Gävlebor första svenskar på Via Suecia

När kamraterna gav sig iväg för att ryggsäcksluffa i Asien gav sig Jesper Sundstrand och Marcus Persson till USA för att vandra 3 500 kilometer på Appalachian Trail. Ett antal långvandringar senare är de redo för Via Suecia.

Jesper Sundstrand och Marcus Persson på Kungsleden förra året.

På söndag morgon tar Jesper Sundstrand och Marcus Persson de första stegen på Via Suecia och blir därmed de första svenskar som börjar vandra den. För cirka en vecka sedan gav sig Constantin Hauzeneder iväg från Smygehuk med samma mål: Treriksröset.

För Marcus Persson är det knappt idé att packa ur ryggsäcken, Han kom nyss hem efter en två och en halv månad lång vandring längs den 2 100 kilometer långa Croatian Long Distance Trail. Där vandrade Jesper Sundstrand tre fjärdedelar.

Innan dess har de vandrat Arizona Trail (1280 kilometer) på hösten 2019, nästan direkt efter Appalachian Trail 2019, och Kungsleden sommaren 2020.

”Vi jobbade två år non-stop efter gymnasiet för att finansiera vandrandet,” berättar Marcus Persson.

Själv jobbade han med service och tunga, manuella jobb inom industrin. Kamraten arbetade bland annat som lärare i matematik och elevcoach inom grundskolan.

”Nu vandrar vi tills pengarna tar slut,” säger Jesper Sundstrand.

Planen var från början att åka över till USA igen eller göra någon längre vandring i Alperna eller Pyrenéerna.

”Men Covid satte stopp för det,” säger Marcus Persson.

Plötslig fick de syn på Via Suecia på nätet och tyckte att det lät som ett bra alternativ:

”Det blir kul att få utforska svensk mark. Vi ser fram mot att vandra genom Skåne och Småland och se svensk landsbygd.”

Jesper Sundstrand har släkt i skånska Genarp. Han får också sällskap av sin syster vid Fulufjället. Dessutom hoppas de båda vandrarna att kompisar ska komma och gå med dem några dagar då och då.

”Vi räknar med att gå i snitt 40-45 kilometer per dag och vara klara på 70-75 dagar,” säger Marcus Persson.

Det skulle i så fall innebära att Jesper Sundstrand är tillbaka lagom till skolstarten – redo att jobba ihop pengar till nästa vandring.

Namn: Jesper Sundstrand

Bor: Gävle

Vandringar jag minns: Alla, självklart. Men den första, AT, ligger varmt om hjärtat.

Vandringar jag vill göra: Great Western Loop, USA.

När jag inte vandrar: Förutom jobb blir det mycket sport med polare. Basket, paddel, innebandy.

Favoritpryl: Kanske inte en “pryl”, men del av min utrustning åtminstone – Injinji tåstrumpor.

Namn: Marcus Persson         

Bor: Gävle

Vandringar jag minns: Främst Appalachian Trail som har en speciell plats i mitt hjärta, Arizona Trail, Kungsleden och Croatian Long Distance Trail (CLDT).

Vandringar jag vill göra: Great Western Loop (GWL, USA), Trans European Alpine Route (TEAR, Europa), GR 20 (Korsika) och Issyk Köl Trail Network (Kyrgyzstan).

First Via Suecia-hiker is off

On Swedens’s National Day Constantin Hauzeneder from Munich, Germany, took the bus from Trelleborg to Smygehuk to start his thru hike of Via Suecia.

This probably means he will be the first hiker thru hiking Via Suecia – The Swedish Trail.

Boredom in the small home office in the flat in Munich helped Constantin Hauzeneder to take the final decision: to make a long distance hike from Munich to the North Cape.

From the beginning the plan was to hike the Continental Divide Trail in the US, but Covid 19 stopped that, too. “I just wanted to get out of my flat and have some adventure and see some scenery,” he says.

The 33–year old system administrator from Munich is no stranger to hiking. He has done several hikes in Germany and section hiked the Pyrenees last October. But the one and two week hikes haven’t satisfied his hunger for more adventure.“I always wanted to stay out longer and go further,” he says.

Now he has been out hiking since April 1st, making his own route 1600 km’s through Germany. “It’s been a great experience. You kind of check out from normal life and just live very simple and in the moment.”

Covid 19 has been a problem along the route, though. Because of restrictions there hasn’t been so many places for Constantin Hauzeneder to rest. He has kept going and going, doing almost 40 km days, hiking for one and a half months with only one rest days.

That led to an injury (shin splints) recently and two and a half weeks off trail. “My aim is to go slower and take more rests along the way in Sweden,” he says.

After the start in Smygehuk Constantin Hauzeneder will hike to Gothenburg on the E1 trail, then continue north on the Via Suecia. Technically you could argue he’s not doing the whole of Via Suecia, but just like CDT there is not a single trail taking you north, there is a MAZE of trails. Also the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is full of alternates and detours (often due to fire).

“I’m really looking forward to the wilderness part,” says Constantin Hauzeneder. “I enjoy places where there are no civilization. That’s totally new for me.”

Even though self–chosen solitude is part of the fascination with a thru hike, Constantin Hauzeneder has also been amazed by the social part of thru hiking:

“I have met a lot of friendly people along the way, putting me up for the night, washing my clothes and helping me in other ways.”

You can follow Constantin Hauzeneder on his blog https://www.landstreicher.blog/ or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/cozy.consi/

He expects to be at Treriksröset around September 9 and at the North Cape September 25, finishing a 5050 km hike.

Happy Trails, Constantin!

Sauerkraut is the first

He has been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail in the US, the Nordkalottleden in Scandinavia, the GR11 in Spain and Coast2Coast Sweden. Now German ultralight hiker Carsten “Sauerkraut” Jost has become the first external member of the Via Suecia Association. 

“I read about Via Suecia in the German on-line forum „Trekking Ultraleicht“ (https://www.ultraleicht-trekking.com/forum/). Pretty soon people started bitching about the idea, saying that there is no need for a new name on trails that are basically already there.”

“But I like the notion of tying the existing parts together and creating a community, like on the American long–distance trails.”

Carsten Jost on the Mare-e-Mare trail on Corsica.

So Carsten Jost sent a PM to project leader Benny Borgh asking where he could pay his membership fee of 250 SEK. Problem was that the association is so new that there where no bank account yet. So Carsten Jost is now a registered member and will pay when it’s possible.

“A lot of people might think this is a crazy idea, but crazy ideas started the AT and PCT, too. Just recently we have this Croatian hiker who came back from PCT and created a long-distance hike in Croatia.”(https://cldt.hr/en/trail/)

“There’s a lack of community among German hikers and I think that is the case in Sweden, too. A long-distance hike like the PCT creates a strong community, not just among the hikers, but also the people living along the trail, supporting the hikers. As much as I love nature and the wilderness, I also love the social aspect of long hikes.”

Carsten Jost hiked the AT 2004 and earned the trail name Sauerkraut. Two years later he tried the PCT with his then girlfriend and had to leave because of a herniated disc. 2008 he finally did the whole trail.

He has also hiked the West Coast Trail, the Nordkalottleden, the GR11 and Coast2Coast Sweden

All together he has done more than 10 000 kilometers with his backpack.

Currently Carsten Jost is living in Allgäu, a German region close to the Alpes, where he works for Outward Bound an organization that is dedicated to experiential learning and outdoor education. The last year has been slow, for obvious reasons, but Carsten Jost now hopes that the autumn will see business picking up again. 

Meanwhile he has been able to do more outdoor activities himself.

“It’s a blessing living where I am if you are interested in outdoor sports in any form,” he says. 

Carsten Jost started his backpacking when he joined the boy scouts at the age of seven, mainly using old and heavy gear. On his first long-distance hike along on the Appalachian Trail 2004 he found out that there still was much to learn about hiking.

“Most hikers were definitely not as experienced as I was but still managed to stay alive with a lot less weight on their shoulders and flimsy looking gear.”

“I basically had all the weird prejudices against UL gear that you can have. But after having hiked a couple of hundred kilometers and seeing that UL-gear worked for everybody around me it made me thinking wether I was just a stupid ignorant German, which I probably was. And honestly, once you felt the benefits of hiking UL, there is no turning back. It just makes sense.”

For now Carsten Jost is not sure if he is going to hike the Via Suecia himself. After his 20’s with hiking, guiding and being outdoors more than 100 nights per year he is in his 40’s with a wife, two kids and a newly built house. 

“It’s definitely something I might consider, but at the moment it’s all about taking the kids through homeschooling and providing for the family. My hiking is limited to shorter trails and weekend trips.”

For the hikers trying out Via Suecia Carsten Jost has some advice: 

”A long trail is just the same a your normal week-long trip, only longer. Two aspects stand out in my opinion: the weight of your gear plays a more important role. Lighter is usually better. And logistics can be something most hikers are not familiar with. 

”Where you usually carry all your food for the trip you have to start thinking about where and how to get food on a multi-month trip. Both aspects can be trained on shorter long-distance-hikes like Coast2Coast Sweden where mistakes have a less of an impact than on a multi-month-hike.”

Text: Jonas Hållén

Name: Carsten Jost

Trail name: Sauerkraut

Age: 46

Longer trails hiked: Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, the Nordkalottleden, the GR11, Coast2Coast Sweden. 

Favourite gear: Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket, Huckepacks Phoenix Lite