Snowy intermezzo

Last week it felt like spring is finally coming. Flowers were blooming in the forest, the snow had melted away rapidly and even the birch trees finally had become green.

Since then it had been raining a lot. Yesterday it got quite cold and the rain turned into wet snow.

There were snow showers the whole night and this morning, too with temperatures round 0–1 °C. Is this what spring looks like? And we’re talking about the end of May.

Alas it was only a short intermezzo and while the mountains still look whiter than before snow has melted away throughout the day.

 

 

My first Thursday paddling 2023

Today I was joining the “Thursday paddling” of the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club. They started the season two weeks ago, I joined today for the first time this year.

At 18:00 a group of 13 kayakers left the shore by the boat houses and headed to Telegrafbukta, the small bay near my apartment. In the dull weather the kayaks and the paddlers in their drysuits always look quite colourful.

Although I’ve already been paddling in Sweden several times this winter it took me some time to find a rhythm. When I’m alone, I use to paddle slower.

At Telegrafbukta we decided to continue to Sydspissen, the southern tip of the island Tromsøya. There we turned back, paddling through snow showers.

We already saw it on the way there – there was very low water at Telegrafbukta, or just “Bukta” as the locals say. We took a break there but only a short one. The weather was too chilly to be comfortable.

We talked about the weather and came to the conclusion, that summer probably already was on first of May and now summer season is over. I’m not completely sure, if this theory will prove true, but on the way back spring or summer seemed to be far away.

It reminded me at last years first Thursday paddling. It was on 28 April and the weather was as snowy as today. Let’s see how the weather is next week.

A sunny car trip to Jøvik

As in many other countries 1. May is a rød dag, a red day which is an official holiday. The weather is beautiful and I decide to do something I haven’t done for a long time: a car trip.

I take the car to Jøvik, a village in Tromsø municipality located on the peninsula Lyngenhalvøya, home of the impressive mountain range “Lyngen Alps”. As soon as I leave the E8 travelling is slow. On the one hand there’s a lot to see, on the other side the roads are in a pretty bad shape.

Just some photos I took on this wonderful day trip:

 

Tar du vårbilder?

What is the difference between these two photos?

Half an hour and round about 60 metres in altitude. The first photo shows – quite visible – a bunch of tussilago flowers, the second one – pretty hidden – a tombstone on the Elverhøy graveyard.

I cannot answer why the differences are so immense on the island Tromsøya. I only can observe that while it looks like spring is coming to the coastal parts the ridge of the island is still wintry. There are old ski tracks and the lake Prestvannet (96 m) is still covered with ice and snow.

I walk round the lake. Some parts of the way are free of snow, most aren’t.

I take a photo from a bench. A woman passes by and asks me: “Tar du vårbilder?” – do you take spring pictures? Well, kind of … .

I have an appointment at 18:00 so I leave the “mountains” of Tromsø and descend into town. While the small slide near Prestvannet is still snowed in the playground lower in town is completely free of snow. And I don’t think, they have underfloor heating. (Not impossible in Tromsø.)

Later, at 22:45 I walk to the bus that brings be home. It’s still quite light outside. No wonder, it’s only 20 days left to the period of the midnight sun.

 

Tussilago in Tromsø 2023

Yesterday I wrote I would write about Tussilago in Tromsø as soon as i see it. This morning I saw the typical yellow blossoms on my way to work. First a dozen, then a hundred, then a thousand. As early bloomers they apparently don’t have a problem with snow.

Addendum

Even some steps away from my doorstep almost hidden by the snow I found Tussilago.

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.

What a wonderful vårvinter kayak tour!

Yesterday the weather was calm and sunny. A perfect day for kayaking! Perhaps to Vitskärsudden, our favourite beach?

Chapter one – Bredskär

Kayaking needs a bit of preparation, especially in winter. After we have fixed a problem with Annika’s rudder, dressed ourself and went over the ice to the northern tip of the islet Lillskär we are ready to start our tour.

Annika goes first, I follow. We turn left and paddle along the edge of the ice.

Sometimes we cross fields with crushed ice. Many of the ice slices are thin and in the waves they sound like tuned bells.

We paddle along the island Bredskär. The waves are shallow and there is hardly and wind. I have to make a short stop to take a picture of the “ice monster”, then I follow Annika to the sandy bay in the northeast of the island.

We continue following the coastal line until we come to Bredskärssund, the sound between Bredskär and Obbola. As expected the sound is covered with ice and we have to return.

Time for …

Chapter two – Vitskärsudden

Slowly we paddle back enjoying the exceptionally beautiful weather and the ease of movement. Leaving Bredskär behind we cross the water heading for the rock that marks the entry to Vitskärsudden.

Arriving there more ice fields wait for us. Here are many layers of thin ice and it is not easy to find gaps to put the paddle in. Often it just glides and slides away.

It is not possible to paddle into the bay. It is covered with ice floes, many of them thick and large. But we do not want return home – too beautiful the day – and decide to paddle to the islands Obbolstenarna where we shortly have been two days ago.

Chapter three – Obbolstenarna

The way there is easy. No mentionable wind, just open water. In front of the islands there is another ice field, but it is small and easy to cross.

The next ice field is thicker. We try to break through but decide to go round. We just follow the coastal line.

In the south we go round an ice cap. According to the nautical map there is no island, just a shallow with some rocks.

Again I take a small detour to take a photo. This time to a large ice block.

Then we paddle north. First along the islands …

… then …

Chapter four – Home

we are leaving Obbolstenarna behind and head home. We enjoy the effortlessness of our today’s kayaking but we got a bit hungry. 10–15 minutes later we stand on the ice near our house.

We take a tour selfie then we drag our kayaks back home. First over the ice, then through the snow.

Thanks for the fabulously beautiful tour, Annika!

Annika tracked the tour with her smart watch. Here’s a small map. I added some names.

Hiking up the Slåka and Guratinden

Slåka (314 m) and Guratinden (424 m) are two mountains on the island Kvaløya. I know them from my book “På tur i Tromsø” where they are described in tour 7. This tour is marked as green, which is the easiest category in this book. I chose it because on the higher mountains there still might be some amount of snow and I wanted to avoid that.

I took the car to the parking place in Skulsfjorden yesterday. The parking place I already knew from another tour. Then I tried to find the hiking trail while the cows starred at me curiously and the bravest of them came to sniff at my hand.

It took a while until I found the way which was not were the map showed it. It forked quite soon and maybe I followed the wrong direction because somewhere over the tree line it faded away somewhere in the heather. Way marks and sign posts you will hardly find when you hike like this in Norway. It is assumed that you can orientate in pathless terrain even on beginner tours. Anyhow a way to the top of the Slåka was easy to find without paths. Here I had a fantastic 360° view. In the north the mountain Nuortagáisi (or Nordtinden), in the south the fjord Kaldfjorden, in the west the island Vengsøya and behind that the open sea. And where there was no sea there were mountains, mountains, mountains, all higher ones still covered in snow.

Without any break I continued to the Guratinden. Again I could not find a reliable hiking trail but more a patchwork of paths, some of them probably animal tracks. Anyhow it’s not far to the Guratinden, where I took a rest to enjoy the view and something to drink.

Although it was the beginning of June it was very chilly on the summit, mostly because of the strong wind. I guess it was 7 °C and at least 15 m/s. Already on my way up I wore gloves and a woollen cap, now I was really glad about my down hoodie. Without I wouldn’t have taken any rest.

On the way back I followed other trails and tracks or I just cut cross country. Sometimes I walked on rocks, sometimes on boggy ground but mostly on heather.

Round three hours later I was at my car after 9 km hiking and round about 650 metres in altitude. And here you can see how it looks on the map when you hardly follow any trails ;-)