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.”
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
Longer trails hiked: Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, the Nordkalottleden, the GR11, Coast2Coast Sweden.
Favourite gear: Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket, Huckepacks Phoenix Lite