine.

    I'l have to try the biscotti. Biscotti and Jameson sounds pretty good.

  • April 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm

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  • April 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Hey Dave, I totally feel the same way, not only is it much more relaxing to just kick back and relax outdoors, but what more fitting environment is there to read about exploration than out lying in the snow?

    Mark, I cannot highly enough recommend Biscotti as a great hiking snack food, I will put the recipe up here as soon as I catch up with all the back-log of trips. It's nuts that I am writing about skiing trips when Summer is already on the march.

    Majid, get a job ya lazy bum 🙂


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