The last Thursday kayaking 2023

No, I haven’t joined many of “torsdagspadlinger” organised by the Tromsø sea kayak association this year. But at least the first one on the 4th of May and the last one this evening.

We were a group of ten heading to the island Grindøya in the west. When I arrived at the boat houses round half past five the sun was already disappearing behind the mountains of Kvaløya. Half an hour later we were on the water. The weather was quite warm and it was very calm –perfect conditions for a relaxed tour.

We headed to a sea mark – resting place for a small flock of cormorants. They flew away, when we gathered there.

While we were continuing to the northern tip of the island it was becoming dusky. We all had lights at our kayaks or our lifejackets. Less to see but to be seen.

After we passed the northern tip of Grindøya we turned left (meaning south) and calmly paddled along the forested island.

When we arrived at the beach at the southern tip it already had become pretty dark. The lights of the mainland illuminated the horizon. The single light at the left top corner of the next photo is the mountain station of the cable car Fjellheisen.

On the way back it was really dark. We paddled in pairs to ensure that no one was left behind and it was too dark to take snapshots. Just before we arrived at the boat houses again I took the iPhone out of its waterproof bag and took a photo. With a bit of help from Lightroom it’s surprisingly sharp.

It’s a pity that this was the last torsdagspadling but understandable, because it gets darker and darker every week. And if the weather forecast is correct it may snow next week.

Takk for turen – thanks for the tour, especially to the tour guides. See you next year.

#escapism – midnight sun at Lyngstuva

Sunday, half past five in the afternoon. I just arrived in Breivikeidet by car, waiting for the ferry.

It was a quite spontaneous decision to take the car to the northern tipp of the Lyngen Peninsula to watch the midnight sun before the polar days are over in Northern Norway. Without the ferry I would have to drive 200 km one way, using the ferry it is less than half the distance. And there the ferry arrives.

Eight a clock. I have parked by car on a camping ground and the backpack is packed. Camera equipment, something to eat and drink, an extra jacket as well as sleeping bag and camping mat. Hopefully I can sleep in the tiny hut that is near the lighthouse I want to hike to. If not, I’ll sleep outside and get eaten by mosquitoes …

The way there is only 3 km. First I follow the broad gravel road then I turn right and hike along a path that meanders through the mountain landscape. The forecast of the Norwegian weather service yr was right: the weather is nice and mostly sunny. Hopefully it will be clear this night.

And there it is: Lyngstuva Lighthouse. The hut is tiny but it’s open and no one else is there. Nice!

Behind the lighthouse lies the open sea with the prominent shape of the island Nord-Fugløya (Northern bird island) in the north. On the sea there are surprisingly many ships, some of them large. The largest (and ugliest) is the touristic cruise ship Viking Mars with place for 930 passengers. Then there are two Hurtigruten ships. From the left comes Kong Harald on its way to Skjervøy, from the other side Richard With with destination Tromsø. Both have a capacity of 590 passenger.

As usual the ships greet each other with the ship’s horn. Again and again they toot, apparently checking who will have the last word.  Finally some minutes after she ships have passed, Richard With toots a last time for half a second and Kong Harald answers the same way. Then it gets silent.

I enter the tiny hut and take some pictures before I make myself at home. It’s cosy!

I soon realise, that I may have the hut for myself this night but definitely not the place. The french couple has gone but in the next hours many other people will appear “on stage”.

Dramatis personae: A couple from Amsterdam. Two people from Lithuania (he’s here for the 7th time) with friends. A group of Finnish scouts. Some more random people. M. and F. from Bavaria.

With the latter two I spend the evening and night. They are the perfect outdoor hosts. They already have collected wood for a campfire, that is soon is burning. We sit round the fire and chat about all sorts of things. I’m even invited to a glass of red wine if I have a glass. No, I don’t have any glass or cup but I have a pot of yoghurt. I only have to eat the yoghurt and clean the pot and – voilà – I have a high standard quality wine glass. Later this evening F. surprises me once more: He brought a travel guitar and so we have live music while we watch the sun slowly lowering but mostly wandering to the right.

At 0:28 the sun has vanished behind the island Nord-Fugløya in the north.

Will it be visible in the mountain gap at 0:44, the time when I think it’s lowest? Yes, at 0:42 it shows up and at 0:44 it is mostly visible again. It’s not my very first midnight sun I see, but a very beautiful one. I’m glad, that I have come here.

I take some more pictures – from the lighthouse and hut and from the mountains behind whose red rocks now seem to gleam by themselves.

Then I say goodbye to my “outdoor hosts” and enter the hut to sleep.

I decide not to take the tiny room under the roof but to roll out my camping mat in the main room. The camping mat and I have some disagreements on the topic of sleep comfort but anyhow I sleep quite ok. Just much too short. Because the next day is today and today is Monday and Monday is a working day. A quite tired working day but it was worth it. I never regret being in nature.

In Tromsø the first sunset will be in three days, at the Lyngstuva Lighthouse it will take another day, because it’s a bit more north. Now I’m looking forward to spot the first star. The last one I think I saw in the end of April.

 

An almost outdoor barbecue on Kvaløya

Some days ago I got a message from Elisabeth. She already had organised several events with friends and acquaintances – always outdoors – and in this message she asked me:

Lyst å bli med på grilling på fredag etter jobb?

(Would you) like to join (us) for a barbecue on Friday after work?”  That sounded like fun and I gladly accepted the invitation.

Friday evening was calm and clear and with -12 °C pretty cold for Tromsø – the coldest day this season. So I put some food and a lot of warm clothes with me. I met Elisabeth and two of her friends at the parking place and we went down to the barbecue hut by the sea. It looked like just a normal wooden house. Only without door, without window panes and without any floor. Instead of this a huge fire place in the middle.

More people dropped by until we were eleven people in total. Some of them had reindeer skins with them but they were hardly used. You know these parties where all people gather in the kitchen? It was a bit alike, all of us stood round the fireplace in the middle of the hut. Some to make stick bread or sausages, some to grill marshmallows or prepare waffles and some just to stay warm.

It’s always great to meet interesting, nice people. It gets however a bit harder when most of them are native speakers, because my Norwegian is still not so well. But it gets better and better. While I couldn’t take photos from the conversations I could take photos from the beautiful surroundings, even from within the hut. Remember, no window panes.

After three hours people started to leave. I was the last one left, just to take some more photos, then I took the car home as well.

Thank you Elisabeth for the organisation and for inviting me. Or more Norwegian: takk for i går – thanks for yesterday!

 

The last two kayak tours 2022

It’s Friday and the day before Christmas Eve. It’s actually my last working day but I worked only short, thanks to flextime. At 11:10 I stopped developing software for this year and went out kayaking.

Two days before the sea was open between our small ice covered bay and the islet Lillskär. Today it is covered with a layer of new ice. I drag the kayak to the end of the bay and start the tour.

Just crossing the 100 metres of ice seems to take ages. The ice is too thick to paddle through, too thin to walk on and too soft to push oneself forward with arms and ice claws. So it’s a lot of back and forth to get a bit of momentum to crash another metre with brute force. The stiff neoprene of my survival suit does not make it easier and I’m so exhausted when I leave the ice behind. I change plans. I won’t visit Obbolstenarna today (farther away) but the island Bredskär again. I turn the kayak and paddle north. Partially to open water, partially through fields of thin feathery ice. Let’s see, how far I’ll come.

I reach Bredskär and start to circle it. Looking at the right I see snow covered islands in the distance and ice fields. It feels and looks quite arctic.

This impression changes directly when I look left and see the forest of Bredskär passing by. Looking straight ahead gives another view: The port of Holmsund with the ferry to Finland. Between that and me: many ice fields.

I pass the small bay with the sandy beach and slowly follow the shore line. When I want to turn left again to enter the sound that leads back I am stopped by another ice field, this one thicker than the others. I remember the first 100 metres today and decide not to break through but to turn. It will make the tour a bit longer but I have holidays and I’m not cold. The outer side of the island is beautiful anyhow in the light of the lowering sun.

Yes, the sun is lowering. The tour took longer than expected. I decide to watch the sunset from the kayak and slow down a bit. My fingers are getting a bit cold, but it’s worth it.

A good two hours later I arrive at the first ice field again. The ice channel that I had created by breaking through has frozen over again but breaks under the weight of my kayak. Shortly before 14 o’clock I stand on the bay ice again. The tour was a bit demanding, but impressive and beautiful. A great start into the Christmas holidays!

I’m however quite sceptical about Annika’s and my idea for tomorrow: Christmas eve paddling together. With temperatures round -10 °C the ice will probably be too thick the next day. A pity!

One day later – Christmas eve. Annika and I peek through the spotting scope to check the ice situation. Looks like the ice has gone. I walk to the ice edge and see our observations confirmed: Yesterday’s ice has gone and beside of some new and thin ice fields the water is open. So let’s take a kayak tour together!

This paddling tour was magic. The sea surface was smooth as silk, the sun felt warm and the new ice was easy to paddle through. The air was so clear that we could spot islands far away and there was almost no wind. Beside of the high frequency noises when crushing the ice with our kayaks and a dog at land barking at us it was completely silent.

It was Annika’s first winter paddling tour and I’m glad and lucky that it was such an exceptionally great one. May many other tours follow in the future! In spring, summer, autumn and winter.

 

 

 

 

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.

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 …

 

Paddling in Obbola

Since the weekend I’ve been back in Obbola in Sweden. This afternoon it stopped drizzling and the sun came out. So Annika and I took an evening tour with our kayaks. I’m so glad, that I’m home with Annika even though it’s only for three weeks.

“Kayak daytrip to Skarsfjord with beach clean up”

… this was the Facebook event I was invited to some weeks ago. It was an event organised by people from TSI Trulle, the other kayak association, but it was open for non-members, too. The idea was to start a kayak tour in Skarsfjord on the island Ringvassøya, paddle to a beach, clean it, cross the fjord to another beach, clean it, too, relax and paddle back. We were eight people joining the tour from five different countries.

Our tour does not start on the water. It starts with carrying kayaks to a trailer, use lashing straps to fix them there, packing all equipment into two cars  and some driving.

After 50 km – one hour drive – we arrive at the parking place by the sea, where we unstrap the kayaks and get everything ready including testing the sprayskirts and the footboards. Things you can do on land as well as you see.

It always takes some time to put on the drysuit, check that everything is packed and working but then we all sit in our kayaks and are ready to paddle to our first destination: The islet Teistholmen.

We leave the kayaks there, take a huge rubbish bag each and start combing the shore of the island. Most of the rubbish is on the northwest side of the island that is most exposed to the elements. Mostly it is plastic from fishing. Parts of old green nets, buoys from small to football size and then of course all the civilisation garbage as empty (or half-full) bottles, styrofoam and some nasty stuff. But it’s not extremely much.

After collecting I take a stroll over the green island. Hard to imagine, that I did a ski tour the day before.

After a while and some lunch we continue our triangular tour, now crossing the fjord Skarsfjorden to another beach. You can see the rubbish bags on our kayaks. We were very lucky that there is no mentionable wind, because with side winds the huge bags would act as sails and turn the kayaks into the wind. But without any wind and waves it was easy to cross the fjord.

When we reach the beautiful sandy beach it turns out that this is not the beach to be cleaned. The location that the organiser has in mind is a bit further away. So we continue a bit to arrive at a rocky shore that looked much less inviting than the sandy beach and a bit more difficult to land.

But it looks like that we would collect a lot of more trash here, and so we do. There is a lot of plastic trash, scrap metal (that we left alone) and driftwood for making fires for months. Some of us are collecting large amounts of plastic. It is obviously too much to be transported on our kayaks. But we are lucky and get help by two locals living on an island nearby. They load their whole boat full with our filled rubbish bags to take care of it. You can hear the motor of their boat for a while after they departed. Tusen takk – thousand thanks!

While others have collected more rubbing some of us have started a fire. Time to tell stories, eat a second lunch or just relax.

Anyhow, it is a day trip and so we leave this place, some of us with extra rubbish bags that didn’t make it on the motor boat. We pass the ship wreck, that we already spotted on the way there. It was washed ashore this winter while the captain was asleep because the anchor did not hold. He was not harmed but the ship was totally destroyed.

We are so lucky with the weather! Not much sun, but hardly any wind, no rain and much warmer than the weeks before. We paddle back to the parking place, the cars are visible as a small grey and a small white dot. The water is extremely clear and of a turquoise colour that makes the sea look Caribbean – until you put your hands into the water and realise how cold it is. This is, why drysuits are a must on such tours even under perfect conditions. Safety first!

And then we are back. Some of us train rescue manoeuvres, some of us relax, some collect trash (oh my, here you could collect for days :-( ). Then we put all kayaks back on the trailer, drive back to the boat house where we put all kayaks back in the boat houses. Then we are ready to leave.

Thank you guys for inviting me, letting joining me and having a great day together. Hopefully I meet some of you again. Would be a pleasure!

 

 

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:

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.