A cold bath in Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2020-10: New in Tromsø”.

Two days after Annika and I bathed at “our” beach Vitskärsudden in Obbola I bathed again today. Alone at the Telegrafbukta in Tromsø – more than 650 km north from home. It’s a beautiful bay hardly 500 meters from my room.

The differences:

  • While Annika joined me many times bathing at Vitskärsudden I probably have to bath alone in Tromsø
  • Home: the way is more beautiful. Tromsø: the way is shorter
  • Tromsø: the water tastes salty. The salinity is at least 10 times higher as home
  • Tromsø: there is seaweed in the water and sea urchins and probably a lot of other species starting with “sea”. I use bathing shoes
  • Home: the water level doesn’t change quite often. Tromsø: there are tides here with a tidal range of up to 3 metres.
  • Tromsø: Probably the water won’t freeze over the whole winter.

Today the water was 8.5 °C, two degrees less than the last time. My plan is to bath there the whole year round. Let’s see if I manage to do it.

Flying to Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2020-10: New in Tromsø”.

7:58 – Umeå airport. I’m one of the first passengers for the flight SK2023 to Stockholm Arlanda at 9:50. Outside it is dim and foggy but I’m waiting outside anyway to avoid using my face mask that will accompany me the whole day today.

9:43 – Umeå airport. I’m going to the airplane. Of course with face mask. Soon our airplane departs and lifts us above the thick layer of fog and then the clouds. Welcome sun! After we landed in Stockholm Arlanda i realise that it’s as foggy there as home. I have something looking forward to: Japanese food. Then I’ll pass the security control once more. As already in Umeå my camera bag is examined for explosives, this time very thoroughly.

Next stop: Oslo-Gardermoen airport.

Why I’m taking this long and environmentally unfriendly trip by plane? Because the passenger trains from Sweden to the Norwegian Narvik have been cancelled for months. From there I could have taken a bus to Tromsø. Hopefully the train will be opened soon again.

13:46 – arrival in Oslo. And guess what, it’s foggy again. The airbus A320 was almost empty. Only 25 passengers instead of 180. I (and the stewards) have the last 7 rows for me alone.

In Tromsø I first have to show my passport and my employment contract, then I have to go to the baggage claim to get my luggage. It has to go through the custom. While doing that I somehow leave the arrival area where I planned to make a corona test. Since the info desk is closed I have to continue without any test. Maybe I’ll manage to get one tomorrow in Tromsø. This could shorten my quarantine of ten days.

The most visible ad at the airport: Norrøna outdoor equipment featuring a downhill skier. That slope would be hundred times too steep for me but I start longing for snow.

Next (and final) stop: Tromsø. The checkin is in ten minutes.

16:30 – Somewhere above the airport Oslo Gardermoen. Our airplane has started. It is hardly half full. The fog has vanished and I have a view to the autumnal surroundings of the airport.

This landscape looks cosy, a bit like Tolkien’s Hobbiton. An hour later the landscape looks completely different.

Soon the plane starts to sink giving me the probably fastest sunset I’ve ever seen. Hardly more than five minutes later we have landed on the airport Tromsø Langnes where I get a lift of K., my roommate in Tromsø.

Tomorrow I’ll have a day off. The next day I’ll start working at the Norwegian Polarinstitute. Unfortunately from home because I’m in travel quarantine. That’s not the easiest start, but that cannot be changed.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayaking to the Obbolstenarna

It’s the last weeks in Obbola in Västerbotten/Sweden before I start working in Tromsø. Annika has started working again on Monday while I’m idle.

2020, what a year! Two ski tours just before Corona – cancelled projects because of Corona – Annika and I buy our beautiful house in Obbola – I get the job at the Norsk Polarinstitutt in Tromsø – I start selling my house in Skelleftehamn – I “park” my Swedish company – Annika and I get engaged – I find a room in a shared flat in Tromsø, hardly 500 m away from the beach – Annika and I marry in our own garden on 21 August ⚭ (yes – we’ve been married for three weeks now!) – we drive to Tromsø to move some of my stuff to the flat.

It was a lot of things to organise the whole year through. Now most organisation is either done or out of my control and I have to lean back and relax a bit. Sometimes so much, that I spend half the day watching more or less silly YouTube videos. A state quite untypical for me.

Today after lunch I was in the danger of becoming a couch potato again, but I managed to stand up, put my drysuit on, stuff the camera into a waterproof bag and go paddling. Destination Obbolstenarna, a group of islands nearby. Obbolstenarna is hardly more than a kilometre away but a headwind of round 10 m/s and rolling waves from the front slowed me down. Normally I love taking photos from the kayak, today I dared it only when I started to get into the lee of the islands where at least the waves were less high.

To my delight the center island has a small and sheltered bay, where it was very easy to moor the kayak.

I left the kayak and started looking around. Small birds fluttered around, summer and autumn flowers were blooming and some of the leaves of the rowans had turned orange and red.

I could constantly hear the waves breaking at the rocks of the southern shore. I went there and was impressed by the force of wind and waves. I looked where the rocks were still dry to safely make some photos of the breaking waves without getting wet. It all went quite well until a huge wave came … *KERSPLASH*!

I managed to turn away to protect the camera at least a bit but I myself would have been completely soaked without my drysuit. This wave came at least five metres further than all others before.

Since the camera lens got wet anyway I looked for saver motives. Rocks, for example or the large anchor partly rusted to pieces.

Then I climbed on some of the small rocky tops to get some wider views. I could see the open Baltic Sea in the south and the Wasaline ferry to Finland docking in Holmsund in the northeast.

After strolling around a bit more I got into my kayak again and paddled home. I didn’t measure time or speed but I guess it took less than half of the time paddling back with the wind behind me and the waves pushing me forward.

The whole tour took less than two hours including the preparations. And – as always – I deeply enjoyed it. Learning today (again): Olaf, be more outdoors!

And you? Where have you been outdoors the last time? What did you do? What did you enjoy the most?

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.

Moving things to Tromsø

As some of you may know I’ll work for the Norsk Polarinstitutt in Tromsø from the 1 October. I’m looking forward to this extremely interesting job and the town Tromsø is outstanding. The downside is that Annika and I won’t see each other very often, because the distance it too far to visit each other for a normal weekend. Hopefully I’m allowed to work from home in Obbola/Umeå sometimes.

Last Saturday I packed around 250 different things that I may need here – from my big computer monitor to my digital piano and warm winter boots. When I packed everything into my Subaru on Sunday morning I realised that I even had spare room for my ergonomic office stool and my warmest winter parka. Nice!

On Sunday at 10 o’clock Annika and I started our tour to Tromsø. The day before our home region Västerbotten was put on the red list by Norway again, which means that we had to be in quarantine while being in Norway. Bad luck! Therefore we didn’t make our stopover in the Norwegian Narvik as considered before but already in Kiruna in Sweden.

The next day we were stopped by the police at the border. The police informed us about the quarantine rules and wanted to know our place to stay. Since I had a lease contract for my room in Tromsø with me we were allowed to cross the border. At 16 o’clock we arrived in front of the house where I have a room in a shared flat. My room is quite tiny but there is place in the living room and kitchen as well. The flat is in the 2nd floor (3rd floor for Americans) and you can see the steep and partly snow covered mountains of the island Kvaløya and the mainland. It’s even possible to watch the Hurtigruten ship passing by but I didn’t see it yet.

Yesterday we made a car trip to Sommarøya, a peninsula with some beautiful beaches. We bathed in the Norwegian Sea. At 11 °C water temperature it was warmer than excepted. In contrary to the Bothnian Bay – the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea – the Norwegian Sea won’t freeze in the winter because of the Gulf Stream. So I can winter bath the whole winter without chopping ice if I want to.

Two images of yesterday:

Today we will make another day trip, tomorrow we’ll start to head home to Sweden again.

And the quarantine? Well – we shall stay home, but we are allowed to buy food and to be in nature as long we are able to keep distance to others. So the restrictions were quite lax. Mostly it’s the museums and the public transport (including the cable car Fjellheisen) that we have to avoid.

P.S.: Now all things have more or less found a place in the flat and I can enter my room shown on the 3rd photo above.

 

 

Different ways of kayaking

Since Annika doesn’t have a kayak yet I use to paddle alone. Mostly it’s short tours as for example the day before yesterday. I paddled to the beach Bredviks havsbad to join the yoga group at 8:30. To my surprise it’s shorter to paddle than to take the bicycle or car and so I was 20 minutes early.

After yoga I took a small tour – first north and then along the coast of Obbola.

Then I took an early lunch at the boat harbour since I didn’t had any breakfast. The kiosk there has not only hamburgers but tasty dishes as hummus or ćevapčići and Annika and I eat there quite often. After lunch I slowly paddled home. Slowly, because (a) being stuffed with food, (b) being lazy and (c) the increasing wind from the front.

Yesterday afternoon Annika and I got guests. Corry and Mark from Germany have written on Facebook about the difficulty of finding good tenting places at Västerbottens coast. They have been on a long kayak tour that they started in Haparanda four weeks ago. A common friend commented on the post asking us whether we wouldn’t have a nice meadow for tenting in our garden. Well, we have, and we even have our own little guest house, that Mark and Corry gladly accepted after they had arrived here yesterday afternoon. Last weekend Svitlanda and Ebbe (almost) came by sailing yacht, now we got our first guests that landed by sea directly at our house. It’s fun to live by the sea!

We had a nice evening together with outdoor cooking over open fire and inspiring conversations yesterday. This morning Corry and Mark continued their sea kayak tour. I had the honour to join them a bit.

At 8:15 we started by setting in the kayaks and paddling south. Since they have inflatable kayaks they have to be more careful of rocks and shallows. So we paddled further away from the coast than I use to do. I got some technique tipps about paddling more effortlessly and I really enjoyed the company.

Anyhow I decided to say farewell after an hour. Mark and Corry started crossing more open water and I wouldn’t dare to return the same route alone. Thanks a lot, Corry and Mark for nice company!

While the adventurers headed for the horizon I circled the island Tarv and slowly headed back. To my amazement the whole tour took only 2½ hours; I’ve miscalculated.

Now I know, that there are many destinations to be discovered by kayak and that they are not far away. It’s fun to live by the sea!

Splendid Sunday sailing

It was last winter that Annika and I met Svitlana and Ebbe first. They were the wardens of the Gåsen mountain cabin in the mountains of Jämtland where we went on a ski tour. When they heard that Annika lived in Umeå they told us of their sailing trips and that they know the boat harbour in Obbola near Umeå.

Five months later. Annika and I have been living together in our freshly bought house in Obbola for three months. We already knew, that Svitlana and Ebbe have been sailing north for some weeks and last Saturday they arrived in the boat harbour Bredvik, just 3½ km away. We could even see their sailing yacht passing by from our house.

We hadn’t any time on Saturday but on Sunday we invited them for breakfast. At the same time, they invited us on a sailing tour which we eagerly accepted. The weather forecast was so-so but in the beginning the sun was shining. As soon Svitlana had motored the yacht out of the harbour Ebbe set the sails and gently we sailed southwards and soon passed our house. I had seen the house from sea before while paddling but it was the first time Annika could see if from this perspective. (And again we agreed in living in an extraordinary beautiful place.)

Then we turned left and sailed a large triangle on the open sea. As a matter of fact it was Svitlana and Ebbe who sailed. We did nothing beside of enjoying.

Already two and a half hours later we arrived at the harbour again but sailing with Svitlana and Ebbe was so fun that it felt like a complete holiday.

Already the day before we had learned a new Swedish verb: att bryggsegla. Literally translated to “to jetty-sail” it means to enjoy being on the moored yacht in the harbour. And we did enjoy both food and company.

Большое спасибо Svitlana, tack så mycket Ebbe for a wonderful day! We’ll meet again!