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 round the peninsula Klubben

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

#onceaweek tour 5

Today I didn’t choose a mountain top but a small coastal promenade as my #onceaweek tour. I took the car to the village Lyfjorden on Kvaløxya and went round the peninsula Klubben. I love hiking up mountains to get the view but at the coast you get views for free ;-).

One of the things that still impresses me is how tiny some houses look standing in front of huuuge mountain faces that often look like vertical walls.

Klubben lies in the Kaldfjorden (the cold fjord). On the other side lies the mountain Store Blåmannen (1044 m) – always an imposing view.

The birches on Klubben had only some yellow leaves left. Since it was quite windy (15 m/s on the bridge to Kvaløya) they will be bare soon. Soon the autumnal colours will be history for this year.

Although this tour was marked as green (easy, for beginners) you still had to watch where to go. Sometimes the path was boggy but mostly stony and I had to watch my steps.

A quite loud noise, like someone inhaling loudly through the teeth interrupted me. I looked for the sound source and spotted a whale quite nearby. Although I had the camera with telephoto lens in my hands it took me a second before I managed to make a photo of the dorsal fin just before the small whale submerged again. I saw it two more times but in quite a distance. The photo is poor but the experience to spot a whale just by chance from your Sunday afternoon walk was extraordinary.

I continued my walk but now the path had vanished and the ground was only rocks. Did I miss the path? Possibly. I checked with the map app of Norgeskart and realised that the way was a bit higher up. I went and climbed up the steep slope but did not find any path. Higher and higher I ascended until it was clear that the map wasn’t as accurate as assumed. Probably the rocks were the path.

I didn’t want to descend that slope again and so continued to ascend it until I met a small gravel road that led to some houses – the first modern and cuboid, the second traditional with a grass roof.

Soon the area had become less steep and I could cut short to the coast again.

On the way back I took an extra stop in Finnes, Kvaløya . The small reindeer herd that I’ve seen there several times was still grazing. Probably they live there.

Today’s tour was only 4 km (elevation gain and loss round 250 m) but I cannot say that it was less fun or less exciting. I have however to admit that it was much less exhausting than the mountain tours. Training effect: ±0.

Aurora hunting – failing and cheating

It’s always the same: when you wake up in the night and see the polar lights illuminating the sky it doesn’t mean, that you can take good pictures of them. In the time you need to dress, take camera and tripod and walk outside to a nice place it’s likely that they disappear again. Polar lights are shy fellows.

Last night it was the same: I saw a nice aurora from my sleeping room. But when I arrived at the bay Telegrafbukta no distinct aurora was visible anymore.

Anyhow the sky looked a bit pale. Clouds or polar lights? Let’s take a handheld photo with a long exposure. Cl… …ick.

Yes. The sky is definitely green. I set up the tripod, configure the camera and wait.

Nothing happens.

So I start taking a long expose shot of the sea, the mountains and the lights of Kvaløysletta.

And you can see the polar lights, at least a bit. No surprise because I exposed the photo for 30 seconds with ISO 560 and an exposure of ƒ/3.2. That puts enough light onto the sensor to catch even faint polar lights that are hardly visible to the naked eye. So this is not really an aurora photo, it’s more cheating.

Before I went back to my bed I wanted to take at least one photo with some kind of a motive. It became a shed nearby, illuminated by the moon and again with a faint polar light in the background.

Today I have to go to bed early, I have to catch up on sleep.

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.

Fylkesvei 8100

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

There are places that are so fascinating, that you want to return there for a longer time. For me the road to Hamningberg is one of these places.

Originally Annika and I didn’t have the plan to visit Hamningberg. It’s a detour of 2×40 km just to see a former fishing village whose houses are now used as summer cottages. On the other side the road 8100 that leads there is closed in wintertime and we never had the chance before to drive there.

So right before Vardø we spontaneously decided to turn left into the road Fylkesvei 8100. We could turn if it was boring. Well, it wasn’t. We were both extremely fascinated by the roughness of the landscape and the many light moods because of the constantly changing weather

The photos are just some snapshots I made on our tour. Maybe I have time to return there some other time with more time for making photos.

Norwegian summer journey II

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

Annika and I continue our tour through Northern Norway. Four days ago we left Hammerfest behind, now we are in Bjørnevatn 10 km south of Kirkenes. We have seen many places before, but only in winter. The differences between the seasons are huge and we discover a lot: Oh, here is a lake! Oh, here are fields of flowers …

Ten more images looking back:

10 – We just have arrived at our final destination Bjørnevatn where we visit friends for a few days. I have to climb up the hill (55 m) by our friends house to get a summery view. (Here are some winter photos.)

9 + 8 – the “Sjøsamiske samlinger” (Sea Sami Collections) in Byluft is always worth a stop. We have coffee and a chat with Helmer Losoa, the owner and collector of this exceptional museum who recognises us from former visits. (More about the museum.)

7 – this bird observation place near Vardø is very welcome as a shelter against the cold wind, when Annika and I have a lunch break. We do not see any special birds but a rainbow.

6 – after an overnight stay in Kiberg I climb up a hill to make a photo of the wideness and extent of the Varanger Peninsula in the sun. Well, the sun has mostly gone when I stand on the top, but I take some photos anyway.

5 – Annika and I just take a small evening promenade in Kiberg. It starts on a gravel road by the sea and ends in us walking cross-country and looking for dry patches between the small bogs. The sun colours the clouds which are reflected in the many water pools.

4 – Silfar Canyon? Never heard about it before. We were lucky that we decided to stop and have a look. Bad light for taking pictures but we got impressing views on the deeply carved canyon.

3 + 2 – We visit a small beach near Hammerfest together with a friend that just moved back there some months ago. We could take a bath but there is so much to talk about. The reindeer are everywhere. Here they graze, in town they stroll around and eat the front garden flowers.

1 – Before we meet our friend we take a small trip up the mountains. Here we get views in all directions, amongst others on the different parts of the town Hammerfest.

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.

A Saturday road trip

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

A new used car and a sunny Saturday – off I go for a road trip.

km 29.5 – Isaksens Kiosk

In Fagernes I leave the E8 and take the 91 through a valley between the mountains. Before that I stop at Isaksens Kiosk and buy something to drink. Some other cars park here, too. Mostly it’s families that stop to have some ice cream.

km 41.1 – road 91

The mountains in Northern Norway are impressively massive and sometimes you cannot imagine that the road continues somehow. But some do …

km 51.9 – view on the Lyngen Alps

… and so does the road 91. A small part of the rugged Lyngen Alps comes into view.

km 53.5 – Breivikeidet Fergekai

I continue the 91 but soon the road ends. Not because of the mountains, but the fjord Ullsfjorden. The weather is warm and sunny and I am waiting for the ferry to Svensby.

On the ferry

For me even a short boat trip makes a single day to a holiday. I just love standing outside (in every whether), look at the waves and watch the slowly changing landscape.

km 60.7 – Nyheim

Just a Norwegian house and a barn. And a pasture. And a fjord in the background. And mountains behind. Beautiful even without the sun, that has been covered by a layer of clouds.

Would I want to live here? No, it’s too far away from Tromsø and other towns.

km 75.3 – Lyngseidet

It already half past two – time for a late lunch break. When you travel through Northern Norway and want to eat something warm it will be pizza or burgers in most of the cases. It you are not Norwegian you will find it incredible expensive, but so is food, cars, housing and almost everything else.

The burger costed 189 NOK (18 Euro) and was really tasty.

Here the road 91 continues – as another ferry to Olderdalen. I however take the road 868 heading south.

km 83.5 – low tide

The Lyngen Alps are more impressive as seen from the west but I like the shallow waters of the fjord Lyngen, too, especially in low tide.

km 113.9 – Badjánanluokta

Another tidal flat, more reflections. There are few things that I consider as relaxing as strolling along the shore of the sea.

Anyhow, it’s already 5 o’clock in the afternoon and I have at least another 100 km to go until being back. So no more photos until …

km 203 (or so) – Extra Tromsdalen

At the Extra supermarket I buy some food for the evening and the next day. In opposite to Sweden the supermarkets in Norway are closed un Sundays. Then I cross the road E8 by foot and soon stand by the shore of the Tromsøysundet where I have a look on Tromsø (including my workplace) and the large bridge crossing the sound.

Round 15 minutes later I arrive at my temporary home in Tromsø.

In Norway it takes time to go by car. I should have learned that by now but still I underestimate how many hours it takes to travel when you want to take some stops. Next time I hopefully will start earlier – this day I didn’t start before 11 o’clock.