A first mountain hike

Day six

Yesterday on Tuesday I stood up quite early to hike into the mountains. I packed my camera equipment, hot tea, nuts and raisins, compass, GPS and a down jacket. I considered first about taking my snowshoes with me but left them home, it didn’t look like much snow on the mountains.

I started the tour and headed to Langbakken, the place where we saw the sun two days before. I was greeted by the flock of sheep, some of them so tame and curious that they came to sniff on my hand. Then I climbed the fence and cut across country until I came to another fence with a gate. I went through the gate and followed the way beside of the fence until I came to a crossing where a way climbed up a forested hill.

The way didn’t continue but I just continued the direction until I came to a snow covered lake, the Dalvatnet.

I started to regret that I left my snowshoes behind, because with every step I sank 10 to 20 cm into the hard snow. It wasn’t the last time …

I knew the direction and had two options: Either crossing the open mountain brook or to just go ahead. I chose the latter. I had to cross a field with huge rocks where I really had to by careful and check every single step. After that I went up the steep slope. And it was much, much steeper than expected. I measured 40° with my compass. I had to be careful not to slip and I took many rests to calm down. Sorry, no photos.

But finally I reached the first hill took and horizontal terrain again. Just some more steps and I took a longer rest with the tea and my nuts. I was glad about my down jacket because the -8 °C felt much colder in the wind.

I could have sat there for hours and just watch the colours change. When the sun disappeared behind a mountain top the snow looked cold and bluish. When it appeared some minutes later in a gap between two mountains the snow was illuminated in yellow, orange and purple pastel shades. I’m no poet, I cannot describe it with words. After a while I continued to another lake called Finnurdvatnet, as frozen and snow covered as the first. I love the landscape above the treeline, especially in winter when it is reduced to snow, ice and rocks and some scattered small trees.

I would have loved to go further but the hard and partly crusty snow – knee deep some times – slowed me down quite much and both my condition as day light where limited. So I started my way back and went to another lake, the Nils-Persavatnet. Starting feeling exhausted I took another rest and continued to the ridge of the Hovden. I was quite glad to hit a snowshoe track that I could follow. It made it both easier to go. But first I had to look again. The sunset in the southwest, the intense purple colour of the sky in the southeast, the Hurtigruten ship on the Sortlandsundet, The huge bridge to Stokmarknes and the white snow-covered mountains everywhere. Just wonderful!

I continued the treeless ridge of the Hovden to the peak. Then I started the descend through the forest. I don’t think I would have found the whole way down without the snowshoe track that I could follow so easy. After a while I saw the same way I took when I started the tour, but from within the forest and the other side of a ditch. No wonder that I didn’t find this path in the morning! I jumped over the ditch and headed to the house of my friends. When I crossed Langbakken the same flock of sheep – as curious as in the morning hours – came again and some sheep (the same?) sniffed on my fingers again. But I longed after taking a hot shower and a nap in my bed and that was exactly what I did when I was back.

Conclusion:

A great first tour with beautiful weather in a fantastic landscape that would have been much easier with snowshoes. I guess that even the blister on my left heel came just from the wet snow in my boots that I could have avoided with snowshoes. Lesson learned, Olaf? Lesson learned!

Some vocabularies for my German readers:

down jacket – Daunenjacke
flock of sheep
– Schafherde
cut across country – querfeldein laufen
mountain brook – Gebirgsbach
treeline – Baumgrenze
crusty – hier: verharscht
ridge – Gebirgskamm, Grat
ditch – Graben

Links:

Map with the lakes and the peak of Hovden

Tromsø: At the shore

Day 15

Just strolling at the shore, at the seaside. Grey windy weather, the opposite of my day in the mountains yesterday. Just walking and letting the mind flow. My thoughts? I don’t know, i didn’t listen. A further step, balancing on stones, wading through shallow water, avoiding the ice, collecting some shells, looking around.

Just relaxing.

The bird is a Purple Sandpiper (Latin: Calidris maritima, German: Meerstrandläufer, Swedish: Skärsnäppa). My thanks to Patrick and Kevin for the identification.

The idea to stay another night in Tromsø and not to drive to Absiko today was good: Parts of the way to Abisko has been closed since yesterday evening due to the snow storm and are still closed. It’s still not clear whether they’ll be open tomorrow again. I guess I’ll give it a try.

A short trip to Umeå

I have to admit, that it felt a bit strange to travel to Umeå. For one thing it’s a big town and for another thing it’s south from Skellefteå and that’s not my usual travel direction.

You may laugh at me calling Umeå a big town. Umeå has 80000 inhabitants and that may not sound very much, but the whole city with its many big buildings and streets feels much bigger, especially if you compare it to Skellefteå – the next town nearby – which is less than half as big and appears only a tenth as busy as Umeå.

I stayed over night in a hotel in the 12th floor with a nice view over the town and the river Umeälven. What a pity that it rained almost the whole time.

Today it still rained a lot and I didn’t have any interest in city sightseeing. So I fled the town and took a long walk in nature. That’s much more my cup of tea.

Almost like summer

For me it’s not the warmth, that makes a Swedish summer, it’s the colours! Blue sky, green birch trees and meadows with yellow flowers – dry ones with dandelions or very wet ones with marsh-marigold – both are just beautiful.

Translations:

EnglishGerman
DandelionLöwenzahn
Marsh-marigoldSumpfdotterblume

Storberget

Storberget – “The big mountain!” A bit more than 90 meters high, which sounds completely ridiculous, if you live in Norway, near the alps or another place that has real, big mountains. But Storberget is a mountain, too, with a lot of rocks, a small ravine and a view on the near Baltic Sea and some islands. And it’s near, just fifteen minutes by car and a walk through the forest.

A hike and three tests

Do you remember Nokia? Cell phones and rubber boots? Today I tested a quite similar combination: Rubber boots and a Nikon lens. Plus a hiking trail.

A few weeks ago I discovered a big information board at a forest edge in Skelleftehamn. It describes the “kraftleden”The force trail or The energy trail. Perhaps the trail is named after Skellefteå Kraft, one of the sponsors I thought when I read the information.

Today I decided to try to hike the 18km long trail. I had two new things with me: My new rubber boots Tretorn Sarek which are made for hiking and my new lens Nikon 100mm f/2.8 (Series E), that I bought secondhand some days ago.

After a one kilometer walk I was at the starting point.

At the first junction I was lost, since I couldn’t see a sign. But after checking my photos of the information board I learned that the way marks where orange coloured blazes round the trees. That’s easy. The trail itself however wasn’t easy at all. It looked more like an area where you cut down trees and bushes. Like a stork I stalked through the cut down branches and twigs that lay criss-cross on this so-called trail hoping for a better path.

And the trail got better. But I still was slow. This time not because of the trail but of my new lens. It’s my first lens ever without an autofocus. This means that I have to focus manually at the lens itself. It took some time until I got used to it, but I still had to control every single shot on the display and I had to make some photos five times until I was satisfied.

I continued the trail – now a nice stony path until I came to the Örberget – altitude 40 meters, 30 meters higher than the starting point. It doesn’t take much to be called a mountain here. I made a photo of a “gravröse”, a tomb from the Bronze Age. Probably it was build at the shore some thousand years ago but the land has been rising round a centimeter a year since then.

I continued the walk. The ground became wet and muddy and after a while I stood in front of a bog. In the middle of the bog I saw a wooden post with an orange blaze. OK, let’s go …

… now I knew, that the new rubber boots were not only comfortable but really waterproof. I didn’t get soaked, but it was quite close.

I always had to look down carefully to avoid the deep water and mud puddles, and I had to look forward to find my way. When I looked up I started to suspect why the trail was called kraftleden. Almost the whole trail followed the transmission lines and the Swedish word for transmission lines is kraftledning. That’s a really pragmatic approach to make a trail since some kind of path was made already to mount the power poles. But it’s not very inspiring just following the lines and not beautiful neither.

After round 11 kilometers I made a rest on a high seat normally used for hunting moose.

I continued the tour but I started to lose interest a bit. Parts of the way were hard to walk, harder than many mountain trails but without the reward of a beautiful landscape or great views. In addition of that I started the tour round half past two and I didn’t want to come to town too late. So I left the kraftleden and walked southwards through the forest. At the beginning I found some nice flowers and I changed the lens to a macro. First two additional test images of the new 100mm lens, then two flowers – a dactylorhiza maculata and a linnaea borealis:

OK, I have to admit: I tested four different things, not only three. Number four was a mosquito protection jacket, that came in quiet handy when I shot the macros of the flowers. Flocks of mosquitos darted for my blood, but they didn’t had a chance beside of biting into my unprotected hands.

After taking the flower images I had to walk some other kilometers until I came to the main road and another one to come to the bus station where I had to wait half an hour for the next bus. Happily I slipped of my rubber boots to try my socks, sat down and waited. Finally the bus came and half an hour later I was home. The GPS displayed:

19.0 kilometers · average when moving: 4.3 km/h · total average: 3.3 km/h

And here come todays test candidates:

Rubber boots Tretorn Sarek: Really nice and comfortable boots, perhaps a nuance too tight for me. They are made of natural rubber and it’s easy to turn the upper upside down. They could be a bit higher.

For me: 8 points out of 10.

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 (Series E): A small, lightweight lens with manual focus. I have to practise focussing. I prefer my huge Nikon 70-200mm VR II, but there’s a reason why I bought the former one: At the end of August I’ll start a two week hiking tour in the Scandinavian mountains and I want to save weight. The 70-200 weights more than 1500 gram, the new 100mm only 215 gram. Got the point? And it was cheap, too – only 53 Euros.

For me: 7 points out of 10.

The trail kraftleden: The only advantage of the trail is that you avoid navigation. Beside of that it’s an awkward combination of a trail a bit too hard to be nice and a bit too boring to be beautiful. I wouldn’t recommend it. If you want to give it a try, take high rubber boots and plenty of time with you. Take care and follow the way marks if you don’t want to end in almost knee deep mud as it happened to me today.

For me: 3 points out of 10.

The nameless mosquito jacket: Perhaps it’s not fun to walk within some kind of mosquito net but it was great, when I took the macro photos of the flowers. The hood is too big. Since it’s very light – only 214 gram – I will take it with me on all summer photo tours and perhaps even on the planned mountain hike. And with costing only 18 Euros it was a bargain, too.

For me: 6 points out of 10.

Translations:

EnglishGermanSwedish
Dactylorhiza maculata / heath spotted-orchid / moorland spotted orchidGeflecktes KnabenkrautFläcknycklar
linnaea borealisMoosglöckchenLinnea
upperSchaft (am Schuh)skaft

Continuing to the Vesterålen

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

Our third day started with a lot of rain. We put the wet tent into the car and continued our tour to Kabelvåg where we visited a friend of mine. We took a small mountain hike but it was cloudy and wet. Only far away in the east you could see some sunny patches on the top of the snowy mountains.

After the hike Delle and I looked for a camp ground. But first I had to take a picture of the beautiful rainbow near Sildpollen.

This time we tented on a bigger campsite in Sandsletta. When I woke up quite early the next day I could see another rainbow over the Vatnfjorden, but later it started to rain and pour down again. And again we put the soaked tent into the car. We continued on the road 888 to Fiskebøl. The clouds were hanging low and you could hardly see any mountain, just some white and light grey schemes.

Soon we arrived in Fiskebøl where we waited for the ferry. Again we were lucky – we waited hardly half an hour until we entered the ferry for the short crossing to Melbu, the southernmost city of the Vesterålen. We visited friends of mine, this time in Haukenes were we tented near the friend’s house. The cocks tried to wake me up ridiculously early, but in vain. I continued sleeping until 8 o’clock.

Alas it was the first morning without rain (and the only one, too) and we could dry the tent. After a long and lazy breakfast with my friends we said farewell and continued our car trip. We got a tip to visit Stø at the northern end of the Vesterålen island Langøya. What a good tip and what a beautiful landscape – especially after the weather was nice and sunny. We made a short photo stop between Strengelvåg and Klo before we continued to Stø.

In Stø we parked our car and took a short hike over the mountains to a beautiful white sanded beach were we made a rest and I took a short bath. There’s a 15 km hiking trail as well; next time I’ll definitely will go it.

After our rest we slowly walked back and continued by car. First we had to head south to Sortland were we crossed the Sortlandsundet and headed north on the other side. The sky became more and more cloudy and we looked for a nice campground. Finally we found one in Bleik, quite near Andenes, a town at the northern end of the Vesterålen. We put up the tent and – guess what – it started to rain.

It had been raining the whole night and it continued raining. Again a soaking wet bunch of a tent lay in the back of the car. After a while of driving through the greyness we decided to head back to Skelleftehamn. It’s more than 900 kilometres and it took the whole day. Rain became less near Abisko and after we passed Jokkmokk the sky cleared up and we could see the full moon slowly rising. The next photo, which is the last of our car trip through the Lofoten and Vesterålen is taken near Storforsen, one of Europe’s biggest rapids. At 23:50 we were in Skelleftehamn again – and I was home.

  • 2296 kilometres in six days
  • a lot of clouds and rain, but two nice and sunny days, too
  • one night in the car, four in the tent (three of them on campgrounds)
  • two bathes and at least four rainbows
  • – a nice trip!

 

 

Tour planning

One working day left until the next holidays: Two weeks hiking in the Swedish and Norwegian mountains together with Annika. I’m really looking forward to the tour!

  • Start: Nikkaluokta. End: Abisko. Or Riksgränsen. Or somewhere in Norway. We’ll see. It will depend a bit on the conditions …
  • Conditions: Probably quite wet and soggy ground, perhaps even some larger snow fields. Summer came late this year and especially the mountain regions got quite cold and wet weather …
  • Weather: But now the forecast looks great: Quite warm and sunny weather. Probably I’ll sweat a lot, since it was long ago that I hiked with a backpack …
  • Backpack: approx. 21 kilos including the backpack itself and food. And about 4 kilos photo equipment …
  • Photo equipment: Nikon D800 · Gitzo 1541 tripod · 20 mm f/2.8 · 35 mm f/2.0 · 100 mm f/2.8.

My packing list is complete. Most of the todos are finished, but there is one very serious question left:

Which headgear is appropriate for such a tour?

Can you help me? I’m awaiting your comments.

Back from Lappland

This article is part of the series “2015-08: Kungsleden hike”.

Hello, I’m back!

Back from two weeks of (mostly) hiking through the mountains of Swedish Lapland.

The route

NikkaluoktaKebnekaise fjällstationSingiHukejaure – SingiSälkaNalloVistasAlesjaureAbiskojaureAbisko Östra.

That’s between 130 and 140 km; probably some more for the photos and some evening walks.

The weather

All from sun and blue sky (25 °C) to storm and rain with overflowing rivers (7 °C) to early morning fog (-2.5 °C)

The photos

Many. I made 1088 photos with my Nikon camera. I’ll show some of them in the next articles where I’ll also write more about the tour and the experiences. Stay tuned …

From Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise Fjällstation

This article is part of the series “2015-08: Kungsleden hike”.

August 23: Day one of the summer hike through the mountains of Swedish Lapland

It’s hardly imaginable that it was only two weeks ago, that Annika and me started our tour through the mountains of Swedish Lapland.

On Saturday, August 22 I shouldered my packed backpack and travelled from Skelleftehamn to Nikkaluokta, this time not by car but by bus and train: The bus to Skellefteå, the bus to Luleå, the train to Kiruna, the bus to Nikkaluokta. The journey took the whole day – hardly surprising, it’s more than 550 kilometres and travelling in Northern Sweden takes time.

The most popular way through the Swedish mountains is the kungsleden, the “King’s trail”. It’s not only possible to sleep in cabins, you even can buy food in some of them to keep your package small. We however preferred another route on the Norwegian side. There’re cabins, too, but you cannot buy food. That’s why we started with quite heavy backpacks that included food for more than a week. (It included my camera, three lenses and a tripod as well, but that’s another story …)

Sunday morning was a sunny morning and already very warm. Our destination today: The Kebnekaise Fjällstation, 19 km away. We started our trip right behind the cabins of Nikkaluokta and soon we left “civilisation” and were out in the beautiful Lappish nature.

But we were not alone. Some other hikers were on their way but most of all there were a lot of helicopters flying there and back. Soon we gave up counting them, they were too many. We were glad that the aerial traffic calmed down after a while.

Our first stop was the beginning of the lake Láddjujávri, quite popular for two reasons: Here you can take a boat over the lake to shorten your trip to the Kebnekaise Fjällstation and you can eat a reindeer burger at “Lap Dånalds”. We neither took the boat (too lazy) or a burger (too early), but we ate waffles with cloudberry jam. Tasty!

The day was really warm: 24 °C. You even may call it hot when you carry 20 kilos on your back. Beads of sweat ran down and before we ordered our waffles, I took a bath in the fresh and cool water of the lake.

After a quite long and relaxed rest we continued our tour. The path is extremely well marked and changes between rocky and wet parts. Almost all wet and muddy passages are bridged with spångar – wooden walkways – but there are exceptions …

After 6 km walk we came to the other pier. Time for a rest, some water and food and another bath. This part of the lake was much colder and the bath was merely a dip into the icy water.

What a nice resting place: Warm, quite and not too many mosquitoes. It was hard to get up and to continue, both because of the great weather and our heavy backpacks that felt quite uncomfortable on the very first day of our hiking trip. But finally we managed to pick ourselves up and continued.

After a while the first chain bridge came into view: The bridge over the Darfáljohka. That meant, it was less than two kilometres to the Kebnekaise Fjällstation where we would stay over night. But before that I saw the first patch of snow. As a snow lover I just had to take a picture of it even though I knew it wouldn’t be the last snow on our journey.

Finally we arrived at the mountain lodge which is quite huge. The Kebnekaise is the highest Swedish mountain and so the lodge is used by many people: Hikers, climbers, mountaineers, and fly-in tourists – remember the helicopters?

Annika invited me to dinner – thank you, Annika! – but sadly it was a bit disappointing. The restaurant changed the menu without letting us know in advance and the cod was so soaked in butter that it hardly had any own taste left. Anyway the starters were great!

But anyway – a really nice first day of our tour.

From Kebnekaise Fjällstation to Singi

This article is part of the series “2015-08: Kungsleden hike”.

August 24 and 25: Day two and three of the summer hike through the mountains of Swedish Lapland

Kebnekaise Fjällstation – Singi

After the crowded Kebnekaise Fjällstation I really longed to continue our hike. Soon after breakfast (with real German bread!) we left and continued westwards. Soon a first wooden bridge over a small creek came into view followed by a larger bridge over the ravine that the stream Láddjujohka has cut into the rock. In the back: The mighty mountain Siŋŋičohkka.

It was as warm as the day before and the sky was incredibly blue. We continued westwards and went round the steep southern slope of the Siŋŋičohkka. Parts of the narrow valley lay in the shadow of the mountains Skárttoaivi and Liddubákti, but soon we came to a sunny place covered with soft heather beside of a small creek – the ideal resting place. It was hard to prevent dozing off and to pull ourselves together to continue after a long while of resting and being lazy.

This daily stage was quite relaxed: only 14 kilometres. Soon the Singistugorna – The Singi cabins – came into view.

We hardly saw any animals yet but round the cabins we saw two quite typical species commonly found in Lapland: The lämmel or lemming and the ripa or ptarmigan (sometimes called snow chicken). They came quite near but gave me a hard time photoing them. I only had a small 100mm-lens with manual focus instead of my great but huge and heavy 70-200mm-lens, so I’m not really content with the results. However, the experience to have these animals so near was more important.

(Later on the journey I got a much better opportunity to take pictures of ptarmigans …)

Singi – Hukejaure – Singi

This day was planned to be a long one! Instead of following the Kungsleden – the King’s trail we planned to go to Hukejaure in the west and then to cross the Swedish-Norwegian border. From Singi to Hukejaure it’s 20 km and it’s just a path, only partly marked.

We started quite early, went north along the stream Tjäktjajåkka and crossed it after two kilometres on another chain bridge.

We had to “climb” over some rocky parts until we came to a beautiful alpine pasture. Do you know the film The Sound of Music? It almost looked alike – without the dancing and singing. Instead of that we got some snow fields and some shallow bogs and ponds. Beautiful anyway:

After a while the path was gone and we had to go up some hundred meters. It was as warm as the other days plus we were on a treeless southern slope – a matter that makes one sweat. We made a rest after 7 or 8 kilometres. It was later than expected and we just made the easy part of our way today. Will we come to Hukejaure in time? Or will it get dark? Is it safe and reasonable to continue? We both didn’t like the decision but since we weren’t sure to reach Hukejaure in time we decided to go back. Next time we have either to start even earlier or take a tent with us. We’ll see …

After 5 kilometres we came to the Tjäktjajåkka again but the light was completely different.

The last two kilometres felt a bit boring and we were glad when we arrived at the Singistugorna that we left the same morning. Other people walk there dogs, we walked our backpacks. After a two-course dinner (noodle soup and tortellini) I went around in the dusk and took pictures of the landscape reflecting in the oxbow lakes of the Tjäktjajåkka.

I was glad that I had my mosquito jacket with me, they were many of them seeking my blood that evening. And when I came back I was glad that all windows are equipped with fly screens to keep out those little bloodsucking vampires.

On the one hand it was a disappointment that we had to change plans, on the other side the tour itself through this side valley was awesome. We probably would never have thought about it without our Hukejaure-plans. Next stop tomorrow: Sälka, only 12 kilometres.

From Singi to Sälka and Nallo

This article is part of the series “2015-08: Kungsleden hike”.

August 26 – 29: Day four to seven of the summer hike through the mountains of Swedish Lapland

Singi – Sälka

After three very warm and sunny days clouds came in over night and the sky was quite overcast that morning. Only at the northern sky a larger patch of blue was visible. That fits, we’re going north! The first two kilometres were very well known to us, we went them there and back the day before. The day’s walk was short – just 12 kilometres.

Soon the huts of Sälka came into view. It was funny to see the ads for the shop and the bastu – the sauna – amidst the extend mountain landscape. Only 300 meters left and we entered the reception to check in.

It’s a nice look from Sälka but we had another interest that afternoon: Overall on the ground the ptarmigans were running and there were even sitting on the huge pile of birch wood, so that me, the photographer and them, the models, were on eye level. They let me advance quite near – in fact so near that the tele lens couldn’t focus anymore. The first two images are younger ptarmigans, the last is a grown up – look at these fantastic white feathered feet.

Sälka – Nallo

The next morning there were so many ptarmigans around that you really had to watch yourself not stepping on one of them. I never saw so many and never saw them so near. Our plan was not to continue the King’s Trail but to go northeast to Nallo, a smaller cabin a bit higher up in the mountains. After the common breakfast (muesli with some milkish liquid made from dry milk – yuck!) we started our tour. Even shorter than yesterday: only 9 km but perhaps a bit more demanding since there’re streams to ford, while the whole King’s trail is equipped with Bridges.

We had to look for planks to cross the small rivers behind the cabins but soon we were on our trail.

One hour later we were on the moon …

… well, not exactly, but it was such a sharp contrast to the sweet and lovely landscape of the last days. We could hardly see any vegetation. Only moss, grass and some scattered flowers were left. And some reindeers on some of the tabular slopes. There were many small streams and brooks to cross and it was the first day where I was glad, that I walked in rubber boots.

After a while the lake Reaiddájávri that lies on 1056 meter came into view and we went along it. More and more clouds came towards us and swirled around as if they wanted to surround us.

We had to cross the stream that enters the lake at the northern shore. Annika had to switch to sandals and ford the stream, for the water was to high for her hiking boots. It started to drizzle, than to rain and it got windy. Navigation was less easy now since it started to get foggy, there were less marks and some streams and snow patches to cross. Mostly I navigated with the compass, but twice I took the GPS to ensure my navigation. Since wind and rain increased more and more and I was busy with the navigation I packed the camera into the waterproof bag and didn’t make any photo on the last two kilometres. In the end the small Nallostuga came into view and even the huge mountain Nállu in the back lingered through the floating clouds. We got a warm welcome of the stugvärd – the warden of the Nallostuga. And warm was the wood fired oven, too. A good opportunity to dry our wet clothes.

I only went out later that day to take a photo of the wooden signpost and the hut itself. The rest of the day was just gemütlich – the pouring rain outside and we ourselves warm and cozy inside.

Two days of at Nallo

One

We planned to stay a day in Nallo already two days ago. It looked like a good idea since the rain just poured down the whole day and it was very windy. All people out there looked very wet, whether they just crossed the stream – now twice as large and probably twice as deep – or if they just fetched a bucket full of water.

Time to make some photos within the house. Two typical views in Swedish mountain huts: Many of them have two rooms, each has a kitchen and two flanking bedrooms, only separated by a curtain. That make 20 beds in total. Plus one for the stugvärd who has his own little room. The Primus 2388 is a gas cooker, easy to handle and is found in almost each Swedish mountain hut.

Two solo hikers planned to continue their tour that day but after a while they decided to stay. Perhaps not the worst idea when you looked at the young hikers, that came in. They were completely soaked. They poured the water out of their hiking shoes and hang up the dripping-wet sleeping bags for drying. All was just soaking wet! We we’re quite glad to be inside. But finally I took my camera and went out for some photos. Brr, it was really cold (7 °C) and so windy that the spray of the brooks was blown upwards again. Some photos:

I was glad, when I came into the inside of our cozy hut again. Only Simba, the warden’s dog endured the weather stoically.

Later that day: The sleeping bag already has dried, but other clothes were still hanging on the clothes line.

Two

Next day we wanted to continue our trip but I changed plans. Unintentionally. I got ill. I got fever that night and problems with my stomach and intestines, that I definitely don’t want to describe in detail. Otherwise there’s nothing much to report. I didn’t make a single photo (a certain proof that I was really ill) and slept almost the whole day.

Later in the evening, when I felt a bit better I was able to communicate again. I heard about others that went Singi–Sälka, the very same way we went three days before. The trail has been so flooded that the water poured over the wooden planks of the minor bridges making them very slippery and it was so windy that the hikers were really frightened to be blown from the bridge right into one of the swollen rivers. Illness never fits, bit I guess I chose a quite good day for being sick.

I slept the night before, I slept almost the whole day and I slept the next night. That sums up to round about 30 hours of sleep without any larger interruption. That probably was the best medicine and the next day I felt sound and healthy again. The plan for the coming day: Hiking to Vistas.

From Nallo to Vistas, Alesjaure, Abiskojaure and back to civilization

This article is part of the series “2015-08: Kungsleden hike”.

August 30 – September 2: Day eight to eleven of the summer hike through the mountains of Swedish Lapland

Nallo – Vistas

After two days in Nallo Annika and I were eager and keen to move on. After our breakfast we said goodbye to stugvärd Janne and started to ford the stream behind of the hut. Fortunately the water level dropped to normal again and quite easily we could cross the stream.

Then we went along the Nallú, a fantastic mountain that changed its appearance every other second because of the moving clouds and the changing light situations. We never tired of looking at this big mountain that seemed to accompany us a long way.

After a while another stream that we had to cross, came down from the lake Nállujávrrit. While I managed to splash through with my high rubber boots, Annika decided to take of her shoes and wade through it in her sandals – brr, the water was really ice cold!

We continued the hike through the fast-changing scenery. Quite soon we saw the first trees and realised that the big mountain ahead was the Vássačorru, that lies behind the valley Visttasvággi, where our next destination, the Vistasstuga is located.

Soon we crossed the Visttasjohka on the chain bridge and arrived at the cabin to meet the stugvärd – the warden.

Oh look: Coke and beer are priced down! That’s because the season only lasts three other weeks. After that the huts are closed down until their reopening for the skiers in February or March. But because none of the cans would survive the frost, all liquids has to be drunk in the next three weeks or poured away. We decided to save some cokes from this cruel destiny.

We were placed in the outhouse – the main building was in the act of being renovated. There we sat on the front stairs, ate, drank and looked on the river Visttasjohka. And we took a bath in this cold river. Chilling but refreshing! Finally the sun came out. I crossed the bridge to make a photo of our cabin.

Later – it started getting dark – we got a visitor: A big moose stood beside the river. I went out, where I could observe this huge animal, how it ate leaves and grass, less than 10 meters away. It looked at me but wasn’t disturbed by me at all, it even passed quite near until it vanished between some trees. This was one of the moments were I was glad and touched as a “normal person”, but a bit grumpy with myself, that I was too lazy to carry my big tele lens for better and sharper pictures. I never experienced a moose so near and so fearless.

Vistas – Alesjaure

The trip the day before was short: only 9 kilometres, this day it would be twice as much: 18 km. The first kilometres were a bit boring since they went through birch forests and quite muddy passages. But after a while the landscape opened and we could see the mountain Siehtagas with its glacier Siehtagasglaciären. In front of the mountain there were alpine meadows and small birch forests. In front of that the turquoise water of the Visttasjohka glimmered in the sunlight.

We went up again until we again were over the treeline. This part of the valley Visttasvaggi is beautiful and very varying. The first rest we made in the lee side of a huge cuboid rock. We weren’t the first – someone built a bench by laying a plank over two stones. The second rest we made at the Tjatjajaurekåtan (there’s not much left of it).

After a while I saw some reindeers grassing. There were shy and quickly went away when I came nearer. We saw (probably) them again when we had a view at the sami village Alisjávri that lies at the lake with the the same name. From that it’s not far to the mountain huts of Alesjaure – the Swedish version of Alisjávri. The Alesjaurestugorna are the biggest mountain huts of the STF – the Swedish tourist association. I prefer the smaller ones as e.g. Nallo, but it’s fine to have a shop, a drying room and especially a sauna. And we used it all! It’s nice to go to sleep after being in the sauna and having a wash in the river Aliseatnu.

Alesjaure – Abiskojaure

I didn’t make many pictures of this part of our tour. I was a bit bored of this part of the trail and found nothing special in the landscape. Just some photos of human evidence: Tent poles for a lavvu and a crossing over a long reindeer fence.

It was the first time, that I was really impatient and just wanted to arrive. Some kilometres before Abiskojaure we came below the treeline. Most of the birch trees still were green but you could see, that autumn is near. No wonder, it was the 1st of September, beginning of autumn for the meteorologists.

Finally we reached another chain bridge and shortly after it arrived in Abiskojaure. The sun came out and even though it was much colder than one week ago we could sit and lie on the short-cut lawn in front of the hut. I took the last bath of the journey and strolled around making some photos. After crossing a small swamp I came to a quite huge sandy beach beside the lake Ábeskojávri. A beautiful place!

The evening it started to become chilly, hardly 3 °C. I was curious if we would get the first frost of the season next morning …

Abiskojaure – Abisko Östra

… and yes, we got frost. -2.5 °C showed the scientific thermometer of the swedish weather service, when I had my first look. On the water surface of the buckets lay a layer of ice and round the leaves of lower plants I could see the first autumnal hoarfrost.

I was up very early that morning and I went to the beach at the lake again. First it looked quite normal but then it started to get foggy and misty while the sun rose behind the mountain Giron. What a beautiful sight! I stood there for at least an hour and only walked back to get another full battery for my camera. Later I met Annika, showed her the place and was glad that I could share this awesome experience.

I was a bit sad – this would be the last day of hiking through the wonderful mountain landscape of Swedish Lapland. But each journey has some kind of end and so had ours. We started our tour through the birth forests along the lake Ábeskojávri, than along the river Abiskojåkka.

After a while a famous landmark came into sight: Lapporten – “The Lapponian Gate”, a U-shaped valley framed of two mountains that give this valley its specific and recognizable shape. However, since this photo is taken from the backside, it hardly shows this special shape.

Since Alesjaure we followed the Kungsleden – the King’s Trail, but right after the bridge over the stream Nissonjohka we left the main trail that leads to the Abisko Mountain Station and turned right to Abisko Östra, the village, were we planned to stay for two other days. The way, however, was not much fun to go. A lot of all-terrain vehicles has turned the way into mud. Since I lost my lens cap and I was afraid that mud would splatter my lens, I packed the camera into its waterproof bag long before the worst mud patches. And that’s why this is the last photo of our hiking tour:

Thank you Annika, för trevligt sällskap – for nice company. Where should we hike next?

Any suggestions?

No sun today

As you can see in the blog posts before, we had really nice winter weather with a lot of sun the last weeks. Even last night was clear. When I stood up at 7 o’clock we had -15 °C outside, but it was cloudy. Three hours later the temperature has climbed to -5 °C and it started to snow.

Annika and I went outside to go for a walk. It became a bit longer and chillier than planned: We went to the shore and rounded the island Norrskär on the thick ice layer that covers the Baltic Sea. When we returned to the mainland, wind and snowfall had intensified. It’s still snowing, but not very much, just some centimetres, I guess.

This photo shows a nameless stony island between Norrskär and the mainland. What a contrast to the photos of the sunrise some days ago.

It’s not the photo, it’s the whole landscape that looks monochrome and the island Gåsören – 2 kilometres away – was even completely hidden behind the falling snow.

Vårvinter

Where are we – Annika and I? In the Arctic on our way to the North Pole?  Looking for polar bears?

Well, not really! We’re on the frozen Baltic Sea on our way to the island Gåsören, enjoying the blue sky and the warm sun.

But we didn’t only enjoy the warmth of the sun, but the warmth of the sauna, too – even if we didn’t fire it as hot as it should be for a real sauna experience.

We were not the only ones on the ice of the Baltic Sea yesterday.

There were ski tracks and skiers.

There were snowmobile tracks and snowmobile drivers.

There were moose tracks …

… and there were moose on the ice, too. Far, far away, but clearly visible.

“vårvinter” means “spring winter” and describes this season, where the land is still covered with snow and ice, but the temperatures aren’t longer as cold as in January or February.

A wet walk west from Ersmark

At this time of the year it can be quite interesting to go for a walk through the woods. A lot of snow melted in the warmth of the last week and every river, stream or brook is in flood. The heavy rain some days before provided an additional amount of water.

Annika and I started our walk west from Ersmark, seven kilometres north from Umeå. The whole area is a shooting range for the military, but a sign clearly shows, when shooting exercises take place and when it’s safe to hike. Today we were lucky – no military exercises this weekend.

We went along the gravel road. The road was clear of snow, but due to the night frost all mud puddles were covered with a thin layer of ice. We went ahead until we came to a minor path. This path was completely covered with snow. We continued this snowy path until we approached the brook Tavelån. This part of the path was covered with a splintered crust of ice that clearly showed, that this part of the path was flooded a short time ago. More and more water flooded our path and we had to wade to reach the wooden bridge, that crosses the water. The brook was so flooded that the water partly flowed over the planks of the bridge.

After the bridge there was much more water on the way. Parts of the flooded brook flowed over our hiking path, too. I tested the depth, but soon had to give up. The water was too deep for us to continue, although we both wore high rubber boots.

We turned and took the same way back, until we reached the car. Annika, who took care of navigation today, realised, that we could take the car to another starting point to experience the other side of the brook.

A short time later I parked the car on a muddy ground near a small nature reserve with the witty name “Natur 2000” – still the same military shooting range. Larger parts of our new hiking path were covered with ice, but at least the way wasn’t muddy. After a while we headed north trying to cross the Tavelån again, this time at another place. When we came to that place were we expected the bridge, all I could see was some kind of old concrete base – the bridge was gone. I laughed out aloud – another blind end again!?

But we were lucky: Ten metres away some railway sleepers lay across the Tavelån. After some wading again we could safely cross the flooded brook. Anyway, the continuation of the path was a bit challenging again. The snowy path was partly flooded and we had to wade several times, carefully balancing on the wet ground ice. But we succeeded: None of us slipped and we continued our tour – dry and warm, since the spring sun had a lot of power and warmed us gently.

The path ascended and soon we walked on a dry gravel way. The rest of our hiking tour was a bit boring: Broad and straight gravel roads through forest and heather. After a while we reached the car.

We tried to take the minor gravel roads to head back to Umeå but when we almost reached the big road, the last part of our way was prohibited for cars and we had to return.

When we arrived home at Annika’s flat, the thermometer of the car showed +10 °C. Another day in spring with remains of winter.

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 …

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!

 

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 …