Winter weekend in Kusfors

Annika and I used the weekend to visit good friends in Kusfors. While it was still autumn home in Obbola by the sea, the inland experienced an onset of winter with 20 cm of snow and frost below  -10°C. And so did we in Kusfors.

There’s a reason why it’s a good idea to change to winter tyres already in October.

Travelling from Tromsø to Obbola

Live from the journey …

Part 1 – written in Hotell Sørreisa.

Saturday 16 October at 12:17 my train to Umeå will depart. Not from Tromsø (no train station), but from Abisko Östra. From there the train to Umeå will take nine hours. Then it’s only twenty more kilometres to our home in Obbola.

From Tromsø to Abisko I’ve planned to take the car. And this was the forecast for the Swedish mountains four days ago:

Half a metre snow! Holy moly! Luckily you can rely on the fact, that these forecasts are unreliable. Now only some centimetres of snow are forecasted for tomorrow.

Wednesday

While some trees in town shed there coloured leaves the mountains are already clad in snow. The first photo is taken in the centre of Tromsø, the other one near where I live.

Thursday

I change to winter tyres, a must have for crossing the Norwegian/Swedish mountains. Due to unsure weather conditions I decide to start my car trip already on Friday and book a room with breakfast in Sørreisa.

Friday

Half past three I have packed my stuff (why is the large suitcase so heavy again?) and start my car trip TromsøSørreisaAbisko. The first fifteen minutes stop and go in town, then over the bridge and onto the E6 that I follow for round 130 km south. The temperature slowly drops from +3 °C to -2 °C and gradually snow is not something far on the mountain slopes but lies left and right from the road E6.

It starts getting dark quite early. Sun down here in is already at 17:20. Here, that is Sørreisa Hotell, where I’ll stay overnight. This hotel does not only provided affordable rooms but really good Thai food as well.

Part 2 – written in Kiruna, sitting in the train to Boden.

Saturday

The next morning my car windows were covered with frost and the temperatures were slightly sub-zero. I had enough time to avoid the main road and instead took road 84 that has both mountain and coastal stages. I can warmly recommend this detour.

The smaller lakes in the mountains were mostly frozen. To my surprise even parts of the fjord Sagfjorden near Sjøvegan  were covered with thin ice. I thought it would take longer to make the saltwater freeze.

After I joined the main road E6 I left it again to follow the E10 to Sweden. There was some snow on the ground, but it wasn’t snowing.

45 minutes later I arrived in Abisko Östra. Here’s a cozy cabin, where I had stayed several times to explore Abisko. The owners generously allowed me to park my car here for free, while I am in Sweden. Thank you, Anneli and Thomas! It was nice meeting you again!

In Abisko it started snowing. I bought some lemonade and then waited for the train to come. It came in time. I got into the train. Now it’s only round nine hours to Umeå. With the car it is 700 km to Umeå so taking the train is not only more ecological and comfortable but also faster.

Part 3 – written in the train between Kiruna and Gällivare

When the train arrived in Kiruna it was winter. Everything was covered with snow, it was windy and constantly snowing. We had a stay of half an hour and I went out to take some photos. My anorak was warm enough, the summer barefoot shoes weren’t. No problem, since the train was overheated I quickly got  warm again.

After we left Kiruna more and more snow sticked to the slightly warmer train windows until I could hardly see through the window anymore.

Part 4 – written in the connection train somewhere between Älvsbyn and Jörn.

In Gällivare and Nattavaara there was more snow, but then the train approached the coastal region where it uses to be slightly warmer. The ground was also snow covered but the snow looked wet and probably won’t last long.

Meanwhile it had started to get dark. We were late but the connection train in Boden was supposed to wait for us. And so it did.

In Älvsbyn I took the last out-of-the-train photo today. It was dark and mostly I took photos from my own reflections, not from the outside.

I’m glad when I can leave the train. First of all I’m tired and want to arrive home. Then the train compartment is strongly overheated, too. I’ve been in saunas colder than this!

Part 5 – written from home on Sunday.

There’s not much more to tell. Leaving the town Vindeln behind I could see less and less snow until soon no more snow covered the ground. At 21:09 the train arrived in Umeå where Annika already waited on the platform. Half an hour I finally was home.

Today, after a rich breakfast:

I’m so glad to be here. At more than two weeks I’ll spend home in Obbola until I’ll take the same way back to Tromsø in early November.

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:

Gratulerer med dagen from abroad

Today is syttende mai (17th of May), the Norwegian national day. On 17 May 1814 the The Constitution of Norway that declared Norway to be an independent kingdom was signed. That’s why Norway turns 207 years today. Gratulerer med dagen – Happy birthday!

The first time that I was in Norway was the turn of the year 2003/04 together with a friend. Although the weather was really miserable – storm and rain – I was so fascinated by that country, that I travelled there one month later again to find a job as a developer.

Well, I didn’t find a job. I couldn’t speak Norwegian, didn’t have much programming experience and the dot-com bubble was still present.

2005, one and a half year later I visited Tromsø for the first time of my life after a week of hiking on the Hardangervidda. I had less than two days to discover this town but since then it has been my favourite town in Scandinavia.

Anyhow I didn’t think about moving there. The same year I had been in Northern Sweden twice and preferred the colder winters there. In addition to that I was a bit scared of mørketiden – the seven weeks in winter, where the sun stays below the horizon. Five years later I moved to Sweden.

This year however I was sure that I will be in Norway for syttende mai, since I’ve been working in Tromsø since last October.

Well, at least on the papers. Due to Covid 19 we were strongly advised to work from home, which I can better in our house in Obbola/Sweden than in my tiny room in Tromsø. On 22 November 2020 I took the plane to Oslo, another one to Stockholm and a third to Umeå. Since then I’ve been working and living home in Obbola. In five days I’ll have been here for half a year.

It feels a bit like a dream. Did I really work in the office of the Norsk Polarinstitutt in Tromsø? Together with others? Walked the 1.7 km from my shared flat? Enjoyed the first snow in the mountains? Took a kayak course?

Only when I miss my down sleeping bag (in Tromsø), my macro lens (in Tromsø), my rain parka (in Tromsø) I realise that I still have my flat there. And of course when I have to pay the monthly rent. And that’s a lot because it is ridiculously expensive to live there.

At time I’m forbidden to travel to Norway even though I have a job and a shared flat there. It’s unclear when I’ll be allowed there again. Until then I have the blog articles as memory of my two months in Tromsø to remember, the knowledge that I’ll be there again but most of all a wonderful time home.

Another April winter day

Yesterday round 8 o’clock it began to snow. Wind increased and it snowed twelve hours nonstop. The violet coloured crocus, that Annika found some days before was gradually snowed in.

After work I took a winter bath at Vitskärsudden.

The water was as cold as usual, but the gusty wind and temperature round freezing point cooled me down in the short time period between leaving the sea and being dry and dressed with parka and boots. A good opportunity to make a fire in the oven of our uterum –the unisnsulated room beside the living room – and take the dinner there with a wintry view.

This morning is calmer but still round 0 °C. The next snow is expected on Tuesday … .Then it’s only three more days to the first of May, where again some centimetres of snow are expected. Warm spring seems to be postponed for the moment.

Change of subject. What’s this?

Some of you might know, so a question to the others: What’s this? Write your guesses in the comment section. But that’s an easy one, isn’t it?

 

April weather – Olles Spår

After yesterday’s snow fall Umeå municipality sent an SMS to Annika today at 8:28: “Olles Spår 5,0 km, Klassiskt preparerad”.

Olles Spår is one of Umeå’s cross country ski tracks. Annika and I planned to ski there after work today. I was however a bit doubtful, because at home the snow was thawing away the whole day and in the afternoon it even rained.

When we arrived at the parking place of Olles Spår only a single other car was parked there. And that is what the parking place looked like:

We planned to ski at least 1 km no matter how it goes, but the ski track was much better in shape than expected and so we skied 5 km.

Perhaps we ski again this week, otherwise it was probably the last time this year. And then spring shall come!

Apropos spring: On the way back we stopped at Degernäs – a bird’s paradise.  At least a hundred common cranes flew overhead within minutes and a several hundred whooper swans had been gathering in the shallow waters of the flooded meadows. Not mentioning the many geese. That’s another clear sign of spring.

 

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.

April weather by the sea

Yesterday at lunch break: The sky is blue and the sun illuminates our little bay. After last nights frost it is still covered with fragile, transparent ice. I stand ashore and take a photo of some ice floes. The inner part of the bay behind me is still covered with thick, old winter ice you can walk on.

Today at lunch break: The weather forecast of SMHI was right: a hard and gusty wind drives wet snow from the sea. The water level is more than 60 cm over normal. (Remember: no tides in the Baltic Sea). The breaking waves have broken all the ice that yesterday still covered the bay and wash the ice floes ashore.

Impossible to make a photo without spray on the lens! Therefore you can see some pale bubbles on the photos.

I stepped from one large ice floe to the other. They float and move under my feet, they raise and fall with the waves but they are still stable enough to bear my weight.

And so looks our house from the middle of our bay Grundviken:

Time to show some more abstract black and white images that I made today. One of the wooden barrel (or whatever it is), almost covered by the sea. Another one of the snow bucketing down from the low hanging clouds.

Black and white weather

+1 °C, grey and hazy with some rainy showers. I ignore the weather and go out for a longer walk. Time to put a black and white film in the iPhone.