108 free days

Yesterday I worked the last day for a long time. Now I have holidays. Long holidays! The first day I’ll work again will be the day after Easter Monday and that means that I have (just a moment, I’ll have to check it again to believe it: 12 + 31 + 28 + 31 + 6), that I have a 108 day holiday starting today!

108 days – isn’t it great? Um – err – I don’t know! The last months were quite tough with much work (both privately and on the job) and I’ve been in “survival mode” for many weeks – and still I am. I don’t realise yet, that today my longest period of free time since pre-kindergarden times started. Probably it will take some more days until I really understand.

Yesterday it was sleeting – a bit of snow, quite much rain. But in the afternoon it got colder and rain changed into snow. Today it’s round -5 °C and we have ca. 8 cm fresh snow. In contrast to the last weeks the snow will probably survive, since the weather forecast promises temperatures below zero for the rest of the month.

My friends know my passion for winter and snow and of course I went out and took a walk round the lake Rudtjärnen. The whole lake is covered both with ice and fresh snow and I saw the first two skiers today. They tried to cross a part of the lake but they had to stop to scrape the freezing slush from the bottoms of their skis. The ice under the snow is still wet. No surprise after yesterdays rain.

Later this morning I took the car to the peninsula Näsgrundet where you can see the island Gåsören with its red-white lighthouse in two kilometers distance. It still snowed and long waves rolled on the beach, broke on the shallow shore and flushed away the snow of the nearest rocks. And in the background lay Gåsören covered with the first noteworthy amount of snow.

It took more than 60 shots of this motiv, until I found the right place and – much harder – the right time with surf in the air and the red spotlight of the lighthouse on. I’m still not content, but it’s the best shot today.

The rest of the day: Celebrated laziness – it’s my first day off!

In round about three weeks I will start my long trip through Northern Sweden and Northern Norway – the reason why I took such a long period off duty, and by the way the reason why I started this blog.

Winter intensifies

Did I write about the “just normal” winter two days before? Well that changed a bit. Right after I wrote the last article the snowfall intensified and brought 10 cm new snow within 16 hours. It got both windier and colder and still snowed a lot.

Today¹ I took a walk round the small lake Rudtjärnen. Snow fell in thick, heavy flakes and made it impossible to look farther than 100 meters. The squalls whirled up the snow morphing the view into a grey-white nothing. And it was even windier on the slope by the lake. The trees on the 2nd photo were hardly 50 metres away!

That was a nice and not so long walk (which was intended since I don’t want to overstrain myself right after the infection), but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to go out again. And so I did. This time with food and drink, (of course) my camera, my new flashlight and my new down clothes for some testing. I already guessed that I couldn’t drive to the small boat harbour because the way wasn’t ploughed and snow was too deep for my car. So I decided to continue to the peninsula Näsgrundet. What a piece of luck!

I dressed up for cold weather, lit my new strong flashlight and went to the rocky beach. Normally the shore descends to the open sea but not tonight where – I couldn’t believe my eyes – the shore was an ice shelf rising up at least one meter before dropping into a black nothing. I could hear the sea behind but I couldn’t see it. Where am I? What happened? Then I heard a rolling wave and – SPLAT! – I could see water and foam rising high up behind the brink and clashing onto the ice shelf! It took a moment or two until I realised what happened: The brisk northern wind presses the waves ashore where they rocket up into the air several meters. I guess that the water and foam first landed on the rocks where it probably froze almost instantly – remember, it’s -15 °C  out there. The rocks became more and more ice covered until they vanished under a growing layer of ice. When I came to this place this evening some parts of the ice were already two meters above sea level! And still some of the waves managed to toss a lot of water onto the ice where it froze and enlarged the ice shelf. What a fantastic experience!

I was both happy to be out there and a bit disappointed that I couldn’t share this moment. If I at least could take a photo, but how to take pictures of waves when it’s so dark. Wait a moment – dark? – My new flashlight was described as extremely bright – Let’s test. I switched the flashlight to the brightest mode, laid it onto my backpack and adjusted the beam to the waves. Then I took tripod and camera and started to experiment. And that’s the result:

I’m impressed. The new Flashlight is really bright. So bright that I can take such pictures at night time. (For the photo freaks: 1/20 sec at f / 4.5, ISO 1600. 35mm)

OK. The flashlight succeeded the test. But what’s with the rest? I was curious how warm the new bought down parka and down pant would be. I just wore a single layer of woollen underwear and my thin but windproof Norrøna-jacket, mostly to test the fur under the down clothes, that was all. (Not mentioning boots and gloves, of course). I’ve been out more than an hour, first taking pictures, then measuring wind and temperature, than taking my frugal evening meal. And yes – the Marmot down combination is as warm, snugly and cozy as it looks like. Almost too warm when sitting although we had an average wind speed of 10 m/s resulting in a wind chill of  -27 C. That’s good to know.

Now I’m longing to sunrise. I want to visit the spot again and take some daylight pictures. That’s perhaps evan a reason to postpone my journey another day. I’m not in a hurry. But tomorrow, when I’ll visit the place again I’ll wear something less water-sensitive than down, because tonight I always expected a huge monster wave would flood half the shelf and soak me completely.

Finally just two selfies from today, one when I walked round the lake, the other when I sat outside after the evening meal.

Foot note:

¹ As a matter of fact: Yesterday. It will already be Monday when I publish this article.

Some vocabularies for my German readers:

squall – Windböe
down – (hier) Daune
foam – (hier) Gischt
flashlight – Taschenlampe
fur – Pelz

For equipment nerds:

Flashlight: Nitecore EA41 Pioneer
Down clothes: Marmot 8000M Parka, Marmot 8000M Pant. Older (or simpler) models.

Just for the archives:

Friday 2015-01-09 21:45 ca. 30 cm -4.6 °C
Saturday 2015-01-10 13:40 ca. 40 cm -7.1 °C
Sunday 2015-01-09 09:15 ca. 45 cm -8.6 °C
Sunday 2015-01-09 16:55 ca. 52 cm (47 cm backyard, 57 cm front yard) -15.0 °C

Sun rise 5:16

If you love to witness the sun rise you have to rise up early. Today I managed to stand up round 4:15 and half an hour later I stood at the sandy beach of Harrbäckssand to see the sun coming up. Well, sandy beach it is in summer, now the shore is covered with snow and ice. And today it was even quite cold with temperatures round -12 °C. This may be the last “real” winter day this season, but you never know, last year it snowed in May.

5:16 the first bright orange beams of the sun appeared behind the island Medgrundet.

Minutes later the sun illuminated ice, snow and pine trees with warm colours between orange and pink.

I loved the swirly ice patterns on the half frozen water of the shallow beach.

After a while I drove home again and took an additional nap. 4:15 is too early, even for me.

 

Yes, we can waves

Strange weather we had today. Sky was blue and the warm sun warmed up the air, but it was really stormy. Even if the wind came from west, we had a lot of waves on the Baltic Sea, that sprayed sea foam high up into the air, where storm gusts blew it ashore.

selfie-at-the-shoreThe last photo was shot against the sun, which was against the wind as well, so that a lot of foam landed on the lens of my camera. Not so ideal for photos, because each drop of water blurs parts of the image. I have to think about a method how I can avoid this. The camera itself is waterproof and so were my clothes and boots, that I used today, when I sat in the midst of the waves.

Why I called the article “Yes, we can waves”? Well, many people – sometimes including me – smile at the Baltic Sea and say, that it’s more like a big lake and no real sea at all. That it is shallow and never has big waves. Partly they may be right, because the Baltic sea is hardly affected by tides and the northern part – the Bothnian Bay – where I live, has a very low salinity. But at least we got some waves and sea foam today.

 

 

From Å to Rystad

This article is part of the series “2015-07: Lofoten and Vesterålen”.

Day 2

Next morning when we woke up in Å we could see blue sky through the fogged car windows. The rain has stopped. We made a walk through the little fishing village and had breakfast on the cliff with a fantastic view on the mountains and the sea.

After that we continued our trip through the incredible landscape of the Lofoten. We had to stop several times to take pictures, for example of this small mountain lake near the road to Nusfjord:

Later we came to a place that became quite famous over the years: Uttakleiv – a beautiful sandy beach that just invites you to jump into the turquoise-coloured water. It almost looks Caribbean but as soon as you enter the ice cold water you’re reminded of being in Northern Norway, not in the south. The bath was fun, anyway.

Here we stayed for a while and enjoyed the sun. But after a while we continued our road trip to Brenna on the island Austvågøy. We didn’t find a camping ground at the end of the road and turned, but soon we stopped the car again. Actually because I wanted to take pictures of the sheep that lay at the sandy beach, but some children nearby discovered something much more interesting: A fox cub. I changed to the telephoto lens and I came quite near. Probably the fox hadn’t made any bad experiences with humans yet.

After that we stopped at a camping ground near Rystad that we already saw on the way to Brenna and decided to stay overnight. Soon the tent was put up on the grassy ground. Slowly the sun went round the mountains and sank down. The next hours were incredible – the light was so wonderful, both the sunlit main land in the south and the sea in the north glowed in the most fantastic colours. But have a look by yourself:

Round one o’clock we lay down in our tent, but only because clouds came and it started to rain a bit. What a wonderful first day on the Lofoten!

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.)

#snowember16 – part II

This article is part of the series “2016-11: #snowember16”.

Often the first snow in Skelleftehamn already comes in late October and melts away the other day. Larger snowfalls can occur in November – in 2010 for example the snowfall lasted several days and covered the ground with 70 centimetres of snow.

This years first snow fall was already on Monday but rain melted it away the very same day.

On Wednesday however it started to snow and since then quite a lot of snow has fallen in Skelleftehamn. I have round 35 centimetres in my backyard and more is forecasted for the next days. This is a bit unusual for the beginning of November where mostly it’s just dark and wet.

You could call me snow-addicted, I just love snow – the more, the better! And so I’ve been in great mood since yesterday that the rainy tristesse was replaced by the grandeur of snow.

Six photos from today:

  • The 1st one this morning in front of the house.
  • The 2nd and 3rd at the coast of the Baltic Sea. It was quite windy and the snow just bucketed down.
  • The 4th and 5th on the way to Bureå showing some houses of Örviken and the bay Ytterviksfjärden.
  • The 6th in Bureå showing the river Bureälven. (Both Bureå and Skelleftehamn are known for severe snowfalls.)

Winter Paddling

Yesterday I haven’t had the time, but today I finally opened the paddling season 2017. Normally I would expect the Baltic Sea to be completely ice covered at this time of the year, but warm and windy weather has prevented that until now.

First I was unsure whether I should paddle today because of a wind warning (more than 14 m/s), but when I looked at the Baltic Sea this morning the wind already had calmed down. Some hours later my kayak lay on some old ice floes ready to depart.

I put on my waterproof neoprene suit, entered the kayak and started to paddle along the icy coast. It felt a bit like late April – open water, hardly any snow left on land, just -2 °C and only the coast was covered by a thick layer of old ice. That impression changed when I came to the Bredskärsviken between the mainland and the islands Klubben, Bredskär and Norrskär. Here the water surface was covered with ice. Not with large ice floes as in springtime, but with crushed ice of all thicknesses between 1 mm and 15 cm. I entered the zone of crushed ice which made my kayak bumping against some thick underwater ice floes I didn’t see in time but soon I was amidst the drifting crushed ice.

It took me some minutes to leave that ice zone, even if it was only some meters to the open sea. I continued paddling southeastward along the rim of the drifting ice. I could see two people crossing the solid ice between the island Bredskär and the mainland. The ice on that part of the Bredskärsviken had been solid for weeks since it is sheltered by the wind.

… in contrast to myself. I felt the wind freshen more and more and the waves got more and more vivid when I paddled along Klubben heading for the island Flottgrundet. Here I decided to cancel the tour and to turn back. Probably a good idea, because now I really had to work against the high wind. You could see the wind blowing tiny ripples onto the already wavy water and more than once I got my face sprayed by water and wind. I couldn’t rest longer than for four seconds without floating back and the thick neoprene of my drysuit may be great for staying safe but not for a workout like this. Soon I was quite exhausted.

Finally when I was almost back ashore I “parked” my kayak in the drifting ice to make some more photos. The ice stopped me from drifting back. Next time when I’m in the need of a rest period I shall remember that.

In this segment the crushed ice was some centimetres thick. Because of the waves had been constantly pushing and pressing the ice together parts of it stood upright. An odd view.

The last stage of my short kayak trip was less exhausting since so near ashore the wind was less strong and soon I was on land again. A nice first kayak trip 2017.

What happened next?

  • I undressed the neoprene suit, put on pants, boots and a softshell jacket
  • I put on the belt with an attached rope and carabiner
  • I pulled the kayak over the ice and up the embankment to the street where I put it on the cart
  • I fixed the carabiner to the kayak and went home pulling the cart with the hip like a five meter long red dog
  • Home again I hung up the neoprene suit for drying, changed clothes and had a meal