Stappen in the autumn

Reader, meet Stappen. Stappen, meet reader.

Hiking up Stappen is tour 54 in my book “På tur i Tromsø” – On tour in Tromsø – and it is marked blue, which somehow means that it is moderately easy. I tried to hike up Stappen in winter last year but gave up because of the steep terrain paired with snow. Today I gave it another try.

Autumn has been in full swing the last days and most of birch leaves are yellow, while other plants as groundcovers are anything between green, yellow and bright red. Sky today was grey but the colours shone brightly.

After crossing a bog I had started hiking up the mountain from the left side. Or should I say, climb? There was no recognisable path and it was quite steep. Since all rocks were overgrown, terrain was not so easy and I took it slowly and cautiously. I didn’t want to slip or find some hole between the rocks.

As usual the views were gorgeous. The island Tussøya with the pale sea behind, the mountain massif round Skamtinden that rose above the valley while gaining height. or the autumnal coloured marshes with their embedded lakes and small meandering streams.

You can see it on the first photo. The way up stays steep – up to 85% or 40° – until the very top. But finally I crossed the 550 metres level curve and was almost up, because Stappen is only 565.2 metres high. But up does not mean that it was a plateau, it was more a constant up and down and I used my hands a lot when it got steep. Fortunately the ridge was always some metres broad. I’m a bit afraid of heights. And then – after crossing most of the ridge – I reached the top.

Impressive is not the word that you would use to describe this knee-high heap of stones. It was quite obvious, that this mountain is not very popular. It is pretty steep to the sides, so that I could look straight down to the lake Botnvatnet (“the bottom water”). Later I would go round this lake on my way back.

But I was still on the top of the mountain and continued following the ridge that slowly descended. Here you can see two parts of the ridge:

On my way I found a small clearing surrounded by rocks. With the rough mountains around it looked like a secret valley, where dinosaurs still live. Well, they have to be tiny, the clearing was only round ten square metres in size.

This part of Stappen was much less steep, but when I looked back again it looked quite impressive anyhow.

After a while I reached the bogs – still at an altitude of round 330 metres and started to walk back onto the wet and bouncy ground.

Stappen was a nice tour but steeper than expected. At home I read the tour description in the book again. You had to read between the lines: While it was not mentioned, that the ascent is steep, alternative routes were mentioned with the words: “Her er det litt mindre bratt”.

Google translate’s translation: “Here it is a little less steep”.

Olaf’s translation: “Here it is little less steep which is still pretty steep. But other paths – those that you will choose – are much steeper! Anyhow, we marked the tour as blue so you might survive.”

At the end just three pairs of photos of this tour and my tour on 4 December:

 

Hiking up the Nordtinden

After I failed reaching the summit of the Nordtinden (640 m) last November I gave it a second try today. It’s so much easier to navigate when there is no snow covering the path and the sparse way marks.

I start to follow the gravel road, which I leave after 2.7 km.

The small trail leads up steadily. It’s not so steep, that I have to climb but steep enough to raise my pulse to hummingbird level. I could blame it on my Covid infection two weeks ago but I guess it’s just a lack of fitness.

A movement to the left wakes me up. It’s a flock of ptarmigan fledglings with an adult. Some flutter away, some stay. I use the confusion to take some photos with my telephoto lens. The photos are heavily cropped, I want to keep distance.

I am above the tree line now and the views are impressive.

Most impressive is a chasm at the side of the trail. The gradient down? Perhaps 400%. Enough to keep safety distance while photographing.

The last part is rocky and pathless but the huge cairns marking the tops of Nordtinden (there seem to be two) are in view so I can navigate just by eye. I take it easy on the boulder fields. I reach summit number one and add myself to the summit register that lies sheltered in an aluminium box.

I continue a bit more west to get a better view to the sea. And there it is – the island Vengsøya with the smaller island Vågøya in the front.

I walk around to take some more pictures. I watch the ferry leaving Vengsøya and climb a bit down the slope to have a closer look to the nameless lake below the mountain Laukviktinden.

Then I walk back in a small circle, pass the other summit cairn and start to descend.

It’s always interesting how not only the view changes but the terrain as well. Round the summits it’s mostly rocks and boulder fields, then more and more grass is present and the path consists also of gravel and then earth, too. On the way back the lake Skulsfjordvatnet lies in the sun.

As most day trips the way back is the same as the way there. So I pass the sign to Nordtinden a second time and am on the gravel road again.

The change from forest to farmland shows that my car is not far away. After four hours and about 12 km I’m back from a lovely mountain hike.

Two more photos showing small things. The first one a beetle from the genus Carabus. The first one a berry from the genus Rubus. I was glad about both discoveries. The difference: The beetle stayed unharmed, the berry was eaten right after taking the picture.

 

Some summer days in Sweden

I was home in Sweden for only three weeks but the time feels long and rich. Annika and I had guests most of the time but some days in between just the two of us.

A short kayak trip in the sun

On 1 July I used my lunch break to paddle to the beach. I took a bath and lunch there and then paddled back to work. Ah, I love this type of lunch breaks!

A day trip to Norrbyskär

On 3 July Annika and I took the car to Norrbyn and from there the ferry to the island Norrbyskär. Always worth visiting, especially when the warm weather invites to a bath.

A wavy kayak trip

On 4 July Annika and I made a kayak trip to and round the island Tarv. Normally this would be a quite relaxing tour of 10–11 km. But due to the windy weather the sea was pretty choppy and we had to focus a lot on the waves and the rocks.

No one of us took any photos there, but in the more sheltered waters beside and behind the island it was possible to take some photos again. And another bath.

Finally rain

On 7 July it finally rained in Obbola. The rain came too late for the dried up lawn but probably saved a lot of flowers and bushes in our garden.

Hiking twice

On 8 July Annika and hiked twice. First round Grössjön together with guests from Germany, then just we two at the Kronören naturreservat. Grössjön is mostly forest and bogs (and a lot of mosquitoes) while Kronören is also open landscape by the sea.

Back to Tromsø

Ten days ago an 10 July I travelled back to Tromsø. Train Departure in Umeå 2:15 in the night, bus arrival in Tromsø was 17:30.

I felt cold and made a Covid test the next day. Bang – positive! Therefore I couldn’t take advantage of the beautiful summer weather in Tromsø but stayed home in bed the week.

I made some short hikes on the weekend but the weather was dull, foggy and rainy.

 

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.

 

After work promenade to the Keiptuva

38.5 km by car, 5.5 km by foot. Some hundred metres in altitude. Warm and windy weather. Forests, slopes, shallow bogs, mountain paths, water to ford, flowers, snow fields, lakes, tundra, rocks, views to the mountains of Kvaløya, the fjord, the open sea and Greenland. OK, cross out the last point. Anyhow, quite much for a short after work promenade.

Spring day in Tromsø

After weeks of snowfall and cold rain some kind of spring came to Tromsø. Main feature: several hours of sunshine and two-digit temperatures. I take a promenade and see tussilago and primroses  blooming almost everywhere.

When you however do not crouch on the ground for taking photos of flowers but go to the beach and look west you see that winter is still remaining in the mountains. At least from the distance their peaks look as white and pure as weeks ago.

This article should have been published on Saturday, two days ago, but I was sick and slept a lot the whole weekend.

Now cloudy weather and temperatures round 3 °C have returned to Tromsø. Business as usual?

 

April snow in Tromsø

On Monday evening, the 25 April it started to snow.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

On Tuesday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

Still some flowers peeked through the snow.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

On Wednesday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

Some heavy snow squalls covered everything with snow.

In the evening I took a winter bath at the beach of Telegrafbukta and then took a photo of the snow figure by the stairs.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Yesterday on Thursday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

It was fun to kayak through the snow after work.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Today on Friday it has been snowing and temperatures have been (mostly) below zero.

The snowflakes have become thicker.

This afternoon snow depth was 25–30 cm. The snow figure was snowed in to the neck and the stairs have disappeared in the snow.

Thursday, 19 Mai 2022 …

In 20 days there will be the first polar day. Then the sun does not set for more than seven weeks. Midnight sun!

Summer is near but incredibly well hidden.

 

Meanwhile in Tromsø

While I am writing a lot of blog articles about my time in the Arctic live in Tromsø goes on.

When I arrived Friday a week ago Tromsø was as un-wintry as possible. It was several degrees plus and it rained.

But to be honest, it didn’t affect me a lot. Mentally I was still in the Arctic.

Despite to the torrential downpours that Yr forecasted for this weekend the weather was ok yesterday and nice today. But as the whole week it was really warm: +7 °C. Time for a morning walk. _(Sunny, but much windier than expected.)_

In the afternoon I wondered if it was possible to take a small promenade on Kvaløya. I headed to the parking place from which I started a ski tour seven weeks ago. A lot of other cars were there and snow and ski tracks. I did not have any skis with me today. I tried to walk on the snow just with boots but the snow was at least knee deep. And then I came to the bridge that crossed a rapid meltwater flow. Maybe nice for experienced skiers but I didn’t have any interest in falling into the water. Time for me to return to the parking place.

The good thing: the parking place is just 200 metres away from the coast. So I took a short afternoon promenade there enjoying the colours, the sun, the fresh air and the wind. Yes it was windy – the display at the bridge to Kvaløya showed 20 m/s.

Back again at my car skiers arrived. My skis where home but then I remembered, that I always have snowshoes in my car. I attached them to my rubber boots and so I could make at least a tiny promenade to the next hill some hundred metres away.

Back in my car. Next stop: Sandnessund Cemetery. Never been there before. Even there a lot of snow.

Next stop was unplanned. I just had to take a photo of the vessel and the mountains of Kvitøya. Luckily the parking place of the Tromsø Havpadleklubb was near.

The Arctic has its own extraordinary beauty and I feel a special connection to it. Tromsø and surroundings however are beautiful too, even when weather has been much too warm for mid-March.

For the records: The first „hestehov“ or Tussilago I (17 March on my way to work).

My first “topptur“

Just 14 km by car to the parking place on Kvaløya and I’m at the southern end of the two valleys Finnvikdalen and Krabbelvdalen. I put on the skis, put on the backpack, up with the hood and I’m ready to ski. -14 °C, hardly any wind.

First I follow an old track, perhaps two skiers and two with snowshoes went there. But soon I leave it to follow the Krabbelvdalen. Further plans: none yet.

Slowly the terrain rises. I do not have climbing skins with me but mostly I can ski just straight ahead. I’m alone and leave a track in yesterday’s freshly fallen snow.

I spot a cabin by a mountain slope and realise that the mountains may be not as steep as they looked first. Could it be possible for me to ski over the saddle between the two summits of the Mellaskarfjellet (301 m and 325 m) to make a round trip? Well, at least I can try. To gain height I have to go zigzag a lot and some of the snow is hard and icy. I’m a lousy skier and wonder if I ever will be able to ski downhills and leave this place. Well, I reach the saddle and it’s only 40 more metres in altitude to the southern top. Let’s go and make the round trip a topptur – a summit tour.

To make a long zig-zag story short: I reach it! I put on my down jacket and take a rest with a bit of chocolate and half frozen water.

The descent to the Finnvikdalen takes some time. I do not dare to ski straight downhills because parts of the snow are icy and other parts is crusted powder snow where you break though. So I take it slow and easy.

I see two other skiers with a dog approaching. While I slowly ski downhills they catch up and thank me for the track I made while passing.

Two reindeer nibble at the birch trees, I’ll never will understand how they can survive cold winters with this nutrition. The dog is quite interested. “Will is run? Is it fun?”. But alas it is on a leash and the reindeer calmly trots through the snow to find another birch to nibble at.

Now it is me who is the lucky one. The dog owners leave a fresh ski track on which I at least double my tempo. They head to something that looks like a broader ski track and so it it. It leads to a mountain hut.

Tracking map from my iPhone appA lot of skiers are on this trail. After I have passed the hut I’m on a broad trail prepared by a snow mobile. Now I can ski even faster (still slow ;-) ) but I’m unsure where this trail leads me. I continue following it constantly checking my map app until it signals that I’m on my old track again. What? Where? Here? I do not recognise this place!

Some hours ago I was alone, now a broad track cuts through the landscape. I pass the very same tree that I photographed this morning.  Ok, the app is right. The parking place comes into sight, it is full of cars. Just a bit more to go and I arrive at my car. While I stop my tracking app and change my clothes other people pass me on both sides.

I guess many Norwegians would just laugh about me calling my today’s tour a topptur, since the summit is a hill, not a serious mountain. Many Norwegians are excellent skiers and topptur is used for alpine style tour skiing often in steep terrain, not necessarily for cross-country skiing . Anyhow I liked this tour and give it the name I think it deserves from my perspective.

On the map you can both see my zigzagging near the summit and that I was significantly faster on the trail back ( slow | fast).

To my big surprise it has become colder. -16 °C the car thermometer shows now. At home it is only -7 °C. I wonder why because both places are located quite near the sea.