This year I’ve signed up to do the Fjällräven Denmark Classic Trek. Fjällräven started this event with an annual trek through Sweden and because it’s so popular there are now events in Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, America and Scotland.
The concept is an organised, routed trek with daily check points and varying degrees of support along the way. Participants have to carry all their kit along the journey and camp each night. The Danish classic takes place along 75km of south Funen Island. Each day participants walk 25km, stopping at checkpoints to replenish water and food. The organisers help and guide, providing navigation and motivation along the way. As this is my first solo trek, I wanted a reasonable challenge but enough support to avoid getting totally lost in the middle of nowhere. Denmark is relatively flat country (I’m thinking similar to Oxfordshire) and the route will be well signed with markers. At the end of each day all participants camp together on a preprepared site where we cook and sleep before setting off the next day. My trek will be 3 days walking and 2 nights camping.
After I booked my ticket in February my first feeling was panic, what had I just got myself into? Since then I’ve been reading and researching as much as possible. I’m now more excited than nervous but I know the week before I leave that will change back again to fear. The hardest thing will be the journey to the airport! My biggest concerns at this point are figuring out how to stay warm in my tent overnight (I’ve never been warm enough overnight in a tent before) and the other necessity of navigating myself from the airport in Copenhagen on Zealand Island, 190km to the start at Faldsled on Funen Island.
So far I’ve done three training walks between my house and Kiwi, I drive this distance each day but by walking partly along the Thames and then following foot paths north I can walk it in just under 5hrs. This route is 18.8km and I’m comfortable with that. On my two last walks I took a 70L rucksack carrying 8kg on my back and it wasn’t a struggle so I’m optimistic about covering the distance. I’ve been using my sister’s Osprey rucksack which is really comfortable but lacks pockets and storage on the outside of the pack. I’m looking at Osprey, Low Alpine and a few other brands for the right rucksack. One thing I really enjoy doing is researching gear. I’m slowly collecting my kit and adding it to the weight I will be carrying over the three days.
This is what I’ve organised so far:
- Terra Nova Laser Lite 1 Tent – I’ve kindly been lent this by a friend. I wasn’t sure about investing in a single person tent when in the future I’d like to trek with other people. The Laser lite was developed in 2004 and was one of the first really lightweight backpacking tents. It’s since been replaced with the Laser Competition and most recently the Laser Compact. The main design of the tent is still the same; a one pole line, two skinned structure pegged to the ground. The outer and inner are attached and pitched at the same time. This tent has been put through it’s paces but is still in great condition. All the seams seam healthy and it’s incredibly lightweight. The only issue I can see would be if we experience very windy wet weather in Denmark as the outer skin doesn’t reach the ground at the head or tail end. The laser lite is a nice woodland green colour and tall enough for me to sit up inside of. I’ve mostly stayed in large multi person tents so this feels cosy and warm. Hopefully it will make a very comfortable shelter.
- Stove and Cooking set up – After much research and continuous back and forward between styles and brands, I’ve settled on an MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe stove with a 1.2l cook pot. For a long time I was convinced by a jetboil micromo but in the end I settled on MSR, a simple stove and separate pot. There’s not a lot between the two systems in weight, price or functions but I think something small and compact is a good way to start my adventuring. Most of the meals I eat will be pre-prepared dehydrated packages, but hopefully I’ll find time for a tea or hot chocolate at the end of the day. I’m a little nervous of using canister gas so I’ll be practicing with it before July. Fjällräven provide all the food for people walking the classic each day but unfortunately I need gluten free rations so I’m going to be bringing all my meals with me from the start. I think that will be one of the heaviest parts of my pack.
- Keeping warm at camp is going to be one of the biggest challenges I face so I’m going all out with my sleeping set up. I’m taking merino wool base layers, walking tops and sleeping beanie. Merino wool is brilliant for people who get hot and cold when their active; it breathes but also keeps in heat and wicks sweat quickly from your skin to stop you cooling down when you slow down. It’s lightweight and also perfect for wearing when taking care of the horses and dog walking. I’m also taking a down jacket I bought from decathlon for when the temperature drops in the evening as well as my trusty Patagonia puff jacket for layering during the day. Even though decathlon is an affordable brand they have a great stance on ethical production; non-mulesing of merino sheep and RDS certified down in all their clothes and equipment. My stance on insulation may seem overboard (I’m trekking in July) but I know how cold I get. Whether it’s February or August, I get cold!
- My walking boots are Scarpa Terra GTX women’s boots. They’re fantastic, comfortable from the beginning to the end of the day. These boots have kept my feet happy and safe since I bought them. I used them every day in Coniston last year and I trust them for this adventure too.
- In February I started studying the Danish course on Duolingo. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how much I’m absorbing. I don’t expect to be chatting in Danish whilst I’m visiting but being able to order a meal or thank someone helping me would be great. Having said that, being able to say ‘The cat is eating the mouse’ isn’t going to get me very far, but It’s been a good intro to learning about the country in general.
My journey will start with a morning flight from Gatwick to Copenhagen and then train and bus to the town where the trek starts in Faldsled. I need to sign in that evening and then walk a short way to the nearby campsite where I’m spending that first night. Hopefully there will be places to stock up on nibbles along my route but I’ll probably settle for a dehydrated meal that evening.
The trek begins at 9am the following morning. I start with the first of three groups on the first of two start days. I will reach the finish line at Bjørnemose sometime in the afternoon two days later. At the start we get signed in and given water, food and cooking gas. Each day we stop at a check point and the campsite and our trekking pass gets stamped. Every participant gets a completion medal once they reach the finish line with all their stamps. And there’s a buffet and live music to celebrate when we finish the trek.
I’m hoping the thrill of finishing the trek will give me strength to make it back to Copenhagen that evening. I plan to take the train from the local town Svendeborg north to Odense and then back across to Zealand and Copenhagen where I’m meeting Mum and we’re spending a few days together. Hopefully she’ll have space in her suitcase to bring me my trainers, four days in my hiking boots will be plenty long enough.
I’m going to practice more routes and some overnight camps with all my gear before I head to Denmark. A good check to see it all works and I haven’t forgotten anything. Two important items I still need are a rucksack and a sleep system. The latter being my biggest investment. I’m looking into RAB down sleeping bags and a thermarest air pad for cushioning underneath. I have a foam pad for below the air pad to insulate myself as far as possible from the cold ground.
Every item I consider will add to the weight and bulk of my rucksack which I need to carry over 75km. However, when it comes to keeping warm, I’m not willing to take any chances. Wish me luck.