Late spring snow

When I came back from Germany on Sunday it snowed. On Monday and Tuesday some snow fell, too. And so it did today. In the morning a snow shower arrived that was so severe, that everything was white again after a short time. It was quite unbelievable that we have the 10th of May!

Anyway just like the last days today’s snow melted away quite soon and two hours later it was gone. Hardly believable that this short winter-intermezzo had taken place today.

But the conditions here are nothing compared to other places:

  • In Katterjåkk in the Swedish mountains there’s still 183 cm of snow.
  • On the mountain Mannen (1294 m) in Rauma, Norway it’s almost twice as much: 359 cm!
  • The German mountain Zugspitze (m) tops it with 410 cm today!
  • Oh yes – I almost forget – Fonna near Jondal in Norway is a sure bet for snow. 500 cm at 1200m, 800 cm at 1450 m!

So, compared to other places we already have Spring in Skelleftehamn despite of the snow showers and the low temperatures. Let’s see how it will be in six weeks. That’s midsummer!

A short look at Storgrundet

I woke up at 5:45. That’s quite early even for me. On the other side it would be much too late for photographers who love sunrise, because the sun had been risen already at 3:36.

I took the car to Storgrundet to check the ice. I guess, half of the ice is gone, the other half is grey and instable. I guess, the remaining ice is soon gone. Then I can start paddling without being surrounded by ice.

Anyway temperatures were down to -3 °C and it was quite windy at the coast. This still felt more wintry than springlike.

Returning home

I’m home again in Skelleftehamn and to my big surprise all snow round the house has been melted away, even the big snow piles in the front yard. Only in the shadow of my neighbours garage there’s still a patch left. When I had left the house 12 days ago there had been at least 20 cm of snow in the backyard.

Today I travelled back from Munich and from the airplane StockholmSkellefteå it looked more wintry than in Skelleftehamn. Almost all lakes were still completely covered with ice and there still was a closed snow cover in some forests, in the shadow or on north-facing slopes. The big fields however were free of snow and of an autumn-like brown, since hardly anything has started to green, neither grass nor the birches. Spring still hasn’t arrived yet.

Right after the airport bus started its tour to town a strong snow shower poured down and within a minute the ground was white again. But although temperatures are still quite chilly with temperatures round 0 °C such snow doesn’t last long.

In Skellefteå I had to wait 45 minutes for the bus home. I was glad of my fleece jacket. And my light-weighted down jacket. And my soft-shell. And my woollen cap. I put it all on while waiting for the bus. What a chilly contrast to the weather in Bavaria the day before, that not only was quite sunny but also up to 20 °C warmer.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Spring birds

What a late spring we got this year. Still the seasons feels quite wintry and many of the fields and meadows are still covered with snow, only partly and slowly being defrosted by the spring sun.

The migrant birds however had started to fly northwards already – first the Whooper swans and geese, then the Common cranes.

I caught another bird by chance in mid-air and asked for help on Facebook not knowing what kind of bird it was.

This flying fellow is a Smew and according to the comments on Facebook I got it seems to be quite rare here. A photographical chance hit.

Since I was already quite near Bjuröklubb on my “bird hunt” I took the last 12 kilometres to the parking place at this peninsula. Parts of the northern bay Gärdviken was still covered with ice – apparently thick enough to bare the two ice fishers who sat or lay upon it. But round the eastern part that is more exposed to the sea the water was open, only some ice floes that stranded at the shallow shore indicated that summer is still some months away.

Translations:

EnglishGermanSwedishLatin
Whooper swanSingschwanSångsvanCygnus cygnus
Common craneKranichTranaGrus grus
SmewZwergsägerSalskrakeMergellus albellus

April weather – part 3

I guess we had more days with snowfall in April than in January, but the sun has enough power to melt away the snow in a quite short time. But the next chilly night may come and bring another snow shower …

Packed ice on the Baltic Sea

Most of the Baltic Sea seams to be open, but that’s mostly near the coast. There are still huge ice covered areas, moved around by the wind. One day a coastal area may be open, the next day completely covered with ice floes.

Since the last nights were quite cold the ice floes partly froze together giving the illusion, that the sea would be covered with a layer of solid ice but no, the new ice between the floes is young and weak and wouldn’t bare you. I myself broke through this morning when taking pictures but directly at the coast, were the water is very shallow and I landed in only 20 cm deep water. No problem with rubber boots but I wouldn’t have dared it without good knowledge of this part of the coast.