Archive for July, 2010

Signaldalen to Dividalen

For a while, we’ve wanted to explore the skiing/hiking tracks in Indre Troms, the area near the border with Sweden. There are several huts there, linked by marked paths – ideal as we didn’t fancy hiking with a tent and cooking gear. My parents were visiting us the week before we planned to do a hiking trip, and they offered to drive us to wherever we wanted to start, so we could leave our car where we wanted to finish. This was a great offer as public transport is sparse in this area. We decided to start in Signaldalen and hike to Dividalen. The total length of the walk was 72 km! Below is a map of our route, and the height profile, with the huts that we slept in indicated.

Map showing our hike starting in Signaldalen and ending in Dividalen. Total length: 72 km Height profile for the total hike, with the huts where we slept indicated

Day 1: Rognli (Signaldalen) to Gappohytta (11 km, 4 hrs)

It took us a day to park our car in Dividalen and drive to Signaldalen with my parents (and I managed to add some more time by realising I left my waterproof jacket in the car – we had to drive back for 20 minutes to get it… oops :( )

Finally, at 18:00 we were ready to go. After lots of rain, that day it had finally cleared up and it was sunny!

Ready to go! Following the dirt track up the valley

We followed a track up the valley, first through the forest and later through a more rocky landscape.

Little stream! Paul making his way through the rocky landscape
A very pointy cairn! And notice the mosquito to the left of it... (no that's not a bird!) The long-tailed skua (Fjelljo in Norwegian and Kleinste Jager in Dutch), very common in this area. They aren't very shy, you can come quite close!

After a while, we found the disadvantage of the beautiful still weather – mosquitoes! And lots of them… Fortunately our repellent seemed to work – as in we didn’t get bitten – but it’s hard to enjoy the scenery with a cloud of mosquitoes around your head!

At about 22:00, we reached Gappohytta, which looked idyllic in the evening sun, reflected in the lake. There were 2 huts, one of them empty, so we had the luxury of a whole hut to ourselves. The huts from DNT (the Norwegian Trekking Association) in this part of the country are all unmanned and you need to buy a key to open them. They have no electricity or running water, but are always near a water source. They have gas for cooking (and everything else you need, like plates and pans and cutlery), wood for the stove, beds with bedding (but you need to bring a liner or a sleeping bag), and usually a separate building with a toilet of the hole-in-a-plank variety.

Gappohytta reflected in the lake! We stayed in the one closest to the lake. The one behind it is identical and had other people staying in it. The building on the right is the wood storage and toilet building
Paul reflected in the lake :) A long exposure of the waterfall where we got drinking water from

We enjoyed a good dinner that we brought from Tromsø, and then it was time for bed.

Day 2: Gappohytta to Rostahytta (20 km, 9 hrs)

The following morning it was still sunny, but with some pretty clouds and a nice breeze to blow away the mosquitoes.

The hut in the morning - beautiful sky! Another view from the hut in the morning
A pyramid shaped mountain :) Rostahytta was our next destination Here we were actually leaving Norway and entering Sweden for a while

We walked through Sweden for a couple of hours. We crossed a lot of small rivers, before stopping for a break at a waterfall.

The path we followed Crossing a small river Walking through such big landscapes makes you feel small!
Paul had a close look at the waterfall Checking Crossing a very wide (but shallow) river

We crossed the border back into Norway, and soon reached our halfway point, which means: lunch!

The border! Finally, lunch! I was quite tired at this point

We walked through Isdalen, a pass between two valleys, strewn with huge boulders and surrounded by steep mountains.

Huge boulders everywhere Crossing Isdalen There were still some patches of snow
The red T was showing the way Resting my backpack for a moment

At the end of Isdalen, there is a steep descend down towards Rostadalen. The view is quite spectacular! But walking down over small rocks was rather tedious.

Enjoying the view Just before the steep ascent
The river that we later had to cross Impressive mountain!

At the bottom we had our first serious river crossing – one that required taking our boots off and wading through. I had brought flip flops for this purpose – so I wouldn’t fall over or hurt my feet – so I thought I’d be fine. What I didn’t realise is how COLD these rivers are…. It was really painful, within seconds my feet were numb with cold and I cried when I got to the other side. It took a while before my feet stopped hurting! Not quite the nicest experience… but at least now I’d know what to expect next time.

At some point we heard a funny noise nearby, something between the noise of a duck and a pig, and we looked up to see what made that noise. Not very far from us, a herd of I think around 100 reindeers was walking past. What a sight!

Not a very sharp photo, but some of the reindeer we saw Trying to spray the mosquitos away

The final stretch was tough as the mosquitoes came back in full force, this time biting me all over my face. Such a relief to finally see the hut! It was quite busy and we only just about found 2 free beds. A quick dinner, and off to sleep.

Day 3: Rostahytta to Dærtahytta (17 km, 9 hrs)

We woke up to another sunny day. We washed ourselves in a pool at the side of the river before having breakfast at the hut. The hut is very nice and modern, it’s been built in 2007!

Eating breakfast in the very new hut This was one of the older huts, there were 3 huts here Setting off

To start out hike, we crossed the river using a suspension bridge – cool!

Paul on the bridge Me getting off the bridge

After that, we climbed up rather steeply – not easy when it’s warm! We then walked along a plateau for a while.

Climbing up There were pretty flowers everywhere!

At some point the landscape became very rocky and it’s tiring to walk from rock to rock like that. We climbed up to 1045 m. At that point it started to cloudy over and with the wind that made it feel quite cold. Soon however, the hut came into view!

The rocky bit, just below the highest point First view of the hut, way down below! Climbing down a very steep and rocky bit

It wasn’t long until we reached the hut. Again, there were two buildings and we chose the one that was empty. This was the oldest of the two, and very cosy – with the added luxury of an indoors “toilet”!

We arrived very tired, sunburnt, and all muscles aching from three days of hiking (nearly 50 km). The next day was going to be a very long one (24-28 km depending on the route). It was quickly decided that a day of rest would be the best idea for tomorrow.

Day 4: Rest day in Dærtahytta

We slept for a long time and enjoyed a lazy day in the hut. Outside the clouds were low and it was raining continuously, so we chose a good day to rest! We read the guestbook, which always has some amusing entries :D People also leave all sorts of books and magazines, so we had plenty to read. At some point in the afternoon, we got company from a German guy who had walked from Rostahytta that day. Later on, we were joined by a Norwegian couple from Stavanger – they got lost during the previous day and had spent the whole night walking!

Reading an old book in the hut Our bedroom The hut surrounded by low clouds Getting drinking water from the river

Day 5: Dærtahytta to the car (25 km, 9 hrs)

The next day the clouds were still low and it was drizzling. We had 2 options: our original plan was to walk to Dividalshytta and spend another night there, before walking back to the car the next day, or we could walk straight back to the car. The drizzle stopped soon after we set off, and it stayed dry for the rest of the day, but there was no wind and we were bothered by mosquitos the whole time. They bit me everywhere, even through 2 layers of clothes. We got so fed up of the mosquitoes, that we decided to walk to the car and go home that evening. I later counted 30 bites just one one arm, and they were getting into our noses, mouths and ears… they literally drove us out of Dividalen!

The path was quite good at first, so we made good progress. Later we had to go through a swampy area which was tough as we sank in over our boots and got wet feet. In this valley, we found a lot of antlers though! They were lying around everywhere, and we even found a matching pair. We took the best ones home, we’re planning to do something creative with them. Either a lamp, inspired by one we saw in a log cabin, or a coat hanger perhaps.

I found a big set of antlers! We found a lot of antlers, they looked quite funny on top of our backpacks

We had one major river to cross. It was too deep to walk through and very wide. Paul tried hopping from rock to rock, while I took my boots off and walked across on flip flops. We both ended with wet boots though! Paul stepped on a rock which flipped over, and I tripped and fell forwards while my boots (hanging around my neck) dipped into the water. Oh well ;) The last part of the hike went through the forest, along a beautiful gorge created by the river we had just crossed. The river was now narrow and wild…

River going into a gorge Narrow gorge

We got back to the carpark at about 19:00 and were quite relieved to see our Caddy appearing when we came out of the forest :D We were wet, dirty and smelly – just longing for a warm bath at home and a good bed to sleep in :) Some people who were just starting their hike asked if we had been on a long tour – wonder if we just looked that tired, or if they could smell us :P

It was a beautiful hike through very nice landscape, but if we do it again, it won’t be in summer when there are so many mosquitoes and so much of the ground is swampy! Autumn is probably a better season. People had warned us about the mosquitoes but I thought they were exaggerating. They told me to buy a mosquito-net-hat, but I thought they look uncomfortable and silly. Next time, I’ll leave my pride at home ;)

We’re only home for one day, we’re leaving for the Lofoten tomorrow! We’ve rented a small house near the beach there for a week. I’m really looking forward to it! We’ll take the boat and are keeping our fingers crossed for some sunshine :)

Above the clouds on Tinden

On July 1st the weather in Tromsø was grey and overcast. Hanneke and her colleague Trond were sitting in the meteorological office looking at a satellite image showing the sea of clouds when they noticed one dark pixel. That pixel was the top of Tromsdalstinden poking through the clouds. Almost since arriving in Tromsø I have dreamed about standing above the clouds on top of Tinden, but without a private meteorologist it was a difficult dream to realise. From Tromsø I could never see whether the top was above the cloud or just in the cloud. Today was my chance! So based on a single pixel I threw on some clothes, drove to the bottom of the mountain (instead of the office) and started climbing towards a layer of thick cloud and zero visibility. Hanneke and Trond thought the conditions might only last for a few hours, so I was against the clock. I left without breakfast and without charging the batteries for my GPS. A fist full of mars bars and a compass would have to do.

I headed to the top as fast as I could, but above 500 m I was  hindered by a lot by deep snow which was still on the ground. I thought I could walk around the few patches that remained in July, but they were much bigger than I thought. Trudging through snow in the cloud was not much fun. I began to worry that it would be in vain. I hoped I hadn’t taken a day off just to wander around on my own in a cloud!

At 1000 m I was beginning to lose faith in the pixel, when I noticed a strange phenomenon. Here in the mist, rocks felt really warm to the touch. They must have seen some sun not long ago!! I stepped up the pace, and a patch of blue sky began to emerge through the mist. The cloud top was very well defined when I crossed it – within a few steps the visibility went from zero to almost infinite! It was like putting my head above the surface of a swimming pool.

Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden

Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden

The pictures below show the view from the top, about 100 m above the clouds. The peaks in the distance are the Lyngen Alps. I spent more than two hours on the top enjoying the sunshine in a t-shirt.

Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden

Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden

Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden Panorama showing the clouds above Tromsdalstinden

While on the top, I took this time-lapse video of the clouds sweeping past Tromsdalstinden. It was almost like standing on a ship and watching the waves roll past.

Just before I left another person emerged from the cloud below – he turned out to be a pilot who had seen the peak sticking out before landing in Tromsø.  He had literally run up there afterwards! Another pilot promised to try and take a photo of him on the summit. That would have been a cool picture – but just before the plane was due to take off, the cloud level rose, and we were surrounded by the whiteness again! Nevermind – we were content in the knowledge that we had stolen ourselves an extra day of sun!

Rainy Summer

Paul’s parents came to see us three weeks ago, during the last weekend of June. June was very rainy in Tromsø (120 mm fell) – we were only 3 mm away from breaking the all time record! It rained most of the days while they were here as well, but we still went out every day. On the first day we drove to Grøtfjord for a walk on the beach. Not surprisingly we were the only ones there!

Grøtfjord panorama, seen from the road View from Grøtfjord beach

It was a very cold day, about 8 degrees! I regretted not bringing gloves, I got so cold. But we enjoyed our walk on the beach. There was an oystercatcher who had a nest somewhere near the beach, he got very alarmed when we came near and flew in circles around us.

Paul with his parents An oystercatcher

In Tromvik we found this gull with a nest on top of some kind of refrigerated container! We continued all the way to the end of the road, in Rekvik. We really liked this house on the coast…

Sea gull on a next on top of some kind of refrigeration container! A dream house at the coast, in Rekvik

We walked along the coast for a bit, and came to a beach with very red rocks. I’ve never seen that around here before! The rock formations on the beach were very interesting too.

Red rocks and a wild sea! Interesting rock formations and colour

Group portrait on the beach :) The other photo shows the path that follows the coast.

A portrait on the beach :) The path along the coast

On the way home we saw this reindeer next to the road!

A reindeer having flowers for dinner

The next day we drove to Sommarøy where we went for a walk. Paul’s parents were attacked by this huge seagull! If you come to near to their nest, they’ll attack you by diving at you repeatedly. They don’t actually come that near and I don’t think they’d actually hit you, but it’s really quite scary when it happens to you! There were some gulls near our house that did the same thing for a while and I didn’t enjoy it. Fortunately there were also friendly birds around there :) We saw a lot of ducks with baby ducks, so cute!

Sea gull attack! 10 little duckies - one stayed behind and had to race to keep up with the rest

These rorbuer (fishermens’ cottages) are owned by the hotel, must be nice to stay in them! I am not sure what the “house on sticks” in the other photo is used for, probably just for storing fishing gear.

Rorbuer on Sommarøy House on sticks :)

This is a pretty boathouse with grass on the roof. We also met this funny looking goat :)

Pretty boathouse Somebody keeps goats on Sommarøy - this one looks so funny :)

And on the way back, we saw a group of reindeer!

Another reindeer - we saw many!

On their last day in Tromsø, the sun finally came out! And what a difference that makes… We went for a walk around Telegrafbukta, enjoying the sunshine. Of course I had to take another photo of my favourite boathouse :)

How different the world looks with a little sunshine! Another photo of my favourite boathouse :)

We also made a short visit to the botanical garden, mostly to visit their cafe and eat waffles, mmmmmmmm :D

Waffles in the sun in the botanical garden, mmmm :)

So far, July hasn’t been very summary either – still a lot of cloudy and cold days. Fortunately every once in a while there is a nice evening or even almost a day – and you need to take advantage of them when they come around! My parents arrived yesterday, on a beautiful sunny day – but today we are back to nonstop rain and low clouds. Good day to spend inside finally catching up with my blog :D

Ti på Topp 2010: Tverrfjellet

Yesterday I had a day off in the middle of a crazy work schedule (I had just worked 6 days in a row, and after my day off I’d work 10 more days in a row… this is because everyone else is on holiday this month). The weather looked nice, so I decided to do another top :) I chose Tverrfjellet on Kvaløya, 675 m high. Below is the map and the height profile…

Route up to Tverrfjellet (675 m) Height profile - this was a steep climb!

It took me 5 hours in total (about 2.5 hours to reach the top, half an hour break, and 2 hours to come down). The length of the trip was 7.5 km. I found this quite a tough one to climb, as it was very steep up straight from the start. At some point you reach the first “top” from where you get your first view to the actual top – which is further along a ridge. I lost my motivation a bit when I found out how far it still was! The ridge goes gently down for about a km, but after that it is a very steep climb again. Very rocky too, I had to use my hands several times on the last part. It was a beautiful day though, with great views, and I had a great time :)

This is the view from the first top, showing the ridge leading to the actual top. On one side, the ridge is very steep. On the other side there’s a lake, called Tverrfjellvatnet, that was still frozen. The melt ponds on it had a beautiful bright blue colour!

The view from the first top - the actual top is further along the ridge. Finding out how far away was a bit of a disappointment ;) A huge boulder in front of the frozen Tverrfjellvatnet - love the blue colours!

The view from the top! It was a nice surprise to be able to see all the way to the sea. The peaks on the right are about 1000 m high.

The view from the top. The island in the background is called Sessøya.

Two more views from the top, one towards Kattfjordvatnet (the road back to Tromsø goes through this valley), and one towards Nordfjorden.

View towards Kattfjordvatnet and the road to Tromsø View towards Nordfjorden

On the way back I took it easy and I took a lot of photos. By this time the first “after work” hikers were coming up, it was nice to chat to them. The path was often marked by small cairns as in the photo below. I also took a close up of the blue melt ponds, they are so pretty!

The cairns that show you the way Blue meltwater on Tverrfjellvatnet

A small lake on my way down…

A small lake on the way down

I reached the car tired but happy :) and sunburnt too, mostly on one side :D.

And now it’s back to work, I had to start at 6:30 this morning! I did 2 radio interviews early in the morning. They were supposed to be about the weather but as the DJs know that I’m Dutch, we ended up talking about the world cup and the Netherlands reaching the finals. I am not a football fan at all so it’s quite bizarre to talk about it on the radio :D Luckily I saw half of yesterday’s match while visiting the neighbours (we don’t have a tv) so I could confirm watching the match and I kind of knew what I was talking about ;)

More soon I hope – I have a lot of photos from the weekend Paul’s parents came to see us, I hope to share some soon. We have also been out with the boat again, have a look at the photos of a dreamy evening on Vensøya here. If I didn’t have to work the next morning, I would have loved to stay on that beach all night! Paul also went on a boat trip by himself last weekend, to Nipøya.

More soon :)