Tromtinden

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

It wasn’t planned, that I woke up already before 6 o’clock. Anyhow I took the opportunity to get an early start for my 2nd mountain tour of #onceaweek. Todays destination is the Tromtinden in the northwest of the island Kvaløya. The starting point is 50 km away so I had to take the car. It won’t be the last time.

The car ride however is incredible. Now many trees bear autumnal colouring. It is already impressive in the shadow, but then I suddenly drive into the sun and was almost blinded by these colours, to bright and intense they were.

I have to take another photo, that shows the road to Tromvik. It lies in the shadow while the sun illuminates the bald mountain peaks.

Already at 7:20 I start the tour. It’s 2 °C. It seems that most Norwegians prefer to start their hiking tours much later and so I am completely alone. The first part crosses boggy ground. There are some planks leading over wet parts but they are quite slippery because of ground frost.

The way leads up through a sparse birch forest. Now the path is less muddy and starts being dominated by rocks. No wonder – it’s going to be a mountain tour.

On a small plateau I find some cloudberries. There are overripe and have a bland taste, but the frozen one in the shadow is really tasty. Cloudberry sorbet!

On a saddle between the Mellomtinden and Tromtinden the view opens to the northwest and a mountain lake as well as the sea appears.

I follow the ascending path until I stand on a larger plateau. From here I can see the steep northwest face of the Tromtinden and the marking of the summit.

After traversing the plateau the path gets steeper, leads mostly over rocks and I have to stop several times to look where it continues. Do you see the mark on the next image?

After crossing some rock fields and a bit of level I “climbing” I arrive at the summit plateau with its impressive cairn and an even more impressive 360° view.

9:15 – finally time for breakfast. Three cloudberries didn’t fill me up.

I almost spend one hour on the Tromtinden and enjoy being outdoors completely undisturbed.

Finally I start walking down. Slowly and carefully I take my steps on the rock fields but then the path gets easier and easier. When I am halfway down I meet the first other hiker – a woman with a dog. From now on I meet twelve other people (plus three dogs) until I arrive at the car. The sky is blue and it has become so warm, that I only wear a t-shirt.

I arrive at the car at round 11 o’clock. I’m surprised that the car thermometer shows only 7 °C, but the sun has still quite a lot power. Now I’ll head home, only with a detour to the grocery to buy a huge bowl of salad for lunch.

For the stats: 8.3 km, summit altitude 636 m.

A hike to the Stor-Kjølen

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

Let’s be honest and face it. I’ve been really lazy this year and my outdoor fitness is near non-existent. I don’t like that. There is a simple solution for that: Be more outdoors!

Today I started the project #onceaweek. I want to make an outdoor tour with at least 10 km every week. (Thanks M. for your inspiration.)

I will try to blog about these tours and I want to give each tour some photographical focus. Today’s theme: vegetation zones.

From forest to fjell

The gravel road is quite steep in the beginning. First it leads through birch forests that have started to colorise autumnal. Then the landscape opens and is not dominated by trees anymore.

Gaining height

At the lake I leave the gravel road and the character of the hike starts to get alpine. It’s however still a hiking tour, no climbing needed on the whole tour.

From earth to moon

The vegetation is becoming more and more sparse. Some tufts of grass, a fern, moss, map lichens. And then I pass the first snow field. I look up the mountain I wish to climb. It is just an enormous pile of stones. Fortunately there’s a way round this slope.

The mountain top of the is a plateau of rocks with even less live. It’s almost like being on another planet or moon. And there it is: the space station.

“Oh, the space station looks so cozy inside!” – „Well, that’s not the space station, it’s the varmebua, a small wooden cabin to give shelter to hikers.“

“Um, hikers? On an alien moon?” – “Well, we are on earth and the ‘space station’ is a radar station used for controlling the air traffic of a larger part of Northern Norway.“

I had been almost alone on my way up but on the summit there were many other hikers. Some passed, others took a rest like me.

Looking around

The plateau provided a 360° panoramic view. I could see many mountain chains, the higher tops all snow covered. Anyhow, it’s Tromsø and so fjords and open sea are present as well.

This could be a favourite place of mine in Tromsø’s gorgeous nature. But it is way too early to know this. Remember, it is my first tour of #onceaweek. There will be other places to discover.

For the stats: 16 km, summit altitude: 788 m.

A short and rainy Hurtigruten trip

This article is part of the series “2021-08: Northern Norway”.

After 2700 km by car we had arrived in Bjørnevatn near Kirkenes. From there it would be another 900 km back to Tromsø, my temporary home. So Annika and I had decided to use go by ship and use the Hurtigruten for our journey west. Last Friday we went on board of the MS Vesterålen, the smallest and oldest ship of the current Hurtigruten fleet. I left it to be parked while Annika used the regular gangway. The ship departed round 12:30, round 35 hours we arrived in Tromsø.

The weather was rainy, chilly, windy and although parts of the upper deck are well protected against wind and rain we often sat there alone. While it was quite rainy there were a lot of small holes in the clouds that let the sun peek through. Especially the light on the first day was very wonderful.

I just show some of the photos I made from the upper deck. All of them are made with a telephoto lens and focal lengths between 150 and 600 mm. To avoid blurred images because of the ship vibrations I hardly used a tripod but used ISO 800–1600. But now to the photos:

Norwegian summer journey I

This article is part of the series “2021-08: Northern Norway”.

Annika and I have two weeks holiday and are travelling through Northern Norway. Our southernmost point: Lofoten, right now we are in Hammerfest.

Ten images looking back:

10 – We are on the high plateau Sennalandet. There are hardly any trees and the road E6 crosses the plateau in a straight line. I can imagine how rough and lonely this place may be in winter.

9 + 8 – The Øksfjordjøkelen is definitely worth the 16 km detour. The parking place and the small path leading through the sparse birch forest grant impressive views on this glacier. When the weather is clear.

7 – It’s grey on our passage from Andenes, Vesterålen to Gryllefjord, Senja. I stand on the top deck of the ferry and wonder how many tourists may have rung this bell and what had happened then.

6 – We just left Andenes by ferry. The razor sharp mountain line of Bleik will soon transform into a whitish grey scheme slowly vanishing in the drizzle.

5 + 4 – It is grey on our short ferry passage from Fiskebøl, Lofoten to Melbu, Vesterålen, too.

3 – One of the typical features of the Norwegian landscapes is the presence of high summits and fjords. Sometimes the mountains are reflected in the water surface of the sea.

2 – Hauklandstranda is one of these incredible beaches on the Lofoten islands with white sand and turquoise water. The sun is shining – time for a bath. Air temperature 11 °C, water 12 °C. Not as cold as expected.

1 – We pass Sildpollnes kapell on the Lofoten twice. Once on our way south and once when heading back again. There’s a parking place by the road where stairs and ways lead up to some hills that present a view over the landscapes around.

0 – On Saturday I leave Tromsø to fetch Annika from Riksgränsen train station in Sweden. It’s still not possible to travel further to Narvik by train. Our destination today: a room in Tjeldsundbrua.

Back in Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

After eight months of home office home I travelled back to Tromsø last Saturday to continue working at the Norwegian Polar Institute. My wife Annika has joined me for a week and I took some days off. Yesterday she travelled back to our home to Obbola. Tomorrow my Tromsø everyday life starts –at least for three weeks, then Annika and I will meet again for a two week vacation.

Sunday, 25 July

A grey day, a foggy day. Good for relaxing after a long journey from Sweden with train car and bus, that took eighteen hours.

Monday, 26 July

My first working day onsite since 20 November 2020. My boss has bought suksessterte (success cake) to celebrate my return. The seagulls have occupied my windowsill.

Tuesday, 27 July

Annika and I planned to hire a car for a trip, but none of the car rentals have free cars. Instead we are looking for a 2nd hand car for me. We find an old Subaru XV and may test drive it for 24 hours! Road trip to Sommarøya. Lunch at the hotel, watching private kayak lessons at one of the many beaches. Realising that the car fits onto my small parking place.

Thursday, 29 July

After work (well, after lunch) Annika and I take the bus to Tromsdalen on the other side of the sound Tromsøysundet. Here we use Sherpatrappa to hike up the mountain Storsteinen. Sherpatrappa is a stone staircase with 1203 steps built by Nepalese mountain road workers and finished in 2019. Then we hike to the summit of the mountain Fløya (671 m a.s.l.). After a break we return to the mountain station and enjoy our dinner in the sun. Then we walk down the stairs again. My knees are sulky, but that’s worth it.

Friday, 30 July

After lunch we fetch my car that I bought on Wednesday. Not the Subaru XV, but a three year old Suzuki S-Cross. After that we take a road trip to Tromvik and Rekvik on the island Kvaløya. And – oh – it’s so beautiful at many places here! Personal highlight: the two relaxed reindeer at the beach.

Saturday, 31 July

Farewell Annika! Now we are separated by at least 930 kilometres but fortunately for only three weeks. After I farewell Annika at the airport I drive to a parking place on the island Kvaløya and take two promenades. One at the beach, one over the bogs. The variety of landscapes is so impressive.

Sunday, 1 August

After a more or less lazy a short trip by bus to the center of Tromsø. The Indian restaurant is fully booked, but the sushi restaurant has place. 12 bits 189 NOK. Regular Norwegian prices. On the way there I find this narrow shortcut. Old dustbins, but a photo exhibition.

Breakfast to go

About transporting breakfast in a wheelbarrow and hunting kayaks by the sea.

Some of you may remember the picture taken three weeks ago:

Martin’s answer in the comment was right: We have two kayaks now! Annika bought hers three weeks ago, a new, bright yellow one. Since then it has snowed several times – last time six days ago but today the weather promised to be calm and sunny. Because of Ascension Day Annika and I had a free day today and as usual we started it with a breakfast. Almost …

We didn’t put the breakfast on the terrace table, but in a wheelbarrow. In addition to food and drink there was a camping mat, clogs, sun glasses, caps, my camera and a sponge. While I pushed the wheelbarrow to the shore, Annika took two paddles, for today we would kayak to a beach on the island Bredskär and take our breakfast there.

The air was warm but the sea is still icy cold, so we both were dressed in drysuits. Gloves and such however was not needed any longer.

We paddled counterclockwise along the island Bredskär. Wind as sea were calm and the sun warmed us. We circled a small stony cape and then we turned sharp left to enter a small bay with a sandy beach. There we got out of our kayaks and dragged them up the beach.

Almost 11 o’clock. Both of us were hungry and eager to start breakfast – or better said brunch. We carried the food up the rocky cliff of the cape that we just had gone around by kayak. Time to roll out the camping mat, pour orange juice into the plastic cups and start our brunch.

After eating bread with cheese, egg or herring in mustard sauce and some chocolate (Marabu with salted almonds) we just sat there and enjoyed. We watched the agile terns fly, we spotted three tiny sail boats leaving the shore. We heard a loud HOOOO! from the air horn of a ship, but we couldn’t spot it. The three sailing boats headed for the open sea getting smaller and smaller. And finally we saw the cause of the air horn: The Wasa ferry to Finland that at time docks in the industry port and has a bit of longer way to the sea. Slowly it approached and passed our observation spot.

The waves of the Wasaline ferry came nearer and nearer. No problem – we sit on land.

I cannot remember whether I heard the waves running into the sandy bay or if I saw them. Anyhow, I turned my head and could watch the waves that had reached our kayaks and started to pull them into the sea. I climbed down the cliff with my cheap plastic clogs as fast as I could, ran over the sand and waded into the water to fetch the first kayak I could reach. It was mine. Now I was a bit more relaxed. We could use my kayak to fetch Annika’s that already has been pulled out into deeper water. Annika however had still her drysuit on and waded to her kayak until she could grab it. Now the waves had started pushing her kayak back and soon both were on dry land again.

2 people: ✔︎ / 2 kayaks: ✔︎ / 2 paddles: ✔︎ – good luck!

To our learning for today: Even when the sea is calm – put your kayak on land properly! Now with the kayaks being save again we returned to the cliff, we sat down onto the camping mat again and watched the ferry on its journey to behind the horizon.

There we sat for a while, but then we put our things together, entered the kayaks and paddled home. After less then 2km of paddling we landed at the shore in front of our house where the wheelbarrow waited for that food that we hadn’t eaten. I still feel being extremely privileged, that I may live at such an outstanding place together with Annika.

Later that day we were in town where we got the warmest day yet: Up to 23 °C (or 24? I don’t remember) were shown by the car thermometer and when we bathed in the lake Stocksjön it was no winter bath any longer. Yes, there is still snow in the forest and even a larger patch of it beside the house but this will not last long.

Springtime!

April weather – kayaking through the snow

Yesterday the whole day was sunny. The sun was warm enough that we could take breakfast on the terrace. At lunch time we took a bath at Vitskärtsudden. Of course the water temperature is hardly above zero, but it felt springlike to go barefoot over the sand of the beach. Yes – sand, no more ice or snow!

Today however:

In the morning it has started snowing and since then it has been constantly snowing at temperatures round 0.3 °C. A good opportunity for …

… kayaking! Although wind had become stronger the Baltic Sea still was calm. Maybe it was the snow, that created a wet blanket of slush and made parts of the surface slow and doughy, but that I don’t know.

I just took a tour round Lillskär, but took some photos with my Nikon. That took time, because each time I took photos the wind blew me back 50 to 100 metres again. But as I said, the water was calm and it didn’t took long to round the island, cross a field of floating slush, disturb some geese and return home.

Short experiences can be great and memorable experiences!

A photo from the afternoon – still snowing. The original photo looked almost black-and-white and so I made this composition completely black-and-white with a slide blueish tone.

The background: a line of trees, dimmed by the intense snow fall. The middle layer: A line of rocks in the sea, covered with snow. The foreground: The sea, covered with a layer of slush.

Spring kayaking – kind of …

In the last weeks a lot of snow has melted and the sea ice has vanished. Only in some shallow, protected bays as Grundviken behind our house some ice is left. Spring is near!

Today I took advantage of the calm and sunny weather and took a short kayak tour round the island Bredskärssten. This island is 900 m from the mainland and round 300 m long.

Paddling to the island was easy. That’s, because we mostly have wind from the west and many kayak tours start with tailwind. Some ice floes floated in the lee of Bredskärssten.

I could hear a deep droning sound. A ship? I looked over my shoulder and behind Bredskär – the larger island nearby – the bow of Wasaline, the ferry to Finland appeared. I “parked” between the ice floes to take some images. with my mobile phone.

I continued paddling round the island. Two geese fleed loudly quacking from the island. I saw the reason seconds later: an eagle wheeling above the island.

Of course I had headwind on my way back. But the mainland was near and home in view all the time. Soon I arrived at the very same ice floe where I had started the tour. Time to continue my work in my home office …

With dressing, undressing, dragging the kayak and all the tour took an hour.

Kayak – crisp morning – roe deer – crushed ice

The week in five chapters – including photographers comments

Tuesday, 16. March, 7:45 – a short kayak tour

The blue sky invited to interrupt work and take a short kayak tour. It hardly needs preparation: Putting on the waterproof coverall, put the iPhone in a waterproof bag and drag the kayak over the ice to the islet Lillskär. Then it gets a bit harder to find a good place to set the kayak into the water. I found a place and some minutes later I paddled to the island Bredskär. The tour however turned out to be shorter than planned because between the islands Bredskär and Bredskärsten the Baltic Sea had frozen over in the night. I wasn’t eager to hack myself through the ice, so I turned and realised, that – as so often – the wind came from land and was fresher than expected. At time I do not have a real drysuit for paddling and moving in the thick neoprene survival suit is exhausting. But it’s great to be outdoors, even when the tour is only a tiny one.

Photographers comment:

It’s always like spinning a wheel of fortune, when you try to photo with an iPhone in a waterproof bag and your fingers are in rubber gloves. Sometimes nothing happens, sometimes you have waterdrops on the bag, sometimes the camera triggers too late and sometimes you’re taking pictures of your own gloves as in image #3.

Photoing like this is about visual storytelling, not about high quality photos you want to put on the wall of your living room. But on the other side, why actually not?

Yesterday, 6:30 –a crisp morning

-10 °C, could be the last cold morning before the warm air will arrive. I walked to the coast quite early and took some photos. One from the packed ice, that has frozen together, one of a funny ice sculpture that I discovered a bit further out.

Photographers comment:

Alas – a DSLR camera. Not waterproof and much heavier but much more fun to handle. The quality of the photos is of course superior but something is missing a bit: The beautiful warm light of the sunrise. The sun rises however already at 5:43, so I was almost an hour too late.

You have to decide: Do you want to sleep or to take better photos? It’s up to you.

Today, 8:30 – cautious visitors

When I went to the living room this morning I saw a movement outside. Right under the kitchen window two roe deer were eating leftovers of the bird food that was lying in the snow. Annika and I hold distance to the window and even though they were extremely cautious they didn’t seem to be able to see us through the glass. They continued eating for a short while and then went on. I slowly opened the kitchen window to give them carrots, but as expected they didn’t dare to come back. Now the carrots stuck in the snow and we’re curious if they’ll find them there the next days.

Photographers comment:

Luckily the roe deer stood on a metre of solid snow, so they could peek in and we could peek out and see them. The first photo gives a good impression of how near they were, even though it is taken with a focal length of 200mm.

Today, 12:00 – no winter bath

The whole day it has been above zero and at 11 o’clock it started to rain. In the need of fresh air Annika and I walked to Vitskärsudden. We weren’t prepared for a winter bath and it would have been quite useless since the whole bay was filled with ice floes and crushed ice and slush that lazily followed the slow waves of the sea.

Photographers comment:

Well, while the motive is quite ok, the grey overcast weather made the light so dull and poor in contrast, that the photo looks pale and boring. Should you photograph under such conditions? Well, of course! But don’t expect the best results.

Today, 15:45 – crushed ice

Where I started my Tuesday morning paddle tour now a large area of the sea was covered with the very same mixture of ice floes, smaller pieces of ice and slush. I went to Lillskär again – equally prepared as for paddling – and watched the ice floes. It’s mostly the trees of the neighbouring islands that prevent the scenery looking completely arctic, but it’s still impressive.

Finally I took my ice bath but since I didn’t get wet in my coverall it probably doesn’t count.

Photographers comment:

The conditions: bad. Again iPhone in a bag and rubber gloves plus the grey sky. Taking the selfie however was fun.

That makes me realise that I’m quite result-orientated when I make photos. Sometimes I just forget, that the process of photographing itself can be fun, last not least because it gives you reasons to do silly thinks like standing outside the whole night, wade through a mud bog or like today – just jump into the ice pool.

What was your last “crazy” photo action?

The last cold morning?

A clear blue sky, -20 °C – this may be the last cold morning here in Obbola. I was up early and went to the coast to catch the sunrise. The sea, where I paddled yesterday afternoon was completely frozen over again. Patches of ice fog drifted by – a clear sign that other parts of the sea are open (and that it’s cold). The fog partly hid the island Bredskärssten.

When did you watch your last sunrise? Do it again! It’s always fascinating to see the sky and the clouds change colours– from soft pink to deep purple, from crimson red to bright orange. The sunrise position has moved more and more westwards. Now it’s behind the larger island Bredskär. The sun illuminated the drifting fog in spots of orange.

Now in mid-March the sun rises much faster than in midwinter and soon the colours went pale. Time to go back and to warm up. The parka and mittens kept me warm, but the ski pants were a bit too thin when sitting on the ice.