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!

Jämtland tour 22 – hiking up the Gåsen

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

In Gåsen, one of my favourite cabins in the Swedish mountains we took a day off from our hiking tour. My brother-in-law and I took this as an opportunity to hike up to the summit of the mountain Gåsen, name giver of the cabin.

Gåsen is 1427 metres high. That’s however not a huge ascent, because the cabins lie on 1100 metres.

As everywhere in on our hiking trip there were reindeer around. What do they do on the snow fields? Eating snow? Fleeing the mosquitoes, while there were no around? I don’t know.

We approached the mountain from the south where it is less steep, although Gåsen is quite flat everywhere. While we went up my brother-in-law discovered a snow hare (a.k.a. mountain hare) that ducked to the ground but then sprang away when it realised that we spotted it.

Looking back: the cabins of Gåsen. Looking ahead: the way to the top. And more reindeer.

And there it is – the summit of Gåsen. While the top of the mountain is just a large gravel plateau the 360° panoramic view is quite impressive. It’s not only the mountainscapes that surround Gåsen but the large valleys that made this landscape so huge and seemingly endless.

After a rest – being thankfully for our jackets because it was quite windy – we ascended again, this time more direct to the cabins we stayed over. This time our hike led us over two snow fields. We were not alone, the reindeer seemed to liked the snow fields, too.

At the end we had to go a bit zigzag because the ground was quite wet but after 2½ hours we were back at our cozy cabin. That was fun!

Bonus photo: A cloud. For me it looks like a singing turtle floating effortless though the sky. And you?

 

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.

Jämtland tour 22 – the cabins, part 2

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

Let’s continue with part 2 of the cabins on our Jämtland hiking tour. You can read the first part here.

4½ – Gamla Sylen

Another emergency hut on our way. We do not rest here, because it is just 2 km behind Sylarna.

5 – Gåsen

In Gåsen we choose the older cabin. It is a “Fjällstuga 65”, also known as Abrahamssonstugan after Tore Abrahamsson, who planned this cabin type in 1965. A room to the left, a room to the right. A large kitchen and two curtain-separated alcoves with five beds each. Propane gas stove, wood stove, no running water, no electricity. It is simple, genuine and it just works! Especially if you have a whole room for yourself as we did.

The other guests prefer the newer cabin, build in the eighties which is great, too – an even larger kitchen and eight four-bed rooms.

Here we take a day off. Time for idling, reading or taking small tours.

And taking an outdoor shower. The water is cold, but not icy. I leave the bath untouched, it is only knee deep.

Gåsen is one of my favourite cabins and places. I’ve been here several times – once in 2013, twice in 2020, but always in winter. It’s always windy but I just love it, even though you have to shovel a lot of snow and going to the toilet can be an effort.

Some photos from winter 2020. The first photo shows the newer cabin. Do you recognise it?

6 – Helags

Two days later we approach Helags fjällstation. Fjällstation means, that there is a restaurant. There are several cabins with self-catering kitchens and sleeping rooms, a house with reception, shop and restaurant, there is a large sauna building and there is Gamla Östan – the oldest cabin, built in 1916.

And that’s where we sleep: The right room in Gamla Östan. It is tiny, has a table, a wood fired stove, a double and a triple bunk bed. To enter the uppermost bed some mountaineering skills are required. The room is really cosy but does not have any kitchen. So we use the one in the cabin called Nordan.

The second evening I made a fire because the cabin was a bit chilly the night before. It takes some time, because the wood stove had its own ideas about getting oxygen or not. But finally it is burning.

It’s a nice combination of living in a museum, having a sauna and hot showers and be able to chose to cook or to go to the restaurant. (We take one breakfast and one dinner. Tasty!) And that all in a gorgeous place amidst the mountains. Me like!

7 – Fältjägaren

The first and only cabin I’ve never been before, neither in summer or in winter. It lies on the top of a hill, has a Fjällstuga 65, a toilet and a tiny cabin for the stugvärd. A really nice place, especially when it’s warm and you can bath in this fantastic mountain lake just some minutes down the hill.

And that was all the cabins we slept over on our hiking tour. Plus some of the resting places.

What I like most is the diversity of the cabins – from Norwegian hygge (cosiness) to Swedish funkis (functional design). From 1916 to 20-something. Variety rules!

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!

Jämtland tour 22 – the cabins, part 1

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

On our hiking tour in the Swedish Jämtland and a bit of Norway we hiked from cabin to cabin. These cabins are quite different, both in concept and in standard.

Ok, the photo above does not show a mountain cabin, it shows the Ringve Musikkmuseum in Trondheim that we visited the day before. Sorry folks, I couldn’t resist.

½ – the first emergency hut

Since the weather in the Swedish mountains can be quite rough, there are emergency huts on the trail. The first one lies between Storvollen and Blåhammaren, our first destination. You may rest inside the hut, but do not touch the fire wood or the emergency box – they are meant to save life.

1 – Blåhammaren

With an altitude of 1086 metres it is the highest STF mountain cabin. Famous for its fire beacon and its three-course dinner. We however use the self-catering kitchen to cook pasta with tomato sauce. A great first stay on our tour.

1½ – Endalen raststuga

Another emergency hut. The sun comes out and invites us to take a break. From here it’s only a kilometre to the Norwegian border.

2 – Storerikvollen

Two signs, that we are not in Sweden anymore: All roofs are grass-covered and the inside is full of carpets, wall pictures and other things to make the cabin individual and hyggelig – cozy.

A thing that makes Storerikvollen special: free-roaming sheep and Icelandic horses.

3 – Nedalshytta

After the longest distance of ca. 23 km we gladly arrive at Nedalshytta. As in Storerikvollen this cabin does not provide a self-catering kitchen in the season. We have pre-booked half board and now order dinner. What we do not know yet: the cook is very gifted and the dinners are awesome! A good place for a rest day.

This is by the way the only cabin with road access on our tour.

3½ – Ekkordörren

We are back in Sweden again. Time to take a short rest in the hut Ekkordörren before we follow the trail over the pass.

4 – Sylarna

Without loosing too many words: this is the worst cabin I know! A tiny shop with ridiculous prices, a dysfunctional self-catering kitchen with five soup plates in total, insufficient drying space and so on, and so on. The personal is friendly and pretty uninterested.

We will meet other people on our trip – cabin hosts as well as guests. No one likes Sylarna. But it’s only a single night and now it gets better. Much better!

Stay tuned for part 2 of the cabin article. Coming soon …

 

Back from a hiking tour

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

Hello, my dear blog readers. Three weeks of holiday have come to an end today. Mostly I was aborad. The main attraction: an eleven day hiking tour with my wife, my sister, my brother-in-law and my younger nephew.

We mostly hiked in the Swedish Jämtland but visited two Norwegian cabins as well. Our route: StorlienBlåhammarenStorerikvollen (Norway) – Nedalshytta (Norway) – SylarnaGåsenHelagsFältjägarenRamundberget. That’s a total of about 135 km.

Today I scrolled through the photos I made on the tour – it’s more than 1500. So it will take some time to go though, edit them and write some blog articles.

Anyhow, here is a sneak preview. 9 photos of the tour.

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.

 

Summer paddling to lunch

Since last Friday we have summer home in Obbola, Sweden. Temperatures are round 25 °C (and higher in town) and the sky is mostly blue.

Today it was sunny again. Although working I finally managed to paddle to the beach Bredviks havsbad and eat lunch there. Tour–retour it is about 7 km and since the weather was very calm it was easy to paddle there.  I paddled in shorts and t-shirt but it was still almost too warm. At the beach I took a bath to cool down while waiting for Nouri’s tasty Pinchos.

 

Thursday paddling round Grindøya

Yesterday I was in the mountains – today at 18:00 I joined the torsdagspadling (Thursday paddling) of the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club. Together with 16 others paddlers and a dachshund we crossed the Grindøyskarven and rounded the island Grindøy.

The conditions were excellent: Hardly any wind, a calm sea, blue sky and temperatures almost 20 °C. Perfect not only for paddling but also for taking a break in the sun – of course at the northern tip where we didn’t disturb the common eiders that nest along the beaches of Grindøya. Then we paddled back – with a small sprint to avoid two ships crossing. No danger however because the guides have a VHF to talk to the ships but they already had spotted us and had slowed down. Three hours later we were back from our round 12 km long paddle tour.

Takk for turen, thanks for the tour! And thanks to all organisers of the torsdagspadling. Great initiative!