A herald of autumn

It’s still quite warm in Skelleftehamn, hardly below 10 °C the last nights, but today it rained and some of the birch trees start casting off their leaves. Summer 2018 is history, autumn is coming.

Midsummer impressions 2018

The last night the weather was fantastic, as you can see on the photos. Today the Swedish weather service unfortunately was completely right with its forecast: It rained, rained and it rained at temperatures around 10 °C. Not very comfortable.

Rain however is never an obstacle when it comes to celebrating midsommar – one of Sweden’s most important feast days. Use any clothes you like, but don’t stay home! As you can see a lot of people were celebrating midsummer in Bonnstan, the old Church Town of Skellefteå. And of course the song of the little frogs was sung and danced, this time not only with frogs and pigs (the normal one’s) but with elephants and lions as well.

Some impressions:

Some hours later: Annika and I enjoy our midsummer meal. The rain patters on the plastic roof of the winter garten. The place is dry but has no heating so that the temperature is only 13 °C. Annika has put on a light down jacket, I myself a warm fleece. But it’s so cozy to sit there, enjoying potatoes, salmon, eggs with roe, pickled herring and strawberry cake. Yummy!

 

 

A rare weather phenomenon …

Today in the afternoon something very strange happened: it rained!

It was just a short rain shower and temperatures were still above 20 °C, but it’s kind of remarkable anyway because I had witnessed the last rain four weeks ago. Since then it had been mostly sunny and warm (and it still is).

And since it was just a short rain shower and temperatures were still above 20 °C, the terrace dried fast. Minutes later the tiny rain shower was history.

Snow report May 4 2018

Winter lovers in Skelleftehamn, you have to face it: winter is over and the snow is melting fast. Almost the entire property is free of snow. There is however some snow left round my house, so let’s check it out:

1. Next to the neighbours garage (45 cm)

There’s a pile of snow next to the garage. Anyway, that doesn’t really count. It’s remnants of a roof avalanche that slid down weeks ago.

2. Behind the garden hedge (33 cm)

There’s snow in the shadow of the garden hedge. Anyway, that doesn’t really count. That’s the place, where I had my personal snow dump.

3. On the garage driveway (47 cm)

There’s an icy pile of snow on the garage driveway. Anyway, that doesn’t really count. That’s the place, where my neighbour dumped the snow when he cleared the snow for me while I travelled around in February and March.

4. On the lawn (2 cm)

There’s a shallow spot of snow in the progress of melting. That snow does count as a matter of fact. No one moved snow to this place, it’s the last real remnant of the long winter 2017/18.

Incidentally, the last photo reminds me of Dr. Seuss’ children book The Cat in the Hat.

This will probably will be the last article about snow for a longer while. I probably won’t find any snow in June, July, or August. Or what do you think?

The first rain for ages

This morning I was awakened by a strange noise. The noise of dripping water.

First I thought of the smelting snow on the roof but that noise sounded differently. More like many tiny drops of water everywhere. Like precipitation of liquified snow, what do you call it …?

Ah yes, “rain”. It is called rain.

Of course I still know the word for rain but it was a long time ago that I experienced it, at least at home. I tried to remember the last rainfalls I witnessed.

  • 2 March (Domen between Vardø and Kiberg) – a short and light rain shower (temperature: -6 °C!)
  • 1 March (between Varangerbotn and Vadsø) – plus temperatures and rainy weather.

But before that? I even search the January and February articles of my own blog in for the word “rain” but only to find the words “train” and “terrain”.

But last year then?

  • 29 or 30 December (Bremen) – that’s Northern Germany, far away in the south. That doesn’t count.
  • 20 December (Skelleftehamn) – that’s the last rain at home I remember.

Exactly four months ago! The rest was snow. That’s the winter how I like it!

Since I consider blog articles without images as boring, I added an upside down image of Skellefteå today.

 

A tour to the easternmost point of mainland Norway

This article is part of the series “2018-03: Varanger peninsula”.

Day 29 and 30 of my winter journey 2018

Yesterday we continued our journey to Ytre Kiberg which is 13 south of Vardø, one of the Hurtigruten stops. We started in Vadsø – another Hurtigruten stop – after a breakfast with our host Nils, bought a basis of food for the next days and took the E75 northwards. We made a stopover in Ekkerøy, a village on a peninsula near Vadsø. We like this place and will try to stay there for some nights next week.

At lunchtime we reached Cape East Arctic Adventure, our stay for four nights. We were welcomed by Trond, the owner and operator of Cape East Arctic Adventure and were shown our cozy bedroom, the kitchen and the homely living room. After making ourselves at home we went along the beach to the village and the harbour.

In the evening we were invited to a three course dinner based on freshly caught cod: Fish soup – cod with potatoes and carrots and finally cod roe. Everything was extremely tasty and it was Annika’s and my first time where we tasted cod roe. Yummy!

In Kiberg you are as east as you can be in the Central European Timezone, therefore sun is rising already at 6:24. I was awake very early and took a morning walk round 6 o’clock. Some snow drifts had been created by snow and wind over night but now the weather was less windy and quite sunny. At least for a short time. While I went the way to Indre Kiberg clouds approached, wind increased and it started to snow. It was hardly imaginable that it was sunny just a short time before. Weather changes here quite often as Annika and I should find out later.

After breakfast Annika and I took the car to the other side of the village, put on our snow shoes and started a hike to Kibergsneset, easternmost point of mainland Norway. This place is more east than e.g. St. Petersburg, Kairo or Istanbul! It was windy but quite sunny, when we started our tour but weather changes fast on the Varanger Peninsula:

Actually this hike is just a promenade but the weather may transform it into a small expedition. We were exposed to wind and snow and grateful, that we didn’t experienced a full storm. The weather was rough anyway and I was glad about my windproof jacket and two pairs of mittens.

We continued on a small hiking trail, first with, then without snowshoes because the thin snow layer was hardened by the wind and easy to walk onto. There’s a coastal fortress build by Germans in WW2 on Kibergsneset but we couldn’t see it in the snow weather. Instead of looking for it we continued to the small lighthouse at Kibergsneset that marks the easternmost point of mainland Norway (and most of Europe). Shortly before we reached it the sun came out and we continued the last metres in full sun. While I made some photos a small snow shower approached with the sun still shining.

From the lighthouse there was an amazing view over the arctic coast of the Barents Sea, but only for some moments. Soon the next snow shower came by and hid most of the view onto both the coast and the sea.

The way back was much shorter because we knew the way and went downwards. Even though the view was limited by the snow showers Ytre Kiberg came into view again soon and surprisingly the weather was nice and sunny again.

After this very windy promenade we were glad to find shelter in my car. We took the car to Vardø to eat something and after that we tried the road to Hamningberg. We knew that the road was closed in winter but we curious how long we would come.

Well, not very long. We managed to get to Smelror, some kilometres north from Vardø.

The main road however was definitely closed as you can see. There are no people living in Hamningberg permanently and the only motorised way to reach it in wintertime is by snowmobile. For car it is open less than half the year.

We took the car back to Kiberg, enjoyed the incredible and unbelievable colours of the sky and were surprised by a strange weather phenomenon: -6 °C and rain (including a faint rainbow!)

The rest of the day? -10 °C and wind outside, no more photos, no more excursions.

Fun fact: We took the E75 northwards. If you would take it southwards you could travel more than 4000 km and finally would arrive on Crete, Greece.

Retrospect: a rainy autumn

The day before yesterday a blog post on the weather page of Balderskolan caught my eye. The school Balderskolan in Skellefteå has its own weather station and has been collecting statistical data since 2002.

Here some statistics from August to October the last three years. The data is taken from the blog entry. And as you see – the last months have been very wet indeed compared to the two years before.

Number of days with rainfall

2015 2016 2017
August 7 st * 11 st 18 st
September 6 st 5 st 21 st
October 6 st 8 st 19 st
Total 19 st * 24 st 58 st

Precipitation in mm

2015 2016 2017
August 39 mm * 38 mm 59 mm
September 28 mm 18 mm 81 mm
October 4 mm 5 mm 79 mm
Total 71 mm * 61 mm 219 mm


(* data for the first seven days in August 2016 is missing)

∞ Infinite rain ∞

Ok, guys, let’s face it: It always has been raining, it’s raining right now and it will never stop raining again until the end of the world!

Never ever I have expected such a rainy autumn! Since I’ve been back from the hiking tour on the Kungsleden it rained most of the days and in the spare moments without precipitation it was cloudy anyway.

Sometimes it was windstill, sometimes it was stormy, but it rained. Either as a steady rain or more like a curtain of a dense fog or sometimes as a series of cloudbursts. So my daily outfit has been almost the same for weeks: A sturdy rain parka and rubber boots.

Of course the sun came out little here and there but mostly just for a short time. I can count the days with much sun with the fingers of one hand. And I don’t need all fingers!

Today I looked at one of the many puddles of water. It was some centimetres deep. Some yellow leaves – probably victims of last night’s squalls – floated have under the water surface, which was rippled by the ongoing rain. And then I saw it:

The Sign Of Infinity!

I looked at the sign and all at once I got the dreadful message: It always has been raining, it’s raining right now and it will never stop raining again until the end of the world!

Addendum (11 October)

If I understand the weather statistics of the school Balderskolan in Skellefteå correctly, we got 63mm of rain yesterday. That’s more rain than the average precipitation  in Skellefteå all October! No wonder, that some of the puddles in Bonnstan were more than 15 cm deep. Since these puddles were covered with yellow birch leaves it looked really beautiful. What a pity, that I only had my iPhone to shoot this image:

 

20 August: Kungsleden day 1 – Vakkotavare—Teusajaure (16 km)

This article is part of the series “2017-08: Kungsleden hike”.

The idea to walk the Kungsleden with my sister Katrin and my brother-in-law Andi had been existing several years. This year we put our plan into action and went this famous Swedish long-distance trail from Vakkotavare to Abisko, which is round about 110 kilometres. Fortunately Annika had time to join us.

We started our tour on 20 August, exactly two weeks ago. As many hikes our tour started with public transport: The bus 93 from Gällivare to Ritsem. The last 130 km of that route are famous for being Sweden’s longest dead-end road.

We however left the bus at Vakkotavare where we immediately started the tour. We had no time to loose since our destination – the Teusajaure hut – is located on the other side of the lake Teusajaure and we hoped for a lift with the motor boat at 19:15 to avoid rowing cross the lake.

The first part of the trail is quite steep and leads along a mountain brook with some waterfalls. 500 metres in altitude can be exhausting, when it’s the first day and the backpacks are still packed with some extra food.

Finally we were on the plateau on the “kalfjäll”, the alpine region above the tree line. I really love that bleak but wide landscape where you can look so far.

Until then we were quite lucky with the weather. It wasn’t sunny but at least it didn’t rain. But the weather worsened. The clouds became darker and it started to rain, first lightly then gradually intensifying. We could see some patches of old snow far away but soon all mountain peaks vanished in the thick layer of clouds.

The last part of the trail descends again. This was probably the most dreadful stage of our whole hike: it rained more and more and the steep stony path downwards was muddy and slippery. Despite of the rain there was not a single wisp of wind. So every second we stopped we were immediately surrounded by clouds of mosquitoes that landed in our eyes and nostrils or tried to get into our ears to suck our blood. Anyway we hardly rested anyhow since we tried to reach the boat.

We managed to reach the landing stage at the lake Teusajaure in time, wound up the signal for the boat (a white plastic jerry can) and waited. At least we were glad that the hut Teusajaure was in sight.

I felt disappointed and frustrated. It was the first hiking tour in Sweden for Katrin and Andi. What would happen if the weather would stay like that? And the muddy trails? And the mosquito clouds? Would we continue or abandon the tour? What would they think about hiking in Lapland? Would they ever come again …?

Soon we could see the boat leaving the other side of the lake. Minutes later it arrived. We put the backpacks onboard, jumped in, put on live wests and soon brought across the lake.

On the other side we unpacked the wet trunks and the stugvärd – the mountain-lodge keeper – gave us four beds to sleep. While Annika and I had hiked in Sweden many times it was brand new to Katrin and Andi and felt like a culture shock:

No electricity, no water tap and no water toilet neither! Instead of that: candles, a wood fired oven, two gas cookers and some buckets with water – partly fresh, partly used. And the earth closet somewhere out in the dusk. Again I felt a bit guilty that I persuaded Katrin and Andi into that Kungsleden hike.

Anyway the first tour day that was long away from being ideal came to a nice end: We had pasta, fresh chanterelle mushrooms and sour cream with us for the first day and therefore could enjoy a dinner far above standard. Now we only hoped for the rain to stop. It didn’t take long until we went to bed and soon we all slept.

What do you do if you don’t want to get a motor boat lift? You row by yourself. That’s round 1 km one way.

There are three rowing boats total. If you have two boats on your side, you’re lucky: Just take the boat and row across the lake.

If you have only one boat on your side, you have to row three times: First you take the boat and cross the lake. Then you row back with the same boat and a second boat in tow. Then you leave that second boat and row again a third time. So it’s ensured that there’s always at least one boat on each side.