Bathing gets colder

Yesterday afternoon. It had been quite foggy the whole day and so it still was at the small sandy beach at Vitskärsudden. Annika and I had bathed several times the week the last months. We both could see and feel how the water temperature slowly had decreased. Yesterday the bath thermometer showed 10 °C and slightly above and the water started to feel cold, especially in the fingers. But we still enjoyed the bathing, the beauty of the place and the sensation afterwards.

Today I’ll fly to Tromsø and probably I won’t be back home before Christmas. I’m curious whether the sea at Vitskärsudden will already be frozen over or if there will be open water where we can take a real winter bath.

A walk in the bog Torsmyran

Annika googled it, then we visited it shortly last Saturday, yesterday I took the opportunity to visit this bog with more time: The Torsmyran Nature Reserve.

The parking place is right next to the E4, 45 km southwest from Umeå. You open a gate (and close it behind you to keep the moose away from the road). Then you walk to a small forest strip and follow a round 100 metres long wooden ramp leading into the bog. The platform at the end of the ramp is raised so you have a nice view over the 8.3 km² large bog.

That’s it.

As long as you don’t dare to enter the bog by foot. At first the bog looks flat, but if you take a closer look you see that there are slightly higher parts, mostly covered with heather. Even pine trees grow here and the ground is safe to walk. Beside of these parts there are large areas covered with peat moss, a sure sign that you will get wet walking onto. Even with rubber boots! And there are depressions. Some are covered with water, others with brown mud.

Is the mud deep? Well, have a look at the next photo:

You see the bit of a stick sticking in the mud? That’s my walking stick that I use when hiking through bogs. It’s two metres long. Without any effort I could stick it into the mud like that. Anyhow it was possible to avoid such treacherous places in this labyrinth of humps and pools, even though I came quite near to take same pictures.

After a while I come to a line of wooden planks. Old wooden planks. Old, half rotten planks with rusty nails looking out. I decide to follow the path. First it is quite easy, but then the planks go submarine. Since both my camera and I myself are packed waterproof I continue. Although the planks were slippery I succeed without taking a bath.

There is a signpost in the middle of the bog, leading to cities and places in the area. Who needs a signpost at such a remote place? Well, winter is coming and the bog will be frozen and covered with snow. Then the whole area is easily accessible by snowmobile. And that’s what the signpost is for: Helping the snowmobile drivers.

I leave the signpost behind and continue the path. Partly the planks lie directly on the mud. *Crack!*. One of the planks breaks under my right foot but still supports my weight. When I come to another watercourse to cross and see the the planks deeply sunken into the water I decide to turn back. This passage looks quite challenging and for a round trip I would have to cross the watercourse again at another place.

Slowly I walk back to the platform at the end of the ramp. I have to zigzag a lot to avoid open water or muddy patches but I arrive. I’m quite wet and muddy from taking some photos. I however already suspected that and have spare clothes in the car and a canister with water for cleaning. And something even more important: Chocolate and something to drink!

Disclaimer: It’s not the first time that I hiked on boggy ground. It needs some experience to avoid the soft patches and knowing how to free yourself when sinking in mud. That’s why I have a long and stable walking stick with me that could support my weight in case of sinking. Take care!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fjell and fjäll

Fjell/fjäll is the word for mountain or mountains. Fjell is Norwegian, fjäll is Swedish. As similar the words are as different the fjell/fjäll can be.

When Annika and I started our way back home from Tromsø yesterday we could experience the inaccessible steep mountains in Norway with the dark grey summits hanging in the evenly dark clouds as well as the colourful autumnal mountain plateaus between Abisko and Kiruna.

Taking the kayak home

After a Saturday morning with rain it became cold again today. The weather forecast believes Skelleftehamn to be subzero for at least ten other days. Since the sea at Storgrundet had already started freezing over it was time to take the kayak home from the beach. The easy way would have been to put it onto the transport cart and pull it the 1.5 km home.

Since the weather was fine I decided to paddle it to a nearer place, only 650 meter away from my house. For that I had to paddle round the island Storgrundet and the peninsula Näsgrundet. That’s round about 7.5 km. 7.5 km, that took me more than 2¼ hours today.

The temperature is -6 °C and there is a slight wind. As excepted the sea between island and mainland is frozen. Instead of the paddle I use ice claws to pull me forward over the ice towards the open water. That’s easier than it sounds until you break through. Then you are in some kind of amphibian environment, where it’s both hard to use the ice claws (where’s the ice?) and the paddle (where’s the open water?).

Luckily it is just a short passage and soon I reach open water. Now I want to let down my rudder but it does not work. The whole steering device is completely frozen. I try several times but when I realise that I even cannot use the foot pedals I give up. It’s possible to steer a kayak without.

Well, it doesn’t work very well. Although the rudder at the back is small it acts as a sail, when being flipped up and the wind constantly tries to turn me around, especially on top of the waves. Three seconds without paddling and I am 30° off-course. One photo and my kayak is turned up to 150°. Constantly I get ahead, but it’s really exhausting.

The sun has risen from behind the island Bredskär. When I pass the southern tip of Storgrundet I pass some fields of a million of thinnest ice crystals covering the sea. That’s really beautiful!

Near the small boat harbour Tjuvkistan I land the kayak and try to fix the rudder. I still cannot move the pedals but at least I manage to put down the rudder into the water to decrease the sailing area of my kayak. The kayak is covered in ice.

I follow the coast round the peninsula Näsgrundet until I have the industrial area Rönnskär ahead. I turn into the large bay Kallholmsfjärden, home of the port of Skellefteå. Luckily there is no commercial boat traffic now.

I can spot the tiny tunnel that leads into the small bay Killingörviken, my destination for today. It is 2.5 km away and it takes some time to reach it, because I have headwind and I am quite exhausted. But finally I reach the sheltered bay, cross some weak ice and finally slide over thicker ice using my ice claws again. I finish my paddling tour at 9:20 and now I’m quite hungry, since I didn’t have a proper breakfast.

The adventure is over, but not the journey. My kayak are I are at one place, my car is parked 2 km away. I have the cart at hand but the belt to fix the kayak I forgot home. Luckily Annika drives me around, first to my car which I leave home, then to my kayak that I walk home. After a hot shower I get finally a breakfast. Great!

 

October snowfall in Umeå

The weekend two weeks ago it was fog, that made my morning promenade along the river Umeälven special. Yesterday it was snowfall. As you can see on the three photos, the snowfall weakened more and more and most of the snow thawed away during the day. But it was a another beautiful reminder for the next winter to come.

Tyre change

The weather on my way home from yesterday night’s chamber choir rehearsal was, well …

It was sleeting and snowing quite intensely with temperatures around the freezing point. I was really glad, that I got a lift, because the driver’s car already had winter tyres – but not mine. When I arrived in Skelleftehamn it was dry, but I could here some rain showers later that night.

This morning it was sunny, -2 °C and the street was icy. Final call for changing my tyres. I arrived at the garage 15 minutes before opening, because I expected loooong waiting queues, but interestingly enough I was the very first. It was a beautiful morning with blue sky and the sun illuminated the yellow birch trees, shone on the frozen puddles and through the ice-covered car windows. Time to take some pictures with my iPhone.

Soon my car was equipped with my winter tyres “Hakka 9” and I could drive to work. I wouldn’t have dared with summer tyres. A snapshot from my way to work:

By the way: “Hakka 9” is how the Swedes call Nokian’s “Hakkapeliitta 9”. These studded winter tyres are excellent, but many Swedes struggle with the Finnish name.

Three autumn colours of the ground

This morning on the way to work – wet snow covers the minor roads and bicycle paths.

This afternoon on my way home I made a stopover – bright and colourful the forest, bleak and dull the bog.

What are your autumn colours?

Four variations of autumn

The first autumn colours on Gåsören

21, 22 September – Annika and I are invited by Solveig and Tommy to their summer cottage on Gåsören. Tommy picks us up by boat and after a short cruise we arrive at the small harbour, where Solveig already waits for us.

We have a wonderful evening with delicious food (hand-picked porcini mushrooms!) and inspiring conversations. And the weather is just great – first a blue and sunny sky, then after sunset a starry night. After a short nightly walk to the lighthouse – built in 1912 and still active – we go to bed.

The next morning I wake up early and take photographs of the splashing waves at the eastern shore. It’s a bit windy and the temperatures are near freezing. A lot of trees still have green leaves but some of the birches and rowan trees have become colourful, especially when illuminated by the low morning sun.

After breakfast we take a stroll round the small island together before we get a lift back to the mainland. Tack så mycket, Solveig and Tommy. We are looking forward to meet again!

Fog by the river

28, 29 September – I’m with Annika in Umeå. On Saturday we make a trip to Strömbäck-Kont, one of our favourite locations by the sea. Again the weather is sunny but due to the frost of last week’s nights a lot of more trees show coloured leaves. Especially the bright yellow birch leaves look wonderful.

On Sunday I wake up early as usual and take a promenade along the Umeåälven, one of Northern Swedens largest rivers. The morning air is damp and chilly and the landscape is fog-shrouded. The fog muffles all sounds and noises and gives me the impression of being completely alone. Half an hour later the fog goes away and the magic is gone.

Nightly squalls

Yesterday, 2 October – at 3:00 I’m awakened by storm squalls shaking the house. I almost expect that my house is lifted up and lands on the Wicked Witch of the East. But the gale is no tornado and my house resists the squalls.

The weather doesn’t come completely unexpected, both wind and enormous amounts of rain have been forecasted. But as usual the forecast was – ahem – imaginative but at least the wind speeds are quite accurate.

Hail, sleet and snow

Today, 3 October – again I’m awakened at 3 o’clock, this time by a hail squall drumming on the window. It’s round 3 °C and even colder at 7 o’clock on my way to work. Between my home and the town another rain squall buckets down. It is mixed with wet snow. Beside the road I can see white patches. Is it snow or last night’s hail? When I arrived at the office at Solbacken outside of the town of Skellefteå I see, that it’s snow grains – tiny frozen white balls.

At 8:33 I look through the window of my current office room and it’s snowing. The first snow on 3 October – exactly the same date as last year. Now I’m longing for winter even more ❄︎ !

The first frost

Finally – the first frost in the morning. The dew is frozen and frost covers the car windows. I took a short bath in the Baltic Sea before work and for the first time the water temperature was below 10 °C. Now it’s winter bathing. A bit chilly but refreshing and a good start in the new week. To be repeated soon.