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.

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 – 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.

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.

After work promenade to the Keiptuva

38.5 km by car, 5.5 km by foot. Some hundred metres in altitude. Warm and windy weather. Forests, slopes, shallow bogs, mountain paths, water to ford, flowers, snow fields, lakes, tundra, rocks, views to the mountains of Kvaløya, the fjord, the open sea and Greenland. OK, cross out the last point. Anyhow, quite much for a short after work promenade.

April snow in Tromsø

On Monday evening, the 25 April it started to snow.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

On Tuesday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

Still some flowers peeked through the snow.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

On Wednesday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

Some heavy snow squalls covered everything with snow.

In the evening I took a winter bath at the beach of Telegrafbukta and then took a photo of the snow figure by the stairs.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Yesterday on Thursday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

It was fun to kayak through the snow after work.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Today on Friday it has been snowing and temperatures have been (mostly) below zero.

The snowflakes have become thicker.

This afternoon snow depth was 25–30 cm. The snow figure was snowed in to the neck and the stairs have disappeared in the snow.

Thursday, 19 Mai 2022 …

In 20 days there will be the first polar day. Then the sun does not set for more than seven weeks. Midnight sun!

Summer is near but incredibly well hidden.

 

Happy New Year 2022

Some photos from New Year’s ski promenade with friends. We were lucky – clear sky and -12 °C gave perfect conditions for some outdoor BBQ at Stora Stenen. And when the wind increased we went inside the wooden cabin of this public recreation area and fired the oven.

Have a Happy New Year 2022 all together!

Hiking up the Grønnlibruna

Here I stand on top of the small mountain Grønnlibruna (401 m).

I crossed a river and followed a forest trail that sent me deep into the mud. I trudged through knee deep powder snow and then stalked through Styrofoam-like wind-pressed snow to reach the summit and see the mountains in the sun that yr forecasted. Here I stand on top of the small mountain Grønnlibruna and there is no sun. It is snowing. It has been snowing all day and the mountains are hidden by the clouds.

As yesterday I am alone. Apparently the locals do other things in November than hiking up snowy mountains. While I walk around on the plateau of the Grønnlibruna the weather is changing and slowly the mountain ranges come in view and so the bay Sørbotn and the island Håkøya. The sun however I do not see today.

The last photo is taken with my Nikon, the others are edited iPhone snapshots.

For the records: 8 km there and back. Round 400 m in Altitude. Temperature -1 °C … -5 °C. Next time: snow shoes.

Apropos next time: Today we had 4¼ hours of daylight. Next Sunday it will be 2¾ hours. Saturday after that 13 minutes. On Sunday in two weeks we will have polar night in Tromsø until 14 January 2022.

So next time I’ll not only take snow shoes with me but some powerful headlamps, too.

 

 

 

Tønsnesvarden

On Tuesday we got some snow in Tromsø. On Wednesday it already has melted away. But last night a bit of snow arrived.

Today I chose a shorter tour from my book “På tur in Tromsø” (On tour in Tromsø) because I just wanted an easy hike, not a full-grown mountain tour. The weather agreed with me.

By the sea only a bit of wet snow and sleet covered the ground but already 50 meter higher the gravel path was covered with 10 cm of snow. Deep tyre tracks were carved in the snow. This part of the tour was very easy. Just follow the road up until you reach the radio unit on the Tønsnesvarden (281 m) and try not to slip, because under the snow there are some icy patches.

This summit has a big radio station on its top. Even in the increasing snow fall is was quite visible. Now I walked through 20 cm of snow. After an hour I arrived at the radio station, where I met the creator of the deep tyre tracks: A six-wheeled ATV.

It wasn’t cold but a windy. It snowed more and more and the wet snow glued itself to my jacket. On my way back I left the main road and followed a small path on my digital map on my iPhone. I stopped in a forest of birches with thin and long stems. I loved the motive, but my Nikon camera gave up in this wet weather. The lens was fogged up in the inside and in the dense and wet snowfall I didn’t dare to change lens. One photo worked out ok anyhow:

Soon I realised that some of the paths drawn on the map did not exist in reality (at least not in winter) while others that exist were not part of the map. So I went cross-county through pathless terrain, partly dens forest, partly wetlands with many small streams to cross. It took only 15 minutes until I reached the other gravel road leading down again. Now the iPhone was in charge for making pictures.

I followed the path down. With each metre altitude I lost there was less snow on the ground and the snow fall became more and more sleet. When I arrived at my car my anorak was soaking wet. Having seat warmers in a car is a great feature after such a tour.

For the records: 6.5 km, round 300 metres in altitude. Temperature round 0°C.

Appendix 1:

When I show pictures of mountain tours and hilly hikes it is easy to forgot, that Norway has not only mountains but the sea, too. This is an iPhone snapshot I took from some metres from my parked car. What you cannot see is the mountains of the island Kvaløya, 3.8 km away. They are hidden in the snow clouds.

Appendix 2:

What do you do with photos taken with a fogged up lens? You start to experiment. I mean, the photo is spoiled anyhow. But the result of today’s experimentation turned out nice in my opinion.