Valborgsmässoafton abroad

Valborgsmässoafton, the day before the Walpurgis Night is a quite important feast in Sweden and uses to be celebrated with a big Bonfire.

Personally I connect the 30 April and the 1 May to last seasons snowfalls. It snowed on 1 May 2014, it snowed on 30 April 2015, so it didn’t surprised my that quite a lot of snow fell in Skelleftehamn today – round 5 – 10 cm.

But something was different this year.

I’m not in Skelleftehamn. Nor am I in Sweden. I’m about 2000 km south-southwest in Freiburg near the Black Forest.

I love mountains because you can look far and I love snow. After hesitating a bit – I can be quite lazy! – I picked myself up, packed some clothes, equipment and food, walked to the main station and took the train to High Black Forest to “climb” the Feldberg, Germany’s highest mountain outside of the Alps. The Feldberg has been already free of snow this spring, but the cold weather with high precipitation brought a lot of new snow to the mountain tops this week.

But today it promised to be warm and sunny.

Already from the train you could see some of these snow-covered tops and patches of snow everywhere, but the trees were green and many flowers were blooming. The same in Feldberg-Bärental, where I left the train and started my hike. The path itself was bare of snow, but the slopes beside the path were covered with wet snow.

Soon I arrived at the Feldsee, a lake formed by the last Ice Age. Here I made a short stop, drank some water, took some photos and continued up through the forests, where the path not only got much smaller, but much snowier as well.

I went up the snowy and slippery path through the forest and came first to a Hotel with a parking place. That’s exactly those things I don’t want to see, when I’m outdoors to enjoy nature. Anyway it was just a short interruption, now another way climbed uphills. I wasn’t alone at all and so many people had used the same way before me, that it was almost completely snowless.

Soon (but a bit out of puff; we don’t have mountains in Skelleftehamn) I approached the first top. Not the Feldberg but the Seebugg (1448 m). I guessed that the very top of the Feldberg itself would be quite crowded and took a rest between these two tops.

You see the rubber boots? Quite good for snow but too warm when not cooled by the snow. I put them off while resting right after having taken this photo.

But the Feldberg (1493 m) was near and I continued my tour on the broad snow-ploughed street-like way.

From the top I had several views.

First of all I saw many other people. Then the snow covered slopes other white mountains nearby. Behind them the green springlike lowlands.

And far away in the south I could recognise the faint snow covered mountains of Switzerland, some of them are almost three times as high as the Feldberg!

Many people had sneakers on or flat shoes, but down jackets that I considered much too warm. Since I had left the forest I only had a t-shirt on because I found it really warm, even on the top. On the other side I was probably the only one with rubber boots on today. They belong to my usual baggage, while mountain boots don’t. Anyway the rubber boots have one advantage when combined with a waterproof camera. You can make pictures like these:

You might have guessed it. This photo was taken at/in the Feldsee not on the Feldberg.

The descent was quite unspectacular and much shorter, since I took another way. A bus brought me back to the very same train station were I’d started the tour four hours ago.

Abroad north – climbing the mountain Roßkopf

I’m at Arlanda Airport, waiting for my flight to Skellefteå. I’m longing home to Skelleftehamn but my thoughts are still in Germany, where I visited C. and O. – two fantastic friends who live in Munich yesterday.

Since the weather promised to be good, we decided to make a tour near Spitzingsee in the German Alps. We soon realised that all lifts and cable cars were closed and so we decided to climb the mountain Roßkopf (1580 m). It won’t be so hard, it’s just 500 meters up and then down the other side to the Albert-Link-Hütte, which is famous for its Kaiserschmarrn!

There was not much snow round the lake Spitzingsee (1084 m) but you could see, that some slopes and mountain tops were still quite white. Anyway I thought that it wouldn’t be so much. The Roßkopf is hardly 100 meter higher than the Feldberg were I’d been the Sunday before.

I had to smile about the man that went down the grass covered ski slope with huge ski boots, shouldering a pair of skis. Did he find any snow to glide down more than ten metres, I wondered. Well, I might have been wrong …

We started going up the grassy slope, partly following the way, partly just going up. There were some leftover snow fields to cross, but mostly we went on bare ground, looking at the countless flowers. When we went up the first slope we turned left and soon the way was completely covered with snow.

We carefully avoided the places round the little brooks and stream to avoid getting wet feet. Anyway I  guessed that the snow was round 50 cm deep – more than expected.

Some skiers approached, effortlessly gliding downhills. We went up until we came to a place with another ski lift. It was closed too. Shall we take the longer but flatter snowy way through the forest or just go uphills? We decided for the latter knowing that we could take as many rests as we wanted. We saw some skiers, but no one on foot as we ourselves.

Well, we managed the slope, but it was hard work and we rested more than once, before we continued plodding through at least knee deep snow. But it was worth it. When we stood on the mountain saddle that leads to the Roßkopf we had a gorgeous view onto the much higher mountain tops in the South.

We went to the Roßkopf were we met some other hikers without skis or snowshoes. We learned that there would be no really easy way down but we soon made up our minds about our way down.

The first steps went well, then we landed in a large patch of much deeper snow. My legs disappeared completely in the wet snow several times. It was easier however to glide down there than on the lower parts of the slope, that were partly snowy, partly grassy and partly covered with slippery clay. None of us managed to go down the whole way without slipping.

I didn’t expect that so much snow would have been left even on the less high mountains in the beginning of May. So I took a picture of me myself being stuck in the snow. It might be a bit overexaggerated perhaps …:

Soon we arrived less steep terrain where we just could plod through the snow again. After another fifteen minutes we were in the land of Spring again.

But when we looked up we could see the land of Winter. That very land that we touch just half an hour before.

So – much snow left in the German mountains. But how about home? Will I still have snow in my backyard in Skelleftehamn? I don’t know. I’ll see it in some hours.

 

 

 

 

Back from the tropics

The little hotel room was damp and hot. It was located directly under the sunlit roof and hadn’t cooled down next morning although I kept the window open the whole night. I could hear the parrots screech and saw them flying around looking for peanuts.

I’m not used to tropical warmth and was very thirsty. The water from the cold water tap was almost hot and it took a long while until it cooled down a bit. Well, perhaps you shouldn’t be too demanding and picky if you travel that far south …

… to Amsterdam.

Wait a moment – Amsterdam? Tropical heat? Parrots?

Yes! No! Yes!

I travelled to Amsterdam with the Skellefteå Chamber Choir for some days. It had been quite cold in Skellefteå on the day of departure and we had experienced some hailstorms. When we landed in Amsterdam some hours later  it was more than 20 °C and probably almost 30 °C in my hotel room. That’s of course far away from being tropical but still so warm, that it tired me.

The first parrots flying outside surprised me. That’s nothing I connect with the Netherlands. Later I learned that there are many Rose-ringed parakeets in the park Vondelpark nearby and according to amsterdamiam.com there live more than 3000 of them in Amsterdam and more than 10000 in the whole of the Netherlands. Those tropical birds and the hotness (at least compared to Northern Sweden …) gave me quite southern impressions.

However every time when I left the hotel I soon realised, that I’m in Amsterdam, not in the tropics.

When I lived in Essen, Germany, Amsterdam was quite nearby. I’ve been there quite a lot and could even imagine living in Amsterdam.

I left Essen 13 years ago and nowadays towns like Amsterdam have become too big and stressful for me. Too many houses, too little place, two many people, too little calmness, way too many cyclists and also too many tourists (including me!). Living in Skelleftehamn has changed me and nowadays I probably would have difficulties to live in towns as big as Amsterdam.

I guess I’ve become bound to the north over the years. I’m completely content with that. There’s a reason that I called this blog “Way up north”.

Eleven o’clock in the evening. It’s 6 °C outside and it has been raining for hours. I can see the rain, because it’s not dark at all and it won’t become dark before late August. I should go the bed and sleep since I have to work tomorrow but I just want to have another look through the window. I love to live in the north.