Thaw and cloudbursts

Why, oh why was the forecast of Yr right? Already a week ago it forecasted a period of thaw and heavy rainfall. And Wednesday it started to rain. Just now I’m listening to another cloudburst bucketing down on the roof.

The snow is gone and the ways and small streets are very icy. When it continues raining like this even the ice may have thawed and washed away soon.

It looks almost like autumn but with a huge difference: It’s dark. The photos above I made at lunch break on my last working day this year.

It’s a pity! Just today my wife Annika will arrive so that we can spend Christmas time together. It would have been lovely with a lot of snow but even though it shall be colder again soon it does not look like we get some.

Tønsnesvarden

On Tuesday we got some snow in Tromsø. On Wednesday it already has melted away. But last night a bit of snow arrived.

Today I chose a shorter tour from my book “På tur in Tromsø” (On tour in Tromsø) because I just wanted an easy hike, not a full-grown mountain tour. The weather agreed with me.

By the sea only a bit of wet snow and sleet covered the ground but already 50 meter higher the gravel path was covered with 10 cm of snow. Deep tyre tracks were carved in the snow. This part of the tour was very easy. Just follow the road up until you reach the radio unit on the Tønsnesvarden (281 m) and try not to slip, because under the snow there are some icy patches.

This summit has a big radio station on its top. Even in the increasing snow fall is was quite visible. Now I walked through 20 cm of snow. After an hour I arrived at the radio station, where I met the creator of the deep tyre tracks: A six-wheeled ATV.

It wasn’t cold but a windy. It snowed more and more and the wet snow glued itself to my jacket. On my way back I left the main road and followed a small path on my digital map on my iPhone. I stopped in a forest of birches with thin and long stems. I loved the motive, but my Nikon camera gave up in this wet weather. The lens was fogged up in the inside and in the dense and wet snowfall I didn’t dare to change lens. One photo worked out ok anyhow:

Soon I realised that some of the paths drawn on the map did not exist in reality (at least not in winter) while others that exist were not part of the map. So I went cross-county through pathless terrain, partly dens forest, partly wetlands with many small streams to cross. It took only 15 minutes until I reached the other gravel road leading down again. Now the iPhone was in charge for making pictures.

I followed the path down. With each metre altitude I lost there was less snow on the ground and the snow fall became more and more sleet. When I arrived at my car my anorak was soaking wet. Having seat warmers in a car is a great feature after such a tour.

For the records: 6.5 km, round 300 metres in altitude. Temperature round 0°C.

Appendix 1:

When I show pictures of mountain tours and hilly hikes it is easy to forgot, that Norway has not only mountains but the sea, too. This is an iPhone snapshot I took from some metres from my parked car. What you cannot see is the mountains of the island Kvaløya, 3.8 km away. They are hidden in the snow clouds.

Appendix 2:

What do you do with photos taken with a fogged up lens? You start to experiment. I mean, the photo is spoiled anyhow. But the result of today’s experimentation turned out nice in my opinion.

After autumn comes winter?

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

Two days ago I took a promenade to take some autumn photos. I soon broke of the walk because the asphalt was partly frozen and slippery as hell. It was a mistake to leave my spikes home.

On my mountain tour yesterday I both experienced autumnal and wintry conditions. And I had spikes for my boots with me. While I had been writing the blog article yesterday it had started snowing and that’s how it looked today.

My first snow in Tromsø this season. Yay! 8–10 cm had fallen and while I walked to work it started to snow again. Temperature was below zero and the snow was fluffy. It was fun to walk in the snow.

Looks like winter, doesn’t it? But if the forecast is right it will get warmer again already tomorrow afternoon and rain a lot in the night. A short pleasure.

From autumn to winter – a tour to the Litjeblåmannen

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

My first concert with the chamber choir Ultima Thule was supposed to be today but due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in Tromsø the board decided to cancel the concert. That’s a pity but gave me a free day and the opportunity to continue with my #onceaweek project. I decided for a tour to the Litjeblåmannen (860 metres above sea level).

At 8:40 I have parked my car and start the tour. Temperature is -5 °C. Brr! I regret that I left my long johns home. That changes quickly when I take the first steep climb up the forest path and start to sweat. All trees have shed their leaves and are bare.

At 8:40 is sunrise. Half an hour later I can see the sun rise above the mountains. Ten minutes later I have left the birches behind and the landscape opens. I am gaining altitude and soon the path starts to cross the first snow fields.

Ten other minutes later snow and rocks start to dominate the landscape. It looks like winter. The autumn is left behind in the valley. I see a radio mast, part of the radio station on the Rundfjellet (472 m). Well, that was easy.

I decide to continue the tour. But where? The tour description mentions that I have to go down 50 metres. I hardly see any waymarks or a track but soon some foot steps that I follow. According to map and compass it’s the right direction. The terrain gets rockier, steeper and is partly icy but at least I spot some waymarks again. I stop to strap my spikes under the boots. Safety first! Less than an hour later I pass another radio station. I do not look closer because the terrain behind the building is very steep.

The terrain continues being steep and rocky but after a while I reach a plateau. Now it’s winter. Beside of some tufts of grass covered with frost there’s only snow and rocks.

From now on it’s much simpler to walk on this snow covered plateau and soon I reach the mountain summit Botnfjellet (844 m).

That’s however not my destination. Well, the summit of Litjeblåmannen looks far away but it takes only 20 more minutes to go there.

Break! Summit selfie!

The fur hood is not only for looking wintry on the selfie. It was colder than expected and after the selfies I put on my down pullover. Checking the temperature at Tromsø airport and subtracting 0.6 °C per 100 metres altitude I guess that the temperature is round -7 °C. The wind makes my mind change about wearing long johns a second time.

I eat a bit of chocolate and drink some Sprite before the frost transformed it into slush. I’m completely alone and I haven’t met anyone yet. It’s just beautiful up here with views on snowy mountain chains everywhere but on the snowless lowlands and the fjords as well.

After 20 minutes break I start my way down. First I follow my own tracks until I met the first mountain hiker today. Now I follow her steps. Does she know a better way?

Some impressions from the way down:

While I descend more and more the sun starts to set. I hike cross-country. Less and less snow covers the ground until I reach a terrain consisting of terraces of wetlands and dense birch thickets. The wetlands are easy to cross, since the ground is mostly frozen and I have rubber boots. The birch thickets however take some time to squeeze through. Looking back I can see purple clouds indicating that the sun already has set.

At 14:40 I arrive at the car. -4 °C. According to my app I walked 15 km and 1120 metres in altitude. I started before sunrise and arrived after sunset. This gives me the right to be very lazy the rest of the day. The blog article I want to write anyhow.

I met three persons in total:

  • A woman in my age in clothes that probably have been used on countless tours for many years,
  • A young woman in a grey woollen sweater hiking up quite fast while talking loudly on her cell phone.
  • A packed sleeping bag on a stone in the wetlands. A sleeping bag with a book. Wait! No, it’s a hood with a book. Wait! No, it’s a person leaning against a large rock reading. In the middle of some wet slope on the island Kvaløya. People here really like being outdoors.

So much for today. And now I have to stretch!

Appendix:

I just went to the kitchen and felt, that the outside light had changed. It had! It had snowed some centimetres and is still snowing. Everything is white. Beautiful!

Kayaking in the fog

Before I post some more black-and-white photographs from our car trip through Finland I’ll show you some photos from Annika’s and my kayak tour today. I cannot remember a week as foggy as this one since I moved to Sweden and it was foggy today, too. We couldn’t see the islet Lillskär from our house because it was hidden in the fog. It was however visible from the place where our kayaks lie. Or should I write float, because we had a water level of +45 cm.

Our tour wasn’t long but fun as every kayak tour. Now our kayaks lie on land and are waiting to be cleaned and dried. Then mine will be stored in the garage because I’ll travel to Tromsø on Tuesday and won’t be here before next year.

Morning paddling in Obbola

I’m home in Obbola – 6:20 – it’s still quite dark.

The sky is clear – hardly any wind – frost at -4.5 °C. – my kayak lies at the shore.

A good opportunity to do some pre-work kayaking and watch the sunrise at sea.

 

New friends Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

New friends Tromsø is a Facebook group where people new to Tromsø meet. Some may be here only for  couple of days while others may have moved here and look for tips and other people.

Finally I had time to join an event that one of the group members organised, a hike to Gutta på skauen in Tromsdalen. Since I didn’t know this place I’ll can add the hike to my project #onceaweek.

As the day before the weather was quite warm but cloudy and rainy. I just took some photos with my iPhone since the focus was on get to know other people not on taking pictures. As usual I was quite early at the meeting point in town and waited in the rain for other people to come.

Eight people we were in total – from five, six different countries. We went to Tromsøbrua and used this large bridge the cross the Tromsøysund strait and reach the mainland.

On the mainland we had four more km to hike – first through the urban neighbourhood Tromsdalen, then on smaller roads through the forestry valley of the same name. And then we reached Gutta på skauen which means “guys in the wood”. These guys – all older than me – provided coffee and cinnamon buns. You do not pay per coffee or bun but donate an amount of money that you consider suitable.

There we sat for an hour or such while rainfall outside increased. Then we hiked back another parallel path (the nicer way), crossed the bridge again, asked a bypassed to take a picture of us and then started to split up. After another stop in the café Koselig I walked home. There are not many busses on Sundays.

There were a lot of water puddles on my way back, some of them quite deep. The last photo however is not rainwater but the sea. When the tide is quite high it covers one of the footpaths on the seashore. I managed with rubber boots this time but it was close.

No, this tour was not demanding but anyhow it was 14–15 km in total. So – motion: check! Meeting nice people: check! Having a good day: check!

Thank you, E. for organising.

A hike round the peninsula Klubben

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

#onceaweek tour 5

Today I didn’t choose a mountain top but a small coastal promenade as my #onceaweek tour. I took the car to the village Lyfjorden on Kvaløxya and went round the peninsula Klubben. I love hiking up mountains to get the view but at the coast you get views for free ;-).

One of the things that still impresses me is how tiny some houses look standing in front of huuuge mountain faces that often look like vertical walls.

Klubben lies in the Kaldfjorden (the cold fjord). On the other side lies the mountain Store Blåmannen (1044 m) – always an imposing view.

The birches on Klubben had only some yellow leaves left. Since it was quite windy (15 m/s on the bridge to Kvaløya) they will be bare soon. Soon the autumnal colours will be history for this year.

Although this tour was marked as green (easy, for beginners) you still had to watch where to go. Sometimes the path was boggy but mostly stony and I had to watch my steps.

A quite loud noise, like someone inhaling loudly through the teeth interrupted me. I looked for the sound source and spotted a whale quite nearby. Although I had the camera with telephoto lens in my hands it took me a second before I managed to make a photo of the dorsal fin just before the small whale submerged again. I saw it two more times but in quite a distance. The photo is poor but the experience to spot a whale just by chance from your Sunday afternoon walk was extraordinary.

I continued my walk but now the path had vanished and the ground was only rocks. Did I miss the path? Possibly. I checked with the map app of Norgeskart and realised that the way was a bit higher up. I went and climbed up the steep slope but did not find any path. Higher and higher I ascended until it was clear that the map wasn’t as accurate as assumed. Probably the rocks were the path.

I didn’t want to descend that slope again and so continued to ascend it until I met a small gravel road that led to some houses – the first modern and cuboid, the second traditional with a grass roof.

Soon the area had become less steep and I could cut short to the coast again.

On the way back I took an extra stop in Finnes, Kvaløya . The small reindeer herd that I’ve seen there several times was still grazing. Probably they live there.

Today’s tour was only 4 km (elevation gain and loss round 250 m) but I cannot say that it was less fun or less exciting. I have however to admit that it was much less exhausting than the mountain tours. Training effect: ±0.

Aurora hunting – failing and cheating

It’s always the same: when you wake up in the night and see the polar lights illuminating the sky it doesn’t mean, that you can take good pictures of them. In the time you need to dress, take camera and tripod and walk outside to a nice place it’s likely that they disappear again. Polar lights are shy fellows.

Last night it was the same: I saw a nice aurora from my sleeping room. But when I arrived at the bay Telegrafbukta no distinct aurora was visible anymore.

Anyhow the sky looked a bit pale. Clouds or polar lights? Let’s take a handheld photo with a long exposure. Cl… …ick.

Yes. The sky is definitely green. I set up the tripod, configure the camera and wait.

Nothing happens.

So I start taking a long expose shot of the sea, the mountains and the lights of Kvaløysletta.

And you can see the polar lights, at least a bit. No surprise because I exposed the photo for 30 seconds with ISO 560 and an exposure of ƒ/3.2. That puts enough light onto the sensor to catch even faint polar lights that are hardly visible to the naked eye. So this is not really an aurora photo, it’s more cheating.

Before I went back to my bed I wanted to take at least one photo with some kind of a motive. It became a shed nearby, illuminated by the moon and again with a faint polar light in the background.

Today I have to go to bed early, I have to catch up on sleep.