“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch

Hiking adventures

Long-distance hiking

Thru-hiking simply means continuously hiking a long-distance trail from end to end.

Hiking a long-distance trail demands focus and determination. While it is a lot of hard work we feel that it gives us a better perspective on life in return. It is a form of active meditation, and for us, there is no better way to achieve mindfulness. You fall into a meditative rhythm where life becomes simpler. Your job is to eat, sleep, walk—repeat. For months! There is a bit more minimalistic approach to gear and more focus on distance when you are out on really long trails. Mainly because you value traveling light, but you soon realize how few things you actually need. Long-distance hiking differs from “regular” hiking in the sense that while it is still a great physical achievement, it is more a mental and logistical game.

Long-distance trails

Completed thru-hikes

Kungsleden
Sweden
Distance: 440 km
Hiking window: June–September
Thru-hike: Karma – completed 2016

Kungsleden is a beautiful 440 km trek through the Scandinavian mountain range between Hemavan in the south and Abisko in the north. Arguably Sweden’s most famous long-distance trail with National Geographic listing it among the “World’s Best Hikes“ among its claims to fame. Trailing across majestic mountains, river valleys and highland plateaus it is a truly breathtaking experience! Early in the season, you can enjoy the midnight sun and later the northern lights. Due to the weather which can be unreliable all season and the northerly location around the arctic circle, the trail has a pretty short hiking window from late June into early September.

Te Araroa
New Zealand
Distance: 3000 km
Hiking window: Sep–Dec (sobo), Nov–Jan (nobo)
Thru-hike: Karma – completed 2016-17

Te Araroa is a 3000 km trail spanning the entire amazing country of New Zealand, from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south. A relative newcomer on the though-hike circuit the trail features a wide variety of experiences. It is true what they say about the North Island being more about the kiwi culture and people you meet along the way, while the South Island is all about the stunning alpine landscape. Te Araroa serves up an incredible variety, from tropical forests to epic mountains, stunning valleys, impressive rivers, beautiful lakes, and massive volcanoes. Te Araroa is Maori for the long pathway, and while it is long it has been worth every step! Recommended hiking window for a southbound start is late September-December to finish no later than mid- to late April. Northbound starts from November-January. These recommendations take into account the unforgiving New Zealand weather as well as seasonal closures (for lambing etc).

The Skye Trail
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Distance: 128 km
Hiking window: May–September
Thru-hike: Karma – completed 2017

The Skye Trail is an unofficial 128 km route through the whole amazing Isle of Skye in the Scottish highlands. The trail goes through some of the UK’s finest landscapes, such as the Trotternish Ridge through the Quiraing to Old Man Storr and skirting the intriguing Cuillin mountain range on its way from Rubha Hunish in the north to Broadford in the south. A fairly straightforward walk although there is a fair bit of “weather” battering this slice of heaven so expect to get wet. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes – and it will get worse, lol. Some basic navigation skills are needed too as there are no waymarks for the route and some sections lack a formed path, but mostly it was easy going. Recommended hiking window is late spring to early fall.

Pacific Crest Trail
USA
Distance: 4265 km (2650 mi)
Hiking window: March–October
Thru-hike: Karma & Scott – completed 2018

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) stretches about 4265 km (2650 miles) from the Mexican border to the Canadian border in the western United States with a total elevation gain of 95 923 meters. The PCT goes through California, Oregon, and Washington from the desert in the south through the mighty mountain ranges of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades further north. Despite its popularity, arguably being one of the most famous long-distance trails in the world, only about one in five thru-hikers actually make it all the way. It takes most hikers about 5 months from start to finish with a recommended hiking window from late March to early October, depending on the year.

The Arctic Trail (Nordkalottleden)
Scandinavia
Distance: 800 km
Hiking window: Summer
Hike: Karma & Scott – completed 2019

The Arctic Trail (Nordkalottleden in Swedish) is an 800 km long trail that passes through Finland, Sweden and Norway. It starts at Kautokeino (Guovdageaidnu in Sami) in Northern Norway and ends in Sulitjelma (Sulidälbmá in Sami) in Norway alternatively I Kvikkjokk (Huhttán in Sami) in Sweden. The trail crosses these borders back and forth about 10 times. The trail is primarily Alpine to lower Apline and highlights include hiking under the midnight sun and a chance of expereincing the northen lights. We completed the trail as a part of our Green Ribbon thru-hike in 2019. The primary hiking window is from end of June through early September.

The Green Ribbon (Gröna Bandet)
Scandinavia
Distance: 1300-1500 km
Hiking window: Summer
Hike: Karma & Scott – completed 2019

The Mountaineers Green Ribbon (Fjällfararnas Gröna Band in Swedish) is a long-distance hike from Treriksröset (Three Country Cairn) to Grövelsjön mountain station through the Scandinavian mountain range in the far north. The route is not fixed, and we chose to hike primarily on the Norwegian side of the border with shorter visits into Finland and Sweden along the way. Our route measuried 1498 km by the time we reached the southern terminus. The trail is primarily Alpine to lower Apline and highlights include hiking under the midnight sun and a chance of expereincing the northen lights. The primary hiking window is from end of June through early September. The trail can also be completed on skis during the winter season, it is then referred to as the White Ribbon (Vita Bandet).

Gear

Some of our favorites

Clothing choices depend on the mission, but we do of course have a few favorite brands.

brandsfavorite products
Icebreakerwe looove merino!!! mid layers, base layers (thermals), t-shirts, shorts, socks , accessories
Smartwooljust can’t get enough merino gear..!
Patagonialooove all this brand stands for
Norrønamid- and reinforcement layers (gore-tex jacket, pants)
Rabmisc (down puffy, alpine gaters etc.)
Mountain Equipmentmountaineering gear (winter down gear etc.)
Salomontrail runners (XA Pro 3D GTX, Robson Mid GTX)
Lundhagsleather hiking boots (Jaure II LT)
La Sportivamountaineering boots
Superfeetinsoles (green)
Dirty Girlgaiters for trailrunners (= sanity)
brandsizegrams
backpack: Osprey Aura AG 6562L1900g
backpack: Osprey Atmos AG 6565L2190g
rain cover: Osprey Ultralight L90g
waterproof pack bags: Sea to Summit/ OspreyMisc
compression dry sacks: Sea to Summit UltraSil eVent (sleeping bags)90g
brandsizegrams
tent: Hilleberg Niaksolo, 3-season1700g
tent: Hilleberg Allak22-pers, all-season3300g
sleeping bag: Marmot Lithium (-12)mummy1176g
inflatable mats: Therm-a-Rest Neoair XThermL max652g
pillow: Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight60g
brandsizegrams
MSR Whisperlite Universal Combomulti fuel cooker276g
MSR Ceramic Solo Pot1.3L210g
MSR fuel bottle591ml134g
Wildo vikkåsa (folding cup)0.6L46g
Light my fire spork (titanium)20g
brandsizegrams
Sawyer Squeeze filter77g
Platypus Hoser bladder3L120g
Evernew (filter water sacks)2L42g
Klean Kanteen Classic (stainless bottle)0.8L174g
brandsizegrams
trekking poles: Black Diamond Trail Pro490g
multi-tool: Leatherman Style CS41g
knife: Leatherman Skeletool KB37g
Therm-a-Rest Z-seathalf each42g
headlamp: Petzl Bindi (200ln)x235g
First aid kit
The Deuce of Spadespotty trowel17g
brandsizegrams
iPhone 8x2148g
Lifeproof (waterproof case)42g
Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1emergency beacon116g
Apple 12W USB power adapter(w/travel kit)74g
Anker PowerCore13000 mAh240g
Anker Dual USB Solar Charger15W354g
Lexar lightning jumpdrive C25i128gb10g
branduse 
Gaia GPSnavigation
Guthook Guides**Te Araroa Hiker, *PCT guide
DayOne Journaljournalling
Spotifymusic/podcasts
iMoviemovie editing
Social media
Weather/tidal apps
Messengercalling/messaging home

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Climbing Musala Peak in Bulgaria

By |January 2nd, 2019|* TRAIL LIFE, Hiking|

On a beautiful day in December, we climb Musala Peak (2,925 m/ 9,596 ft), the summit of the Rila mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria and the highest peak in the entire Balkan Peninsula. Also referred [...]