Some summer days in Sweden

I was home in Sweden for only three weeks but the time feels long and rich. Annika and I had guests most of the time but some days in between just the two of us.

A short kayak trip in the sun

On 1 July I used my lunch break to paddle to the beach. I took a bath and lunch there and then paddled back to work. Ah, I love this type of lunch breaks!

A day trip to Norrbyskär

On 3 July Annika and I took the car to Norrbyn and from there the ferry to the island Norrbyskär. Always worth visiting, especially when the warm weather invites to a bath.

A wavy kayak trip

On 4 July Annika and I made a kayak trip to and round the island Tarv. Normally this would be a quite relaxing tour of 10–11 km. But due to the windy weather the sea was pretty choppy and we had to focus a lot on the waves and the rocks.

No one of us took any photos there, but in the more sheltered waters beside and behind the island it was possible to take some photos again. And another bath.

Finally rain

On 7 July it finally rained in Obbola. The rain came too late for the dried up lawn but probably saved a lot of flowers and bushes in our garden.

Hiking twice

On 8 July Annika and hiked twice. First round Grössjön together with guests from Germany, then just we two at the Kronören naturreservat. Grössjön is mostly forest and bogs (and a lot of mosquitoes) while Kronören is also open landscape by the sea.

Back to Tromsø

Ten days ago an 10 July I travelled back to Tromsø. Train Departure in Umeå 2:15 in the night, bus arrival in Tromsø was 17:30.

I felt cold and made a Covid test the next day. Bang – positive! Therefore I couldn’t take advantage of the beautiful summer weather in Tromsø but stayed home in bed the week.

I made some short hikes on the weekend but the weather was dull, foggy and rainy.


Hiking up the Nordtinden

After I failed reaching the summit of the Nordtinden (640 m) last November I gave it a second try today. It’s so much easier to navigate when there is no snow covering the path and the sparse way marks.

I start to follow the gravel road, which I leave after 2.7 km.

The small trail leads up steadily. It’s not so steep, that I have to climb but steep enough to raise my pulse to hummingbird level. I could blame it on my Covid infection two weeks ago but I guess it’s just a lack of fitness.

A movement to the left wakes me up. It’s a flock of ptarmigan fledglings with an adult. Some flutter away, some stay. I use the confusion to take some photos with my telephoto lens. The photos are heavily cropped, I want to keep distance.

I am above the tree line now and the views are impressive.

Most impressive is a chasm at the side of the trail. The gradient down? Perhaps 400%. Enough to keep safety distance while photographing.

The last part is rocky and pathless but the huge cairns marking the tops of Nordtinden (there seem to be two) are in view so I can navigate just by eye. I take it easy on the boulder fields. I reach summit number one and add myself to the summit register that lies sheltered in an aluminium box.

I continue a bit more west to get a better view to the sea. And there it is – the island Vengsøya with the smaller island Vågøya in the front.

I walk around to take some more pictures. I watch the ferry leaving Vengsøya and climb a bit down the slope to have a closer look to the nameless lake below the mountain Laukviktinden.

Then I walk back in a small circle, pass the other summit cairn and start to descend.

It’s always interesting how not only the view changes but the terrain as well. Round the summits it’s mostly rocks and boulder fields, then more and more grass is present and the path consists also of gravel and then earth, too. On the way back the lake Skulsfjordvatnet lies in the sun.

As most day trips the way back is the same as the way there. So I pass the sign to Nordtinden a second time and am on the gravel road again.

The change from forest to farmland shows that my car is not far away. After four hours and about 12 km I’m back from a lovely mountain hike.

Two more photos showing small things. The first one a beetle from the genus Carabus. The first one a berry from the genus Rubus. I was glad about both discoveries. The difference: The beetle stayed unharmed, the berry was eaten right after taking the picture.


An intangible longing

This blog article is a bit special. It’s not about the places I visit but about a special place of longing. The article is more personal than the others and probably I write it mostly for myself. I decided to publish it anyhow. You are welcome to read it and share your thoughts in the comment section. That would be nice!

I’m feeling sad and wistful. This map shows the reason for my melancholy and the place of my longing:

The image above is a clip of the map North Circumpolar Region. A large version of the map hangs in my work room home in Sweden. In the middle of the cropped image there it is: The North Pole! Unreachable. But …

Let’s first go back in history. 20 years ago. I lived in Essen, Germany and I just had stopped working as a professional jazz musician and made my first work experiences in web programming. Everything was new. And I started to develop a new passion: The Scandinavian winter.

That winter I had been in Lapland for the first time and I loved it! With the exception of the following year I have been north of the Arctic Circle every single year since then. In 2004 I first moved to the opposite direction – Munich – but in 2010 I moved to Sweden. 2020 was a very special year. Annika and I bought a house and moved in together in May. And in August we have married ! At the same time I got a job at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. As a matter of fact that is too far away from home but this job is just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That’s why I have had two places to live since then. Right now I’m in Tromsø.

Since I not only like maps but also graphics, I photoshopped a bit today. A graph about “way-up-north” the last 20 years. The x-axis shows the time and y-axis shows the latitude. The bars show were I lived and the dots my northernmost latitude per year.

You see the green dot this year? 82 °N – that’s quite out of my normal Northern Scandinavian boundary box. How I came there? As part of my job I got the opportunity to join a polar expedition with the ice breaker Kronprins Haakon. The three week journey took us to the Polar Ocean north of Svalbard. I was really touched and overwhelmed by the beauty of the sea ice and I fell in love with the high Arctic.

Last week Kronprins Haakon started another polar expedition for five weeks. Oh, I was longing for being in the high Arctic again and I wished to join that cruise so much!

It doesn’t make it easier that I know 9 of the 27 participants. And it doesn’t make it easier either, that the ship is probably not fully booked. There might have been a place (although no budget)! But today it became even harder when I read that yesterday Kronprins Haakon has reached the North Pole for the first time. The North Pole! Imagine – the NORTH POLE! Being there is one of my two strongest dreams in life! The other I’ll keep secret ;-). But of course it is not my main field of work travelling around. Unfortunately.

So that’s why I have been feeling sad and wistful the last two weeks.

But there are things that help.

Annika is coming to Tromsø next Friday and then we have three weeks of holiday together! Since we do not see each other regularly, each day together is something special. I’m so looking forward to see her!

Other thing that help? Hiking in the mountains (last Sunday and tomorrow), paddling kayak (yesterday), taking a bath in the sea (this afternoon).

But still visiting the North Pole will be one of my big dreams!

Just a hike up the Rødtinden

Today I joined a group of (much) younger people on a mountain hike up the Rødtinden (470 m). It was special in two ways: First of all it was nice to talk to a bunch of people from the USA, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Spain. An then – the weather! It was a real summer day with a cloudless sky and a lot of gorgeous views.

I didn’t take many pictures but some from a small pre-summit that we hiked to after reaching the main summit.