Wintercamp adventure X-mas 2015

Hello, my name is Roelof Doevendans and together with my lovely wife Alinda we have 4 sons (8, 11, 14 and 16 years old). Our dog, Polar, suits our active family very well. He is such an easy dog. I had promised the boys a dog, after I had participated at the Fjällräven Polar. So that is why or Border Collie is called Polar.

About 10 years ago we visited Scandinavia for the first time. Immidiately we fell in love with the nature, the mountains, the calmness and peace.
We started to go for daytrips when the kids were younger. Most of the time I had a ‘kid-carrier’ on my back for the youngest. These daytrips became more challeging through the years. As a family we love those little adventures, they became a kind of family-challenges.
When our youngest son was 5 he was able to carry a packpack as well. So we wanted to go for our first multiday hike and we joined the Hoga Kusten Hike three years ago.
Two years ago me and my wife joined the Hoga Kusten Vinter Classic to go for a snowshoehike. We enjoyed it so much!
In the summer we did the Fjällräven Classic. Again we had a great time.
During our little adventures we have a great family-time together. Our binding becomes stronger. The kids have memories for the rest of their lives. They will forget what toys they got, but this will put a smile on their faces whenever they go back in their memories. The kids learn so much about nature, taking care of themselves, their body’s, where they are capabele of and their limits. They won’t learn this in school.

As you know I was selected for the Fjällräven Polar last year and there I got hooked on the Scandinavian winters. Of course I saw lovely photo’s from Scandinavian FaceBook friends before. But to be actually be in the middle of it. The silence, the deep snow, the clear skys and that you can hear the frost. It is really addictive!

Last summer we joined the Hoga Kusten Hike for the second time, to meet up with some friends. At the same time we could discus some oppertunities for joining the Hoga Kusten Vinter Classic together with the kids. Because hiking/camping in wintertime is so different, we longed to do that together with the kids. It is more tough and especially for the kids it is mentally more demanding.

Of course when you live (high) in Scandinavia, kids are used to that, but in the Netherlands the winters are wet. We hardly get any snow, if so it is wet and gone with a few days. The kids have never experienced temperatures under -10•C. So we discussed some options how to participate for the snowshoe hike. Since the gear and clothes are bigger we have a problem with the volume. Our youngest can’t carry everything by himself and the other backpacks are stuffed to the max already. We discussed some good options. When the registration opened it became clear that they rescheduled the date and our kids didn’t have a holiday at the same moment. So we couldn’t join the hike.After this the idea to go wintercamping on our own was born. We liked to have a Tipi for some years and while we were on our summerholliday we bought our Tentipi in Ornskoldvik. We enjoyed the fine quality and hi-end details. Al together a great and well thought design.

While we gave our idea more details, we visited Moosecamp, a local retailer in our country. We talked about some more options and we bought the porch, groundsheet and Eldfell stove. Finaly I would be able to use my Polar gear again. We ordered snowshoes, winterboots and snowpegs. The basic idea was to go and camp nearby Idre. We know that spot and love to go there in the summer as well. We would camp for a week and after that we were invited to celebrate Newyearseve by our Norwegian friends. I met her during the Polar and all of us still have contact with eachother. Since I never experienced Scandinavia in wintertime, I didn’t want to bring a trailer for the first time. It was a challenge to get everything in the car, but we managed.

All of us were so much looking forward to it. Since the winter was late, we were a bit affraid if the winter would be there in time. On the other hand we were a bit anxious about how far the temperature would drop. On the weather-history the temperature had dropped to -30,5 last year. We had to have a back-up plan for a worse case senario. In case of problems we could go to our Norwegian friends.

When we arrived in Idre we started with -6. That was just a perfect temp so the kids could get used to it. We arrived in the dark and when we stepped out of our car, we had or first suprise. The snow had become ice. Frozen solid and very slippery. We pitched the Tipi, put in the groundsheet and the stove. Because of the bumpy iced surface, the groundsheet could slide very easily. But it would do for the night. So we crawled into our sleepingbags (limit -8) and soon fall a sleep. We had a great night sleep and I started the morning by fireing up the stove. Pretty quick the Tipi becomes comfortable. Slowely everyone awakes and can get dressed.

We had to make a waterhole through 30 cm of ice before we could get to the water. After filling the waterkettle, we could boil the water on the stove for some tea or coffee. After breakfast we attached the porch to the Tipi. The extra space is very welcome for all our winterboots and firewood. To prefend the groundsheet from slipping on the iced surface we had later put spruce-branches underneath it. That worked very well.

Since most of the liquids got frozen, we drank mostly warm fluids, like warm applejuice (very nice), orangejuice and ‘lingen saft’ for the kids. Of course we knew that we had to be active to stay warm. So when it was (finaly) light we went snowshoeing or other active things. We went to Nipfjallet and to the Njupeskär in the Fulufjallet. Impressive to see the frozen state of Swedish highest waterfall. While walking with my youngest son in the forrest near the Tipi we found a very big fullgrown antler from a raindeer.

We had simple meals, coocked on our woodfired Eldfall stove. Burgers, Köttbullar and so on. For breakfast we had (polar)bread and a few times egg&bacon to go with it. Simple, but very ok. We slept well, even when the temperature dropped futher down. It went from -6 to -12. We ‘reinforced’ our sleepingbags with hot water bottels. The sheepskins on top of our matrases were very comfortable.

Because your body uses more water in the winter we had to drink a lot. During the night my wife and I had to go out to loose some fluids. I love the winternights, the cold, the clear skys, the stars, especially with the (almost) full moon. Hoping to see the nothern lights. (We didn’t saw it in Idre, but on Newyearseve in Oppdal we saw it. So beautiful and special to see it there on that specific moment.) We got some more snow. It turned the place in winter wonderland. The soft untouched snow on the ground, the trees became heavy of snow. So majestic, so pure, so beautiful!

During our last day and night the temperature went to -17. We were prepaired for the cold temperature. So we made hot water bottels and put a liner inside our sleepingbags. I could feel the frost entering our Tipi during the night. Nevertheless we had a good night sleep. I enjoyed being out in the middle of the night. You could actually hear the frost.

In general we had to get used to the short days. The days were at least two hours shorter than back home. We also had to create a certain routine, since it was our first real Tipi experience. When it was dark we played games or were reading around or hot stove. But we loved the simplicity, the basic ‘living’. We don’t need much, we had everything we needed around us. That gave a certain peace and rest. Being there in winter wonderland, connecting with the nature, the simplicity, what life is really about. This was certainly not the last time…. Vi ses!”