I seem to decide to go hiking just after snow storms, this trip was to be no different. In the preceding days there had been up to 15 cm of snow, which for late March in Denmark is unusual. But not to be deterred by a little snow and temperatures as low as -10C I packed and set off.
Alighting from the bus my first challenge was to find the trail, it was clear sunny and cold as I set off on a circuitous route to the trail, descending into Nedergård forest, I immediately felt relaxed and ready to enjoy the walk south, especially as the sun was shining. The snow covered trail meandered through the forest with the occasional knee deep snow drift to keep me entertained. Briefly I entered a heath area with a view to Rørbæk Sø.
Soon afterwards, I was back tracking, having realised that one of my gloves had disappeared, cursing my carelessness I walked briskly and soon was reunited with my glove pleased that there was no longer a need for the Michael Jackson look. Locating the ideal place for lunch I enjoyed the sunshine whilst being entertained by several flocks of swans as they flew in formation away from Rørbæk Sø.
Continuing south, with the sun in my face and the wind behind me I passed several natural springs.
This was a pleasant section of trail, following a minor road, passing by small farms, I passed through the Margrethediget (Margrethe Dyke), pleasingly I was not asked for any form of payment.
Further south I stopped at Øster Nykirke (church) to refill my water bottle, I continue to marvel about the availability of water and open toilets in churches in this country, certainly in my land of birth this would not happen. My concern now is that with the decreasing involvement in churches in Denmark, even though most Danes pay taxes for the upkeep of churches, with the diminishing number of churches what impact will there be on travellers? I passed by the outskirts of Kollemorten including an unexpected diversion through a farm, complete with knee deep snow and a farm dog who wanted to play. Rejoining the trail just north of Givskud the search for a campsite began.
I awoke the next morning to the sounds of birds singing there was no need for an alarm I laid there thinking about the change to summer time in the coming week. The change of time would have no impact on the birds at all, but would impact on those of us who allow our lives to be regulated by clocks. With breakfast consumed and coffee drunk, I packed up taking some time to admire the grave mounds nearby.
I also realised that “I was not alone”
With touches of pink and glistening ice and snow, it was magic, albeit a bit cold in the wind.
I was soon walking and with such long legs it should have been a quick trip.
The sun was shining but the wind was cold as I headed east and with the wind in my face I had the look of a bank robber as I wandered along the road. Ultimately I arrived in Jelling which is famous for it large burial mounds along with the Jelling Runestones which were erected by Harald Bluetooth (or King Harald 1) to honour his parents. The symbol used to indicate Bluetooth communication is the runic letters H and B for Harald Bluetooth.
As I departed Jelling the clouds were increasing and there was a chill in the air. Passing the snow covered golf course I travelled through the forest marvelling at what appeared to be different road levels, I was later to discover that the first roads in the area date back to the bronze age. Indicating that this part of the country had been actively used for many 1000’s of years. Leaving the forest I was now to follow bitumen roads for a while, the sun did appear as I passed Fårup Sø, a popular fishing lake. As I climbed I was taken by the views down to the lake.
Following the road across the windswept farm land made for a cold walk and one I did not enjoy, it was a matter of gritting my teeth and walking, there was very little to see and one could say it was boring, but I was looking forward to descending into the Vejle river valley where at least I expected some shelter.
However, I find that as I wander along these somewhat tedious sections of roads through farmland, I tend to think and reflect a lot on life, my family, friends and what life would have been like in years gone by, as well what will it be like in 100 years from now. Often I need to refocus to ensure that I avoid the next oncoming vehicle. These sections can also provide inspiration for upcoming events and hiking trips.
My thoughts and wonderings are often disrupted by unexpected occurrences as I walk, as it was in this case as just prior to descending to the Vejle valley I was taken aback by the view to the east to Vejle.
As I descended I also began to appreciate the rolling hills and understood why for so many years has been a populated area, I could also imagine that in warmer times the lush green fields and forests would remind me of southern England.
Ultimately I reached the Bindeballestien, a trail which is a former railway line but is now a walking and cycle path. With the sun making occasional appearances, it was time for lunch. A much needed cup of Solbærtoddy was consumed.
Wandering along the snow and ice covered Bindeballestien was pleasant, as it was holiday time I passed a number of families out enjoyng the snow, walking or just enjoying nature. The trail continued passed Ravining Station.
Ravning is also famous for the location of a bridge spanning 800 metres which is considered to be the first wooden bridge in Denmark, again Harald Bluetooth was responsible. Gradually I climbed and with the cloud thickening and wind increasing my layering system of Smartwool hoody, thin fleece and Rab Boreas were being tested. Late in the I set up camp for the night and was quickly into the tent which was noticeably warmer than outside and watched the moon rise above the forest. It is amazing how some silnylon can make a difference to the temperature, I have consistently found that temperaures inside the shelter are 3 to 4 C warmer than outside.
Learning from my previous experience I had brought some different pegs, which held well and were also easily removed when packing up.
During the night I was serenaded by 3 different types of owls, the Storhornugle (Eurasian Eagle-Owl), the Natugle (Tawny Owl) and a third type which I think was the Slørugle (Barn Owl) It was cold in the morning with temps of -8C outside and a layer of ice on the inner, the outer and the quilt.
But I was warm and toasty so breakfast in bed followed by packing, quickly, as the sun rose. The early morning sunshine glistened on the ice and snow covered fields with the birds happily singing.
Today was to be the last day on the trail and passed through a variety of scenery commencing with forests and minor roads, as well as walking through snow drifts, which made for slow going, walking for about 3 km on the verge of a major road with high snow banks making difficult to dodge the oncoming traffic, I was appreciative of those semi trail drivers who moved to the other side of the road as they saw me, some car drivers seemed happier to pass as close as they could.
Returning to the minor roads unscathed I soon found myself at a beautiful campsite adjacent to a scout camp. On a sunny day, such as this, the grass was very tempting to set up camp and just enjoy the experience. Reluctantly I left but soon came across another unexpected site.
This was the first stone ship I had seen in Denmark, and whilst many of the stones have been replaced with metal plates it was still impressive with a length of 45 m. The runic inscripted stone at the front of the ship suggests that it maybe the burial place of Vibrog.
But as the grave was bereft of items its true purpose may remain a mystery for ever. Soon afterwards I entered the small township of Bække which was unique in that it had a bakery and a supermarket, both rare sights in small towns in Denmark these days. Fresh rolls and cheese replaced muesli bars for lunch.
After leaving Bække the trail follows the cycle path to Læborg, not much can be said except I recommend catching the bus from Bække to Vejen. There is a diversion in Læborg and as I passed by the kindergarten, one child said “Hvor skal du hen?” (Where are you going?) I answered Vejen, he is probably still puzzling over my aussie accented Danish. The final stretch took me through farmland and past a recently built poultry sheds, fortunately they were empty as I can imagine the wonderful aroma emanating from them on a warm day.
There is of course one more thing.
I wandered into Vejen, and as this was a holiday week, the reality of people out shopping took a little bit of getting used to, as did the four young people in full punk clobber heading to the railway station, I caught a later train.
A reflection, whilst these trips are not the typical wilderness adventurers or peak baggers tours, I see them as having a twofold purpose, firstly it allows me to experiment with gear and test it in situations where there is minimal risk (there is always a farm house nearby). Secondly, I see the trip as an exploration and discovery, which when completed on foot allows the observer to take in the subtle variations in landscape and the contrast between townships that are in decay, and those that support vibrant communities.
Gear Reflections Interestingly much of the gear I use does not change from trip to trip making packing is easier. However, for the last two trips I have been experimenting with the Klymit Static V (non insulated) with an R-value of 1.3 it is not really a winter mattress, so I have coupled it with my full length Multimat Adventurer (R-value 1.3 ) and Heatsheets Emergency Blanket, as a groundsheet. I was attracted to the Static V because of the way the tubes are “body mapped” now I am not sure about the body mapping bit, but for me the mattress provides more comfort than either lateral or longitudinal tubes do. The mattress is heavy at 512 gms, but is made of 75 denier fabric which explains the weight and it may also be more durable as a consequence. There is also an insulated version available which has an R-value of 4.4 but weighs in at 709 gms. The combination of the Static V and the Multimat provide a combined R-value of 2.6 which is not ideal for camping on frozen, snow covered ground, but I noticed only a slight chill coming from the ground, and with the MLD quilt I was very comfortable.
Jetboil, I have written elsewhere about this stove, but with temperatures never above zero, I used 13 gms of gas per litre of water boiled, which is very good in my view. I always pre warmed the canister in my pocket and sat the canister in a foam cozy while heating the water.
I cannot say enough good things about Defeet wool Duragloves and Defeet Wooleater socks, the wool eater socks I used with Terrocs, my feet may be cool if standing around in the morning but as soon as I am on the move my feet quickly warm up even if the socks are damp (or frozen).
The gloves are all I wear on my hands, except in very strong winds when I will add a pair of cuben over mitts. Both items are well worth a look.
Ohh and this is the 200th post, for those that are into statistics.