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.

Thursday paddling – from dusk to darkness

It is 29 September and it is Thursday. Time for torsdagspaddlingen – Thursday paddling – with the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club.

As usual we meet between 5 and 6 o’clock pm to prepare the kayaks, put on our drysuits and life vests and listen to the tour leaders about the plans for today. For several weeks there has been another thing to think of: attach lights to the kayaks and the life vests to be seen. September equinox has been one week ago and it starts getting dark quite soon. Today we are lucky: It is high tide and we don’t have to carry the kayaks more than a few metres.

We are 23 people. 7 will follow the shore to the beach of Telegrafbukta, the others including me want to paddle to Lilje Grindøya that lies behind Grindøya. I’ve never been there. Round 18:00 we sit in our kayaks. As soon as all are on the water we start our tour.

Before we reach the island Grindøya one of the tour leaders lifts the paddle vertically in to the air. That’s the sign for gathering.

Plans are changed. Lilje Grindøya is quite far away and the waves on the sound we crossed were a bit higher than expected. So we head for Grindøya instead.

It it warm and calm. 16 kayaks lie by the beach. We sit our stand around. One paddler passes around homemade cake, another one lights a cosy fire on the sandy beach. Hyggelig!

While we are eating, chatting or taking pictures it is getting darker and darker. The kayaks are hardly visible anymore and in the distance there are the lights of Tromsøya and Kvaløya.

After half an hour it is time to set off and paddle back to shore.

While crossing the sea again I didn’t take photos for three reasons. All of them were related to the darkness.

First:  we want to stick together to be seen and to know we are all there. There may be ships crossing and then you do not want to have a stray paddler around. So I cannot just let the others go to take photos.

Then: my waterproof camera is – well – waterproof but it hardly can take photos in the dark. Even with a better camera it is difficult. Did you ever try to make long exposure photos while sitting in a kayak?

Finally: the waves! The kayak I use is stable as a truck and on our way to Grindøya I didn’t care about the waves a lot. Now it is quite different. I can see the waves because of the reflections of the city lights. But I cannot see how broad, how steep or how high they are. So I have to react by instinct which I don’t yet have. It’s a first time experience and a slightly weird one.

While we are approaching main land the other paddlers come into view. Or better said, their lights. Two of the other kayaks are not illuminated and completely invisible. We take a long turn to the left and follow them. Some of us almost collide with one of the jetties. Everything that isn’t illuminated comes into view at the last moment.

I’m a bit sad because this is the last Thursday paddling this year. Probably we won’t start with it again before end of April. Hopefully there will more kayak opportunities in daytime over the winter.

At 20:15 I  come ashore. Again I want to say to all fellow paddlers: takk for turen! Thanks for the tour!

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:

 

Takk for turen – Thursday paddling – 8 september

Oh, what a wonderful kayak tour! And oh, what wonderful weather!

We were 31 kayakers from the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club today and split into two groups. 19 paddled to Telegrafbukta, where I’ve been last week, 12 paddled to Grindøya, where I’ve been in June. I joined the Grindøya group and was very glad that I got some training this year. Not because of the waves that we had on the way there but because the group was experienced and quite fast. But I managed to follow and could take some snapshots on the tour.

Now it starts getting dark quite soon and we must have lighting at our life vests and the stern of the kayak. I had only some make-shift light and have to buy some equipment for next Thursday.

But now it’s getting late, so no more words, just some photos. To all today’s fellow paddlers: takk for turen – thanks for the tour.

Thursday paddling – 1 september

It was five weeks ago that I joined the Thursday paddling of my kayak club in Tromsø last time. That time we were only three paddlers, today we were 19. Could be the weather ;-)

One group of eight returned after a while, we others continued to the beach at Telegrafbukta where we took a longer break. While we had the wind in our backs on the way there, the wind already started to die down on our way back. Good luck! It was beginning to get dark, but many paddlers were prepared and had lights on their kayaks and themselves to be seen.

Some photos from today:

Takk for turen!

Two mountain peaks at the weekend

My wife Annika has arrived in Tromsø on Friday. The weather forecast looked quite well for Saturday (and only for Saturday), so we took the car to the island Hillesøya – the westernmost part of Kvaløya – and went up the mountain Nordkollen (214 m). To our surprise the ascent was mostly secured with a thick rope because it was rocky and pretty steep. We hiked a round trip via the subsidiary summits Sørkollen and Storbergan and back by the sea. We got less sun than expected but at least hardly any rain.

Yesterday we hiked again, this time with a colleague of mine and his family. And this tour was very rainy and we got quite wet. While the others started going back, my colleague and I reached the top of the Blåkollen (461 m) and had even some minutes without rain.

 

A new camera

Next week Annika, my sister, brother in law a nephew and I will start a hiking tour in Sweden and Norway. We will not use a tent but hike from cabin to cabin. Last time I had 6 kilo of camera equipment with me. This year I decided to scale down weight and so I bought a point-and-shoot camera this week: the Sony RX100 VII. It has some disadvantages, but a huuuge advantage: It’s small and weights hardly more than 300 grams. That’s why I even can take a smaller backpack (also bought this week) and save another 1300 grams of weight.

Today I tested the camera, first on my way to work and then on random places, from the center to Telegrafbukta. I know, that the camera has its limitations (being not weatherproof for example) but I’m quite glad that I finally bought it. And here come some test shots from today. All photos are edited in Lightroom.

 

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.

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.