Torghatten

16. September

After our five day hiking tour in the Swedish Mountains a week of Annika’s and my holiday was left. We entered the car and left Storulvån. Shortly before we approached the E14 I asked Annika: “Back to Umeå or Norway?” The answer was: “Norway”. So we travelled to Norway …

19. September

After visiting friends near Mosvik we decided to drive north to Mo I Rana, but neither on the direct way, nor on a single day. We made a two-day stopover in a fantastic cottage between Torget and Brønnøysund. On the other day we drove to Torghatten, a mountain in the south of the same island. There’s something special with this mountain: It has a huge hole. From the parking place at the foot of the mountain a path leads up to the hole and through the natural tunnel to the other side. We slipped into our boots, took the cameras and went up.

Some photos:

We put ourselves on a large stone and looked at the landscape behind: The rocky slope, the tiny red farm house, the beaches and the sea with its many islands. We could have continued on that path, which leads further, but then we had to go round the whole mountain on a gravel path at the end. So we just returned the same way.

An impressive tour, that doesn’t take much time. Don’t miss it when you’re near Brønnøysund. And take your wide-angle lens with you!

Boat bridge by day and night (featuring Aurora)

Two photos of the small wooden, floating boat bridge at Storgrundet, the nearest beach from my house in Skelleftehamn. Both are made today.

One is a snapshot, made 10:30 in broad daylight. The sky is bright blue, the birch leaves are still yellow, slowly turning brown. A boat has just put out to the near island. The sun still warms, but it is windy and the air is fresh. Tiny waves make the boat bridge wobble and you can hear the waves gurgle.

Almost twelve hours later, att 22:08 I make the second image, this time with a tripod and 10 sec exposure time. The sun went done at 6 o’clock and the temperature has dropped to 4 °C. A cloudless and starry sky arches above the near island and the rests of a polar lights are flickering above the horizon. Just as this morning the boat bridge is wobbling in the tiny gurgling waves – that’s way this photo is jittered.

I like either views, both the autumn leaves in the sun and the polar light in the night. However while I enjoy the autumn days just as they are, the polar light increases the anticipation of the coming winter – still months away, but coming for sure.

Back to Sweden

20. September

The day after our walk to and through the Torghatten we took a breakfast in our fantastic cottage Feriehus ved Lille Torgvatnet we hired for two days. After that we tidied a bit, packed our baggage into the car and continued the tour.

We took the 17 to the north to Horn, where we took the ferry to Andalsvågen. We drove 17 km to Forvik, where we took another Ferry to Tjøtta including some intermediate stations.

Have a look at the 2nd photo above: „Tricky stopover in Stokka“. You see the car with the trailer? Look closer. Did you realise, that the taillights are on? The car isn’t leaving the ferry, it’s entering it. Backwards! All cars in Stokka had to embark the ferry backwards – whether that car with the trailer or the camping van. I never expected that you have to enter a ferry like this. The next port we experienced an even bigger oddity: The car with the trailer even left the ferry backwards. Really strange!

We continued on the 17 – now without any ferries – but left the road near Leira to continue to Mo I Rana. From that town it’s just another 40 km to the Swedish border.

Annika and I enjoyed the incredible autumnal colours of the trees on our way back and I looked for a place to make some last photos of the tour. 2.8 km behind the border I found it:

After looking at these stunning and extreme colours we continued to Tärnaby, where we stayed over night. The next day we drove back to Umeå, where we arrived in the afternoon.

 

Kayaking in the sunrise

“BING-BINGA-BINGA-BING-BING-BING-A-BINGA …!”

… yells the alarm on my mobile. I open my eyes, still partly caught in my dreams. Then I realise: It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I’ve planned a paddle trip today. Out there it’s still pitch black and reluctantly I get up and get some breakfast. I’ve already packed the day before: dry suit – neoprene boots, gloves and hood – camera in a waterproof bag – water and chocolate. The compass and the live vest are already in the kayak. I leave, pulling my kayak behind on its trolley and the temperature is -4.5 °C – the coldest day since April. Round half an hour later I’m ready to start the tour. The sun hasn’t risen yet and some pink clouds hang in the blue sky.

At the sandy beach I drag the kayak into the water, lay the paddle on both the boat and the shallow ground to avoid tipping and climb in. I do some strokes, unfold the rudder that helps my steering the kayak and turn right. It’s low water and much more stones and rocks are visible as usual. I turn right again to paddle between the island Brambärsgrundet and the mainland. After that I turn left again and see the horizon and an archipelago of stones. I have to make my way through and more than once I hear the typical clicking sound, when the sea is so shallow, that the rudder at the rear touches ground and is lifted up.

The colours start to change: From light pink to something you could call apricot to warm orange. And then the sun starts to rise. It’s not that I’ve never seen sunrises before, but still I love to watch.

The sun rises a bit higher and starts to illuminate the colourful trees on the island Storgrundet which I’m approaching. Before I reach that island I turn right again and head to the open water. All I see in front of me is water, waves, the sky, clouds and midmost: the horizon. It looks like I just could paddle straight ahead to the horizon for ages. Probably it would take ages: it’s round 150 kilometres to the Finnish mainland.

So I turn left again and paddle along Storgrundets outer shoreline, go round the western peak and to the same beach were I started my tour one and a half hours before. A quite short, but pleasant kayak trip.

I go ashore and drag the kayak to the beach. It’s still below zero. The spray water on the kayak is frozen and there’s hoar frost on leaves and wood, especially in the shadowy places.

Now I exchange the dry suit for pants and jacket and the neoprene hood for a woollen cap. Dry suit and such is great for protection in case of falling into the cold water, but the “normal” clothes feel much more comfortable. I make a last photo of the beach and the island Storgrundet in the back, then I return home dragging the kayak behind.

At 9 o’clock I start my normal work.

“New Year’s resolution”: Be more outdoors in my everyday life, even if it’s short.

 

 

Kp 6-7

People, who love watching auroras need, the higher the Kp, the better. The Kp index measures the disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field and therefore is a good indicator for the possibility of auroras a.k.a. polar lights. The Kp index ranges from 0 to 9.

When I moved to Skelleftehamn in 2010, I was on the look-out for auroras when the Kp was 3 or higher (and the first winter was extremely dull, when it came to Northern lights). Nowadays I consider looking out when the Kp is 4 or (better) above – or randomly if it’s dark and starry.

Today the Kp was (and still is) really high; between 6 and 7 with a forecast of 7⅔, which is really extraordinary!

When I looked out right after 6 o’clock, I already could see a bright band of Northern light above me. Keep in mind, that this was just 40 minutes after sunset, still in the time of civil twilight and the sky itself was still bright, too.

Ten minutes later I stood at the stony shore of Näsgrundet and took the first photo:

This is probably my favourite shot of today, since the polar lights look so delicate and fragile. I’ve seen such only once before, when the Kp index was as high as today.

Five minutes later: The moon illuminates the Baltic Sea, the island Gåsören is clearly visible at the horizon. The aurora weakened a bit and is not visible in this direction.

16 minutes later, now being 18:40: It became darker and there were enough stars shining to see the constellations. The aurora, that had weakened for some minutes, started to get stronger again.

And I mean stronger! Six other minutes later half of the sky was filled with a huge vortex of polar lights. My wide angle lens (14-24mm) could only catch a part of it.

I switched my place, from the rocky northern shore to the pier for the pilot vessels. Now it’s quite dark and the twilight colours almost had vanished. But now the aurora has weakened to a “nice” one, nothing impressive anymore.

I waited a bit, but nothing extraordinary happens any longer. I head home. Perhaps I’ll be out once more again later …

Photographer’s issues:

My nice Gitzo tripod broke some weeks ago. So I’ve been using another one which slows me down. When you take photos of moving motives – yes, polar lights do move – it can be important to know your equipment to be fast. Some shots weren’t made today just because of the unusual (and inferior) tripod.

Have a look at the last photo. Do you see the rainbow coloured arcs on the left side? Nice for you, because I didn’t. At least not directly after taking that photo. Otherwise I would have taken another photo covering the light source on the right side with my hand (making the hand part of the photo). Then I could have merged these two photos into one and got rid of these lens reflections. Well, perhaps next time …

Micromountains

After two weeks of cloudy and gloomy weather it started to clear up and the sun came out, glistening from a cloudless blue sky. I was out at 8 o’clock, sufficiently early to catch the sunrise.

The photo however I liked most was of the frost-covered tree stump which I developed in black and white.

 

Taking advantage of the sun

Yesterday I took the car and drove to Umeå. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. Sounds nice, right? Well, it was nice but hard to drive. The sun melted the frost on the asphalt and the wet street reflected the low hanging sunlight. Sometimes it was really hard to see anything other than just a glaring white nothing.

Today the sky was blue and the sun was shining again. Sounds nice, right? Today it was nice since Annika and I took a longer stroll through the forests near Strömback south from Umeå.

The temperatures were above zero, but parts of the ground were still frost covered. We followed a path between Tjuvvarpet – a lake – and Matsund – part of the Baltic Sea. Anyway you could see neither lake or sea from the path since the forest was too dense and hid the waters which were just 100 meters away.

On the way back we made a short rest at a place on the lake near the hill Tjuvvarpberget. Most of the lake was still free of ice but near the rocky shore you could see the first covering of ice. It almost looked a bit wintry.

Apropos winter: If the weather forecast is right we will get at least 30 cm of snow in Skelleftehamn within the next eight days. Nevertheless I’m quite sceptical. Just two centigrade warmer and it will all pour down as rain.

 

The first snowfall

After yesterdays sunny autumn walk I drove back to Skelleftehamn today. When I left Umeå round 7 o’clock the sky was mostly blue. On the E4 I could see orange-grey low hanging clouds ahead. Near Ånäset it started to snow. Some of the snow showers were quite intense and soon covered the roads and the ploughed fields with white snow.

Skelleftehamn is still warmed by the near Baltic Sea and so it was round about 2 centigrades warmer. Enough to let the snow melt away.