The first frost – hiking tour on the Laukviktinden

Today was the second day, where my car was covered with ice in the morning. I had to scrape ice after breakfast because I wanted to drive to Kvaløyvågen on the island Kvaløya to hike up the Laukviktinden (587 m) today. The weather was calm and the sky was blue and I enjoyed the views on sea and mountains from the car.

When I passed the shallow bay Finnvika I just had to stop and go there. Large areas were covered with a thin layer of ice that sparkled in the sun. Autumn in Tromsø is a fast season. Last weekend the trees were colourful, now many of them are bare.

20 km later: I just parked my car by the sea and read the tour description. I should follow the road for 80 metres, take the gravel road to the left and leave it when it turns left. The rest of the tour would be pathless but according to the book easy to find.

When I left the gravel road the terrain was a bit tricky. It was more or less overgrown boulders with hidden holes. The trees had shed their leaves and almost looked dead. I was glad when I had reached the mountain ridge where it was much easier to walk. The wet moss was covered with frost and so were the water puddles. Laukviktinden came into view, but I knew that there would be an acsent before. It looked pretty steep. Hopefully it’s just the perspective.

And indeed it was less steep than expected. A bit tricky however because some parts were wet and slippery. And that one of the countless moss pads hid a knee deep water puddle was not nice ;-) ! It is always a satisfying experience when you gain altitude, are above the tree line and can see more and more – both fjords and mountains.

Just straight ahead I spotted the lake Laukvikvatna and its neighbours. They lie 50 metres below. So I first had to climb down before hiking up again. Most of the lakes were covered with a thin layer of ice.

From the lake it is only 200 more metres in altitude to the top – according to the tour book. That meant that most of the the ascent lied behind me. It was easy to go up, only the very last part was a steep boulder field. Probably not the best routeI chose, but that was hard to see from below.

The terrain flattened out and then – all of the sudden – I could see the summit marker: A huge pile of stones with a metal box containing the summit book. And behind that: The open sea with the island Vengsøya.

What do you do on mountain summits beside of adding your name to the summit book? Yes – you take a selfie! After that I went a bit further to a place where the terrain drops off steeply. Here the view was really impressive because I could not only see the open sea and its islands but the bay Laukvika and even the boggy marshland that looked like it was directly under my feet. Here I took my iPhone as camera because it has a wide angle lens.

I took a break, ate some cookies and drank water. I even met another hiker that probably hiked up twice as fast as me. Then I started my way back. I found a better way because it is so much easier to find a good path when you look from above. Later my optimism was dampened when I landed in quite steep terrain and had to traverse it a bit until I was on my old trail.

Round 9½ km later I reached the gravel road again. In the shadow the ground was still frozen, but the car that waited in the sun was warm.

Grønnlibruna and Petterbolhaugen

It’s Sunday. Weather forecast looks very promising and I want to go out hiking. I scroll through my tour book and the net and cannot decide. Finally I just grab my stuff and the book and take my car to Kvaløya where I mostly use to hike. I’ll find something.

While driving I remember the small mountain Grønnlibruna where I’ve been already in November and May. There’s a lot of birch forest in the first half of the hike – perhaps a good place to be in autumn. I drive to the place where the tour starts and park my car.

The sky is covered with clouds and clouds flow through the valleys as well. But the yellow birch leaves of the forest I’m hiking though shine colourfully.

I reach the top of Grønnlibruna. Although it is only 401 metres high I am above the tree line. I continue to a smaller hill in the southwest to enjoy the autumnal colours. Later I’ll learn that it has a name: Petterbolhaugen. I reach the top and just in this moment the sun comes out. It already had started to illuminate small parts of the impressive mountains but now it shines on my face.

The weather become sunnier and sunnier and the views on the mountain panoramas are beautiful.

Many trees have lost already many leaves and even tiny puffs of wind take more leaves with them. Soon the colourful autumnal tinted forests will transform into grey collections of bare trees. Then I will hope for the first snow. But today I collect the colours – for the blog, my memory and my soul.

Kayaking into the dark

It seems, that summer is over. It’s less a matter of temperature but light. Next night will be autumnal equinox and today’s sunset was already at 18:47. Tromsø has almost the same longitude as Budapest.

Anyhow the Thursday paddling of Tromsø Havpadelklubb – the Tromsø sea kayak association – still hold place today. Next week will be the last time for this season. Today we had perfect conditions: No waves, no wind and 10 °C. We had many a summer day worse than that here in Tromsø

May I present, that is D5. It’s one of the many rental kayaks of the association and my standard choice. My own kayak is in Sweden.

Today we were 15 people heading to the island Grindøya on the other side of the sound between Tromsøya and Kvaløya. OK, let’s start …

First we paddled along the coast, then we started crossing the sound. From the boat houses to Grindøya it is round about 4 km.

This time we did not paddle round the island like in June or two weeks ago. Instead we headed for a beach at the northern tip and made a break there. I had a piece of soft chocolate cake with cashew nuts, a welcome leftover of the three day data management workshop that I joined this week. And while we stood or sat there it started getting dark.

Some of my fellow paddlers already had switched on their lights on the way to Grindøya, now we all illuminated our kayaks and ourself. It’s less about seeing but about being seen. There is commercial shipping on the sound. We prepared our kayaks and departed.

While we paddled back it got darker and darker. It’s really a special experience to paddle through the dark in a group. You hear the drone of the city, occasionally interrupted by an airplane or a motorcycle. But that’s far away. Our own sounds are near: soft conversation and the little noises of the paddle entering and leaving the surface of the sea. And since you see less and less, hearing becomes more and more present. And anyhow I tried to paddle as silent as possible not to disturb the quietness.

When we arrived at the boat houses of Tromsø Havpadelklubb it had become dark. The tour lasted only an hour and a half plus a half hour break. But the peaceful sound of kayaking calmly through the darkness lingers still in my ears.

 

 

 

 

Stappen in the autumn

Reader, meet Stappen. Stappen, meet reader.

Hiking up Stappen is tour 54 in my book “På tur i Tromsø” – On tour in Tromsø – and it is marked blue, which somehow means that it is moderately easy. I tried to hike up Stappen in winter last year but gave up because of the steep terrain paired with snow. Today I gave it another try.

Autumn has been in full swing the last days and most of birch leaves are yellow, while other plants as groundcovers are anything between green, yellow and bright red. Sky today was grey but the colours shone brightly.

After crossing a bog I had started hiking up the mountain from the left side. Or should I say, climb? There was no recognisable path and it was quite steep. Since all rocks were overgrown, terrain was not so easy and I took it slowly and cautiously. I didn’t want to slip or find some hole between the rocks.

As usual the views were gorgeous. The island Tussøya with the pale sea behind, the mountain massif round Skamtinden that rose above the valley while gaining height. or the autumnal coloured marshes with their embedded lakes and small meandering streams.

You can see it on the first photo. The way up stays steep – up to 85% or 40° – until the very top. But finally I crossed the 550 metres level curve and was almost up, because Stappen is only 565.2 metres high. But up does not mean that it was a plateau, it was more a constant up and down and I used my hands a lot when it got steep. Fortunately the ridge was always some metres broad. I’m a bit afraid of heights. And then – after crossing most of the ridge – I reached the top.

Impressive is not the word that you would use to describe this knee-high heap of stones. It was quite obvious, that this mountain is not very popular. It is pretty steep to the sides, so that I could look straight down to the lake Botnvatnet (“the bottom water”). Later I would go round this lake on my way back.

But I was still on the top of the mountain and continued following the ridge that slowly descended. Here you can see two parts of the ridge:

On my way I found a small clearing surrounded by rocks. With the rough mountains around it looked like a secret valley, where dinosaurs still live. Well, they have to be tiny, the clearing was only round ten square metres in size.

This part of Stappen was much less steep, but when I looked back again it looked quite impressive anyhow.

After a while I reached the bogs – still at an altitude of round 330 metres and started to walk back onto the wet and bouncy ground.

Stappen was a nice tour but steeper than expected. At home I read the tour description in the book again. You had to read between the lines: While it was not mentioned, that the ascent is steep, alternative routes were mentioned with the words: “Her er det litt mindre bratt”.

Google translate’s translation: “Here it is a little less steep”.

Olaf’s translation: “Here it is little less steep which is still pretty steep. But other paths – those that you will choose – are much steeper! Anyhow, we marked the tour as blue so you might survive.”

At the end just three pairs of photos of this tour and my tour on 4 December:

 

Jämtland tour 22 – signposts and waymarks

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

If you want to hike you need either a good map and a compass, or a GPS, or you have an area with designated hiking trails. Then you in most cases have only two issues: find the right trail and follow it.

Easy, isn’t it? Yes, but wait – what’s that?:

Why are there two trails to Storerikvollen? Check the symbols. One shows a skier, the other a hiker. That’s the first think you have to know: There are summer and winter trails in the Swedish mountains. The latter ones are often a bit less hilly but can lead over bogs and lakes. So choose the right track. Quite often they go together for a while and then split up again. That’s where you have either to check a map (take an up-to-date one) or follow the right waymarks.

The waymarks for summer trails use stones and red paint. In Norway it is a red T, in Sweden it is mostly a red dot. Mostly they are painted on large stones, rocks or on cairns – heaps of stones. The advantage of cairns: they are easier to spot when it is foggy.

In wintertime most summer waymarks are hidden under a deep snow cover. Then it is the time of the winter waymarks: Red diagonal crosses.

The poles can be several metres long because of the snow, the depth of which can vary greatly. When you have snowstorm conditions in winter you sometimes just can spot the next cross. When you’re lucky. I took the following photo on 20 February 2020 on a ski tour. Two hours later we experienced average wind speeds of 25 m/s. Then you start to love the waymarks that guide you through the storm.

Back to our August Jämtland tour this week. We could watch some people replacing the old winter waymarks by new ones. An important job, probably done on a voluntary base. Voluntary work is so important in Norway that it has its own word: dugnad.

I guess the best sign posts we found in Nedalshytta in Norway. One “summer signpost”, one “winter signpost” and even ratings for the trails from green to black.

It’s always nice to meet some signposts on your way, but not all of them show the distances. I like the last one. The letters are holes in the metal sign, so it won’t snow over so easily in winter time.

But not all signs are about following the trail. They can show you the Swedish-Norwegian border. Or the way to the toilet. Or the toilet – often a “privy” – itself. Or where to park your dog in case you have any.

And some of the signs or marks are quite creative. I almost missed this “in-tree” waymark in Norway. Perhaps more funny than helpful.

But the clearest sign we directly spotted on our first hiking day in Storlien:

The words say henan, dittan and hittn which are apparently words in Jamska, a group of Jämtland dialects. They mean something like here, →there and →here. I cannot express it better. Anyhow this is an article about signposts and waymarks, not about linguistics.

Jämtland tour 22 – the glacier of Helagsfjället

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

It is 23 August, day 9 of our hiking tour through the mountains of Jämtland. Today we take another day off and I decide to try to reach the glacier of the mountain Helagsfjället. I don’t know how near I can get but I’ll see.

This glacier is the Sweden’s southernmost and parts of it are visible from the Helags fjällstation. You can even see the mark of the top (1797 m) which is round 750 metres higher than the cabins.

On my way up I meet three men heading for the top. I hear that it is easy to climb, even for children. Other hikers will confirm that later. Well, perhaps I’ll do that another time but today I want to touch the glacier.

I walk first up on across county, reach the main trail and follow it for a while. Then I turn right to follow a smaller path heading to the glacier. I reach a field with large rocks and boulders. Carefully I follow the cairns that mark a path until I stand in front of the first glacier tongue.

Time for a selfie!

I spot another glacier tongue. For coming there I have to climb over a rock outcrop. Mountaineers will laugh that I call it climbing but I’m more a hiker than a climber and as soon as I have to use both hands I call it climbing. The effort was rewarded. What an impressive view on the glacier!

I stand still for a while. First of all it is beautiful weather and then it is fascinating just to see the colours of the glacier changing while shady clouds pass by. And then I move again to take more pictures. And I drink some water and eat a bit of chocolate.

How long I stand there? I cannot say. I start my way back. My first view is on the radio station on the mountain Jalkedsåajja. This is where my sister and brother-in-law are today. But it is too far to spot if they are there right now.

While walking back I come to the small glacial lake that I already passed on my way up. Some people had written their names using stones. Wait – some people!? Only now I do realise that the whole area is covered with messages arranged by stones. An ancient social media stream – though without cat videos.

The whole tour took only three hours, with a lot of photographing and taking rests. If you plan to visit Helags you definitely should consider to give the glacier a visit. I keep my fingers crossed that you get nice weather, too.

Jämtland tour 22 – the trail

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

On the photo above you can see the trail from Blåhammaren to Storulvån. It is in fact two trails together: the winter trail that is marked with red crosses and the summer trail that mostly is marked with stones with a large dot of red paint on it. We didn’t follow this trail I only took the photo because of the beautiful evening colours.

Many parts of the trail are just like this. They lead through heather, grass, crowberries, and dwarf birches. Other parts of the trail lead over hills, across rock fields, through forests and sometimes over a reindeer fence.

This is when the trail is dry. But often it isn’t. The trail can just be very wet of last nights rain as we had it on our third day.

The trail can be boardwalks that lead over swampy area or bogs. Some of them may be under the water which makes them rather slippery.

And then there are rivers, streams and brooks. Some of them are crossed by a bridge. Some bridges are big, some are – well – small, simple, and pragmatic.

And then there are rivers that you have to ford. I ’m used to hiking in rubber boots and so I could splash through while my fellow hikers had to switch to sandals and wade through the ice cold water. Already Douglas Adams said: You have to know where your towel is.

And then there is mud. It can be slippery and sometimes quite deep, especially right before or after a plank. When you have a plank.

Especially the first day trail section StorvallenBlåhammaren was in an extremely poor shape. The others went around all these muddy patches while I – hey, I have rubber boots! – just continued straight ahead. But then at one point it happened. I made a step ahead and my right leg sank thigh deep into the mud. On the trail! Luckily Blåhammaren had a dry room.

But don’t be afraid, that’s not typical. Many sections of the trail look more like this:

How long the trail was? I don’t have the exact numbers but I think we hiked round about 135 km on 8 days, so round 17 km a day.

Jämtland tour 22 – hiking up the Gåsen

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

In Gåsen, one of my favourite cabins in the Swedish mountains we took a day off from our hiking tour. My brother-in-law and I took this as an opportunity to hike up to the summit of the mountain Gåsen, name giver of the cabin.

Gåsen is 1427 metres high. That’s however not a huge ascent, because the cabins lie on 1100 metres.

As everywhere in on our hiking trip there were reindeer around. What do they do on the snow fields? Eating snow? Fleeing the mosquitoes, while there were no around? I don’t know.

We approached the mountain from the south where it is less steep, although Gåsen is quite flat everywhere. While we went up my brother-in-law discovered a snow hare (a.k.a. mountain hare) that ducked to the ground but then sprang away when it realised that we spotted it.

Looking back: the cabins of Gåsen. Looking ahead: the way to the top. And more reindeer.

And there it is – the summit of Gåsen. While the top of the mountain is just a large gravel plateau the 360° panoramic view is quite impressive. It’s not only the mountainscapes that surround Gåsen but the large valleys that made this landscape so huge and seemingly endless.

After a rest – being thankfully for our jackets because it was quite windy – we ascended again, this time more direct to the cabins we stayed over. This time our hike led us over two snow fields. We were not alone, the reindeer seemed to liked the snow fields, too.

At the end we had to go a bit zigzag because the ground was quite wet but after 2½ hours we were back at our cozy cabin. That was fun!

Bonus photo: A cloud. For me it looks like a singing turtle floating effortless though the sky. And you?

 

A cloudy hike up the Stor-Kjølen

The weather forecast promised sun for most of the day today. Nice conditions for hiking up the Stor-Kjølen. I’ve been there once almost exactly one year ago, today I chose the other route coming from the Northeast.

I was there, my camera was there, however the sun wasn’t. Thick and low clouds hung over the whole mountainscape.

1 – The trail

5-5½ km long, leading up 560 metres in altitude. It is well marked and a visible trail most of the time. One boulder field has to be crossed and the last part is mainly pathless, but not steep.

2 – The reindeer

Much less shy than the Jämtland reindeer. They let me get quite close and one of them came within 3 metres. It seemed to be very curious and I expected it to touch me with its soft nose asking for goodies, but it went away. Another reindeer with huge antlers was much more careful and stayed with its small herd.

3 – The summit

Visible from a lot of places in and round Tromsø because of its prominent, mushroom shaped flight radar station at the top. Beneath the station – a small hut. It’s the varmebua, a heated hut driven by Troms Turlag. Very welcoming today, when it was foggy and round 4 °C.

4 – The weather

According to yr.no 4 °C and sunny. While the temperature might have been correct the rest wasn’t. It was cloudy and foggy and partially also drizzly. But then the sea started to shine and glare. While the sun itself was still hidden by clouds the reflection of the water surface sent sunlight upwards to the Stor-Kjølen. Amazing light, nearly unphotographable.

I waited in the hut for the weather to change, but in vain. On my way back to the car the cloud layer lifted and I could see a bit more of the fantastic surrounding scenery. But if took some more hours until the sun came out today and then I was long home.

A nice tour anyway. Or as the Norwegians say: ut på tur aldri sur – Out on a trip, never sour.