Jämtland tour 22 – signposts and waymarks

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

If you want to hike you need either a good map and a compass, or a GPS, or you have an area with designated hiking trails. Then you in most cases have only two issues: find the right trail and follow it.

Easy, isn’t it? Yes, but wait – what’s that?:

Why are there two trails to Storerikvollen? Check the symbols. One shows a skier, the other a hiker. That’s the first think you have to know: There are summer and winter trails in the Swedish mountains. The latter ones are often a bit less hilly but can lead over bogs and lakes. So choose the right track. Quite often they go together for a while and then split up again. That’s where you have either to check a map (take an up-to-date one) or follow the right waymarks.

The waymarks for summer trails use stones and red paint. In Norway it is a red T, in Sweden it is mostly a red dot. Mostly they are painted on large stones, rocks or on cairns – heaps of stones. The advantage of cairns: they are easier to spot when it is foggy.

In wintertime most summer waymarks are hidden under a deep snow cover. Then it is the time of the winter waymarks: Red diagonal crosses.

The poles can be several metres long because of the snow, the depth of which can vary greatly. When you have snowstorm conditions in winter you sometimes just can spot the next cross. When you’re lucky. I took the following photo on 20 February 2020 on a ski tour. Two hours later we experienced average wind speeds of 25 m/s. Then you start to love the waymarks that guide you through the storm.

Back to our August Jämtland tour this week. We could watch some people replacing the old winter waymarks by new ones. An important job, probably done on a voluntary base. Voluntary work is so important in Norway that it has its own word: dugnad.

I guess the best sign posts we found in Nedalshytta in Norway. One “summer signpost”, one “winter signpost” and even ratings for the trails from green to black.

It’s always nice to meet some signposts on your way, but not all of them show the distances. I like the last one. The letters are holes in the metal sign, so it won’t snow over so easily in winter time.

But not all signs are about following the trail. They can show you the Swedish-Norwegian border. Or the way to the toilet. Or the toilet – often a “privy” – itself. Or where to park your dog in case you have any.

And some of the signs or marks are quite creative. I almost missed this “in-tree” waymark in Norway. Perhaps more funny than helpful.

But the clearest sign we directly spotted on our first hiking day in Storlien:

The words say henan, dittan and hittn which are apparently words in Jamska, a group of Jämtland dialects. They mean something like here, →there and →here. I cannot express it better. Anyhow this is an article about signposts and waymarks, not about linguistics.

Jämtland tour 22 – the glacier of Helagsfjället

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

It is 23 August, day 9 of our hiking tour through the mountains of Jämtland. Today we take another day off and I decide to try to reach the glacier of the mountain Helagsfjället. I don’t know how near I can get but I’ll see.

This glacier is the Sweden’s southernmost and parts of it are visible from the Helags fjällstation. You can even see the mark of the top (1797 m) which is round 750 metres higher than the cabins.

On my way up I meet three men heading for the top. I hear that it is easy to climb, even for children. Other hikers will confirm that later. Well, perhaps I’ll do that another time but today I want to touch the glacier.

I walk first up on across county, reach the main trail and follow it for a while. Then I turn right to follow a smaller path heading to the glacier. I reach a field with large rocks and boulders. Carefully I follow the cairns that mark a path until I stand in front of the first glacier tongue.

Time for a selfie!

I spot another glacier tongue. For coming there I have to climb over a rock outcrop. Mountaineers will laugh that I call it climbing but I’m more a hiker than a climber and as soon as I have to use both hands I call it climbing. The effort was rewarded. What an impressive view on the glacier!

I stand still for a while. First of all it is beautiful weather and then it is fascinating just to see the colours of the glacier changing while shady clouds pass by. And then I move again to take more pictures. And I drink some water and eat a bit of chocolate.

How long I stand there? I cannot say. I start my way back. My first view is on the radio station on the mountain Jalkedsåajja. This is where my sister and brother-in-law are today. But it is too far to spot if they are there right now.

While walking back I come to the small glacial lake that I already passed on my way up. Some people had written their names using stones. Wait – some people!? Only now I do realise that the whole area is covered with messages arranged by stones. An ancient social media stream – though without cat videos.

The whole tour took only three hours, with a lot of photographing and taking rests. If you plan to visit Helags you definitely should consider to give the glacier a visit. I keep my fingers crossed that you get nice weather, too.

Jämtland tour 22 – the trail

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

On the photo above you can see the trail from Blåhammaren to Storulvån. It is in fact two trails together: the winter trail that is marked with red crosses and the summer trail that mostly is marked with stones with a large dot of red paint on it. We didn’t follow this trail I only took the photo because of the beautiful evening colours.

Many parts of the trail are just like this. They lead through heather, grass, crowberries, and dwarf birches. Other parts of the trail lead over hills, across rock fields, through forests and sometimes over a reindeer fence.

This is when the trail is dry. But often it isn’t. The trail can just be very wet of last nights rain as we had it on our third day.

The trail can be boardwalks that lead over swampy area or bogs. Some of them may be under the water which makes them rather slippery.

And then there are rivers, streams and brooks. Some of them are crossed by a bridge. Some bridges are big, some are – well – small, simple, and pragmatic.

And then there are rivers that you have to ford. I ’m used to hiking in rubber boots and so I could splash through while my fellow hikers had to switch to sandals and wade through the ice cold water. Already Douglas Adams said: You have to know where your towel is.

And then there is mud. It can be slippery and sometimes quite deep, especially right before or after a plank. When you have a plank.

Especially the first day trail section StorvallenBlåhammaren was in an extremely poor shape. The others went around all these muddy patches while I – hey, I have rubber boots! – just continued straight ahead. But then at one point it happened. I made a step ahead and my right leg sank thigh deep into the mud. On the trail! Luckily Blåhammaren had a dry room.

But don’t be afraid, that’s not typical. Many sections of the trail look more like this:

How long the trail was? I don’t have the exact numbers but I think we hiked round about 135 km on 8 days, so round 17 km a day.

Jämtland tour 22 – the cabins, part 1

This article is part of the series “2022-08: Jämtland and Trøndelag”.

On our hiking tour in the Swedish Jämtland and a bit of Norway we hiked from cabin to cabin. These cabins are quite different, both in concept and in standard.

Ok, the photo above does not show a mountain cabin, it shows the Ringve Musikkmuseum in Trondheim that we visited the day before. Sorry folks, I couldn’t resist.

½ – the first emergency hut

Since the weather in the Swedish mountains can be quite rough, there are emergency huts on the trail. The first one lies between Storvollen and Blåhammaren, our first destination. You may rest inside the hut, but do not touch the fire wood or the emergency box – they are meant to save life.

1 – Blåhammaren

With an altitude of 1086 metres it is the highest STF mountain cabin. Famous for its fire beacon and its three-course dinner. We however use the self-catering kitchen to cook pasta with tomato sauce. A great first stay on our tour.

1½ – Endalen raststuga

Another emergency hut. The sun comes out and invites us to take a break. From here it’s only a kilometre to the Norwegian border.

2 – Storerikvollen

Two signs, that we are not in Sweden anymore: All roofs are grass-covered and the inside is full of carpets, wall pictures and other things to make the cabin individual and hyggelig – cozy.

A thing that makes Storerikvollen special: free-roaming sheep and Icelandic horses.

3 – Nedalshytta

After the longest distance of ca. 23 km we gladly arrive at Nedalshytta. As in Storerikvollen this cabin does not provide a self-catering kitchen in the season. We have pre-booked half board and now order dinner. What we do not know yet: the cook is very gifted and the dinners are awesome! A good place for a rest day.

This is by the way the only cabin with road access on our tour.

3½ – Ekkordörren

We are back in Sweden again. Time to take a short rest in the hut Ekkordörren before we follow the trail over the pass.

4 – Sylarna

Without loosing too many words: this is the worst cabin I know! A tiny shop with ridiculous prices, a dysfunctional self-catering kitchen with five soup plates in total, insufficient drying space and so on, and so on. The personal is friendly and pretty uninterested.

We will meet other people on our trip – cabin hosts as well as guests. No one likes Sylarna. But it’s only a single night and now it gets better. Much better!

Stay tuned for part 2 of the cabin article. Coming soon …

 

A new camera

Next week Annika, my sister, brother in law a nephew and I will start a hiking tour in Sweden and Norway. We will not use a tent but hike from cabin to cabin. Last time I had 6 kilo of camera equipment with me. This year I decided to scale down weight and so I bought a point-and-shoot camera this week: the Sony RX100 VII. It has some disadvantages, but a huuuge advantage: It’s small and weights hardly more than 300 grams. That’s why I even can take a smaller backpack (also bought this week) and save another 1300 grams of weight.

Today I tested the camera, first on my way to work and then on random places, from the center to Telegrafbukta. I know, that the camera has its limitations (being not weatherproof for example) but I’m quite glad that I finally bought it. And here come some test shots from today. All photos are edited in Lightroom.

 

Just a hike up the Rødtinden

Today I joined a group of (much) younger people on a mountain hike up the Rødtinden (470 m). It was special in two ways: First of all it was nice to talk to a bunch of people from the USA, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Spain. An then – the weather! It was a real summer day with a cloudless sky and a lot of gorgeous views.

I didn’t take many pictures but some from a small pre-summit that we hiked to after reaching the main summit.

Hiking up the Nordtinden

After I failed reaching the summit of the Nordtinden (640 m) last November I gave it a second try today. It’s so much easier to navigate when there is no snow covering the path and the sparse way marks.

I start to follow the gravel road, which I leave after 2.7 km.

The small trail leads up steadily. It’s not so steep, that I have to climb but steep enough to raise my pulse to hummingbird level. I could blame it on my Covid infection two weeks ago but I guess it’s just a lack of fitness.

A movement to the left wakes me up. It’s a flock of ptarmigan fledglings with an adult. Some flutter away, some stay. I use the confusion to take some photos with my telephoto lens. The photos are heavily cropped, I want to keep distance.

I am above the tree line now and the views are impressive.

Most impressive is a chasm at the side of the trail. The gradient down? Perhaps 400%. Enough to keep safety distance while photographing.

The last part is rocky and pathless but the huge cairns marking the tops of Nordtinden (there seem to be two) are in view so I can navigate just by eye. I take it easy on the boulder fields. I reach summit number one and add myself to the summit register that lies sheltered in an aluminium box.

I continue a bit more west to get a better view to the sea. And there it is – the island Vengsøya with the smaller island Vågøya in the front.

I walk around to take some more pictures. I watch the ferry leaving Vengsøya and climb a bit down the slope to have a closer look to the nameless lake below the mountain Laukviktinden.

Then I walk back in a small circle, pass the other summit cairn and start to descend.

It’s always interesting how not only the view changes but the terrain as well. Round the summits it’s mostly rocks and boulder fields, then more and more grass is present and the path consists also of gravel and then earth, too. On the way back the lake Skulsfjordvatnet lies in the sun.

As most day trips the way back is the same as the way there. So I pass the sign to Nordtinden a second time and am on the gravel road again.

The change from forest to farmland shows that my car is not far away. After four hours and about 12 km I’m back from a lovely mountain hike.

Two more photos showing small things. The first one a beetle from the genus Carabus. The first one a berry from the genus Rubus. I was glad about both discoveries. The difference: The beetle stayed unharmed, the berry was eaten right after taking the picture.

 

Some summer days in Sweden

I was home in Sweden for only three weeks but the time feels long and rich. Annika and I had guests most of the time but some days in between just the two of us.

A short kayak trip in the sun

On 1 July I used my lunch break to paddle to the beach. I took a bath and lunch there and then paddled back to work. Ah, I love this type of lunch breaks!

A day trip to Norrbyskär

On 3 July Annika and I took the car to Norrbyn and from there the ferry to the island Norrbyskär. Always worth visiting, especially when the warm weather invites to a bath.

A wavy kayak trip

On 4 July Annika and I made a kayak trip to and round the island Tarv. Normally this would be a quite relaxing tour of 10–11 km. But due to the windy weather the sea was pretty choppy and we had to focus a lot on the waves and the rocks.

No one of us took any photos there, but in the more sheltered waters beside and behind the island it was possible to take some photos again. And another bath.

Finally rain

On 7 July it finally rained in Obbola. The rain came too late for the dried up lawn but probably saved a lot of flowers and bushes in our garden.

Hiking twice

On 8 July Annika and hiked twice. First round Grössjön together with guests from Germany, then just we two at the Kronören naturreservat. Grössjön is mostly forest and bogs (and a lot of mosquitoes) while Kronören is also open landscape by the sea.

Back to Tromsø

Ten days ago an 10 July I travelled back to Tromsø. Train Departure in Umeå 2:15 in the night, bus arrival in Tromsø was 17:30.

I felt cold and made a Covid test the next day. Bang – positive! Therefore I couldn’t take advantage of the beautiful summer weather in Tromsø but stayed home in bed the week.

I made some short hikes on the weekend but the weather was dull, foggy and rainy.

 

Summer paddling to lunch

Since last Friday we have summer home in Obbola, Sweden. Temperatures are round 25 °C (and higher in town) and the sky is mostly blue.

Today it was sunny again. Although working I finally managed to paddle to the beach Bredviks havsbad and eat lunch there. Tour–retour it is about 7 km and since the weather was very calm it was easy to paddle there.  I paddled in shorts and t-shirt but it was still almost too warm. At the beach I took a bath to cool down while waiting for Nouri’s tasty Pinchos.

 

Norwegian summer journey I

This article is part of the series “2021-08: Northern Norway”.

Annika and I have two weeks holiday and are travelling through Northern Norway. Our southernmost point: Lofoten, right now we are in Hammerfest.

Ten images looking back:

10 – We are on the high plateau Sennalandet. There are hardly any trees and the road E6 crosses the plateau in a straight line. I can imagine how rough and lonely this place may be in winter.

9 + 8 – The Øksfjordjøkelen is definitely worth the 16 km detour. The parking place and the small path leading through the sparse birch forest grant impressive views on this glacier. When the weather is clear.

7 – It’s grey on our passage from Andenes, Vesterålen to Gryllefjord, Senja. I stand on the top deck of the ferry and wonder how many tourists may have rung this bell and what had happened then.

6 – We just left Andenes by ferry. The razor sharp mountain line of Bleik will soon transform into a whitish grey scheme slowly vanishing in the drizzle.

5 + 4 – It is grey on our short ferry passage from Fiskebøl, Lofoten to Melbu, Vesterålen, too.

3 – One of the typical features of the Norwegian landscapes is the presence of high summits and fjords. Sometimes the mountains are reflected in the water surface of the sea.

2 – Hauklandstranda is one of these incredible beaches on the Lofoten islands with white sand and turquoise water. The sun is shining – time for a bath. Air temperature 11 °C, water 12 °C. Not as cold as expected.

1 – We pass Sildpollnes kapell on the Lofoten twice. Once on our way south and once when heading back again. There’s a parking place by the road where stairs and ways lead up to some hills that present a view over the landscapes around.

0 – On Saturday I leave Tromsø to fetch Annika from Riksgränsen train station in Sweden. It’s still not possible to travel further to Narvik by train. Our destination today: a room in Tjeldsundbrua.