Summer solstice – “night shot” in Skelleftehamn

Summer solstice– the longest day – the shortest night, that’s today.

I was out at the coast to take a photo at 0:37 – in the darkest minute of the brightest night 2016. The sun is hardly 2° below the horizon and so it looks more like an evening sunset or an early morning sunrise than a real “dead of night” shot.

The summer solstice marks the beginning of the astronomical summer, but it’s also the day, where nights will get longer and longer. And one day in August it will be dark enough for the first star shining through the pale nightly sky.

Autumn colours

The tiny aspens standing under the overhead power cable seem to be ahead of the time. While the whole of Sweden is preparing for summer, these little trees definitely show already autumn colours, approximately three months too early.

 

Mud walking

Last weekend I walked along the sandy beach of Storsanden, which reminded me of the beaches of the Northern Sea. But there are differences. First of all the water of the Bothnian Bay is hardly salty (only 0.3% – 0.5%). That’s why you cannot find shells, jellyfish, shore crabs and other animals.

Wait, there are exceptions: On the beach of Storsanden I found three tiny mussels, hardly two centimetres long. The shells were so soft, that I squished the first two just by touching them. Anyway I succeed in taking home the third one. Here it is:

There’s another difference: We hardly have any tidal movements. The change between ebb and flood is too weak to notice. Sometimes the water is high or low anyway, although independently from any tides. Yesterday we had more than 50 cm below and since many coastal areas are shallow you could see many mud flats along the shores. This may not sound much, but it happened only once that I experienced a water level that was even lower.

That’s how I came to a rare occasion of a mud walking tour along the bays Ytterviksfjärden and Norra Innerviksfjärden yesterday. The sky was grey, it was quite windy and cold. That may sound quite uncomfortable, but at least it hardly rained and I saw not a single mosquito due to the strong wind.

I guess I walked only six or seven kilometres, but the ground was quite muddy and I was really exhausted after plodding through calf to knee deep mud. When I arrived at the car again, it started to rain.

When I came home, I first showered off my neoprene boots (they have flexible soles and won’t get stuck in the mud) and then myself. Great – a hot shower is just great after such a walk, both for cleaning up and for comfort!

It rained the whole night with temperatures dropping to 3.7 °C. I almost expected snow as for example in Kiruna yesterday. What a contrast to the warm summer days last week.

They say, warm and sunny summer weather is on its way. Let’s see …

Yes, we have beaches!

Skellefteå municipality has round about 400 kilometers coast line (depending on how you measure). Most of the coast is stony or rocky, but there are exceptions. Annika and I used the fine weather yesterday to drive to the peninsula Bjuröklubb, however not directly headed to the lighthouse and the café, but turned right to Storsanden and parked the car. After crossing a sandy grassland that already reminded a bit of the dune landscape of the coastal line of the Northern Sea, we hit a wonderful small bay with a sandy beach.

Round two kilometer to the east, there’s a complete different type of landscape: A long moraine headland, that reaches into the sea called Grundskatan. Normally it’s not easy to reach the peak without getting wet, but yesterday the water level was quite low and we easily reached the peak.

We returned the same way back to the car, drove to the parking place of Bjuröklubb and took the short way to the Café, where we had a late lunch. We went tothe lighthouse, where you have a great view over the Baltic Sea and the coastal scenery. A dark patch on the other side of the bay Gärdviken caught our eyes. Is it solid rock or a a field of big rocky pebbles? Let’s explore …

We took the car and found the way to the coast below the hill Petberget. The way was hardly drivable for my Saab, it’s more a path for forestry machines and jeeps. But – again – what a beautiful place!

 

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.)