No paddling in Obbola

Normally when I am in Obbola round Christmas I do some winter paddling. This year I dug out the kayaks from a thick layer of snow on 23 December. On 26 December there was still open water behind the tiny skerry that we use to call Lillskär but I was too lazy to go on a tour. One day later the Baltic Sea looked like this:

Within a single day parts of the Baltic Sea have frozen over – a stripe of 500 metres or more. So much for kayaking …

It took some time until I was allowed to publish the drone photo above. I had ask for permission at Lantmäteriet (The Swedish Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authority) first.

Ärendenummer LM2023/067684

Farewell Obbola

As almost every day the last weeks I went to the coast yesterday. This place is less than 100 metres away from Annika’s and my house in Obbola. It was partly cloudy but the upcoming sunrise made the clouds and ice extremely colourful. I waited for the sun to rise and then went back to my home office room to continue working.

Today I have other plans. After three weeks of being home – part vacation, part work – it it time to travel back to Tromsø. Normally I do this by train and bus, this time I travel by car. After I’ve found a nice flat in Tromsø I took my Norwegian car here to fetch some more stuff.

Such as a box of books, kitchen stuff, an uplighter, an Ivar bookshelf, my acoustic bass guitar, a bulky winter sleeping bag and more stuff that I want to have in Tromsø. Now my car is full but I still can use the rear-view mirror.

I guess I might need my down parka for if the weather forecast is correct it might be -25 °C on my way back to “work home”. But not today where I only have to drive round about 200 km to Gagsmark to visit friends and stay over. From there its 470 km go drive to Kuttainen (Saturday) and then 300 other km to Tromsø (Sunday).

Farewell, Obbola!

An icy yet colourful art exhibition

While we had temperatures below -30 °C last week the air became much warmer on Sunday afternoon. Yesterday morning the temperature had risen to -3 °C and today to +5 °C.

Yesterday – running on the ice

Yesterday I used the opportunity to something that I rarely have done before: running on the ice of the Baltic Sea. First round the small islet Lillskär and then to the beach Vitskärsudden. All the ice was covered with ice feathers and the running felt a bit fluffy. I had a mobile phone with me and took some photos.

Well – that was fun – and beautiful. The next day it should become warm and the ice feathers probably won’t survive.

Today morning – checking the ice

What a difference a day makes! The dew made all the ice by the coast blank and a lot of melt water covered it. I walked around the island Lillskär and everything looked so different!

You see the gaps between the ice floes in the first image above? It is thick ice as well and you can easily walk on it. The whiter ice is just older and contains more bubbles while the darker, newer one was built in the days of strong frost and is much clearer and more translucent.

Today afternoon – an extraordinary ice exhibition

At one o’clock I decided to go onto the ice again. Since I wanted to go further I used a dry suit and a life vest beside my ice spikes that I always have round my neck on the ice.

I went along Lillskär and headed south. The sun was already low and partially covered behind a thin layer of clouds. As some hours ago the ice looked endless like you could walk to Finland (which you couldn’t).

Ice, water, air, sun – these were the ingredients of the art expedition exhibition that took place on this sea ice today. “A picture is worth a thousand words” – so let the photos speak (although they need some more editing due to the extreme contrasts):

I could have stayed for hours, so beautiful it was going on the ice from object to object being alone on the ice and taking pictures with my small Sony camera that I carried in a waterproof bag. Anyhow the sun was going down and I had to continue working so I headed back to our house.

So, this was my photo studio today. Thank you, sun, thank you, air, thank you, water, thank you, ice!

It gets even colder

After the first days of the new year with temperatures down to -26 °C it got even colder.

4. January

In the morning temperature is between -26 and -27 °C and despite the weather forecast the sky is clear.

At lunch time I take another promenade along the coast. The sea ice Baltic Sea looks extremely cold due to the frost patterns that cover everything.

In the afternoon it gets colder and in the evening the temperature sinks below -30 °C for the first time. I go out and take a photo of our tree in our garden. It’s the very same tree under which Annika and I got married three and a half years ago – barefooted. Now it is covered in frost and Orion and Sirius are in the sky.

Luckily I have a lot of very warm clothes. To go out I only had to slip into my down suit and my Russian rubber boots, put a hat and woollen mittens on and I won’t freeze at all.

5. January

Twice I was awake and outdoors this night to enjoy the cold air and the starry sky. At 3:18 the thermometer shows -33.4 °C, the coldest temperature ever I experienced being at home!

These days a lot of places experience temperatures below -40 °C and less and many people (including us) have trouble with their cars or heating. Near Arjeplog a guy measured -51 °C with a laser thermometer the day before. That’s exceptionally cold even for Northern Sweden.

In the morning it was time for Annika and me to repeat a known experiment in the cold that we never tried out by ourselves: Throwing hot water in the air and seeing it freezing almost instantly into a cloud of ice dust. While my photos are ok-ish, Annika took gorgeous photos with my Nikon showing me doing this experiment. It works best with temperatures below -30 °C, which we had.

While I write this article in the night to the 6. January it is still cold, but “only” -22 °C. You get used to the cold after some days. And yes – I love these cold and crisp winter days a lot! The weekend will still be cold, then it will get warmer. Much warmer! On Tuesday, four days from now, it may be 40 degrees warmer than yesterday morning with day temperatures round +6 °C!

 

 

The year 2024 starts cold

1. January

It’s midnight. Clear sky, -13 °C. Annika and I stand in the snow outside of our house with a drink to toast with and some sparklers to set alight. Farewell 2023, welcome 2024! Happy new year!

The next morning Annika and I stand outdoors again. No sparklers needed, the sun rises over the frozen Baltic Sea and turns the sky orange.

When we start a little cross country ski tour at lunch time the temperatures already have dropped to -18 °C. Before we drive home we take a small detour to our favourite beach Vitskärsudden where we watch the sunset over the sea. Sunrise and sunset on the same day – that was long ago.

2. January (yesterday)

In the night it has become colder. -25 °C shows the thermometer in the morning. I bring Annika to the bus station by car but first I have to scrape ice on the windshield. Yes, I am a bit overdressed in my down suit ;-)

On this day I am outdoors twice. First to catch the colours before sunrise …

… then to take a lunch promenade to Vitskärsudden. Despite the sun it is still round -22, -23 °C. The Baltic Sea is frozen as far as I can see and the low hanging sun is accompanied by colourful parhelions.

I thought the down jacket would be too warm but I gladly put the hood on when it started to get a bit windy.

In the evening it gets colder. -26.9 °C, the coldest temperature I experienced here in our home in Obbola since we moved there in May 2020. While I worked from home Annika took the bicycle back from the bus station. Brrr!

3. January (today)

Another cold day with temperatures between -22 and -26 °C. Although I have to work I go out several times. First shortly after sunrise. The sun is damped by clouds and looks like a very mysterious eye.

Then I take another tour at 11:00, this time with back country skis. What a beautiful day!

I go out a third time to watch the sunset, but clouds cover the horizon. At least I take a photo of the large, wooden barrel of unknown origin that stands in the water – now frozen – of our shallow bay.

… oh I forgot, I was out a fourth time, this time by car to get some things done. Luckily I had camera and tripod on the back seat, because the frosted trees in the cold artificial light looked really special.

I really love this cold weather. Only taking photos can be a bit of a hassle because sometimes you have to take off your gloves and then the fingers can get cold very fast. Beside from that: great!

 

Two wintry sunrises

From polar night into the solar light

It is crazy – three days ago Annika and I have been in Tromsø in the middle of the mørketid – the polar night – where the sun hasn’t risen for weeks. Two days ago we went to Gällivare in Swedish Lapland by car. Yesterday we continued our way south and crossed the polar circle. The sky was clear and full of colours and then – at 10:23 – we saw the sun ahead. It did not only rise above the horizon but also the forested hills.

The sun was low but we saw it for several hours. That was a great feeling especially for me who haven’t seen the sun for almost a month.

But days are short and already at two o’clock in the afternoon the moon dominated the sky.

Soon it was too dark to take good photos from the moving car. At half past six we arrived at our house in Obbola, where I’ll stay for three to four weeks.

Today I worked from home and could see how it gradually got brighter. I took a break and went to the coast. I was lucky – now I got a real sunrise. Not above a road in the Swedish inland but above the partially frozen Baltic Sea. So beautiful!

 

Back to Tromsø

Friday

This week spring has come to Umeå and Obbola. Temperatures above 15 °C make the snow melt every hour and the first Tussilago blossoms in Obbola peek through the dry, brown grass. I take a promenade wearing a t-shirt and in the evening Annika and I sit by our barbecue place. The very same place that was snowed in up the top edge three weeks ago.

Saturday

The alarm clock rings at 1:00 in the night. It’s a dreadful time to get up, but there is a direct train to Narvik with a bus connection to Tromsø and this train departs in Umeå at 2:12.

Near Bastuträsk, 3:57. The bogs look dull and depressing. – Gällivare, 8:12- It is snowing but everything is wet. How deep might the enormous water puddle on the parking place be?

The lake Torneträsk, 10:29. Here it looks like winter, but I wouldn’t dare to step on the lake any longer. Somewhere in Norway, 12:08. Fresh snow covers the birch trees.

We arrive in Narvik punctual to the minute. Half an hour later the bus to Tromsø departs. A local bus and I’m back at my “work home” in Tromsø. The journey took 16½ hours from door to door.

In Tromsø it looks wintry. The average temperatures were above zero for 18 days, but not it’s slightly subzero and about 10 cm of fresh snow cover my car and parking place.

Sunday

I wake up at 5 o’clock. Sunrise was an hour ago and the sun shines on the freshly fallen snow. – 3 °C. I put on some clothes and walk to the beach to take some photos. But then it’s time to sleep a bit more.

So it looks like winter is still present here. It may take a bit of time until I can see the first Tussilago in Tromsø. I’ll post a photo of the first wild flower as soon as I find one.

A calm afterwork kayak tour on the Baltic Sea

Low water. I have to walk a bit. First over the remaining ice, then over the soft sand and through shallow water until I can set in the kayak.

The weather is extraordinary calm, the water surface soft as silk. The water melts with the horizon and I cannot measure sizes in the distance. The other two boats that I spotted while paddling to Obbolstenarna were sea birds.

I go on land on two places. One island of the Obbolstenarna, and a leftover ice cap on a shallow bank nearby. It has become quite warm in daytime and snow and ice are melting.

I play around with my drone that I bought two weeks ago and made some aerial photos. I probably will never publish them in the blog. Too bureaucratic the process to get the Spridningstillstånd, the permission to publish such a drone-taken photo in Sweden.

1:45 hours later I am home again. Today it looks like equally fine weather. Probably I’ll go kayaking again.

Tussilago 2023

Just for the records: The first Tussilago that I saw this year was in Umeå on 15 April. There is still a lot of snow but on some of the southern slopes the snow has melted away.

Like ice in the springtime …

In the rare cases where the temperature rises above 0 °C something special happens: Ice and snow melt and become a liquid known as „water“. One of these rare occasions is called „spring“ and this is what has started happening right now. In these days many things happen that are related to ice, snow, and water.

8 April: Vattenplasket in Malå

Last Friday Annika and I visited our friends Lasse and Martine in Kusfors and stayed over. Lasse is a journalist and had a job in Malå the next day. There was a very special ski competition named “Vattenplasket” – the water splash. A ski hill and instead of a finish line a large basin with knee deep water. Is it possible to downhill on ski or snowboard and have enough momentum to cross the water? Let’s see:

Most of the competitors failed, two actually managed it. True sportsmanship showed a small boy that did not get enough momentum with his sled and just walked into the water. Kudos!

9 April: almost a kayak tour

On Sunday Annika and I tried to do another kayak tour. Five days ago the ice was stable, this day it had got holes and was not reliable anymore. While Annika stood on safe ice I tried to cross the old ice to the island but **splash!** broke through several times. No biggie, the water is quite shallow and we have drysuits but it is exhausting. When Annika started breaking through as well, we decided to return. Another time …

10 April: winter bath

Finally. Annika and I. Twice. And then: sitting on the rocks in the wet bathing clothes without freezing because the sun is so warm. Springtime!

12 April: ice work

This is a piece of ice seen from the side. You can see the different horizontal layers that accumulated over time.

This is however no glacier ice nor Arctic sea ice. It is a piece of ice from our way to our house. Annika and I have been chopping the ice bit by bit for many days and today was the day: the way to the car and the road is free of ice and snow.

12 April: another “almost” kayak tour

There are other parts that are free of ice: Most of the weak ice between land and the island Lillskär is gone. After work I tried to paddle around the islet. We had low water (-30 cm) and some of the stable ice was grounded while large parts of the sea were open.

The first part was easy but when I almost rounded the island I came into an ice field. I already had seen it before starting the tour and thought I could paddle through. In theory this was possible, but the wind and the layers of ice made it near to impossible to steer the kayak.

So I got off the boat, jumped into the 60 cm deep water and while standing turned the kayak back to course. Now I could continue my island circumnavigation. Anyhow I consider exiting the kayak on the tour cheating, that’s why I say: I almost circumnavigated Lillskär today.

Even though the ice floes may have been 7–8 cm thick you couldn’t stand on the ice any longer. The ice was “rotten”. Many tiny vertical channels had weakened the ice and made it sensible to vertical stress. You can see it on the next photo. The piece on ice is standing, the bottom part of the ice floe is on the left.