Sunday rain and wet snow

That’s how it looked like today morning when I went out into the heavy rain.

And that’s how it looked like some hours later on my way to the bastu – the sauna – in Kågehamn.

Even the footwear differed.

Ice und sun from two weekends

Yes, I’ve been partly busy, partly lazy and in addition to that a bit unhappy with my photos the last days. Winter still hasn’t come to Skelleftehamn: Sometimes it’s below zero, sometimes above, sometimes it snows a bit, sometimes it rains (preferably on frozen ground making the streets quite slippery) und quite often it’s cloudy.

For me it’s still a mystery, how lakes, river and even parts of the sea could freeze over if it’s not constantly below zero for a longer period.

When I made the photo Sunrise colours two days ago, I had to wade through hip deep water and swamp to come to my desired place since the ice didn’t bear me. Two days later I saw a photo of the same spot – with a small child ice skating on the frozen surface. But I guess that the locals know the places where it’s save to enter and leave the ice.

A day later I stood at a small rocky beach of the peninsula Kallholmen looking on the bay Sörfjärden. Here you couldn’t sea any ice at all, beside on some stones that are extremely slippery when ice-covered. That’s where I made this photo:

The next saturday – exactly a week later – I was out again to take photos of the sunset. Same bay, different place – this time more upstream. The Sörfjärden is not only a bay but the mouth of the river Skellefteälven, too. The sea is still open but on the sides of the more wind protected river large parts are covered with several layers of ice. The upmost layer was so thin that the ice looked like flakes or feathers.

Today I drove to Kågehamn to take a sauna with two friends. Kågehamn lies beside of the Kågefjärden which seems to be well protected against wind, since the whole sea is ice covered. The ice is thick enough that people skated to the island Bastuholmen, which is one kilometre away from the shore.

Note to myself: Buy ice skates and learn how to skate – next winter.

While my friends did I skating tour, I was on the ice as well and – surprise, surprise – took some photos. This time mostly of ice cracks and embedded bubbles.

By the way: The first sunset photo was made 13:32, the second was made 13:08. Sun goes down quite early in this time of the year. But sun goes down quite slow as well which is nice if you like taking pictures because you don’t have to hurry too much.

Chilly evening on Bastuholmen

Today we had the annual meeting with our association mörkrets och kylans glada vänner – “The happy friends of cold and darkness”. This year it took place on the island bastuholmen near Kåge. And while most others had a sauna and a winter bath – water temperature: 5.6 °C – after the meeting, I preferred to sit at the fire with a good friend. I was quite glad about my warm jacket that protected me against the chilly wind. The first cooler days after after a warm September.

Yesterday I saw images of the first snow of the season in Kiruna. Today we talked about winter bath and and winter swim. Now I really start longing for winter – my favourite season – and the first snow.

About a tough women

Last year our association Mörkrets och Kylans Glada Vänner (Happy Friends of Cold and Darkness) got a special request. Josefine Steenari from Lindome nearby Göteborg had the wish to take a winter bath.

For most people it sounds really crazy to enter a pool with ice cold water with temperatures between +0.1 °C and +0.4 °C. But some people just want to try it anyway, and so did Josefine. While most people just could go or drive to the next ice hole, undress, take a deep breath and go into the icy water, Josefine needs some help, since she is almost totally paralysed. She communicate with her eyes but she has no control about her extremities and is sitting in a wheel chair.

Mörkrets och Kylans Glada Vänner was glad to help. Our first plan was to let her ice bath be part of the Winter Swimming Championship on last Saturday, but unfortunately the gangway down to the ice covered river Skellefteälven was too steep and we couldn’t guarantee Josefine’s safety.

Fortunately we found another possibility. The association has an ice hole for winter bathing in Kåge, not far away from Skellefteå. Here we met Josefine and her team on Sunday evening and after a bit of thinking and planning we all were ready for her first ice bath. Josefine sat in a special sling (I’m not sure if it’s the right word), that was attached to a log and Hans and Jarkko lowered her slowly, while I was behind her in my waterproof immersion suit to turn her a bit. Tiina counted the seconds and after round 12 seconds she was lifted up again.

I heard, that Josefine loved the experience and that the ice water didn’t felt as cold as expected. I was glad and even a bit proud to be part of the team, that could help her to fulfil her wish. One more crazy ice bather in Sweden!

1st photo: Annika Kramer, 2nd photo: Norran, Karin Israelsson

Links:

Balloon hunting

Actually I was prepared for a relaxed evening home and I was already in my pyjamas, when I saw a friend’s post on Facebook: A photo of a balloon hanging over the city of Skellefteå right now.

Some people know, that I’ve been fond of balloons since I was a child. I loved to spot them and when I was older, I was a well-known guest at the gas balloon starting place in Marl-Sinsen. Here I made my first balloon flight with the gas balloon D-KABEL in 1994. Some other balloon flights, mostly with hot-air balloons followed. Since I’ve been living in Northern Sweden this passion fell asleep – there are hardly any balloons flying here.

But back to today. I guess, it took me only three minutes to dress, to check wind direction and speed, to take my binoculars and camera equipment and to get in my car to try to track that balloon. Will I manage to see it?

I was lucky – already in Ursviken I could perceive the hot-air balloon above the trees. At the roundabout I turned right and then, after a while, left again onto the E4 to drive up vitberget – the white mountain for getting a better view. The view was fine, but the balloon not within sight, it was behind that hill. So I turned, got onto the E4 again and headed north. When I approached Boviken I could see the balloon again, it hovered on the left side. I took the next departure in Kåge and tried to come closer. Not easy, when you don’t know all those small ways and gravel paths. But I was extremely lucky, came quite near and could take a photo before the balloon landed.

I continued the gravel path and soon was side by side with the low flying balloon.

I could see the chase vehicle ahead. It continued the path and I followed. The chase vehicle succeeded to find a cross road without any power lines in the balloon’s flying direction. That’s perfect, since the pilot will get the opportunity to land quite near the road, that simplifies the packing of the balloon. I parked my car and waited for the balloon to land.

Wow – I’ve seen some balloon landings, but this was the most incredible one I’ve ever seen! The trailer of the chase vehicle was exactly in the heading of the balloon, which approached the trailer more and more. The surface wind was so weak, that the balloon almost could hover above the trailer, where one of the ground crew and I could clutch the basket and with the pilot’s help drag it down onto the trailer! The pilot has been ballooning for forty years, but never managed such before. Chapeau, P.!

Normally helping hands are very welcome after a balloon has landed, but this was a larger balloon carrying nine passengers, so I could stroll around and for example have a look into the inside of the balloon cover (of course with the Pilot’s permission).

It was great to see a balloon again and to talk to the pilot. Now I’m quite interested in taking a ballon flight here, too. I realised that I already met the Pilot on the Arctic Ballon Adventure in Gällivare in 2012. Today he told me, that this event will take place again in March and now I’ll try to get at least one balloon flight next winter. Keep your fingers crossed for my first arctic winter balloon flight.

Meanwhile the moon rose over the green pastures of Ersmarkbodarna, where the balloon has landed. Another sphere in the sky.

Thank you, Nazia, for your Facebook post! You brought me a fantastic evening!

Now it’s already “tomorrow” – almost one o’clock in the night. Something happened, that I’ve been waiting for for many weeks: It’s dark enough to see the first star! It took some efforts (hint: look up and shake your head to see the tiny changes of lightness), but I could see it: Vega in the constellation Lyra.

Three times outdoor barbecue

This week vårvintern – “the spring winter” – really has been here. Some degrees above zero during the day, some degrees below at night and still a lot of ice and snow around.

On Tuesday Hans, a friend of mine, and I looked around Bureå’s surroundings. There are many places that are historically interesting or just beautiful and cozy. Some of the historical places however were either snowed in or hard to approach in winter time.

A fire had already been lit of two snowmobilers in the barbecue hut at Burehällorna, a natural reserve at the coast. How good Hans had everything for hamburger grilling with him!

Hans also showed me Bureå camping, his new camping ground right next to the E4. We considered to use the wonderful sauna next to the river Bureälven but postponed it to another day. Even if Hans is going to realise only a third of his plans, this will be a great place to be!

Yesterday I met my friends Annica and Martin and we went to their hut in Bygdeträsk. Anyway we didn’t heat the hut, we stayed outside. After shovelling away the snow to have a place to sit, Martin lit an outdoor fire directly on the icy ground and we grilled sausages. And warmed up apple pie! Sausages have never been my favourite meal of mine, but I really like them when they have been grilled above open fire – even if partly cold, partly burnt. Those who love outdoor grilling over open fire will know what I mean.

Believe it or not – I didn’t make a single photo!

Today Hans, his friend Stefan and I met at Kågehamn and we took a sauna jaunt. Kågehamn is situated at the bay Kågefjärden which has round a dozen islands. We skied over the snow covered sea ice to the island Bastuholmen were Hans has two cabins and a sauna on rafts. While Hans and Stefan started to saw a hole into the ice I fired the sauna oven.

While we waited for the sauna getting hot we grilled. After all the hamburgers and sausages of the week I preferred burgers with halloumi cheese today.

Then we went into the sauna that had been heated up to 60 °C and went into the ice hole several times. I cut my leg, because the ice at the edge is quite sharp. After two rounds of sauna we packed our stuff and skied back again.

If it comes to taking pictures I definitely prefer the cold winter in January, but if it comes to meeting friends and having fun outdoors, vårvintern is just great!