Starting the journey

Day one and two

Round half past nine I started “Nordkalotten 2015”, my long journey through Northern Sweden, Norway and Finland. The first destination is Stokmarknes, which is 880 km away and according to Google Maps it takes eleven hours, nine minutes from my home in Skelleftehamn. I’m not a long distance driver therefore I divided the journey into three parts.

Day 1: Skelleftehamn – Solberget

When I started sky was completely cloudy and overcast but right after Vidsel the sky started to clear up and the temperatures dropped from -8 °C in Skelleftehamn to -21 °C in Solberget (with a daily minimum of -23 °C). On the journey I had to cross the river Luleälven three times and on one of the long bridges I could see the sun slowly going down.

I’ve been in Solberget many times and I’ll be there again in February. This time I stayed only to sleep and continued the next day. I one woke up when Sesam, the tom cat and secret owner of Solberget lay down on my feet in the dead of night.

Day 2: Solberget – Abisko

The evening before temperatures increased and it started snowing. When I woke up almost 10 cm fresh snow covered the ground and my car and it was only -2 °C. Half past nine I continued my journey heading for Gällivare, Kiruna and Abisko. It was cloudy the whole time but fortunately almost no snow fell. That made driving as easy as on the first day. Just some kilometres before Abisko sky cleared up a bit. I was lucky and could hire the same nice room where I already stayed last February for a week.

Tomorrow I’ll enter Norway and continue to Stokmarknes.

Reindeers – many, many reindeers

Day three (part I)

Today I got up early, no wonder after more than 10 hours sleep. I packed my things, cleaned the room and left Abisko heading westwards. It was still twilit and I was quite alone on the road.

That changed after 18 kilometres: A huge herd of reindeers blocked the road. I slowed down and slowly, slowly drove through the reindeers. Right after the reindeer crossing I found a parking place. Good to exit the car and take some images of these beautiful and gentle animals.

The reason why the reindeers were hanging around was probably the pile of big bags lying beside of the road. I guess they contain reindeer food.

After half an hour of taking pictures and watching I entered the car again and continued my journey to Norway.

Where to go? Undecided yet …

Day 27

On Sunday I left Murjek and continued my journey. To be honest: I would have loved to be in the Swedish-Norwegian mountains in the storm, and even another storm and masses of snow where forecasted. But …

  • … some roads were closed and other road were strongly discouraged to use
  • … beside of some expensive hotels no rooms were available in Riksgränsen
  • … and tenting would by suicidal (at least with my lack of experience)
  • … the avalanche risk could be extremely high
  • … I couldn’t make any photos in full snowstorm
  • … I couldn’t make any tours neither

So I had reluctantly decided not to drive to the mountains.

I left Murjek and went on to Nattavaara, where I turned right to Purnu (where I made the deep snow images some days before). I realized that I had not so much petrol left. Should I be forced to drive to Gällivare only to refuel the car? No, I was lucky – there was a small petrol station in Hakkas.

I continued a small road heading to Satter and Ullatti, and it felt nice to visit new places. I haven’t even heard the names. Sky was blue, with temperatures round -10 °C it was not so cold and you could see, that there’s much snow. But you could see the impact of the storm and quite warm weather, too: Almost all trees where bare of snow. As a matter of fact it looked like it was end of March – a typical vårvinter (spring-winter) day. As a photographer I dislike this weather. The snowless trees look a bit boring and there’s a lot of needles, bark, twigs and other things on the snow which doesn’t look nice on photos. But some pics anyway …

I continued to Tärendö, that has a town sign in three languages: Swedish, Samian and Finish. This shows that there are more languages spoken than Swedish in this area of Lapland. I liked the small petrol station that looked a bit “Wild West” in some way beside perhaps of the two completely snowed in cars.

I turned left and took the way to Saittarova. I thought about sleeping in the tent and looked for a parking place where I could go into nature a bit. But instead of finding a good place I found a moose. A moose that didn’t ran away when I backed the car to take a photo. But seconds after the photo the moose and another one paced with big, large steps into the forest.

After this nice incident I continued to the crossing and turned right into the 395 to Pajala. Shortly before Mäntykero I hit my place: A parking place and a flat swamp area with some pine trees.

I parked the car and left the comfort zone …

Appendix: Some words about Ole:

The storm Ole, that hit Norway and Sweden yesterday has been one of the strongest in the last ten years and had wind gusts over 50 m/s (that’s 180 km/h). For comparison: Beaufort number 12, “Hurrican Force” (orkan in germanic languages) starts already with 32.6 m/s.

Link: Så voldsom var «Ole» (yr.no, Norwegian)

Hammerfest and Honningsvåg

Day 49

Quite early I left Alta yesterday and continued the E6 in direction Kirkenes. To the left I could see the Altafjorden but soon the street turned right and went a bit up. Half of the Finnmark is above the tree line and so are parts of the E6. But it’s still amazing that you leave the coastal area with green pine trees and wet snow and after a bit of driving up you are in an area with snow covered mountains and just some downy birches here and there.

But after a while the road went down again and I turned left to visit Hammerfest. I made a short stop in Kvalsund before I drove over the bridge onto the island Kvaløya where Hammerfest is situated at the western coast.

I know the name Hammerfest for ages, I guess it was mentioned in my children’s encyclopedia. As many other towns in Norway Hammerfest is a modern town, since it was destroyed almost completely in WW2. For me the name sounds quite German, both “Hammer” and “fest” are German words as well. When I had a look in the tourist information I thought, that Hammerfest is a German town, because all people talked German. But that’s probably only because the Hurtigruten was just in town and many tourists that make a cruise with one of these ships come from German speaking countries.

After a shorter strolling through town I continued the road to Forsøl in the north of Kvaløya. Again the road went through treeless, snow covered hills and mountains. But the rocks at the coast showed moss and other creeping plants due to the mild coastal climate.

I returned and planned to continue my journey to Honningsvåg, one of the northernmost towns in Europe. Driving back was not easy in the beginning because the streets where wet and it was hard to see something against the low standing sun, even with sun glasses and flapped down sun shields. But soon the road changed direction and driving became easier. Now I continued the E6 a bit and turned left into the E69 (that’s where I made the pictures of the Purple Sandpipers) that leads to the town Honningsvåg and to the Nordkapp. It started to dawn and even to snow a bit.

After a while it was dark. I could see grey snow, dark rocks and the dark sea. After a while I couldn’t see anything anymore, just the reflecting tape round the plastic marks and the tunnels. Meanwhile we had +3 °C and it rained. (I guess, it can be alike in summer …) Already from distance I could see the lights of Honningsvåg. The last tunnel went beneath the sea and came out again on the island Magerøya. Some minutes later I was in Honningsvåg.

Now I had three wishes: Food, internet and a room. It took a while to find the only open restaurant, a pizzeria. Check! There I was allowed to use the private WiFi to get internet. Thank you, guys! Check! And there, with the help of Annika who was online I found a room in a hostel. Expensive but hey, we’re in Norway. Check!

Now, the morning after, I will have breakfast and then I will pretend to be a real tourist and visit the Nordkapp, the northern most point in Europe you can reach by car.

Finally: The North Cape

Day 50

To be honest: I never planned to visit the Nordkapp (The North Cape), but when I was in Alta I continued to Hammerfest and after that I travelled to Honningsvåg and from that place it’s only 29 kilometres. So I visited the North Cape yesterday.

The first part is a normal road showing some beautiful views. I also completed 5000 km on this road.

If you go to the North Cape in winter by bus or your own car, you have to drive the last part in convoy. Convoys are starting at 11 and 12 o’clock.

When I came to the convoy place I was an hour too early. Time to try to make a rest on a wooden bench (it was degrees above zero again), but the wood was too wet to stay.

11 o’clock we started. The snow plough came first, then two minibusses, then me and two other cars. The street seemed to be alike as the first part: Snow and mud, partly frozen and some steep passages. The weather changed every single minute and I looked into a rainbow while following the other cars.

When we arrived I parked my car, almost jumped into the building to get an entrance ticket and ran to the famous landmark to make a photo with the rainbow without any other tourists. Even although the rainbow started to vanish I was lucky and I got my pictures. Only my own shadow was unavoidable.

But more than of the landmark I was fascinated by the weather. You could see single rain showers wandering over the sea like extraterrestrial animals and I never saw the weather change so fast and so often than yesterday at the North Cape.

I wandered round and made some photos, both inside and outside. I saw fog and approaching and I saw the many tourists, that came in big busses with the second convoy. I had a look into the tiny chapel in the basement and I ate a waffle with Norwegian cheese, jam and whipped cream.

And of course I made a selfie.

I took the convoy back at 1 o’clock (the earlier one) and I was alone. But so I had time to take the car on another road and drive to Gjesvær, a little fishing village in the northwest part of the island Magerøya. I had to stop again, the light on the far mountains was just breathtaking and the photo is just a poor copy of reality.

There’s apparently no tourism in Gjesvær under the winter but I could see several fishing boats going out and coming in.

After a short strolling I returned back over the fjell until I was at my hostel in Honningsvåg again.

The North Cape – is it worth a visit?

Even if I’m usually not attract by touristic attractions I do like the place somehow.

Yes, it’s neither the northernmost point of mainland Europe (that’s Cape Nordkinn near Mehamn), nor even the northernmost point of the island Magerøya (that’s Knivskjellodden), but it’s a symbol! A symbol for being at the north peak of Europe and as long as you travel by car it is the northermost place you will reach.

I wouldn’t travel far just to reach the North Cape but when you are nearby I think it is worth both the travel and the entrance fee of NOK 255. If you have your own car, take the first convoy and you will get a chance of taking pictures without a zillion other tourists, at least as long it’s not too foggy.

For me this is kind of a peak of my journey Nordkalotten 2015 and now I’ll travel southward again. Probably Karasjok today and Kirkenes tomorrow. What I will do after this depends on the weather. If winter still is much too warm as most of the time I might return to my house in Skelleftehamn and take it easy for two weeks before I drive to Finnland again the last free week. But we’ll see. No plans yet …

A first day in Kirkenes

What a beautiful morning! -6 °C and blue sky. I was accommodated near the Kirkenes Snow Hotel where my friend I’m staying with works. I had a look into the Snow Hotel first, It has an impressive lobby with tables and a bar and round about 20 rooms where tourists can stay over night.

After looking around I drove into the centre of Kirkenes and had a walk at the port. First I discovered the commercial fishing part: Big piles of traps for the big King crabs and fisher boats lettered with latin and cyrillic letters. But not far away you could see the touristic part: The Hurtigruten ship Kong Harald that landed nearby.

I walked at the shore a bit and tried to make photos of the big ice floes that lay ashore but clouds had approached and the light was a bit dull. So I took the car and took the road E105 to Му́рманск (Murmansk). No, I didn’t plan to travel to Russia but I wanted at least to see the Russian border. It’s not far away and soon I parked my car just in front of the border.

I’m child of the cold war. It was great to see, that there is a normal border now (even if you need a visa for travelling to Russia) and that you are allowed to take pictures. On the other side this border seemed to be more the “end of the world” to me than the North Cape. On the right-hand side there is the lake that is marked with orange warning signs. This is part of the Norwegian–Russian border that crosses this lake. You shouldn’t set foot on the lake, but at least I went to the shore to take a picture of the Russian custom.

Maybe I will cross this border one day and take the car or the bus to Murmansk, who knows …

It already started snowing on the way to the Russian border but on the way back the snow fall intensified. It was still easy to follow the road but hills that very a bit farer away where hardly visible.

Back at the snow hotel it was still snowing a lot and quite windy but warm as well: +1 to +2 degrees. Some of the 140 huskies were still out on tour while the rest of the dogs could take it easy.

The forecast for the next day promised sunny weather. We’ll see …

 

On the way to Å

Day one

Å is not only the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet, it’s the name of some places, too. The probably most known  is Å i Lofoten, the southmost village of the Lofoten islands.

Delle, a German friend of mine and I started the tour last Saturday. The only plan was to take the car, drive to Bodø and take a ferry to the Lofoten islands, the same day or the other day.

The weather in Skelleftehamn was fine but in Arjeplog, where we made a lunch break it started to rain. We continued our trip to Bodø over the mountains. They were wrapped in clouds and were still partly covered with snow.

17:30 we arrived in Bodø, just in time to get the ferry to Moskenes on the Lofoten. Normally I love to be outside all the time when I’m on a ship but this time the sky was so grey that you hardly could see anything. The Lofoten with its more than 1200 meter high mountains came in sight just some minutes before we arrived.

We left the ferry with Delle’s car and drove the 5 km to Å, where it rained so much, that we decided not to put up our tent but to sleep in the car. I put on my rain cloth and made a short evening walk but soon returned to the car. The only pictures I made that evening were the fish heads on the wooden racks drying in the salty wind.

Winter journey in a nutshell

It snowed in Skelleftehamn tonight. It’s hardly a secret, that I love winter, snow and coldness. In Skelleftehamn however it would be too warm, because the Baltic Sea is near.

Therefore I decided yesterday to take a day off today, take camera and car and travel towards winter. In the inland the climate is colder and hopefully there would be more snow. I started at 6:45 in darkness. The first part was no fun to drive. Road salt is used on the big road to Skellefteå and the road further west. With temperatures slightly below zero you always have a film of muddy saltwater on your windscreen while the wipers still are partly frozen and will not work properly. That in combination with approaching cars with bright lights makes it hard to see and much concentration is needed.

That instantly got better when I left the big road 95 (that would bring me to Bodø in Norway) right after Jörn. The smaller roads are covered with ice and hard snow – much easier to drive and the windscreen stays clear. And it looks much more like winter than a wet road. And while in Skelleftehamn even the duck pond is open, here the lakes and some small streams are ice and snow covered.

I continued the road and drove to Storklinten, a small ski hill. Well, it wasn’t so interesting yet with only round about 10 cm snow, but the lake nearby – Lill-Klintträsket – was really nice. It started snowing and the tree covered hills farther away seemed to vanish into a white nothing.

The way to Storklinten is a dead-end road and I had to return. I continued the larger road to Myrheden looking for motives. And I found one. The small river Ålsån:

I was glad I had my chest waders with me, so I could come quite near to the motive. And there were a lot of motives this day. For example reindeers. The first small flock was extremely shy and cautious. It didn’t dare to pass my car and left the road starring at me suspiciously from behind the small trees. You can see that they digged for food in the snow, the noses are snow covered and one of the reindeers even had a twig hanging in its antlers.

Further on the road: Town signs with funny looking names (there was even a village called Hej, which is Swedish for hello), more snow covered roads and trees and two extremely well educated reindeers going beside the road in single file.

I’m looking for motive especially, where there are crash barriers beside of the road – there the street will probably cross a river or a creek. Some of them are open, many broader ones with less current are already covered with ice. And on one of them – far away – I could see a reddish animal and some dark spots. A fox? Birds? I looked for the next parking opportunity – sometimes a real challenge – and walked back.

I was right: There was a fox. And some kind of skeleton, perhaps a roe deer or a reindeer. And some crows. And an eagle! It doesn’t happen often, that I see eagles nearby where I live. I made some photos with my tele lens. Zooming in I could even see some magpies hopping around hoping for a snack. The scene was much too far away to get good pictures, but anyway, I want to show you this one:

After a while I started to get hungry. My car too; the red R-lamp has been glowing for a while. Anyway, the town Arvidsjaur, todays destination, was not so far away anymore. As people in former days first fed their horses before eating themselves I first tanked my car with E95, then myself with beef, mashed potato, mushroom sauce and salad. Then I looked around in the city which I think is really nice. Especially in winter with snow – round 20 cm today.

Even if the “real winter” is not here yet the days are already quite short: Sunset in Arvidsjaur was a quarter past two! At three o’clock I started to use the car’s full beam, half an hour later it was quite dark. Time to head home. I couldn’t see any motives any longer and I navigated to the main road. Now driving became exhausting again for a while since it started to snow quite heavily. And if you use full beam while snowing you just see a tunnel of snow flakes swooshing towards you. It’s a big like old televisions science fiction series, when the spaceships activated their warp-drives. And as in space there is no up or down. The second photo may give you a faint idea.

Luckily the snow shower ended soon and the rest of the trip was just about coming home.

400 km and 500 meters – 11 hours 30 minutes – a straining but great one day trip winterwards.

Back again in Skelleftehamn: Snow is gone, it’s pitch black and it’s raining cats and dogs.

Räven raskar över isen

“Räven raskar över isen”, which means “The fox rushes over the ice”  is a popular Swedish folksong which is performed as a singing game at midsummer.

Today I was out quite early, because the weather was still nice: -6 °C and not completely cloudy. And while I took some more images of the ice outside of Storgrundet, wondering when the ice will bear my weight I saw a fox crossing the ice and rushing from one island to the other. I immediately remembered the song.

(The photo itself is a cropped image, the fox was too far away for my 70-200 mm telephoto lens. By the way: the clouds were of an incredibly intense red – even more than the photos)

Soon more clouds came in and it started to get warmer. In the afternoon it started to rain transforming the cold roads into slippery, wet ice tracks. I would deeply recommend to wear broddar – spikes for your shoes when weather is like this.

Hunting the cold – day #1

Two days ago it looked like that it could by quite cold in Northern Sweden yesterday and today. I checked several places and their weather forecasts and Pajala with a forecasted temperature of -40.4 °C won. That’s good news, since Pajala is only 350 km away. Nikkaluokta for example is one of the coldest places in Sweden, is 537 km away and it will take more than 6 hours to travel to (when conditions are good).

Yesterday – 6 Jan, 2016 – I packed kamera, very warm clothes and all you need for ski tours into my Saab and started the trip. In Skelleftehamn it was -17 °C, but already 20 km away the temperature dropped to -20 °C.

I made a stop in Jävre. I’ve passed this place several times and every time I planned a future stop. Well, future was yesterday. Jävre -23.3 °C.

I continued the trip and the temperature continued dropping. Round half past ten I could see the sun – it was bright red (the camera couldn’t catch this) and because of the higher latitude it was even lower above the horizon. -27 °C.

Now I continued driving to avoid arriving too late. Right after Svartbyn (E10) the thermometer dropped below -30 °C the first time. Round 40 km later I turned right. Here temperatures dropped below -33 °C. Near Pentäsjärvi – 25 km before Pajala – it got even colder: -36.9 °C. I probably experienced colder temperatures, but never saw such low numbers on a thermometer.

I found a quite low-priced room in the Hotell Smedjan but I continued driving around looking for nice (and cold!) places.

One of the most fascinating things in my opinion is the light in wintertime. Twilight may last hours or even the whole short morning, day, and evening and there are always soft pink colours in the sky. Just beautiful, but cold to take pictures of if you don’t have warm clothes. But when I have one thing, it’s cold weather equipment.

I looked for the airport, which is a bit out of town and quite tiny. It was closed. It’s the first airport I saw with an own parking place for reindeers. Good to know!

On my way back to Pajala I found a side road that headed to a small national park. I parked the car and walked the 700 meters to the cabin and the grill place in darkness. Of course it wasn’t pitch black, the snow and some thin clouds reflected the light of the city, giving enough light to see and walk. (The selfie is made with the iPhone which can take two photos until it will shut down because of the cold.

On the way back it was even colder: -38.8 °C. Now I got really hungry, drove back to the hotel and walked to the pizza restaurant. (Pizza and burger bars rule the Scandinavian north). Pajala by night:

Then I went home. I was glad that I have all I need for such a trip: A camera, food and a warm winter parka.

After a while I considered if I could catch the -40 °C now. It was warmer than expected, but let’s give it a try.

This time I took the road to Käymäjärvi (the name proofs, that Finland is not far away). Yes, here it was quite cold – below -39 °C. Between a swamp and the lake I stopped, since these low lands can be cold traps. I didn’t get lower temperatures but a view on the village and northern light (quite strong until I was ready to take pictures …)

On the way back to the main road I got my new personal cold record: -39.6 °C (sorry, no -40 °C)! When it’s really cold in Northern Sweden people take pictures of thermometers and show them in the internet. I will join this tradition. Voilà:

>>> read about day 2 of the journey >>>

Thaw

When it’s more than 10 °C in mars for two days a lot of snow thaws and transforms normal streets into a proving ground for jeeps. Soft slush, sheer ice, deep tracks and huge puddles cover the streets and crossings and I wait for the day where I’ll get stuck twenty metres from home.

On the other side the scenery can look almost nice, at least when you lower your camera as much as possible:

Farewell, winter

Yesterday it started to rain.

Today it rained, rained and it rained. It poured down the whole time and didn’t stop for a single second.

Probably it’s time to say farewell to winter.

I’m looking forward to spring, but I’ve started to miss winter already.

757.5 – from Mosvik to Skelleftehamn by car

Last week I’ve been in Mosvik (Norway) to visit friends. Yesterday I drove back home, not directly but with a detour via Nordli and Røyrvik (Norway) and Stekenjokk, (Sweden).

According to google maps the direct way is 671 km, taking 8 h 38 min. With the detour it is only 67 km, but 1 h 46 min longer. That says a lot about the small and steep gravel roads near the Swedish–Norwegian border …

For me the journey didn’t take 10.5 hours, but more than 15. For one thing I don’t drive fast, especially in Norway and for another thing I took many smaller rests for taking pictures as well as a lunch and a dinner break. I left at 9 o’clock; at quarter past midnight I finally was home again. Total distance by car: 757.5 km.

See my travelogue of the journey by clicking the first image and navigating through the images. Swipe on touch devices and click or use arrow keys on other computers.

By the way: After nineteen articles without any photo with snow, this is the first article showing at least some patches of snow again.

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.

 

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.

#snowember16 – part I

Hooray! Winter is here! I want 4 meters of snow and -45 °C already in November. (Well, a bit less is ok, too.)

I saw the first snow of the season two days before on my way back home from Umeå. The forecast predicted more snow to come today – even a class 1 snowfall warning had been issued – but not in Skelleftehamn where rain was forecasted.

Skelleftehamn showed only some patches of slush-like snow this morning as a result of last nights precipitations. Skellefteå got two centimeters of snow and experienced some wet snow showers today. On the way back to Skelleftehamn more snow lay on the ground. Between town and home it’s mostly a bit colder with neither city nor the Baltic Sea directly nearby. In Skelleftehamn itself however the snow has been almost rained away and the thermometer showed +2 °C.

Today I had a rehearsal with a new jazz trio in Kroksjön, which means hook lake and is just eight kilometres south from Skellefteå. It was just slightly colder there and the snow less wet. Round ten centimetres had fallen down – still wet but white and beautiful to look at. I took some photos after the rehearsal (I always have a tripod in the car).

When I made these photos it didn’t snow anymore, temperatures where below zero and I could see some stars. When I was on the 364 to Skellefteå it started snowing again, but not much, so I took the E4, the fastest way to Skelleftehamn. Well, normally. Today it took much more time. The snow fall intensified more and more and the visibility was really poor. Instead of 110 km/h I hardly dared to drive 70.

Another car tailgated me, eager to overtake. Finally the E4 became two-lane and the car driver overtook me. I really had to smile, because now – without my backlights in front – the other driver was forced to slow down as well, driving exactly the same tempo I had been using all the time.

It wasn’t easy but I found the exit to Skelleftehamn. The snow fall intensified even more and I slowed down further. Using the full beams the approaching snow looked like a tunnel of stars when a space ship goes into some kind of faster-than-light hyperdrive. That’s what it looks like (imagine that in fast motion):

Funnily enough the heavy snow fall decreased when I approached Skelleftehamn and stopped when I arrived home.

Now at 23:30 we have ca. 5 cm of snow and it started snowing a bit again. If the forecast is right we will get permanent frost on Friday and 30 cm of snow from Friday until Monday morning.

#snowember16 – part III

And the snow fall continues. Today it didn’t stop snowing at all. 40 cm of snow covered the backyard of my house in the morning, now it’s already 65 cm and probably the fence will be buried by the snow soon.

Most people are only out to clear the snow, by shovel, snow blower or – more efficient – by tractor. The big municipal snowplough has just come through for the first time today, leaving a “plogkant” (plough rim) – a wall of snow, round 60 cm high, on the side of the street. That means, before I even think off taking the car, that stands on the driveway of my property, I have to go out and shovel all that snow away. And that snow of the plogkant is always quite compact and therefore heavy.

The neighbours have started to look at me almost a bit angry. They know, that I’m snow-addicted and just love that kind of weather while they just see the work. Perhaps I would think the same, if I had lived here the whole of my life.

But anyway – it is so beautiful with all that snow. Have a look by yourself.

  • The 1st photo is made in Ursviken this morning, when I took my first winter bath.
  • The 2nd photo shows the way to Storgrundet at the coast.
  • The 3rd photo shows the sandy beach of Storgrundet, or at least the snow covering it. Looks like boat season is soon over now.

Today it’s even cold the first day with day temperatures round -6 °C. In combination with all that snow, it’s hardly believable that it’s just the beginning of November.

The forecast says, it will permanent frost temperature the next 10 days. I – sorry, my neighbours – would approve it.

#snowember16 – part V

Last night it snowed another 15 cm, increasing the snow depth in my backyard to 76 cm and finally the fence in my backgard was gone, hidden by the snow.

You see, that the picture looks a bit hazy? That’s because it snowed still a lot, when I made this picture this morning at 6 o’clock. You see that blending light to the right of the house? It’s a tractor that already had started to plough away the snow.

Some hours later Annika and I took the car to Bureå – another “snow pocket” nearby. As a matter of fact I was curious, if there was even more snow as here in Skelleftehamn.

Finally I could take a picture of the beautiful pavilion Åbacka paviljong which lies near Bureå on the other side of the E4. A huge pile of snow left by a tractor came in handy to get a higher perspective.

And we saw buried cars. And half buried tractors, and really buried cars, and a quite snowed in bicycle.

I heard from some people living in Bureå, that at least one meter of snow has fallen, but I couldn’t find such places in town.  I seemed to be as much snow as home, perhaps a bit more.

When we took a detour, left Bureå and headed to Burvik over the hill Bureberget (altitude: 99 meters!) the snow walls at the sides of the road increased. I stopped the car on the side of the street and just took some steps into the forest. Here the snow was really much deeper, I should say round 110 cm! Here seems to be Bureå’s “snow center”.

I left Annika at the bus station and took the E4 to Skellefteå where I had a meeting at one o’clock. Well, I tried to take the E4, but from the next exit on it was closed due to an accident. I left the E4 and took a secondary route. There were many trucks and other cars taking the same detour and since the road was quite snowy and it still snowed the drive was at quite a low pace. Following a truck is no fun since you hardly see anything beside of the white snow whirling through the air. That is called snörök – “snow smoke”. Sometimes it was not easy to follow the street because all meadows and fields are just as white as the road and the red sticks marking the road hardly help in the snörök.

I took it easy, stopped the car in one of the rare snow-free parking bays and made a photo from the collapsed barn buried in the deep snow.

When I came home the snow fall had stopped and the streets where ploughed. On each corner you could see piles of snow up to four meters high. And finally even my elder bush seemed to realise that summer is over and has started to cast of its leaves.

Tomorrow I’ll take a day off and enjoy the early winter. Skis or snowshoes? I haven’t decided yet.

Some other snow depth:

  • The neighbour at the other side of the street: 86 cm.
  • Some people in Bureå: 100 cm, already four days ago.
  • Someone in Lycksele in the inland: 2 cm!

#snowember16 – part VI

1. A tiny ski tour

As yesterday I took the car to the hill Bureberget, this time with skis and snowshoes. I had thought that the biggest challenge would be to park the car – not easy if there are only snow walls on the left and the right off the road, but I was lucky, a side road was cleared and I could park the car there in front of an old, wooden house buried in the snow.

I decided for the skis, changed shoes, put on gaiters, strapped the backpack on and put on my skis. After following the main road to Burvik a bit I bent left into the road to the top of Bureberget. The snow has settled a bit and was less high than yesterday. Soon I found a nice way downhills – my first “ski-run” this season, perhaps 20 seconds long. Of course I had to climb up again. That was partly not so easy between trees, rocks and quite soft snow where I sank down to my knees quite often even with the skis on. I found a steep but nice passage up that led me to some kind of bridge or ladder crossing a small ravine. This part I took without my skis …

After I had succeeded the “winter climbing challenge” I stood on a huge rock, almost up on the level of the top again. I took a detour to the forest and was soon back again.

This ski tour was quite short. One of the reasons was, that I didn’t find nice motive for photos today. It was very windy and all treetops were bare of snow. Many pine needles and pieces of bark lay on the snow which made the snow looking old and dirty, even if it was just one day old.

But anyway, it’s always great to be out and so it was today! And even better, when the sun comes out.

2. The coast of Storgrundet

When I was back in Skelleftehamn I didn’t drive home directly but to the coast of Storgrundet. I was curious how much ice would cover the part of the Baltic Sea between island and mainland. There’re still patches of open water, but most of the water is covered with ice. I guess that I have to look for other starting points, when I want to paddle kayak in the weekend.

It was only some degrees below zero but the strong winds made me shiver and I was very glad to had a warm down jacket with me and put the hood on tight. Brrr, autumn is definitely over.

 

The Varanger Peninsula

Never have I been so far northeast before, travelling from Kirkenes to Vardø, where Annika and I would enter the Hurtigruten vessel Trollfjord. After the visit of the Sjøsamisk Museum we were glad to be in the warm car again as it was quite stormy outside with temperatures round -12 °C.

We left the E6 in Varangerbotn and continued eastwards on the E75. While there were many trees along the E6, the landscape became more and more arctic now. Between Varangerbotn and Vadsø there were still small and scattered birch trees and thickets, but there’s hardly any visible vegetation left between Vadsø and Vardø in wintertime. On the left side of the street lay snow covered mountains, hills and tundra plains, on the right side the rough Barents Sea. Hardly believable that people live here, but they do, mostly on places quite exposed to the sea and of course near to the E75, the only street.

We had to catch the Trollfjord the same day, a pity, since there was so much to look, to explore, to photograph. Next time I would plan an additional overnight stay to have more time.

Far away at the horizon of the Barents Sea we could see something rectangular. A container ship or our Trollfjord? Coming further and the ship coming nearer we could see that it indeed was the Trollfjord that left Kirkenes some hours after us.

We didn’t have much time to visit Vardø, just a very brief run through the witchcraft trials memorial, then we had to enter the big ship by car. I was the only car boarding; most passengers are cruisers, either taking the whole tour Bergen—KirkenesBergen, or the much shorter Tromsø—Kirkenes—Tromsø.

We got our room (small, but sufficient), I bought internet for two days (quite poor, since it blocks a lot of urls and ports, among others my mail traffic) and then we left Vardø by Hurtigruten.

Since then Annika and I have been on the Trollfjord. In three hours we’ll be in Tromsø, tomorrow afternoon we’ll leave the ship in Stokmarknes and will stay on the Vesterålen for some days.