This article is part of the series “2019-02: Northern Norway”.
This article is part of the series “2019-02: Northern Norway”.
It’s dark outside. I’m in the cozy house, where Chris and Ørjan live and reading. But what’s that blinking orange light outside? I peek through the door and what I see is a snowcat.
Ørjan is about to start a tour to prepare trails, both for his employer, the Snowhotel Kirkenes and for the local skiers. Preparing trails for the latter is a dugnad, that means voluntary work. Dugnad is very popular in Norway.
I ask Ørjan if I could join him on the tour and I am allowed to. Time to take some handheld pictures.
It’s fun to go by snowcat through the dark. I looks quite easy to operate and I would like to have my own snowcat. But neither do I need one nor could I pay it.
Takk for turen, Ørjan!
This article is part of the series “2018-03: Varanger peninsula”.
Some unpublished photos from my winter journey. I want to show them as long it is still wintry here.
2 February – Jokkmokk
While the grown-up huskies are doing their job the puppies have to wait in the trailer. I guess it is very boring for them. There are curious and seek contact.
21 February – Kirkenes
While Chris, Annika, Ørjan and I are enjoying the gorgeous breakfast in the hotel Thon an asian tourist is waiting outside. She seems to be well protected against the elements but why has the fur to be pink …?
1 Mars – Ekkerøy
On the way to Kiberg Annika and I make a stopover in Ekkerøy where we enjoy a beach walk. Here we meet H. who invites us to visit her. We will make that true some days later. I take a photo of Annika’s and H.’s footwear. Tradition, meet modern world.
1 Mars – Ytre Kiberg
Cape East Arctic Adventure, our stay lies directly at the beach. I could spend weeks with only watching the tides and the changing weather.
4 Mars – Ytre Kiberg
There’s hardly any commercial fishing left in the small former fisher villages and the large drying racks for drying cod remain empty. Some people however still dry cod for personal usage.
5 Mars – Ytre Kiberg
A view through the window of Cape East Arctic Adventure. Today we will continue our journey.
10 Mars – Berlevåg
We hardly have the time to explore Berlevåg, we only buy food. Two images of Berlevåg anyway. Just for the records …
11 Mars – Kjølnes Fyr
This snowstorm shaken rocky shore appears more arctic than many other places of this journey.
14 Mars – Hurtigruten, near Øksfjord
A woman has found a wind protected place and watches the Norwegian winter landscape.
16 Mars – Saltstraumen
On our long car trip back from Ørnes to Skelleftehamn we pass Saltstraumen, a small strait with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world. We are too early to see the strongest maelstroms and I’m too eager to continue home. It’s still 500 km to drive.
Now I finally can erase my “later” folder on the computer.
This article is part of the series “2017-08: Kungsleden hike”.
Today Katrin, Annika, Andi and I would continue to Alesjaure, the longest distance to walk so far.
The morning was frosty with -2 °C and the petals of the flowers called rallarros (rosebay willowherb or fireweed) were covered with ice.
The sky was blue, the sun was shining, we had picture-book weather. As a photographer I would have preferred to hike two weeks later when leaf coloration would be in progress, but you can’t have everything. Anyway, the photo of the bridge over the Visttasjohka right at the Vistasstugan looks like a postcard motif:
This spot looked quite Canadian or Alaskan to me. I almost expected to spot some huge grizzly bears catching salmon in the river. But we’re still in Sweden where bears are brown bears and (luckily) very shy.
The first kilometres of the trail to Alesjaure lead through dense birch forest. Then gradually the forest got less and less dense and the snow covered mountains that frame the valley Visttasvággi were revealed.
The first kilometres were said to be muddy and they were, but not more than many other passages that we walked the days before. Unfortunately the trail continued to be both rocky and muddy and therefore wasn’t easy to walk.
After we left the birch forest the landscape became more rocky again. We found the resting place I remembered from two years ago. Someone had used a plank and some stones to build a bench in front of a huge block of stone. Still the sun was shining but gradually the sky become cloudy. Will we manage to arrive before the rain comes? We still hadn’t walked half of the distance.
We continued our tour until we reached the bridge over the stream Moarhmmájohka. Andi and I went down to refill out water bottles, then we took only a short rest since we were eager to arrive not too late.
After having crossed the bridge we had to go uphills quite steeply and we all slowed down more or less. Then we arrived at the plateau and looked back a last time into the beautiful valley Visttasvággi.
The clouds became denser, the wind increased but still it was dry. We passed the lakes Vuolip Čazajávri and Bajip Čazajávri. We went on and the sami village Alisjávri, located by the lake of the same name came into view. Now it was only 1.5 km left to the Alesjaurestugorna, our destination. As the day before we spotted the sauna first.
At 4 o’clock we arrived at Alesjaure and we stayed dry. Alesjaure is the largest mountain hut that we would stay at. It has as much as 86 regular beds (and more place if needed.)
I already found out, that stugvärd J. would be here, he whom Annika and I met in Nallo two years before and I again on my winter tour in Singi for some days. And really, he indeed was there and I was very glad to meet him again.
To meet J. means also to meet Simba, his kingsize dog. Simba dosed in the outside, stoically ignoring the mosquitoes in her eyes and on her nose. I said hello and started to pet her, which she apparently liked: she sighed and slumped onto her side. The photos I made before and afterwards:
Alesjaure has several houses, which appear more like a youth hostel than a mountain hut. That may look less cozy but we all enjoyed our big beds in our own four-bed-room. Katrin and Annika went to the sauna and after that we cooked one kilo (!) of pasta with goulash soup as a sauce. No, we didn’t manage to eat it all, the rest would follow us to Abiskojaure the next day.
Alesjaure would the last place in the kalfjäll above the treeline on this tour. Tomorrow we would continue to Abiskojaure, which is round 22 km away. This could be the longest day’s march, but we took a shortcut …
Yesterday Annika and I went to Vännäsby , 25 km away from Umeå, to view the 30th Vindelälvsdraget which is the world biggest draught dog relay according to the organisers. It started in Ammarnäs in the Swedish mountains on Thursday and ended just in Vännasby on Sunday. That’s a distance of 381 km in three and a half days.
Some of the competitors used a sledge pulled by four to six dogs, but most of them skated on skis and had one or two dogs dragging (more or less). They came along on the frozen river Vindelälven, turned into the river Umeåälven, which they had to leave right after the bridge. Some of the teams managed it perfectly while others had to shout höger! (right) to the dogs several times until they obeyed. The river bank is quite steep and was a real challenge for the discipline of the dogs. One of them just rolled in the snow while the skier tried not to slip and fall, while some others were shortly distracted by the smell of the grilled sausage by the trail. However all teams managed to come up where there were only some 100 metres left to the finishing line.
The speaker at the finishing line was great. His talk was so “adagio”, laid back and completely free of any stress. I really enjoyed his almost zen-like moderation which was the total opposite of the normal sport presenters stressful reporting attitude. My kudos!
This article is part of the series “2017-02: Northern Norway”.
Kirkenes – the harbour
While Annika and our friends in Kirkenes enjoyed their breakfast in the Hotel Thon I took a short promenade along the Johan Knudtzens gata to take some pictures. Already the view from the hotel terrace over the fjord is quite impressive and shows the beauties of the arctic nature while the harbour shows the more practical sides of living here: fishing, both commercially and just for fun.
A hike onto the top of the Lyngberget
After the breakfast we took the car to Jakobsnes and a bit further to take a promenade up the mountain Lyngberget, which lies on the other side of the Bøkfjorden. Here you can have a wide view over the whole town of Kirkenes – at least as long it doesn’t snow, as it did on our way back. I just love these wintry landscapes where you have views over fjell and fjord, but the wind was quite chilly and soon we looked like the participants of an arctic expedition.
The Huskies of the Kirkenes Snowhotel
Today we played tourists and visited the Kirkenes Snowhotel, which is just some hundred metres away. The Snowhotel has 180 Huskies including the seniors plus 30 puppies. The huskies are like we humans – some are working, some are resting, some are curious and some are shy. But they are all very kind and friendly.
Inside the Kirkenes Snowhotel
I slept in tents, in igloos and outside in wintertime. I even slept in the Kirkenes Snowhotel two years ago. This time Annika and I enjoy sleeping in the inside of our friends house (Thank you for your great hospitality, Christine and Ørjan) but gave the Snowhotel a visit. And it was worth it – especially the lounge with it carved ice blocks is very impressive.
Tomorrow we’ll leave this fine place, take the car to Vardø in the North (yes, that’s still possible!) and take the Hurtigruten from there to our next destination.
This is perhaps the most special place of the whole Nordkalotten 2015 journey to write my blog: On the bed in the room of the snow hotel. Behind me a warm sleeping bag, beside me a snow relief of husky dogs running.
But its a perfect match to my afternoon, where my friend had a half day of and I got a wonderful private dog sledding tour. Parts of the trail where prepared perfectly, because they were part of the Finnmarksløpet – a 1000 km dog race from Alta to Kirkenes and back again that happens right now. First I sat and enjoyed gliding through the landscape effortlessly, but on the flat sea ice of the Langfjorden I could stand on the sledges blades and steer the dogs by myself – a really easy terrain for beginners like me – and I have to admit that this is much more fun than just sitting.
A great two hour tour, thank you, C.! The only disadvantage as a photographer, most of the time you see bums and tails, but if you ignore this, it’s great fun!
Later on we got a three course dinner which was very good. To be honest, that was almost the main reason, why I booked the snow hotel night. I’ve slept in igloos before, but of course not in such a huge one with a three course dinner before.
This night is a good end of my journey. Tomorrow I’ll head home. I’m stuffed with sensations and impressions and I’m longing home. But before I went into my room, I even got some polar light again after a quite long time of abstinence.
Now I have to close, the laptop runs out of battery and I start getting cold.
The second day in Alta. The afternoon I parked my car at the end of the street Tilfluktsveien. My plan was to go up to the top of the hill Komsa. The winter ways turned out to be ski trails and I since I went afoot, I went beside the trail. First I thought about getting my skis, but soon I found a trampled path that brought me to the top of the Komsa. Thank you, locals, for knowing the best way and tramping this path! On the top of the Komsa it was very windy and I sought shelter behind the radio station to change the camera lens. Nearby stood two sheds with parabolic antennas. The green camouflage pattern revealed the military usage. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous standing there with my camera and the long telephoto lens, especially when I aimed directly to the sheds to catch the mountain view above. I’m quite sure that it’s strictly forbidden to take pictures of military installations in Norway as in many other countries. After taking some images (landscape, no military installations!) three soldiers appeared and approached. They went into my direction and they seemed to be in a hurry. (Gulp!) But they just said “hoi”, passed by and entered the wooden house of the radio station. (Phew!) There were not at all interested in my photographing and probably just wanted to avoid the chilly wind. I was reliefed and wandered around a bit. The stormy wind was chilly but the views where so beautiful.
Two other photos of today.
One: The Nordlyskatedralen (The Northern Light Cathedral) in Alta, a remarkable building.
Day 22 – the winter market in Jokkmokk
The first weekend in February is the traditional date for the winter market in Jokkmokk – the Jokkmokks marknad – that took place the 410th time this year. Quite a long history – the first market, long before Jokkmokk exists, was 1605.
I’ve been in Jokkmokk on Thursday, which is the quietest day. From Murjek, where I’m just now, it’s round an hour car drive to Jokkmokk. I arrived 9:00, quite early. Most marketers just started to unfold their market stalls or to unpack their goods. I went down to the lake where the dog sledging was prepared. Most of the dogs were still in their stables in the car trailer, but they longed to come out and to run. But it was only a matter of time until ten dogs where attached to the sledge and the first tourists could take a small tour over the lake.
I went back to the market and met Tore Sankari, one of the marketers that I already met in Byske some months ago. He has been trading fur and many other goods for more than 45 years. But he told me, that the market is smaller than usual this year. Some of the long-established marketers didn’t come. And I could see as well, that some of the streets, packed with stalls some years ago where empty this year.
I talked to some marketers. Many of them are old men, travelling around, buying and selling goods as fur products, knives, warm clothes and things for everyday life. I guess some of them had stopped their businesses, some other will do it in the next years. Will there be a younger generation to follow or will this half-nomadic lifestyle extinct? I don’t have an answer.
What is traded on the Jokkmokks market? I would divide it in three parts:
- Traditional goods, Swedish and Samian. Shoes made of reindeer skin, woolen Lovikka mittens, fur products, knifes.
- Modern everyday goods. Sweets, toys, fishing equipment, tractors.
- Art handicrafts. Samian fashion, jewellery, paintings, thinks made of birch root and bark.
But have a look by yourself. Just some examples:
At two o’clock i went to the reindeer race. It’s always fun to see the reindeers galloping drawing a sledge with a man or woman cheering their draught animal.
Seven hours after arrival I left the winter market and drove back. Actually I thought about visiting the market twice but I left it with the impression, that I have seen all. Next day I wanted to be out in the nature again. And that’s what I did.