A hike to the Stor-Kjølen

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

Let’s be honest and face it. I’ve been really lazy this year and my outdoor fitness is near non-existent. I don’t like that. There is a simple solution for that: Be more outdoors!

Today I started the project #onceaweek. I want to make an outdoor tour with at least 10 km every week. (Thanks M. for your inspiration.)

I will try to blog about these tours and I want to give each tour some photographical focus. Today’s theme: vegetation zones.

From forest to fjell

The gravel road is quite steep in the beginning. First it leads through birch forests that have started to colorise autumnal. Then the landscape opens and is not dominated by trees anymore.

Gaining height

At the lake I leave the gravel road and the character of the hike starts to get alpine. It’s however still a hiking tour, no climbing needed on the whole tour.

From earth to moon

The vegetation is becoming more and more sparse. Some tufts of grass, a fern, moss, map lichens. And then I pass the first snow field. I look up the mountain I wish to climb. It is just an enormous pile of stones. Fortunately there’s a way round this slope.

The mountain top of the is a plateau of rocks with even less live. It’s almost like being on another planet or moon. And there it is: the space station.

“Oh, the space station looks so cozy inside!” – „Well, that’s not the space station, it’s the varmebua, a small wooden cabin to give shelter to hikers.“

“Um, hikers? On an alien moon?” – “Well, we are on earth and the ‘space station’ is a radar station used for controlling the air traffic of a larger part of Northern Norway.“

I had been almost alone on my way up but on the summit there were many other hikers. Some passed, others took a rest like me.

Looking around

The plateau provided a 360° panoramic view. I could see many mountain chains, the higher tops all snow covered. Anyhow, it’s Tromsø and so fjords and open sea are present as well.

This could be a favourite place of mine in Tromsø’s gorgeous nature. But it is way too early to know this. Remember, it is my first tour of #onceaweek. There will be other places to discover.

For the stats: 16 km, summit altitude: 788 m.

Tromtinden

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

It wasn’t planned, that I woke up already before 6 o’clock. Anyhow I took the opportunity to get an early start for my 2nd mountain tour of #onceaweek. Todays destination is the Tromtinden in the northwest of the island Kvaløya. The starting point is 50 km away so I had to take the car. It won’t be the last time.

The car ride however is incredible. Now many trees bear autumnal colouring. It is already impressive in the shadow, but then I suddenly drive into the sun and was almost blinded by these colours, to bright and intense they were.

I have to take another photo, that shows the road to Tromvik. It lies in the shadow while the sun illuminates the bald mountain peaks.

Already at 7:20 I start the tour. It’s 2 °C. It seems that most Norwegians prefer to start their hiking tours much later and so I am completely alone. The first part crosses boggy ground. There are some planks leading over wet parts but they are quite slippery because of ground frost.

The way leads up through a sparse birch forest. Now the path is less muddy and starts being dominated by rocks. No wonder – it’s going to be a mountain tour.

On a small plateau I find some cloudberries. There are overripe and have a bland taste, but the frozen one in the shadow is really tasty. Cloudberry sorbet!

On a saddle between the Mellomtinden and Tromtinden the view opens to the northwest and a mountain lake as well as the sea appears.

I follow the ascending path until I stand on a larger plateau. From here I can see the steep northwest face of the Tromtinden and the marking of the summit.

After traversing the plateau the path gets steeper, leads mostly over rocks and I have to stop several times to look where it continues. Do you see the mark on the next image?

After crossing some rock fields and a bit of level I “climbing” I arrive at the summit plateau with its impressive cairn and an even more impressive 360° view.

9:15 – finally time for breakfast. Three cloudberries didn’t fill me up.

I almost spend one hour on the Tromtinden and enjoy being outdoors completely undisturbed.

Finally I start walking down. Slowly and carefully I take my steps on the rock fields but then the path gets easier and easier. When I am halfway down I meet the first other hiker – a woman with a dog. From now on I meet twelve other people (plus three dogs) until I arrive at the car. The sky is blue and it has become so warm, that I only wear a t-shirt.

I arrive at the car at round 11 o’clock. I’m surprised that the car thermometer shows only 7 °C, but the sun has still quite a lot power. Now I’ll head home, only with a detour to the grocery to buy a huge bowl of salad for lunch.

For the stats: 8.3 km, summit altitude 636 m.

A short tour to Sørtinden

I have to admit that my motivation to go out was low this Saturday where it was grey weather with a slight drizzle that made everything damp. So this time I chose a shorter tour for my project #onceaweek.

And since the light was so dull that the autumnal colours looked pale and grey it was simple to choose a photo project: Only black and white and only rocks.

An after-work tour onto the Rødtinden and Storbogtinden

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

Last week I worked a lot of extra hours. When I realised that the weather would be nice today I stopped working at 14:00, took the bus home and then my car to Kvaløya where I took an after-work tour, first on the Rødtinden (470 m) and then to the Storbogtinden (568 m).

I had my Nikon with me but I think these photos are boring and so I let the iPhone speak today:

I didn’t edit the image beside of cropping them to the ratio of 8:3 and editing contrast and sharpness a bit.

And the tour?

sunny, blue sky, round 15 °C ❦ t-shirt weather ❦ some really muddy parts ❦ first birches and mountain ashes with coloured leaves ❦ then bare trees ❦ above 350 metres no trees at all ❦ I’m alone on the mountain tops, sweating and panting ❦ 360 °C view on different mountain ranges, fjords, sounds and the open sea to the northwest ❦ not the most impressive look but beautiful anyhow

 

A hike round the peninsula Klubben

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

#onceaweek tour 5

Today I didn’t choose a mountain top but a small coastal promenade as my #onceaweek tour. I took the car to the village Lyfjorden on Kvaløxya and went round the peninsula Klubben. I love hiking up mountains to get the view but at the coast you get views for free ;-).

One of the things that still impresses me is how tiny some houses look standing in front of huuuge mountain faces that often look like vertical walls.

Klubben lies in the Kaldfjorden (the cold fjord). On the other side lies the mountain Store Blåmannen (1044 m) – always an imposing view.

The birches on Klubben had only some yellow leaves left. Since it was quite windy (15 m/s on the bridge to Kvaløya) they will be bare soon. Soon the autumnal colours will be history for this year.

Although this tour was marked as green (easy, for beginners) you still had to watch where to go. Sometimes the path was boggy but mostly stony and I had to watch my steps.

A quite loud noise, like someone inhaling loudly through the teeth interrupted me. I looked for the sound source and spotted a whale quite nearby. Although I had the camera with telephoto lens in my hands it took me a second before I managed to make a photo of the dorsal fin just before the small whale submerged again. I saw it two more times but in quite a distance. The photo is poor but the experience to spot a whale just by chance from your Sunday afternoon walk was extraordinary.

I continued my walk but now the path had vanished and the ground was only rocks. Did I miss the path? Possibly. I checked with the map app of Norgeskart and realised that the way was a bit higher up. I went and climbed up the steep slope but did not find any path. Higher and higher I ascended until it was clear that the map wasn’t as accurate as assumed. Probably the rocks were the path.

I didn’t want to descend that slope again and so continued to ascend it until I met a small gravel road that led to some houses – the first modern and cuboid, the second traditional with a grass roof.

Soon the area had become less steep and I could cut short to the coast again.

On the way back I took an extra stop in Finnes, Kvaløya . The small reindeer herd that I’ve seen there several times was still grazing. Probably they live there.

Today’s tour was only 4 km (elevation gain and loss round 250 m) but I cannot say that it was less fun or less exciting. I have however to admit that it was much less exhausting than the mountain tours. Training effect: ±0.

New friends Tromsø

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

New friends Tromsø is a Facebook group where people new to Tromsø meet. Some may be here only for  couple of days while others may have moved here and look for tips and other people.

Finally I had time to join an event that one of the group members organised, a hike to Gutta på skauen in Tromsdalen. Since I didn’t know this place I’ll can add the hike to my project #onceaweek.

As the day before the weather was quite warm but cloudy and rainy. I just took some photos with my iPhone since the focus was on get to know other people not on taking pictures. As usual I was quite early at the meeting point in town and waited in the rain for other people to come.

Eight people we were in total – from five, six different countries. We went to Tromsøbrua and used this large bridge the cross the Tromsøysund strait and reach the mainland.

On the mainland we had four more km to hike – first through the urban neighbourhood Tromsdalen, then on smaller roads through the forestry valley of the same name. And then we reached Gutta på skauen which means “guys in the wood”. These guys – all older than me – provided coffee and cinnamon buns. You do not pay per coffee or bun but donate an amount of money that you consider suitable.

There we sat for an hour or such while rainfall outside increased. Then we hiked back another parallel path (the nicer way), crossed the bridge again, asked a bypassed to take a picture of us and then started to split up. After another stop in the café Koselig I walked home. There are not many busses on Sundays.

There were a lot of water puddles on my way back, some of them quite deep. The last photo however is not rainwater but the sea. When the tide is quite high it covers one of the footpaths on the seashore. I managed with rubber boots this time but it was close.

No, this tour was not demanding but anyhow it was 14–15 km in total. So – motion: check! Meeting nice people: check! Having a good day: check!

Thank you, E. for organising.

From autumn to winter – a tour to the Litjeblåmannen

This article is part of the series “2021-07: Back in Tromsø”.

My first concert with the chamber choir Ultima Thule was supposed to be today but due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in Tromsø the board decided to cancel the concert. That’s a pity but gave me a free day and the opportunity to continue with my #onceaweek project. I decided for a tour to the Litjeblåmannen (860 metres above sea level).

At 8:40 I have parked my car and start the tour. Temperature is -5 °C. Brr! I regret that I left my long johns home. That changes quickly when I take the first steep climb up the forest path and start to sweat. All trees have shed their leaves and are bare.

At 8:40 is sunrise. Half an hour later I can see the sun rise above the mountains. Ten minutes later I have left the birches behind and the landscape opens. I am gaining altitude and soon the path starts to cross the first snow fields.

Ten other minutes later snow and rocks start to dominate the landscape. It looks like winter. The autumn is left behind in the valley. I see a radio mast, part of the radio station on the Rundfjellet (472 m). Well, that was easy.

I decide to continue the tour. But where? The tour description mentions that I have to go down 50 metres. I hardly see any waymarks or a track but soon some foot steps that I follow. According to map and compass it’s the right direction. The terrain gets rockier, steeper and is partly icy but at least I spot some waymarks again. I stop to strap my spikes under the boots. Safety first! Less than an hour later I pass another radio station. I do not look closer because the terrain behind the building is very steep.

The terrain continues being steep and rocky but after a while I reach a plateau. Now it’s winter. Beside of some tufts of grass covered with frost there’s only snow and rocks.

From now on it’s much simpler to walk on this snow covered plateau and soon I reach the mountain summit Botnfjellet (844 m).

That’s however not my destination. Well, the summit of Litjeblåmannen looks far away but it takes only 20 more minutes to go there.

Break! Summit selfie!

The fur hood is not only for looking wintry on the selfie. It was colder than expected and after the selfies I put on my down pullover. Checking the temperature at Tromsø airport and subtracting 0.6 °C per 100 metres altitude I guess that the temperature is round -7 °C. The wind makes my mind change about wearing long johns a second time.

I eat a bit of chocolate and drink some Sprite before the frost transformed it into slush. I’m completely alone and I haven’t met anyone yet. It’s just beautiful up here with views on snowy mountain chains everywhere but on the snowless lowlands and the fjords as well.

After 20 minutes break I start my way down. First I follow my own tracks until I met the first mountain hiker today. Now I follow her steps. Does she know a better way?

Some impressions from the way down:

While I descend more and more the sun starts to set. I hike cross-country. Less and less snow covers the ground until I reach a terrain consisting of terraces of wetlands and dense birch thickets. The wetlands are easy to cross, since the ground is mostly frozen and I have rubber boots. The birch thickets however take some time to squeeze through. Looking back I can see purple clouds indicating that the sun already has set.

At 14:40 I arrive at the car. -4 °C. According to my app I walked 15 km and 1120 metres in altitude. I started before sunrise and arrived after sunset. This gives me the right to be very lazy the rest of the day. The blog article I want to write anyhow.

I met three persons in total:

  • A woman in my age in clothes that probably have been used on countless tours for many years,
  • A young woman in a grey woollen sweater hiking up quite fast while talking loudly on her cell phone.
  • A packed sleeping bag on a stone in the wetlands. A sleeping bag with a book. Wait! No, it’s a hood with a book. Wait! No, it’s a person leaning against a large rock reading. In the middle of some wet slope on the island Kvaløya. People here really like being outdoors.

So much for today. And now I have to stretch!

Appendix:

I just went to the kitchen and felt, that the outside light had changed. It had! It had snowed some centimetres and is still snowing. Everything is white. Beautiful!

Tønsnesvarden

On Tuesday we got some snow in Tromsø. On Wednesday it already has melted away. But last night a bit of snow arrived.

Today I chose a shorter tour from my book “På tur in Tromsø” (On tour in Tromsø) because I just wanted an easy hike, not a full-grown mountain tour. The weather agreed with me.

By the sea only a bit of wet snow and sleet covered the ground but already 50 meter higher the gravel path was covered with 10 cm of snow. Deep tyre tracks were carved in the snow. This part of the tour was very easy. Just follow the road up until you reach the radio unit on the Tønsnesvarden (281 m) and try not to slip, because under the snow there are some icy patches.

This summit has a big radio station on its top. Even in the increasing snow fall is was quite visible. Now I walked through 20 cm of snow. After an hour I arrived at the radio station, where I met the creator of the deep tyre tracks: A six-wheeled ATV.

It wasn’t cold but a windy. It snowed more and more and the wet snow glued itself to my jacket. On my way back I left the main road and followed a small path on my digital map on my iPhone. I stopped in a forest of birches with thin and long stems. I loved the motive, but my Nikon camera gave up in this wet weather. The lens was fogged up in the inside and in the dense and wet snowfall I didn’t dare to change lens. One photo worked out ok anyhow:

Soon I realised that some of the paths drawn on the map did not exist in reality (at least not in winter) while others that exist were not part of the map. So I went cross-county through pathless terrain, partly dens forest, partly wetlands with many small streams to cross. It took only 15 minutes until I reached the other gravel road leading down again. Now the iPhone was in charge for making pictures.

I followed the path down. With each metre altitude I lost there was less snow on the ground and the snow fall became more and more sleet. When I arrived at my car my anorak was soaking wet. Having seat warmers in a car is a great feature after such a tour.

For the records: 6.5 km, round 300 metres in altitude. Temperature round 0°C.

Appendix 1:

When I show pictures of mountain tours and hilly hikes it is easy to forgot, that Norway has not only mountains but the sea, too. This is an iPhone snapshot I took from some metres from my parked car. What you cannot see is the mountains of the island Kvaløya, 3.8 km away. They are hidden in the snow clouds.

Appendix 2:

What do you do with photos taken with a fogged up lens? You start to experiment. I mean, the photo is spoiled anyhow. But the result of today’s experimentation turned out nice in my opinion.

Hiking up the Grønnlibruna

Here I stand on top of the small mountain Grønnlibruna (401 m).

I crossed a river and followed a forest trail that sent me deep into the mud. I trudged through knee deep powder snow and then stalked through Styrofoam-like wind-pressed snow to reach the summit and see the mountains in the sun that yr forecasted. Here I stand on top of the small mountain Grønnlibruna and there is no sun. It is snowing. It has been snowing all day and the mountains are hidden by the clouds.

As yesterday I am alone. Apparently the locals do other things in November than hiking up snowy mountains. While I walk around on the plateau of the Grønnlibruna the weather is changing and slowly the mountain ranges come in view and so the bay Sørbotn and the island Håkøya. The sun however I do not see today.

The last photo is taken with my Nikon, the others are edited iPhone snapshots.

For the records: 8 km there and back. Round 400 m in Altitude. Temperature -1 °C … -5 °C. Next time: snow shoes.

Apropos next time: Today we had 4¼ hours of daylight. Next Sunday it will be 2¾ hours. Saturday after that 13 minutes. On Sunday in two weeks we will have polar night in Tromsø until 14 January 2022.

So next time I’ll not only take snow shoes with me but some powerful headlamps, too.

 

 

 

Not reaching the top of the Nordtinden

Today I hiked the last daylight tour this season. Next Saturday sunrise is 11:25 and sunset is 11:38. The following day a seven week period of polar night will begin.

I wanted to hike onto the top of the Nordtinden (640 m), which I assumed to have a lot of snow after last Sunday’s experience. But it turned out different than planned.

Let’s start with a funny selfie:

What’s that? Winter jacket and no snow? Aren’t you overdressed, Olaf? Well, first I was glad about the fur-rimmed hood, because it was quite stormy already in the lowlands and then I wanted to gain 600 metres in altitude. It would be colder and windier on the top of the mountain.

Part 1 – hiking the icy gravel road

At 9 o’clock – round one hour before sunrise – I parked my car in Skulsfjord on the island Kvaløya. There was enough light to start the tour. First I followed a gravel road for 2.4 km. Easy peasy when not the whole road had been covered with ice. I had snow shoes with me for later use, but no spikes for the shoes. Mistake.

Part 2 – following the trail up

After 2.4 km I turned left to follow the hiking trail up to the mountain Nordtinden. Well, mostly I avoided following it because it was very icy and slippery. I considered cancelling the tour but often I could walk on the bouncy patches of heather beside the trail and so continue the tour.

Part 3 – gaining height

A steep passage made me doubt again. Shall I return? Continue? Well, let’s go a tiny bit further, just ten other metres up. I was lucky. Now the terrain was less steep. First only a bit of snow covered the stones and the heather but soon more and more snow covered the ground.

Part 4 – coming to a dead end

I knew that I lost the regular way. The way itself was not visible anymore, but I could see on my interactive map that I was a bit lower than the trail. Maybe I could go up somewhere else.

It was stormy and gusty and the wind tried to blow me down several times. The snow was not fluffy but wind pressed and hard and therefore slippery. When I had to traverse a slope I mounted my snowshoes. It took a while because I had some issues with the bindings. Now it dared to traverse the snow field, but since I didn’t take my walking sticks with me (mistake) it was a bit hard to walk up in the wind and gain balance.

And then I came to a dead end. A quite beautiful dead end, but still a dead end. I had to return.

Part 5 – returning, retrying and finally returning

So I walked back until I finally met the trail again, at least according my iPhone map. The way itself was hidden under the snow. Beside of that Norwegian hiking trails can be marked quite poorly, you have to navigate by yourself.

OK, I can navigate. I even had paper map and compass with me. But where the trail supposed to be there were only snow and rocks. And it was quite steep. And the snowshoes were a bit bitchy. And sun would set at 13 o’clock. Therefore I made the decision to not to try to reach the summit but abandon the tour and return. And so I did.

First I walked on snow but then I had to put off my snowshoes. In the lower part I ignored the icy trail and walked down on the heather. Much easier! Three and a half hours later I arrived at my parked car.

Résumé

It was a pity that I didn’t reach the top, but it was a fine though rough tour anyhow. From next week I have to find alternatives that are doable in twilight and darkness using a head torch.

For the records: 9.6 km, ca. 600 metres in altitude.

Interval training in Vasstrand

Today I tried a tour on the mountain Stappen on the island Kvaløya, where I did most of my hiking tours the last months. In my book “På tur i Tromsø” it is marked as quite easy and that it would take 1½ hours up. Well, perhaps in summer …

Although sun does not rise anymore it’s already quite bright at 9 o’clock. I stop my car ride of 45 minutes to take this photo at 9:20 on the mountain passage.

At 9:50 I start my tour. No snow shoes, but spikes in case of icy patches. And a warm down jacket. And a tripod for making photos in twilight. Backpack is heavy.

First I walk along the road and then uphill through the snow. I use to manage to hike up mountains although it can take some efforts. I love to trudge through snow. The combination however is extremely exhausting since the snow today is often knee deep and especially the first part has some steep bits.

I have to rest many times and my heart is beating like a hummingbird’s. There are ski tracks but I’m wondering how to ski here where the forest is so dense. Well, while most Norwegians are excellent skiers, I’m not.

I arrive at the bog Vasstrandmyra which is described as being wet in the tour book. Now it is frozen and snowed over. It still goes up though more gently and I look for a route with as less snow as possible. Today’s destination has come into view, the mountain Stappen (570 m). It looks like having been painted by a toddler. A line up, a peak, a line down. I want to go up there but have the impression that I’ll probably not make it.

A second steeper passage through another wood lies ahead of me. I’m panting. Snow is mostly knee deep until I make a step that sends both legs completely into the white. The snow is hardly deeper but I found a mud hole well hidden under the snow. Thanks to the rubber boots I wear my feet stay dry.

With some more breaks I manage to hike up to a second plateau and start ascending the mountain.

On the photo it looks quite flat, but in reality it is steeper. That is not a problem. The problem is that there is no visible way and it is impossible to see, where there are holes between all the snowed over rocks. Quite cautious I hike up a bit but after 60 metres I realise that this kind of testing each step takes too much time.

I rest sitting in the snow with hood on, because it has become quite windy which makes the frost temperatures feel much colder. I even witness a larger snow devil – a mini-tornado sucking up snow –  just some ten metres from me and can feel the snow dust in my face.

Although I do not have a 360° panoramic view I cannot complain. The mountainous landscape in the warm colours of polar night’s noon is just beautiful!

I do not rest long, then I start my descend. As soon as I reach the plateau hiking becomes easy. Trudging through snow downhills is much faster and even on the not-so-steep bog my step length is 50% larger than on the way up. A snow grouse flees, it does not want to be photographed. It’s windy and snowy and wintry and an exhausting but an awesome tour.

Round one o’clock I arrive at the car glad about the car’s heating and a warm sweater.

On my way back I stop at the supermarket and delicacy shop Eidehandel where I eat some warm lunch. At 14:30 I’m almost home but I have to stop for another photo because now it has become dark. Not pitch black, but dark enough to see the stars.

2021-12-04 22:35