View from Odenskrapan

I’ve always loved standing on viewpoints, mountain tops or roofs of high buildings. Just to be able to look far. My apartment in Munich – an expensive town, when it comes to accommodation – had just one room, but a big roof terrace, where I even could see a tiny bit of the alps. You have to prioritise …

Yesterday we had a party with the Skellefteå Kammarkör – the local chamber choir. We were invited by K., who has an apartment in the new built Odenskrapan, a twelve-storey house in the center of Skellefteå. As the weather was fine, we celebrated on the huge roof terrace, where you have an awesome view over the whole city.

I never looked at Skellefteå like this – from high above – and of course I took some pictures (the first one is a panorama made of three photos).

Since I may come to this fine place again – I already have some ideas in mind – these probably won’t be the last pictures of Skellefteå from high above.

Second kayak tour 2016

What a contrast to the first kayak tour six weeks ago: Last time dry suit, today t-shirt. Last time between ice floes, today birches with fresh leaves. Last time Baltic Sea, today the river Skellefteälven.

I put my kayak onto the new two-wheeled dolly (the old one broke down) and dragged it to the small bay Killingörviken, where I started my today’s tour. First I paddled along the harbour, then I turned right into the channel Kejsar Ludvigs Kanal. It always reminds me a bit of the “Ruhrgebiet” in Western Germany, where I lived for eleven years. After the last tunnel waited the Sörfjärden.

There I left harbour and industry behind and considered, where to go. The tour into the Nördfjärden wan, since it was windier than expected and I didn’t want to cross the Sörfjärden. So I paddeled upstream.

After a while the peninsula Örviken to my left ended. That’s where the Nördfjärden starts. I knew the first part and paddled to one of the rotten wooden piers. Luckily I realised that there were also under water parts – there were almost everywhere. I slowed down to avoid a collision with one of the big rusty underwater-nails. Finally I came to one of the four old platforms that probably formed an old pier, too – many, many years ago.

Now it was not far to the small island Gustavsgrönnan, where I made a short break. The whole shore is wet and covered with reeds, that lay flat on the ground.

I continued my tour by surrounding the island and paddled to the islands Stensgrönnan and Björnsholmen. To these islands you can drive by car and I was curious, if there would be a bridge or a tunnel to allow me continuing my trip.

First try Stensgrönnan: No chance! A solid dam connects the island to the main land.

Second try Björnsholmen: A small chance … . This island is connected to Stensgrönnan by bridge, but it looked really low. I didn’t believe I could manage to squeeze me underneath it until the end, but it worked. I had to bend my upper body onto the kayak and drag myself forward slowly by hand.

(Reminder to myself: This tour works only when water level is ±0. 20 cm more water and I wouldn’t fit under the bridge. 20 cm less and paddling could be hard due to the shallow water round the islands.)

Now I paddled downstream, which was not as much help as expected since the wind increased and came right from the front. But soon the bridge of the Sundgrundsleden was in view, the tiny cabins ashore and the dry dock with the read ship that I already saw on the way there.

I was a bit exhausted when I turned left to enter the bay Kurjoviken on the other side of Kallholmen. Now I was almost home, I just have to take the tiny tunnel “Lappstrupen” and I’m …

… well, that didn’t work. Due to roadworks this tunnel was completely blocked. Can I traverse the tunnel anyway? No. Do I want to walk and get the jetty? Neither. So I returned to the open water again and had another two kilometres against the wind until I entered the Kejsar Ludvigs Kanal again.

Now I headed back to my starting point. Another kilometer to go and I was onshore again. Phew – the last part was exhausting!

Today’s tour: Round 19 km total. (3.2 km extra because of the blocked tunnel Lappstrupen.)

20 km south, 40 years back

Today I took the car to the peninsula Vånören – ca 20 km linear distance, ca 35 with the car. I thought, I would experience a new place, but well, I just forgot, that I’ve been there already. Anyway, a nice place with quite different types of landscapes. Forests, shallow bogs, rocky coast, small lakes and big granite rocks.

When I came to a rock pool, I saw the first tadpoles of the year. I kneeled down and had a closer look. After a while I discovered other animals in the shallow and clear water – most of them insect larvas. Some of them I knew, others I had to look up when I was home again.

Here they come:

For an hour I was an eight year old boy again. A boy, that has been loving water and all the small animals in it. When I was a child I had tadpoles, water insects, newts or water snails in big plastic bathtubs in the garden each summer.

Back to present age: I kneeled on the rocks, looked at the tadpoles, the great diving beetle larvae (they look like small aliens) – and the shy caddisfly larvas in they self-made “burrows”.

The photos are not the best – the animals were under water, the camera over water. The refraction of the light made it hard to focus and many photos were blurred. But anyway, it was great fun (beside of the hurting knees kneeling on the rough rocky ground).

One question is still open. Have a look at the 5th photo. What is it?! It floated underwater, was round 15 mm long and almost transparent. I don’t think, it’s an insect, perhaps a fish larva, but I don’t have any clue. If you know, what it is, let me know.

Postscript

Number 5 is a mosquito larva, not one of the biting ones, but probably of the family Chaoboridae. German wikipedia describes the larvae as Glasstäbchenlarven which means “glass rod larvae”. A good description in my opinion.

Art, sound, and spring flowers

In contrast to the weather forecast yesterdays morning was sunny and sky was blue. I’ve been in Umeå the weekend and after the breakfast Annika and I decided to make just a small trip before weather would get worse.

We drove to Baggböle, 8 km west from Umeå. Here’s the “Arboretum Norr”, a tree collection (or arboretum) along the river Umeälven. We enjoyed the springlike temperatures and the many small flowers that started to blossom everywhere.

It was a bit too early for an extensive visit, since many trees just started to get their leaves, but we had another destination anyway.

In an abandoned turbine sump you can find an orange figure sitting cross-legged just as a statue of a meditating monk. The figure is reflected in the shallow water. This artwork is part of the Konstvägen sju älvar, a 350 km long tourist and sculpture route in Västerbotten. Sju älvar (seven rivers) sounds almost like sju elva (seven eleven), that’s how this artwork got its name: 8 11. Outside it was warm and sunny, inside it was dark and chilly. The ground was still frozen.

Probably the weather missed the forecast, because outside it continued being warm and sunny. So we continued our car trip, first toVännäs to visit another artwork: Eldsoffa (fire sofa) – a brick sofa that you can heat by fire (no picture).

After that we took a detour via Pengsjö and headed to another artwork between Vännäs and Bjurholm: Hägring (mirage).

A model of a church built of pieces of mirror glass seems to hover above a bog. It reflects it’s surroundings and if you go there over the wet boggy ground it reflects you yourself.

If you want to go to that artwork: Take rubber boots with you or you’ll get wet feet, at least in May.

After going round that artwork we continued our tour, had a brief look to Bjurholm and after that we started to return to Umeå again. We took the 353 southwards and would have been in Umeå one hour later if not my curiosity made me turn right into the road to Ågnasbacken, a local ski area. I love standing on hill and mountain tops and enjoy the views, but we discovered something better: The klangvägen (the sound path), a 1.5 km long path on two of the ski slopes with sound objects. Especially Sofie Weibull’s Klockspel – a wind driven installation of metal pieces sounding like bells – fascinated us very much. I did not make any photos because in my opinion it was sound that mattered, not the optical appearance of the installations themselves.

Anyway, I made a photo from one of the ski slopes and the view. And some leftover snow …

We came back to Annika’s flat eight our nine hours after start. Sometimes a short trip can get out of hand a bit …

Sunset over the bog

When Annika and I drove from Bygdeträsk to Umeå yesterday evening the sky was dull and grey and it rained at temperatures round 4 °C, but some minutes after sunset the cloud layer in the northwest was lit from below and glowed in strong sunset colours. Minutes later the colourful spot has disappeared and sky was dull and grey again, just a bit darker.

A weekend in Söråsele – rich in variety

Both Annika and I had some days off round last weekend and so we could visit friends of her, who live in Söråsele. That’s in Åsele municipality, 260 kilometres west-southwest from Skelleftehamn. We started our three-day trip on Friday. While all lakes in Skelleftehamn are completely free of ice, many of the lakes in the inland are still covered with soft ice, as for example the southern part of the lake Bjurselet between Bastuträsk and Norsjö. You can still see the numerous snowmobile tracks.

The ground, where I parked my car was quite soft. I left up to 10 cm deep tracks in the muddy ground. But luckily we didn’t get stuck and could continue out tour to Lycksele, where we had a dagens lunch – the lunch of the day. With some other detours and rests – here we met the first mosquitoes of the year, but they didn’t bite us – we proceeded and headed to Åsele. From this town it’s just five other minutes to Söråsele, where M. and F. – Annika’s friends – live.

After saying hello to M. and F. and their dog we said hello to the sheep: six cute adults and three even cuter lambs. I never experienced sheep, that were so cuddly as those little flock – they all came to us, not for begging for food but for being petted and tickled. One of the males bumped the head against my leg every time, when I dared to stop stroking and cuddling him.

Finally I could break free from the sheep to get the camera. I was lucky, none of the sheep licked my wide angle lens, although I came quite near  as you can guess from the pictures:

The next day we moved the fence and the wooden shelter for the sheep. We – that’s four people, a smaller farm tractor and a trailer. Moving the shelter took some hours of thinking and doing, but we succeeded. Anyway, that’s another story …

After a fika – the swedish coffee break, we took the car and drove to Sörnoret to go up the the mountain Bergvattenberget (“the mountain water mountain”). At the northeastern side there’s a 120 meter high steep cliff called Offerhällan where according to old legends Sámi people where pushed down when they were too old to follow the reindeers. Hopefully just a myth.

When you want to hike in May, it’s always a good idea to wear rubber boots, since the ground is still very wet after the snow melt.

The evening we ate home made Lasagne. A lot of home made Lasagne! Especially I was quite stuffed and so we took a small evening promenade along the coast of the lake Söråselesjön which lays right behind M.’s and F.’s beautiful house. The air still was quite warm and the sunset coloured the feathery clouds.

The next day we made another trip, this time to different places. First stop: Torvsjökvarnar, a group of old water mills that form an open-air museum today.

Annika and I already saw some frogs or toads crossing the streets the day before, but here I saw the first frogs from close up. Another spring sign.

Other stops followed but – sorry folks – no photos.

At half past five Annika and I said goodbye and started the way back. We decided to choose another route and took the 92 to Fredrika. A good choice. Here’s one of the artworks of the Konstvägen Sju Älvar (“Art way seven rivers”). It’s called Poem för en imaginär älv  (“poem for an imaginary river”) and is erected on a big rock in the midst of an archaic landscape build of rocks, mud flats and tiny lakes. beside of the road the area looks like ice age would have ended just some hundred years ago.

Just some kilometres later there’s a thing you wouldn’t expect in Northern Sweden: A Thai Buddhist temple called Buddharama Temple. The giant statues of the sitting and standing Buddha and the live size elephants made of stone really look a bit strange in the middle of the Lappish woods. In Thailand 95% of the people are buddhists, but in Norra Norrland …?

(Sorry for the bad photos – the sun was definitely at the wrong place when we visited this temple.)

After that we continued our trip back to Skelleftehamn. I drove the car and Annika guided me along the small roads: BaksjölidenVargträskÖrträskOttonträskVindelnBubergetBotsmarkÅkullsjönBygdsiljumFlarkenÅnäset and than the E4 northwards until the turnout to Skelleftehamn, where we arrived at 22:54.

Thank you, M. and F. for your kind hospitality. We’ll looking forward to come back some other time. Perhaps there are other things left to be moved ;-)

Appendix

i. Animals on the journey:

Among others: Reindeers, four moose, a fox, cute sheep, cranes, Canada geese, swans, some western curlews and a short-eared owl.

ii. Northern lights:

Yesterday the aurora was really strong with a Kp index between 5 and 6, which says it is visible even in Denmark and Scotland. Now it’s a disadvantage to live as up north as I do. The sky is just too bright even in the dead of night to watch the Northern Lights. I guess, we’ll have to wait until August.

 

Furuögrund

Today Annika and I took the road E4 to Byske to visit Byske Havsbad, one of the largest sandy beaches nearby. But I was curious about the other side of the river Byskeälven and took another departure. That’s how we came to Furuögrund, which is a small coastal village north from Skelleftehamn. 39 kilometres by car; 20 kilometres if you can fly. Outside of Furuögrund there’s a peninsula with a small boat harbour and a café (that unfortunately won’t open before next weekend). The peninsula is surrounded by two bays – one with a sandy beach (and still some old leftover ice).

On the northeastern side there’s an old dock for timber, build in 1874 together with the sawmill. The dock has or had three different names: Massahusdockan, Norrdockan or “Nööl-dockan”. As you can see on the images, there’s hardly anything left beside of a mikado-like stack of old timber.

After strolling along the shore we took the car again and turned into a small side road to Svartnäsudden. I just had to stop when I saw the smooth granit rocks with the clear water puddle. In front of the rocks there was some boggy ground, partly covered with ice, surrounded by pine trees. And behind that a beautiful view over the blue Baltic Sea – that’s Coastal Northern Sweden in spring in a pocket.

 

Two images of the lake Snesviken

The heavy snowfall some days ago is history. Heavy rain melted the snow away. More and more ice on the lakes and the Baltic Sea disappears, too and only rests of snow and ice remind of the last winter.

Two images of the lake Snesviken – the first one shot yesterday, the second one made some hours ago.