Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Shorter Walk

Not having another 3 days spare for a camping trip, last Saturday I had a half day walk. The original plan was to walk from Finnsnes to Bjorelvnes passing below Kistefjell. However, we set off without a map and quickly found out that despite a very large signpost at the beginning of the route, the path quickly divided into a number of much smaller unmarked ways. And so it was that we ended up most of the way up Kistefjell (the big mountain with the TV transmitter tower on the top), without a realistic way of finding the right path to Bjorelvnes. However, instead of admitting defeat, we improvised, renaming our walk a multe tur (a trip to find multebær / cloud berries), and voila, success. We came, we plucked, we conquered!

The view towards Kistefjell, before the wrong turn.

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The view from Kistefjell, after the wrong turn, looking west over Senja.A_Shorter_Walk_03

 

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And south again on the way home.A_Shorter_Walk_04

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Wierd Trees – Camping trip part 3

This is day 3 of a camping trip on Senja. Here are links to Day 1, Day 2, and an interactive map of the journey.

A second night with not much sleep (this time there was so much dew that everything, including my sleeping bag ended up quite wet). The first two pictures were taken at 2am and the third, at 4am:

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Once the day had properly arrived and the sun had dried out the sleeping bag, etc, it was time to get officially wet before breakfast (the lake was a bit warmer):

Despite walking on one of the main tourist trails on Senja, we only encountered about 10 people in 3 days. However, we also shared the paths with a good complement of animals, including reindeer and mouse (elk). However, here is one print we didn’t recognise: any ideas?

Speaking of trails, this was the route for the day, taking us through the Ånderdalen National Park, to our final destination at Tranøybotn.

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We set off with an initial short up hill stint:

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before we walked down to Åndervatnet.

As we descended, the woodland began to change from basically silver birch, to firs and pines, which is pretty rare in northern Norway, and even more so because they were tall! However a proportion of them were either dead or dying, leading to some very strange shapes and “skeletons”. It was fascinating to see the way that the trunk and branches of many trees grew like cork screws: a feature normally masked by bark. Here’s a selection from the day:

Aside from tree-spotting, the trail took us along the banks of Åndervatnet, with views of Henrikshovudet, Kolkjerka and Blåfjellet. A 360 degree panroama can be found here.

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We were also on alert for Multebær (cloud berries), although we were not as successful as the previous day. However, the search detours off the beaten track added several hours to our journey!

On one of the detours we made an usual discovery: a pair of old wooden skis leant against a tree. The wood was de-laminating. We wonder whether they are perhaps a memorial to someone, so we took only pictures.

Leaving the lake behind we walked for a while beside the river:

The final leg of the journey was across a large area of upland wetland with a rather unique system of plank walkways extending several kilometers to protect the landscape from erosion and walkers from the mud (I was busy balancing, so didn’t take any pictures).

Have experienced excellent weather for the whole trip, it started to rain a few drops in the final ten minutes before Sarah collected us. Then, just as we got into the car, the heavens opened and it rained solidly for the next day and a half!

And to finish, here is a rather perfect looking flower.

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Rudolph’s Family – Camping trip part 2

This is the second post about a three day hiking / camping trip in the mountains of Senja. You can read about Day 1 here, which includes a map of our whole route.

After a rather fitful nights sleep (it turned out the stone I was laying on wasn’t so very comfortable, and a passing heard of reindeer came pretty close), we were woken by the sudden warmth and of the sun rising over the mountain ridge. Imagine waking up to this view, without even having to open the curtains:

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The distances we needed to cover were not huge, so we had a realatively lazy morning, swimming, eating breakfast and packing up camp. It was incredibly still with amazing reflections in the clear lake water.

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Here is a 360 degree panorama.

So, around midday we set off! This was the day 2 route (click to enlarge, or or click here for a proper interactive map):

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As we crossed the road in Kapperdalen we met some Germans from Bardufoss (a neighbouring parish to ours), so we stopped for a quick chat before beginning the walk up Istind, the highest point on our route.

As we climbed up, the panorama opened up before us (well, behind us) – click each to enlarge:

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Rudolphs_Family_37Here are some smaller images, including cloud boiling over one of the outer fjords:

On one of my photo stops (better than calling it an out of breathe break), a strange bird caught our eyes in the distance, which quickly turned out to be a fighter plane well below us (not sure if it’s legal to post pictures of military maneuvers, so if I disappear without trace, you know why) :

Crossing a boulderfield (huge chunks of rock with no path – you just clamber) we came toward the top of Istind and rather appropriately, snow (Istind means Ice Peak). In one place the snow had melted leaving a snow cave with a rather precarious looking roof, ready to collapse:

Crossing the ridge on Istind from Kapperdalen we were treated to a great 360 degree panroama:

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From here, most of the rest of the walk was down hill. However it was quite tough going, with several kilometer more of the boulderfield on Tverrfjellet. On the up side, the rocks were actually quite photogenic, and we were amazed by the way that large slabs of white and black rocks lay side by side, with no apparent rhyme or reason:

As the post’s title suggests, we saw reindeer. Initially there was a very wary family at a distance, then we encountered a beautiful buck at close quarters – I don’t know who was more startled!

A by product of being up with the snow was a good supply of ice cold water, both for drinking and swimming (although we didn’t try the later!):

Our afternoon views were to the south (over the sea to Tranøy, Dyrøy, Søreissa and in the far distance Andenes and the Lofoten isalnds):

and west to the fjords on the Atlantic west coast:

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There was one ridge in particular which was weird: how do you get a rock formation to look like that?

Coming down from Tverrfjelet we skirted a small lake before coming steeply down beside a waterfall towards Kapervatnet:

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It was also at this point that we encountered a lot of the mythical multebære (cloudberries), much sought after and highly prized by Norwegians – and a lot of mygg (mosquitoes). So, the two foreigners (Frank is German) ignored the mygg and plucked the multe:

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Having done our bit to feed the local insect population, we walked on another hour or so past Kappervatnet (which bizarrely is not in Kapperdalen, but the next valley over). As the full moon rose, we stopped for the night at 10.30 pm, again failing to find a large enough flat, dry area to pitch the tent (360 degree panorama here):

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At well gone midnight our campfire was mingling with the mist over the lake:

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The end of another great day!

Day 3 coming soon.

Night On A Bare Mountain – Camping trip part 1

Because of holidays, travel, etc, post are going to be out of chronological order for a while!

Keen readers may remember that 2 years ago I went for a two day hike / camping trip  on Senja with our catechist / youth priest, Frank. As everyone in the church knows, once something has happened twice, it’s a tradition. So, in order to make our camping trip a tradition, this year we went again, this time on a more challenging route, with three days walking and two nights camping.

Because weather here can be quite unpredictable, this kind of expedition has to be a bit flexible, so on Friday we decided to begin on Sunday, after church. Of course, after church is a bit variable, so it was 6pm before we were dropped off in Svandalen, with clear blue skies and full sunshine. This was our route, stretching approximately 35 km / 22 miles. Click on the map to enlarge, or click here for a proper interactive map:

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On local advice, we didn’t take the marked trail, instead trying to find a way through the forest on the other side of the river to walk into Tromdalen (our first valley). After marching around for an hour or more through dense scrub, walking moose trails and crossing the river several times, we eventually reached the top of a peak (on the wrong side of the river) from where we could see the proper trail, which looked much easier:so, we climbed down with our heavy backpacks (at least 40 lbs), crossed the river (again), and got ‘on-track’.

After several miles of relatively easy going, Frank was already beginning to mentally write his confirmation service sermon, comparing aspects of our journey with the Christian life (you’ll have to come to Finnsnes one Sunday in May 2015 to hear it)!

The lower part of Tromdalen is quite a steep V shape, but the upper section is a more open U.

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Night_On_A_Bare_Mountain_09There’s also a 360 degree panorama here.

At the head of Tromdalen we crossed over into Leirdalen with views out toward the Atlantic west coast of Senja (known as the Yttersider (the outside).  The lakes were teeming with fish (you could see hundreds of rippling circles), but sadly we didn’t have any fishing gear with us.

We passed several potentially great camping places (a lake to bath in, a waterfall for fresh water and flat dry ground to pitch the tent, but we needed to keep walking:

On the side of Skipstinden there is a strange giant horseshoe:

Several times we disturbed families of grouse (rype) who suddenly fly up, almost when you step them. The mother then, potentially self-sacrificially tries to distract you walking ahead, making herself very visible and calling until you are a long way from her chicks:

At well past 11pm and with the sun well and truly set we finally left Leirdalen:

and crossed into Kapperdalen where we planned to camp beside Langdalsvatnet.

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Being well above the tree line, we had already collected some dry birch bark for a campfire, and at nearly midnight settled down to free cooked soup, sandwiches and tea.

It’s several weeks since we lost the midnight sun, but there was still enough light to walk around. However, being a very rocky and quite wet area, we couldn’t find a place for the tent, so we slept out under the star (well no stars because it didn’t get properly dark), although the only dry place I could find to sleep was on a large rock!

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The end of day one – day two coming soon.

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Vassbruna II

Last September I took a walk up Vassbruna, the highest mountain in Lenvik kommune. At the beginning of July this year I walked it again, at the instigation of my friend Glenn. I should probably have known better having only previously managed 2 trips up our local hill, which is only 1/3 as high! But we set off anyway. Last year it took approximately 4.5 hours – this time it was almost 7 hours, and I was rather stiff for a few days afterwards!

The day was beautiful and the low lying meadows and woodland were lush green with lots of flowers.

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As we climbed a little there was a waterfall which was still mostly running behind the snow.

Nearing the top we crossed a large area of snow at about 45 degrees, which in hind-sight was probably a big avalanche risk because the snow was melting fast – on our return our footprints were about an inch deep in melt water.

The view from the top was again spectacular, over the mountains of mid-Troms to the north, east and south (our county) and the island of Senja and the Atlantic to the west. Click for a 360 degree panorama.

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We were high enough to look down on Kistefjell, the large mountain with the giant TV mast which dominates Finnsnes.

Despite the record breaking high temperatures we’ve experienced in 2014, there was a lot more snow on the top (this trip was 10 weeks earlier than last time), and some of the small mountain lakes were still frozen.

However, even on the very top we found some hard flowers. Here is some of the fauna and views from the way back down.

A good bit of exercise!!!

Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele

Last week was Finnsnes i Fest (festival week). As part of the festival the church (Sarah, Susanna and I, plus some very dedicated bakers and coffee servers) organised another Være i Stillheten event.

We were pleased to have almost 100 people attended the hour program which included still images and video with live classical music, plus two hymns, Bible texts and some prayers. Our prayer is that these events are a bridge into the church. Many people told us how moved they were, meeting with God in a deep and special way.  The program in PDF format is here and the preliminary post was here.

For those who were unable to be here (or would like to hear one piece again), I’ve uploaded the video of Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, one of J.S. Bach’s most well known and beautiful chorale preludes. The music on the video was recorded here in Finnsnes Church, although like with the old silent movies, during ViS the organ was played ‘live’. This video is a little different from most of what we do in that the text is in three languages, and the images are quite abstract.

You can click the icon at the bottom right hand corner of the video to watch it full screen.

Somewhere Under The Rainbow

The extremely warm and sunny weather we’ve experienced in northern Norway this summer (the news reports saying it’s the best in living memory) have apparently made the sea go turquoise and rather murky. Presumably it’s some kind of algae, although I’ve not read anything about it yet. The hot weather has also lead to a lot of thunderstorms (and related fired, scared campers, etc).

Here are some pictures, looking south towards Søreissa and the south of  Senja, with the sea and a rainbow. Oh, and the white Mercedes estate (station wagon), is NOT ours!

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