Three weeks in Sweden – some photos

14. June

I am sitting in the airplane. Soon I’ll be back “home home” in Obbola for three weeks. Here we are crossing the river Umeälven.

20. June

A low rainbow has appeared above the trees. In the inside it shows supernumerary bands.

21. June

Midsummer in Sweden has several traditions. Probably the most famous one is the dancing round the midsummer pole. Annika and I are in Gammlia, a park with outdoor museum in Umeå. Here we are doing “raketen” – the rocket.

In the evening Annika and I are watching a roe passing by with her two young fawns. They are crossing the shallow bay. Since the water level is higher than normal the water is quite deep for the fawns.

22. June

Excursion to a coast we do not know yet – Järnäsklubb. There are several trails you can follow, only the bathing place we do not find.

24. June

While I pluck lupins (an invasive species) I realise how many beautiful flowers we have in the small patch of wilderness between our house and the sea. Here: a Siberian iris.

27. June

Annika and I are in Gammlia again, this time for the Mullin Mallin Band that plays folk music from Balkan to Sápmi.

29. June

We are in Åsele in the Swedish inland where we visit friends of us together with their farm animals. (Photo: Annika Kramer)

3. Juli

For lunch break I paddle to the beach at Byviken where I eat Ćevapčići. Total distance – round 6.7 km both ways. After that I have to continue working. Home office.

6. Juli (yesterday)

I am sitting in the train to Narvik. I read, I eat, I play with my mobile, I doze and I look out of the window.

The train was in time in Umeå and in Narvik as well. From there the bus 100 brings me to Tromsø where I will work for the more or less next five weeks. Hej då Sverige – hei Norge!

Midnight paddling

It’s midsummer day in Sweden. Yesterday Annika and I danced around the midsummer pole and ate huge amounts of salmon, potatoes and eggs with roe, just as you use to do on a typical midsommarafton. One thing however was not typical: It didn’t rain at all. And since the night was still clear and beautiful, Annika and I decided to make a small kayak tour. At 22:40 we were clear to leave.

The eastern sky was blue and purple and the trees on the island Bredskarssten almost black – but it was not dark although some of the photos may look like. The sun had just gone down.We decided to paddle to the tiny archipelago Obbolstenarna.

When we arrived there all seagulls flew up into the air screeching. Did we disturb them? No, it was an eagle that quickly was chased off by the seagulls. We circumnavigated the islands and headed back east, where some of the spare clouds still caught some sunlight.

And now? There was no noticeable wind and kayaking has been pretty effortless until now. Annika and I had the same thought: kayaking to the southern tip of Stömbäck-Kont. We’ve been there often, but always by car. Stömbäck-Kont is 30 km from our home by car but only 5 km by kayak. So, let’s go …

Meanwhile it had become a bit darker and the flat sea and sky looked like fantastic paintings. Like from another world.

We passed the sea side of the island Tarv, and turned north behind the small island Gåshällan and some islands I don’t know the names of. Then we headed west.

This black shadow ahead, is it the rocks of Strömbäck-Kont? It is hard to see because the contrast is low. But my navigation was correct and soon we approached the barbecue area, where we were welcomed by the mosquitoes, that luckily were not present on the open sea. Time for a short break to stretch one’s legs.

The stop was pretty short, because the mosquitoes just loved us and we have quite a lot of them this year! So we jumped back into our kayaks and followed the coast a bit north were we could hear music.

Here lies Simphamn, both a nice sandy beach and a marina. A bunch of very expensive looking yachts were anchored at the boat bridge and apparently some people had had a party on one of the yachts. We paddled round the small island with the clubhouse.

Now it was time to head east back to the island Tarv and circumnavigate it clockwise. Most sea birds were relaxed. The geese more or less ignored us while the terns were ignoring us. They were hunting. Again and again they plunged vertically into the sea to catch fish.

After a while we headed south and reached the opening between Tarv and a peninsula connected to the main land. Here we reached the open sea again.

From there we know the way home by heart. Passing the bay Vitskärsudden, following the coast while avoiding the many rocks in the water and after two more kilometres we were back home.

Now we only had to drag the kayaks back to our house through a field of lupins. (I will pick them. They are an invasive species and we want to get rid of them.) And then – after 12.5 km of an extraordinary beautiful night paddling we were back home. Now it was a quarter to two – definitely time to sleep!

For those who love maps or live nearby, this is the track:

 

The first Thursday paddling 2024

Yesterday on 18 April  was the first organised Thursday paddling of the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club this year. I was eager to join. I took a photo when I arrived at the boat houses:

What is special about this photo? I can show you. In comparison – these are photos I took on other first Thursday paddlings. One on 4 May 2023, one on 28 April 2022.

So this was my first time opening the kayak season in Tromsø where it didn’t snow! Instead the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the temperature round 1 °C. But it was so windy!

Me prepared our kayaks and made ourselves ready and then had a talk about where to go. The tour leaders make proposals and have the last word.

This timewe would go south – against the wind – and see if we make it to Telegrafbukta. OK, let’s go!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures because the wind punished each photo instantly by blowing me back. We took a rest seeking shelter in the lee of a breakwater where one of my fellow kayakers provided us with goodies.

Shall we continue? Yes, ok for all of us. So we left our shelter and continued further south.

The more south we came the stronger the wind got and the higher the waves. We weren’t alone. On the other side of the sound a commercial boat headed south. Nearer a sailing boat, driven my a part of its fore sail. I however had to fight to keep up with the others and I was glad, that Telegrafbukta is not far away.

There we took a break. A short one though because of the chilly wind.

On the way back it felt like a complete different tour. Now we could take it easy. Both wind and waves just pushed us ahead and we hadn’t to do much to keep momentum. Soon the colourful boat houses of the club were in view and a short time later we arrived. A pity, that I didn’t track this tour. I would have liked to know the difference of the speeds there and back.

Most of us kept ourselves near to the shore but some of us like wind and waves and were a bit further out. Here a b/w snapshot of B. in his self-built Greenland kayak. It’s too far away to reveal its beauty.

 

Spring winter in Obbola

I’m sitting in the train travelling from Obbola, my “home home” to Tromsø, my “work home”. Normally the journey would have taken 18 to 19 hours but this train is four hours late. That will probably extend my journey to 37 hours including an overnight stay in Narvik.

The last days we had full vårvinter (literally “spring winter”) which is the transition period between winter and spring. Not only in my opinion this is an own season. And so it can look like:

Tuesday, 9 April

The weather is fine and calm. The drift ice that I paddled through the day before is mostly gone. I take another kayak tour to the islands Obbolstenarna and now also the sea is calm enough to circumnavigate the islands and the ice cap on the rocky shallow.

After the tour I continue my work in home office.

Wednesday, 10 April

It is raining at lunch time and the fog hides the horizon of the Baltic Sea.

Thursday, 11 April

The drift ice has come back over night. The day is sunny.

Friday, 12 April

In the village at lunchtime I spot the first Tussilago which always has been the first flower to bloom in vårvinter. And in front of a house I see some crocuses. It is +7.5 °C.

Some hours later I take a short and icy “farewell kayak tour”. It gets harder to find a good place to set in the kayak. And on the way back I was right when I doubted that the small ice floe would carry my weight. It didn’t. The ice has started to rot and then it’s not stable anymore even when 10 cm thick. So – be prepared.

We still have 50 cm of snow in the garden but round our rowan tree the snow has melted. The birds love to be there picking for food.

Saturday, 13 April

That’s today. I’m sitting in the heavily delayed train heading north. The forest ground and the bogs are covered with snow but the first patches of blueberry twigs are visible, too. It’s nice to see the landscape, but I’ll have a long journey ahead and I’m going to take a nap now.

Spring winter kayaking through the ice.

After yesterday’s ugly and windy conditions the weather today looked quite promising. A good ooportunity to take another kayak tour. At eight o’clock I put on dry suit and life vest and dragged my kayak to the open water by the islet Lillskär.

I paddled slowly to give two pairs of swans time to retreat and then kayaked round the islet. Here a large field of ice floes awaited me.

There were open patches of water, but mostly I paddled through dense ice fields that were moved by long and smooth waves. The large floes were 30 cm thick, some of them even thicker.

How does paddling through the ice work? Most ice floes are small enough to be pushed aside. I tried to paddle around the larger ice floes. Sometimes I bumped into them. and sometimes I just paddled over them by purpose – “brute force”.

After a kilometre I reached open water and then another ice field with thinner and smaller ice floes. Here I could just paddle through and the transparent ice glittered in the sun.

I wanted to reach the “ice berg” south of the islands Obbolstenarna. Out there is a large shallow with some rocks. There the waves build a temporary island of ice and snow. This year it was two to three metres high. I didn’t dare to circumnavigate this icy island because in the shallows around the waves were high and breaking. I considered this being too risky to kayak there since I was alone.

I didn’t kayak around Obbolstenarna neither for the same reasons so I returned. I could see the Finnland ferry in the harbour some kilometres away. Soon I entered the ice field again.

As on the way there I paddled through the floes without any problems. I only landed in a dead end once and that was on purpose for the photo.

Since the weather was great it was so exceptionally beautiful out there I parked my kayak on a larger ice floe and took a short break.

Then it was time to return to the ice edge, walk back to our house and enter my office because this was my first day of a week of home office. Farewell ice floes. Thanks for good company.

The right timing for a small winter kayak tour

Friday afternoon

Yesterday Annika and I took a winter bath in the ice free bay Vitskärsudden, now it is snowing and the wind has blown back a lot of ice floes. Too unstable too walk on, too thick to paddle through. How shall we paddle kayak tomorrow under these conditions?

Saturday

In the morning the sun is shining and the ice floes are gone. I walk to the ice edge that is round about 200 metres from shore. The ice is stable. After breakfast Annika and I dress properly (warm clothes, dry suit, life jacket) and drag our kayaks to the ice edge.

We get into our kayaks on the ice and then hop into the water. Then we turn right and are calmly paddling following the coastal line to the bay Vitskärsudden. First we navigate through some larger ice floes and the usual rocks (our “underwater archipelago”). When we enter the bay a layer of fresh ice is in front of us. It is so thin, that we can paddle through it effortlessly. The sounds of the braking ice are fascinating.

We are not alone. Three other kayakers are further out while other people are taking a walk ashore. One of them took a photo that we found on Facebook:

After we paddle back we build up momentum and paddle right onto the shallow ice shield. We already can see our house – shortly later we are there, longing for a shower.

In the evening the wind has turned and ice floes are drifting back ashore.

Sunday (today)

Did we have calm weather yesterday? Well, not today. The wind is pretty strong and wet snow and sleet is falling from a white-grey sky. The horizon is hidden in the fog.

I take a promenade to Vitskärsudden again. The wind has filled the whole bay with small and large ice floes that wobble in the waves.

I am walking along the ice covered coastal line until I come to the open sea. Here the waves are throwing water, slush and ice ashore so that the shore is covered by metre high ice walls. This view is impressive, pretty arctic and also a bit frightening.

The waves are high and break early. It’s hardly imaginable that Annika and I had a fine and calm kayak tour yesterday. Good timing!

I have five other days in Obbola before I’ll head back to Tromsø. I’m quite curious whether I’m able to take another kayak tour. But today the weather looks quite promising.

First kayaking 2024

Today I took my first kayak tour in 2024. It was much too windy to do a longer tour (and proper photos) and my walking distance was larger then my paddling efforts but hey, at least I was outside. Now I’m eager to kayak more.

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.

Thursday paddling around Grindøya

Two weeks ago we were only five paddlers at the traditional Thursday paddling. Today we were almost thirty. While most followed the coast to the bay Telegrafbukta I joined a group of seven that paddled to Grindøya. The conditions were gorgeous. No wind, hardly any waves and beautiful light. We took a break on the island with a special bonus: Two eagles sitting on a dead tree. There were too far away for taking good pictures but beautiful to observe anyhow. On one of the photos you can spot them as tiny specks.

Takk for turen – thanks for a great tour, my fellow kayakers. Now I’ll leave Tromsø for a while until I’ll be back for more tours to come.

 

Back to Thursday paddling

Today I just did my second kayak tour in Tromsø this year. The first one was on 4 May and it snowed. Then the weather was bad and I hardly had time. Then I was on an Arctic cruise, then home in Sweden and then it was holiday period. Today was the first “Thursday paddling” with the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club after summer and I was happy to join.

Together with four other kayakers we paddled to the island Håkøya where we took a short leg stretcher. Then we paddled a bit along and back. I didn’t make many photos. The others were fast and on the way to Håkøya it was quite wavy. So I was challenged and even a bit stressed, but in a positive way. Now I’m looking forward to the next time. Takk for turen, fellow paddlers! Thanks for taking care of me.