Winter journey 2018

Day ½ of the winter journey 2018

Good morning.

This is how my sleeping room looked like yesterday:

As you may guess, I’m about to travel.

The journey had already started yesterday. After packing everything into the car (now equipped with a roof box) Annika and I travelled to Solberget where we arrived 23:50.

3 hours, 45 minutes drive. The first half: E4 and some trucks almost impossible to pass. Both boring and tiring. The second half: winter wonderland with a snowy road (we were the very only car), snow covered trees, some reindeers, at least five elks, full moon and polar light.

Today we’ll visit the market in Jokkmokk. The first event in my 6-7-week-journey.

A foretaste of what is to come: market in Jokkmokk — a bit of Solberget — a ski tour with a German friend – Kirkenes together with Annika and much more …

Sometimes I’ll be online and write articles and show photos in this blog, sometimes I won’t.

Anyway, stay tuned …

/Olaf

That arctic feeling

Have a look at the following photo:

It could have been taken at some spot at the Arctic Sea, couldn’t it? But it wasn’t. I made that photo just today, only 2 km away from home!

Today I wanted to test whether the camera backpack worked well together with the waist harness of my pulka. Therefore I made a small ski tour. First I crossed the ice between mainland and the island Storgrundet. The water between mainland and island is well protected and always calm. Therefore the ice is about 40 cm thick and more than safe to cross. I crossed the forested island, which is partly less than 200 meters wide and soon stood on one of the snow drifts at the outer shore. Beside of some smaller other islands and an old boat shed all I could see was clouds, snow, and ice.

There were many thick ice floes along the shore, but the ice between them was hardly a centimetre thick. No surprise, since large parts of the sea had been free of ice last week. I pierced the new ice with a stick and measured 60 cm water beneath. Not life-threatening, but I definitely didn’t want to get soaked and therefore sticked to the shoreline of Storgrundet. That’s where I took the photo above.

The other photo? Yes, that’s me with my Norrøna jacket (light and windproof), my Lowepro camera backpack and my Fjellpulken pulka. The test succeeded: pulka and backpack do work well together! Good to know for the ski tour in the Swedish mountains that I’ll start next week …

Question: Do you see the mistake I’m making on the 2nd photo? Please comment.

Waiting for the roof box installation

My ancient roof box, that fitted well on my Saab is quite incompatible to my Subaru Outback. Today I had an appointment with the car repair shop. While I waited for them I took a promenade and made some photos on the nearby property of the boat club Ursvikens Segelsällskap. Nothing special and – due to the dull light – in black and white.

photo.olafschneider.net

photo.olafschneider.netFinally my brand-new photo website is online!

At least the first version …

It’s far away from being complete. In future I want to offer an online shop for prints, but it will take a while until I’ll find time for that. And there are more photos to show. I’ll add them one by one.

Anyway you’re very welcome to visit the photo website and take a look by yourself.

Here you go:

→ photo.olafschneider.net

Changes in the winter weather

This morning it was more than 20 °C warmer than yesterday morning: only -2 °C. And it had been snowing the whole night and half the day. Not huge amounts – just another 10 cm – but enough to bury my garden fence even more. I measured 70 cm of snow in the center of my backyard, round the fence it’s probably more like 80 cm.

As the photo from five days ago I made this photo through the window of my living room.

3× winter coast

Yesterday, 13:30

After having lunch, Annika and I drove to Näsgrundet, where the Baltic Sea had been mostly clear of ice three days before. Still most of the sea was ice-free, only at the coast some meters of new thin ice had formed.

It had started clearing up and the temperatures dropped to -15 °C already in daytime. The cold air over the open water created sea smoke, that gleamed in the colours of the low sun.

Yesterday, 23:00

It continued getting colder and soon the temperature dropped below -20 °C. Before sleeping I was out again, this time to check for an optical effect, that can appear when it’s as cold as then: light pillars. Even though it was round -23 °C I wasn’t lucky, but I took some photos of the Rönnskär industry anyhow.

Today, 8:00 – 9:00

This morning was the coldest yet this winter with temperatures round -24 °C. That’s when I start wearing two pairs of gloves for taking pictures. The inner fleece glove for handling the camera and a thick woollen mitten for staying warm when I just wait or look for motives.

The first motive may look quite boring but I love motives like these: just different cloud layers and ice up to the horizon plus the first gentle sunrise colours.

Remember, this part of the Baltic Sea had been clear of ice the day before. Due to the cold weather it has frozen within a range of several kilometres within less than twenty hours. It still amazes me how fast this process can be.

After I had made the former photo I detected that purple-red spot beside of the island Gåsören. The sun started to rise. I changed the lens and made a telephoto shot. (It’s quite blurred due to the atmospheric conditions)

Then I waited for the sun to rise. And really – after some minutes the sun succeeded to rise above the lower cloud layer. But only seconds later the upper cloud layer, that approached from the southwest covered the red orb again and the sun disappeared for the rest of the day.

Though it was still below -20 °C it started to snow.

Varning! Isvak!

The river Skellefteälven between Skellefteå and the coast of the Baltic Sea. That particular place is called Stackgrönnan. On warm summer weekends the café is quite crowded. In winter it’s closed.

This sunday however the small snow covered way is crowded, even though it’s mid-January. Many cars are parking, many people are standing around, warmly dressed for winter. Some of them have bags or rucksacks with them.

The Skellefteälven is completely frozen and covered with snow. Snowmobile tracks lead to the opposite riverside. On the river ice there are signs round a cordon.

They say “Varning! Isvak!” – “Warning! ice hole!”. And there is an ice hole indeed, four square meters big. Some people stand around with spearlike tools and remove the last thick ice blocks from the hole.

So that ice hole seems to have a purpose and it has: It’s an ice hole maintained by the association Mörkrets och Kylans Glada Vänner, or in english Happy Friends of Cold and Darkness.

I’ve been member of this association almost from the beginning and had the pleasure, honour (, and work) of being part of the organisation team for the very first Swedish Winter Swim Championship in Skellefteå in 2012. It was the coldest day of the winter with temperatures below -30 °C, but that’s another story …

Back to the plot: All people have come to take a winter bath or at least to cheer to those who do. Annika and I have winter-bathed before but not yet this winter. We aren’t the only one’s who want to take a bath, there are at least 30 others and the changing rooms are stuffed with people, some wearing winter parkas and warm boots, others just their swimwear and a cap. The same outside: Woollen mittens and down jackets on the one side, wet semi-nude bathers with towels on the other side.

And what is in the ice hole? One winter bather after the other. First looking tensed or even shocked, since the water temperature is round 0 °C (and yes, that’s cold!), then relaxed and happy because the body releases endorphins. But have a look by yourself:

After the last bather – most people and cars already have gone – wintry silence starts to set in again. The snow covered tables and benches are still untouched and the fairy lights round the big flag pole are on. Temperature is -11 °C. If you ask me, a perfect winter day.

Appendix one

On 17 February 2018, the Open Scandinavian Championship which is a part of the World Cup will be held in Skellefteå for the seventh time. And you can apply!

Appendix two

Evidence photos of me in the ice hole? Thanks to Annika, who took photos with her mobile they exist. Var så god:

 

Checking the winter …

This winter has been quite lagom yet. It hadn’t been too warm for a longer period, nor it was it really cold. We got snow several times, but we didn’t get any lake effect snow neither as e.g. five years ago where it snowed more than 80 cm within 24 hours.

Yesterday and today it snowed round 20 cm. Since we already had round half a meter of snow, the fence of my garden is about to disappear in the snow.

I took the photo above through the window of my living room. It shows my (and the neighbours) backyard. The fence is round 80 cm high.

Today I took the car to the Näsgrundet, one of my favourite places in Skelleftehamn. When I had been at the same place 12 days ago, the Baltic Sea was covered with ice as far as the eye could see. When I arrived today I was really surprised to see the Baltic Sea clear of ice again.

 

The photo above shows a small bay beside of Näsgrundet. The ice had been broken by wind and the floodwater two days ago. The wind was pushing the ice floes slowly offwards and some of them already had started to drift seawards.

That was the view to the northeast. The view to the southwest is completely different: there is the peninsula Rönnskär with the copper smelter of the same name. It snowed but the low sun managed to peek through the airy cloud layer. Temperature was -9 °C and the chimneys smoked.

In front of the industrial plant is the “cape” of Näsgrundet, which is a peninsula as well. I took a short discovery tour and found another motive. When I was standing up, Rönnskär and some trees were visible but when I knelt down I was able to hide the background and to make a completely different photo:

I intensified both contrast and colours to give this photo a more irreal appeal. The motive itself however is unchanged.

What type of winter comes next? I could take a look at the weather forecast of SMHI, but I have difficulties to take it seriously. Beside of the overall temperature and wind direction trends the web forecasts for Skelleftehamn are quite bad. The 20 cm of snow for example weren’t forecasted at all.

But in the back of my mind I know that lake effect snow could be possible again as long as the Baltic Sea is open and wind comes from eastern directions …

 

Hampstärnsstugan

There’s a hiking trail from Umeå to the lake Tavelsjö, the so-called Tavelsjöleden. The first stop after 5 km is the mountain hut Hampstärnsstugan. Today it opened for the first time this season and served waffles and some other snacks.

While Annika and I had used our new cross-country skis the last days (lightweight, slim and fast) we decided to use our sturdy back-country skis today since we didn’t know anything about the trail conditions.

The trail however was almost perfect, we just had to follow the railway-like ski tracks. We would have been much faster with the other skis, but we just enjoyed being outside and of course the warm chocolate and waffles in the stuga.

While we skied round 10 km, most of the families probably came by car. It was fun to watch the small children on their sledges and toboggans dashing down the slopes, even though we had to jump away several times to avoid collision.

I love being outdoors far, far away from civilisation, but it’s great as well to be able to make such short holiday trips just out of town.