Archive for August, 2010

Aurora in August

Even though I don’t really want the summer to end – especially not when we finally have some really sunny weather lately – I’ve been impatiently waiting for the nights to get dark enough to see the aurora. I read on Spaceweather that auroras were forecasted for tonight, so I kept an eye on the sky, even though I didn’t think it would be dark enough yet, especially with the full moon out as well. Oh how exciting when I stepped outside and saw beautiful aurora dancing in the sky – I was literally jumping for joy :D

I quickly went to the jetty at Telegrafbukta with my camera. The show didn’t last very long, but it was beautiful. Even the bright full moon couldn’t overpower them!

The first aurora of the season! What a beautiful evening... Aurora and the bright full moon

When the “lights went out”, I stayed for a while longer hoping they would come back. The moon was reflected in the fjord, it was beautiful. To entertain myself, I took a self portrait :)

Self portrait :)

Less than 5 months ago, I was at the same place enjoying the last aurora of the season. It’s so exciting to be at the start of a new season :)

Ti på Topp 2010: Grønnlibruna & Ørnfløya

I went up Grønnlibruna one morning in July before a late shift at work. Grønnlibruna is 401 m high. I took the shorter route up from Håkøybotn. I have been to Grønnlibruna twice before (once on snowshoes and one failed attempt in autumn) but always from Straumsbukta. I much prefer the route from Håkøybotn, it’s a lot shorter and very direct (the other route goes up to a slightly lower top, then down to a valley and up to the actual top). The total length was 7.1 km and it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes (about 1.5 hours up, a short break on top, and down in one hour).

Map of the route to Grønnlibruna Height profile of Grønnlibruna

I didn’t have very good weather. The weather forecast (which I wrote myself :D) promised the weather would improve very quickly, and I was hoping for sun on the top. However it took a bit longer to clear up, and in the end the sun came out when I drove back to town! I didn’t take a lot of photos, but it was a very nice walk. The first part goes through fairytale forest with flowers everywhere. The top is more rocky and the view was nice, even with all the clouds.

The path through the forest View towards Tromsø

More recently, Paul and I went up Ørnfløya on a Friday evening. It was going to rain all weekend, so we decided to make the most of the last bit of good weather. Ørnfløya is near Sommarøy and it’s quite a drive from Tromsø (about an hour). It’s by far the easiest of all tops though, it’s only 160 m high and the total walk is 2.2 km. It took us 25 minutes to reach the top, and about the same to come down.

Map of our hike up to Ørnfløya Height profile of Ørnfløya - I changed the batteries of the gps on the way up which confused the gps a bit!

We were hoping to watch the sunset from the top, but although we reached the top just in time (at 22:00), the sun had already disappeared behind a layer of clouds. Still, the view was very nice! It’s great to see Sommarøy from above.

Panorama of the view towards Sommarøy, with Senja on the left and Håja on the right (in the mist) A boat passing below

We didn’t stay on the top very long as it was getting quite chilly. We drove to Sommarøy and enjoyed a cup of tea on a beach there. It was a quiet evening and we watched some seagulls fight with what we think was an otter. The tide was coming in very strongly and we watched a school of small fish fight with the current while being attacked by bigger fish. Life is unfair ;)

Us on top :) One of the bridges in Sommarøy

The clouds were really pretty! The midnight sun is gone since late July, but at 23:30 it was still pretty light. It’s changing very quickly though, this was only a week and a half ago, but now we do have real darkness!

The sky was beautiful! The midnight sun is gone, but at 23:30 it's still not really dark

Ti på Topp 2010: Blåtinden

Yesterday I climbed Blåtinden with Ine-Therese. This is one of the extra tops, which are more demanding. Blåtinden is 1180 m hight. The total hike was 9.8 km and it took us about 8 hours – 4 hours to get up, 3 hours coming down, and a nice long lunchbreak on top :)

Map of our hike up to Blatinden Height profile of Blatinden

The hike starts very steep, but we had some help with us! Ine-Therese brought her 2 dogs (Luna and Sepi). They are sled dogs, and we both had a harness around our waist connected to the dog. I was surprised what a difference this makes! The dogs have a lot of energy and almost literally drag you up the mountain :D The first part of the hike goes through the forest, until you reach a plateau. From there it’s a steep and rocky climb to the top. These are some views on the way up…

The view on the way up Ine-Therese with the Lyngen Alps in the background

After 4 exhausting hours, we made it to the top! The last bit is very flat, which was good – I had hardly any energy left by that time. The view from the top is really good :)

We made it! Taken from the top The road towards Ramfjorden. The mountain at the far right is Tromsdalstinden.

The cairn on this top is really impressive – it’s about 4 meters high and it has a room at the top that you can climb into. Of course we had to try that :) It was about 9 degrees but there was hardly any wind, and we enjoyed a long lunch break in the sun.

The cairn on top was very impressive - 4 m high, and it had a room you could climb into! We took a long lunch break at the top

You can look very far in every direction. This panorama shows the Lyngen Alps. Luna and Sepi also enjoyed their break, it must be quite tiring for them too!

The view towards the Lyngen Alps (on the left a glacier as well) Sepi and Luna at the top

Around the top there were some very steep drops. The path goes quite close to them at times, we tried not to look down too much ;) There were some low clouds drifting below the top, and at some point we decided to go down in case the clouds would increase and cover the top.

Steep drops on all sides! A few clouds passed below the top

The way down wasn’t easy, especially the bit with loose rocks – very hard on your knees. And the dogs can’t help you much coming down ;) They are very well trained though, on the way down they walk behind you so that you don’t trip over them or get pulled down by them. It took us about 3 hours to come down. We were quite exhausted and very happy to see the car again :D

A week in the Lofoten

We spent the first week of August in the Lofoten. We had rented a small cottage there, but as it’s a long drive to get there from Tromsø (about 500 km, ~8 hours) we decided to leave a day early and take the tent to sleep somewhere along the way. We took a scenic smaller road following the coast. The weather was beautiful and warm, and we enjoyed a lazy dinner in the sun at this artwork (see photo below). We then continued a little bit further, and found a nice beach to pitch our tent. As a bonus, the sunset was really beautiful too!

Art at the coast The beach where we camped on the first night
Our tent Beautiful sunset!

The next day we woke up to pouring rain :( we continued on our way, only stopping in Svolvaer to buy some food. The house we rented was in Høynes, which was really only one street with a few houses and a farm. It was located in a very quiet part of the outer side of the Lofoten. It was almost always windy there. Sheep walked around the house, and the farm next door even had a sheep dog. A slightly crazy one, it was often chasing the ponies in the field opposite! This is the little house, which had a big view :D

Our holiday home in the Lofoten The view from the living room!

The next morning we woke up to sunshine! We decided to climb the mountain behind Reine. The distances in the Lofoten are quite large, because the roads often have to go around fjords. It was 80 km to Reine, quite a drive. We stopped a few times along the way, to walk along some beaches (we even ventured in up to our knees, but it was way too cold for swimming!).

Beautiful beach at Flakstadpollen The white beach at Ramberg

Another reason we wanted to visit Reine is the Eva Harr Gallerie. The art gallery in Tromsø has some of her work and we both really like it. It was a beautiful gallery, and it was great to see more of her work. We had only seen lithographs, but the gallery also had about 20 paintings. Really nice! The one below was my favourite. The gallery also sold her lithographs, and I finally made up my mind about buying one. I bought one called “Stjernenatt” (starry night), you can see an image of it here. I am so happy with it! I still have to get it framed, but I think it will look great in our living room :)

Eva Harr Gallerie - I loved this painting! Me with my purchase, so happy :)

After our visit to the gallery, we drove to the starting point of the hike. It was a very short hike, but extremely steep. And very muddy, so it wasn’t an easy climb. And you don’t get to see the view until the very last moment. The view however, is worth everything – it’s so spectacular! You look over Reine and several islands behind it and the open ocean as well.

Climbing up to this ridge wasn't easy, but this view is definitely worth the effort! View over Reine, incredible!

We climbed up a bit further, but at some point the path was following such a sharp ridge that we decided to turn back. Below you can see our view looking down, it was crazy! It was hard coming down on such a muddy steep path, you really had to be careful not to slip. Sometimes we had to sit down and continue on our bum ;) We made it safely down though.

Paul and the impressive view Our car (in the red circle) way down below

The next day the clouds were hanging low, and we decided to visit Henningsvær. A very nice place to walk around, lots of nice old wooden buildings and cosy cafes.

Henningsvær Old wooden building on sticks

We also visited Kabelvåg, the town centre is very small but also fun to walk around. On our way back, the clouds were hanging around the mountains like a hat, it looked really cool!

Bike & colourful house Cool cloud!

We decided to climb a peak called Hoven, the mountain in the photo below. It’s not that high – 368 m. The clouds were constantly hanging around the top, so we were a bit worried we wouldn’t have a view. It was very windy on the top, and the view kept disappearing behind the clouds, but it was quite impressive anyway. There are some nice sandy beaches in this area!

Hoven Me on top of Hoven Beautiful sandy beach seen from Hoven

The next day we decided to go for a trip with the boat. We put the boat in on a sandy beach in a calm fjord, but as soon as we reached the open ocean the waves were 1-2 m high and it was quite rough. This was my first experience of waves like that in a small inflatable, and I felt like I had to hold on very tight in order not to bounce out. I didn’t really enjoy it and even felt almost seasick, so in the end we turned back to dry land. Phew ;) Of course the weather calmed down then. We walked around for a bit, enjoying the views, and collecting some drift wood for the stove at the cabin – it was quite cold and we fancied having a fire! (for some more photos and a map of our boat trip, see here)

Reflections Lots of flowers and a nice view

On Wednesday, it was sunny again! And there was hardly any wind, so we decided it was a perfect day for taking the boat into Trollfjord, a very narrow side fjord of Raftsund. It was such a beautiful day. The first photo shows where we put the boat in the water. The second photo shows a group of buildings we passed on the way, it looked so idyllic.

Raftsund, where we put the boat in the water Nice houses on the water

Trollfjord is narrowest at its entrance, about 100 m. The large Hurtigruten and other cruise ships often go in there, it must be very impressive with such a big ship. For our small inflatable though, it was easily wide enough :D. We were the only boat in the fjord, it was beautiful. We put the boat on land at the end of the fjord and had some lunch. We then went for a walk to a lake. There is a hydroelectricity plant at the end of the fjord, and we had to climb over the pipe :D

Our boat in Trollfjord Climbing over the pipeline The valley we walked through

We walked up to a lake, which was a really nice walk though not very easy as it was (again ;)) very muddy. And the lake turned out to have a huge concrete dam and concrete beach so it wasn’t as scenic as we were hoping :D. It was quite late when we got back to the boat. There were lots of jellyfish in the water, and I discovered that they light up if you take a photo using the flash. They are so pretty! These ones are called moon jelly and they don’t sting so nothing to worry about :) Paul taught me to drive the boat, it was fun! He also wrote an article about our trip here.

Moon jelly - there were lots of them! Captain Hanneke :) Pretty sunset

We came back from our trip to Trollfjord really late at night, so we didn’t do very much the next day. We drove to Stamsund, and enjoyed a nice dinner in the restaurant there.

Really nice restaurant in Stamsund Rorbuer in Stamsund

On the way back, I took some photos of abandoned houses. I find them quite fascinating, I always wonder how they became abandoned, what the story behind them is. They are great subjects for photos, with boarded up windows and completely overgrown gardens. But you do have to be careful, as I found out when I took the second photo below…. somebody was actually still living in that house and suddenly appeared in one of the windows… OOPS!

Abandoned house Abandoned house - except this one wasn't!

Another abandoned house This abandoned house was our neighbour

Friday was our last day in the Lofoten and we decided to walk along a nearby beach. We started the walk in Eggum, where there’s a ruin of a radar site used by the Germans in WWII. The photo below is taken through one of its “windows”. The beach here is facing the open ocean and full of driftwood and items lost from ships. There is so much wood around that someone is building a kind of hut. Very nice!

Eggum seen from the radar site Hut built out of driftwood

Some of the wood was full of holes from woodworms. Paul took some really nice photos of the holes and the tunnels, while I was picking some blueberries :)

Driftwood with holes and tunnels from woodworms Picking blueberries

Most people walking on the beach continue all the way to Unstad, but we started quite late and didn’t go that far. We walked until the lighthouse on top of the cliff. Nice view!

The nice view from the lighthouse The lighthouse

There were lots of sheep walking around (with bells on), it’s crazy how high they climb up sometimes. Some were also just enjoying the sunset :)

Paul and sheep :) A sheep enjoying the sunset

When we came back to the car, lots of campers had found a place for the night. The Lofoten is full of campers and caravans parked everywhere. Our car looked so tiny in between these big campers :D

Our Caddy looks tiny between the campers!

When we came back to the cabin, the sunset was really beautiful, and reflecting in the very calm sea. The first photo shows our little house on the right :) What a view for our last night!

Sunset, our cabin is the white house on the right Spectacular sunset

The next day we drove all the way back to Tromsø, it took all day. We had one more day of holiday left, which we used for another boat trip, and then it was back to work for both of us. It wasn’t easy to get up at 7 again :D we would have liked a much longer holiday, but that’s life I guess ;)