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Hiding in the forest - Premium Private Guided Hikes

Updated: May 17

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Minimum one overnight sleep in the nature every week in 2024. I expect that the most challenging parts of this year-long outdoor adventure will likely be at the beginning and end, primarily due to the fluctuating weather and temperatures. However, these elements are also what will make the experience rich and full, allowing me to immerse myself in the beauty of each season with all its ups and downs. It's a chance to really test my limits and grow closer to nature, experiencing its wonders and challenges up close.


Fortunately, my schedule typically allows for some flexibility regarding which day I choose to spend outdoors. This means I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts to plan my trips wisely. While I'd prefer to avoid the discomfort of wind and rain, sometimes braving these elements is part of the adventure. So, I'll be thoughtful about where I set up camp, considering factors like shelter from the elements, the lay of the land, and overall safety to ensure the best experience possible. This careful planning and preparation will be key to making each week's stay in nature as enjoyable and safe as it can be.


Now, to get to the heart of the matter, I have completed my first overnight stay, and here is a brief summary:


Weather and Conditions: 

The year kicked off with fierce winds and frigid temperatures. I selected Thursday, January 4th, for my first outing, enticed by forecasts predicting a slight easing of the wind. Yet, as the day unfolded and I shut down my work laptop, the wind remained as relentless as ever, and the temperature had plummeted even further. Embarking on my journey around 5 PM, I was met with a piercing -12 degrees Celsius, a stark reminder of nature's unyielding force at this time of year. The cold nipped fiercely, setting the stage for what was to be a challenging yet exhilarating first adventure into the wilderness.


Campsite Selection: 

Due to the biting wind, I opted to seek shelter in a dense spruce forest for setting up camp. This location not only provided shelter from the wind but also made it easy to gather firewood for the campfire. Additionally, the spot was off the beaten path and quite secluded, ensuring that I would have complete solitude for this first outing. Conveniently situated just a short walk from my home, the project began with a local flavor. I chose a small clearing in the forest where the mountain sloped upwards, creating a natural overhang that would reflect the fire's warmth. This strategic positioning meant that not only would I be shielded from the wind, but I'd also benefit from the radiating heat, enhancing the coziness of my camp amidst the stark winter landscape.



The first thing I did upon arrival, which is always a good rule when camping in the colder season, was to gather firewood and start a fire. This task is quite straightforward in a dry spruce forest, and it took only a few minutes before the fire was crackling and alive. I strategically placed the fire close to a rock so that, in addition to the direct heat from the flames, I would also benefit from the radiant heat reflecting off the warm rock throughout the evening. This method not only maximized warmth but also created a cozy atmosphere as the firelight danced against the natural backdrop. As the night progressed, the warmth of the fire against the chill of the evening underscored the magic of such outdoor experience.


I pitched my tent a short distance from the fire on the frozen ground of the coniferous forest. Driving the stakes into the icy soil proved to be a bit challenging. I used a lightweight, one-person tent with only two poles, which is very easy and quick to set up. Additionally, I had a small electric pump to inflate my sleeping pad. This setup allowed me to get the tent and pad ready in under 10 minutes, a real convenience when the cold is biting at your fingers and all you want is to huddle by the warm fire. 


Preparation and Gear: 

If you're interested in a more detailed description of the equipment I use and my thoughts about it, you can read more about it in THIS post (upcomming).


For this particular trip, I made some special preparations:

  • I swapped out the mesh inner tent for a standard one to reduce airflow and retain more warmth.

  • I fully charged the batteries for my electrically heated clothing to ensure I'd stay warm throughout the outing.

These adjustments were key to ensuring that my experience was as comfortable as possible, given the cold winter conditions I anticipated facing.


Equipment in the backpack for this trip included:

  • Leatherman Wave

  • Mobile phone

  • First-aid kit

  • Toilet paper

  • Water bottle

  • LED light for the tent

  • Buff (multifunctional neck/headwear)

  • 2 firestarter packs + lighter

  • Foldable cup

  • Small electric pump

  • Sami knife

  • Folding saw

  • Headlamp

  • Winter sleeping bag

  • Sleeping pad

  • Tent

  • Foldable chair

  • Gloves with electric heating

On this particular journey, I chose not to bring my camera along due to the extreme cold. I prefer not to expose it to subzero temperatures as it can quickly lead to damage. Therefore, all the images from this trip were captured with my iPhone 13 mini, a handy alternative that still allows me to document the adventure without risking my primary camera equipment.


Food and drink:

  • 2 thick meat sausages

  • 1 liter of water

  • 1 packet of cocoa

  • 18.5 ml of red wine



Physical and Mental Notes: 

I have to be honest and say I had mixed feelings about starting this project. On one hand, I was excited to get going and truly looked forward to sitting by the campfire, immersed in my own thoughts. It's the allure of tranquility and the anticipation of peaceful moments in nature that had me eager to begin. 


On the other hand, the current cold weather and the prospect of it being dark throughout the entire trip were a bit daunting. The chill and darkness present their own set of challenges, making me apprehensive about the discomforts I might face. Yet, these contrasting feelings only added to the sense of adventure and commitment to the task ahead.


After setting up camp, I spent the entire evening by the fire, only occasionally stepping away for quick trips to gather more wood. It was delightful to sit there, lost in thought, listening to the crackling of the fire and the ambient sounds of nature. The only slight annoyance was the distant buzzing sound of a farm wind turbine. 


Despite this, the comfort of the flames, the grilled sausages sizzling over the fire, the warm cocoa in my cup, and a small bottle of wine made for a cozy and enjoyable evening. These simple pleasures, mixed with the quiet of the surroundings, created a memorable and peaceful experience under the stars.


I brought along the wine as a celebratory mark and conclusion of my 2023 challenge, which was to abstain from alcohol for an entire year. This wine was, therefore, my first alcoholic drink since the New Year of 2022/2023 - a little pat on the back for myself! 


As I reflected on the past year, I pondered the positive and negative aspects this project brought into my life. In summary, while there were undoubtedly many benefits to abstaining from alcohol, I've decided not to continue the challenge. For me, the advantages don't outweigh the pleasure of enjoying a few glasses of wine or some ice-cold beers occasionally. It's all about balance and enjoying life's little luxuries in moderation.



Learnings and Adjustments: 

So, what did I learn from this first overnight stay in 2024, and what might I need to adjust for next week?


Firstly, I am quite pleased with my choice of campsite, even though I sacrificed the view to find shelter from the wind. In the spruce forest, it's really easy to start a fire, and the spot also offers the potential to stay dry in rainy weather - something to remember for future trips. The dense tree cover provided much-needed wind protection and made the campsite comfortably manageable.


Secondly, I realized my sleeping pad no longer retains air and needs to be repaired before my next outing. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling cold, which wasn't surprising as the air had escaped from the pad, leaving me directly on the frozen ground. I managed to re-inflate it, and thankfully, it held up just long enough until it was time to get up.


Thirdly, I learned that when I need to get up early for work, it's best to pack up as much as possible before going to bed. When I crawled out of the sleeping bag just after six o'clock, it was quite cold to pack down the tent and stow all the gear. By packing most of the backpack the evening before, I can minimize this chilly morning task and make a quicker, more comfortable start to the day. 


These insights will be invaluable as I continue with my year-long adventure, ensuring each outing is a bit smoother and more enjoyable than the last.


Man hiking and camping in the Stavanger area

Summary


As the first of my 52 weeks of wilderness camping comes to a close, I reflect on the insights gained and the journey ahead. Despite the initial discomforts of fierce winds and freezing temperatures, the experience has already begun to deepen my appreciation for nature's stark beauty and the resilience required to embrace it fully. The lessons learned in selecting a sheltered campsite, adapting gear for the cold, and the importance of preparation will be guiding principles for the weeks to come. This endeavor is more than a series of overnights; it's a commitment to understanding and immersing in the natural world, pushing personal boundaries, and sharing the journey with others.


As I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead, I am reminded that each week is an opportunity for growth, discovery, and connection with the great outdoors. Join me as I continue to navigate the challenges and joys of spending every week in nature, chronicling a year of living deliberately under the open sky. So stay tuned as I share all the fun, learning, and thoughts that come with each week of camping outdoors.


See you on the trail!!

Espen


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