Reasons to head south

Location: 100km north auf Fauske
Odo: 288554

Today I saw something whitish on the shoulder of the road. What might that be? Flour? Coke? Hmmm. Then I saw the whitish stuff on the road. Not too much but there. By instinct I reduced my speed very carefully and watched the truck driver some distance behind me doing the same. Can’t be, can it? This night the heater kicked in suspiciously often, the windscreen was very moist due to condensation at morning and yes, it felt crisp somehow. But it’s around midday and the sun is shining. But hence to the high mountains there’re some places where the sun doesn’t shine. And I don’t mean anybodys arse by that, just in case you were wondering.

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yep, that's ice on the puddles...


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Some mud roadsite. At noon!

Yesterday, after almost three days without much driving I checked on my battery and found out it was only half full. I didn’t watch no movies and only used the tablet for internet access. In Germany the solar panels (160Wp) could easily sustain the fridge and some light and the sound system. I did some troubleshooting, cleaned up the solar panels and then it hit me: There’s nothing wrong with the solar panels, the solar system is to blame! In the arctic the sun does not climb that high to the sky anymore and my panels are pointing straight up since I had no time to build adjustable mounts. Since a client asked for some work to be done the same day I’ll need to incorporate some driving (for charging) and working in my daily schedule… Seems it’s time to head back to base…

Reinebriggen / hiking like an idiot

same odo and location...

The famous Reinebriggen, the interwebs and different magazines say it’s one of the best views in Norway. I parked just in front of it by coincidence yesterday. Some nice czech guys got up and I didn’t because there was rain on the horizon and the surrounding mountains (same height) were already hidden in the clouds. They got wet and didn’t see much, I “failed” at integrating some sensors in my power supply. The improvement didn’t pass my own safety check and I really don’t want to mess with unfused (solar panel…) 8 amps in a wooden interior.

Anyways, the guys said the hike is steep but alright and they want to do it again next day for the view. The interwebs said 440m height difference, up to 75% incline, difficulty T3 (more info: http://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAC-Wanderskala) , three hours return, not advisable when wet, completely unmarked. Today was not really wet and I met them on their decent shortly before the saddle of the mountain. “Yeah, it’s nice, enjoy, take the detour right on the saddle for the lookout and goodbye, we’ll do another hike today”. Ok…

I took the detour, enjoyed, went back on the main track. After about 1:30h I arrived close to the top of a summit but the track stopped at a small “wall”. I saw a well frequented climbing route, just 3-4 meters, probably UIAA grade II, so easy to get up and alright to get down again (which is the tricky part since I was alone by now on the mountain and the rock climbing gear was in the van). To cut a long story short: It took me another 1,5h with multiple short climbing passages in a terrain where you really don’t want to fall until I reached highest point around. Just imagine a drop of a couple of  hundred meters on both sides. After six hours I was back at the van, really exhausted and worried about myself. Taking twice the time that normal people do, shitting my pants on climbing passages the czechs didn’t even mention and being really exhausted while they go on a second hike… I know I’m out of shape but is it really that bad?

Luckily it isn’t. After some research I found out I actually went over the Reinebriggen up to the Helvete. 730m height difference, difficulty T6+ (according to some guy on hikr.org), seven hours return, or as the geo magazin put it into words “advisable only to experienced rock climbers with ropes&harness”.

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Well… I guess I made some mistakes here. First, I went out without a map and proper research. I thought I didn’t need a map because you can the the whole track pretty much all the time. I was correct about that but a map would have been helpful to figure out which summit is which. And in front of every tricky passage I thought like “a well, this is probably the last one” until finally one were. This is something which can become very dangerous when you have to retreat by the same way…

To sum it up: It was a really nice day! I was in a bad mood for some time because I thought I’m horribly out of shape but besides that I had a good workout and a nice view. But really: The track sucks. This has been my steepest hike since the Volcano on Ometepe/Nicaragua which was probably ten years ago… At least now I understand why the Norwegians are using these hiking sticks…

Notable Nature

Location: near Reine / Lofoten / Norway
Odo: 288238

If you were wondering where all the Scandinavian postcard & calendar pics come from: I guess I found one of the places. I actually parked here because I was hoping on a shot of the village with northern lights. What I got was a full rainbow instead. Not too bad at all.
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Judging on the size of the coach parking lots near sights this place must be crammed with tourists during the season. I guess I did it right coming here “too late” in the year…

Are there any decent previous owners around?

Location: North of Narvik / Norway
Odo: 287950

Something was feeling wrong with the handling of the car. Only slightly, maybe it’s just the bad roads or my mind playing tricks on me since I always worry something could break. Over the last couple of days I had a look at usual suspects like the engine mounts, drivetrain mounts, shocks, … and eventually started shacking the tires. A quite familiar knocking noise on the front drivers side: a wheel bearing… Luckily almost all mercs from the 70s-90s have the same, adjustable mechanism so you only have jack up the wheel and to remove the grease cap to adjust some nut.

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Something is wrong on this picture...

There actually is a reason why the caps protecting wheel bearings are called “grease caps”. They are supposed to be filled with grease.
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This isn’t. The other one wasn’t neither. By coincidence (or clever packing?) I got a tube of SKS bearing grease on board, so I packed both caps with sufficient grease. After a facepalm and some cursing. I guess the bearings will hold until I’m back at the workshop in Hannover, so there’s just another item for the “take care of soonish” list.

Notable Northern Lights / Post #100

Location: Gryllefjord / Senja Island / Norway
Odo: 287634

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I was really exhausted after the sheep hunt since it was the first real physical exercise since I got sick. After that the Aurora Alert App showed a particle density which was thrice what I’ve seen before and probably means that it is going to be awesome. No collapsing and passing out but staying up late… The first lights showed up and 22:00, which is really early. So I brewed a cup of coffee, got the camera ready and when I was ready they were gone. Classic… But they returned eventually and they were awesome! My camera skills are very limited so sorry for the probably too long exposure and the blurriness and that I’m too lazy to pimp them digitally. And one thing was impossible to catch: The lights were crawling over the sky! Starting in the west some oozed over sky until the disappeared east. There were even northern lights in the south!IMG_6691

According to wordpress (the software this blog runs on) this is the 100th published post. Jippi! Originally I was not thinking about blogging more than these pictures but I guess this anniversary demands some thoughts…IMG_6712

At first I was very insecure about starting this. I wasn’t feeling very well to put it in nice words and the first couple of posts were quite personal. I put them online eventually and didn’t tell anybody but very few friends who gave me either positive or no feedback. Since I loving writing since I’m a child I just kept on writing for my own fun and entertainment. I somehow lost the personal touch in between for which I am a little sorry but there was plenty of travel stuff to write about and the texts I started about what is going on inside of me never matured enough to put them online. In short words: I’ve got my ups and downs. Comparing to prior trips I’m performing awesome and should be really proud of myself for constantly fighting my fear to approach new people. I made good friends and had awesome experiences. There’s still this nagging voice in my head which says that I still can do better. That’s right for sure but I still have to learn to be joyful about improving and not be sad because of not being as perfect as I want me to be.IMG_6720

I had a large share of beautiful nature but I’m also a little sad that there was no real party summer for me. I somehow miss this feeling of lying in the sun being drunken and just enjoying the moment. On the other hand I enjoy being sober as well. My consumption on this trip was really low, I have been tipsy a couple of times and never been drunken. I almost completely stopped smoking without even noticing. I probably smoked less than 10 Cigarettes on the whole trip up to now. Despite the German “normality” of drinking on every occasion I proved to myself (again) that alcohol is utterly useless. I don’t need it to be happy, to cope with things, to be open-hearted, to be self-confident or pick up women. All of this is actually more easy when my brains are working 100%. I really forgot about this because a Friday or Saturday evening without a couple of beers was a seldom thing at home. And I still love beer, I’m drinking “Finkbräu” (alcohol free) writing this.IMG_6733

After two months of travelling and autumn around me I start to think about heading back to Hannover. I’m getting tired of being alone in the wilderness and would like to do more stuff with people. Even if this means to go to big cities again. So I’ll probably have a taste of Senja Island and the Lofoten since I’m here already and they should be really awesome. After that I’ll probably rally down for Olso and Göteborg, pay a visit to Copenhagen and then back to Hannover since at least one hydraulic lash adjuster of the van got really noisy. It’s an issue which doesn’t need immediate attention but can make a lot of damage in the long run. Since the camshaft has to be removed I really don’t want to do it roadside.IMG_6688

After that I’ll either stay in Hannover, move home or just jump in the van again to head south. Or east. At least somewhere warm. Or something comes up tomorrow and my plans will change. Until now, the hope for stumbling onto the place where I want to stay forever or the love of my life stayed a dream. But I guess that’s fine. I’m always longing for new views and experiences so there probably can’t be such a place. Maybe there can be such a human being. Well, we’ll find out eventually. Up to then it’s just up to you (and me) to enjoy the journey instead of being sad for not having reached the final destination yet…

The lost sheep

Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, 
and lost one of them, wouldn't leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, 
and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? -- Luke 15:3-7

If anybody is tempted to think that I’m the lost sheep and retired from my sinful life I have to disappoint you. I’m fine! But we literally found some lost sheep today! I joined up a very nice local and we went for an awesome hike with the secondary mission target of finding some lost sheep from her fathers flock. We actually found the majority of them and brought them home safely which came quite unexpected for both of us.

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The view down to skibotn


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The lost sheep


The sunset yesterday is also worth noting, all these mountains and glaciers really improve the overall impression on the scenery. The northern lights were just ordinary so I didn’t even bother to take a photo. What a spoiled bitch I am…
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Wrong parking lot, I advanced around the corner later but actually too late

Ah yeah, I also learned something about the nature today: There are wolves and bears over here. So there is a minimal chance for me to end up as a snack! He gave his life for what he loved 🙂

And the trekking boots already paid off, chasing sheep through wet terrain would have meant soaking wet feet. Sometimes the mud/sump was more than ankle deep…

To hike or not to hike?

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The view of the north cape from my current position

The most northern hike of the world is (according to the interwebs) famous for it’s beautiful view of the touristy north cape. At the moment (10:00) it’s ten degrees inside the van, probably less outside, winds are reported at 30kp/h, I would estimate the gusts on 60+ the way the van is shaking. As you can see on the picture the cloud base is so low that there is no view of the northern cape and rainfalls are reported to start around noon. So if I’m fast & lucky I won’t get wet and see nothing. One part of my brain says: Hey, that’s the perfect opportunity to test your rain gear and last but not least you came here to see the cape. Another says that I should screw it, there’s plenty better hikes south and it will rain there as well. Hmmm, let’s put it in these words:

Odo: 287187
Location: South of Alta
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The city of Alta. Civilization!

For the caravan traveller rainy days are designated driving days. And the day turned out as rainy as the forecast suggested. Better skip a shitty hike in the rain and rally south to spent some good days at a nice fjord! I didn’t drive that far south but more to the west but already the weather is improving (13deg C at 20:00) and there are trees as well as leaves on them.

The tourist trap at the end of the world

The one thing qualifying as a sight over here (besides all the beautiful nature, Townes, islands, …) is the most northern point of continental Europe. As we’re already established there are three of them and I just finished to touristy one. So the trip is finished concerning the fixed plans. I met D. in Stockholm and visited “the” North Cape.

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I turned up at 14:30 and there was still somebody sitting inside it. Luckily Eva and Hekki told me that it’s for free after the opening hours of the cinema (dafuq?) and the restaurant. So I turned around and returned an hour later. The guy was just stepping outside the booth and made a gesture I didn’t understand. Since he didn’t try to stop me I just drove on and he seemed reasonably fine with it. Later I found out that just entering the area is 20€ and “all area access” to the facility is 30€. Per person.

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The same trick as with the arctic circle: Just show some GPS coordinates and you're legally safe concerning the little problem that it is not the real deal....

As far as capes go this is quite a usual one, it’s windy, there’s nothing to see but ocean on one side and you got a nice little cliff on which you’re standing. Tourists playing around with the monument (some globe), taking zillions of pictures. The facility is quite large, a restaurant seating 200 and an auditorium for 300 (if I remember right). So yeah, you can do some business meetup over here as well. All in all it’s quite boring, more an item to cross of some list than anything special. Tomorrow I’ll maybe try the worlds most northern hiking trail if the weather is not too rough. At least the end of the trail didn’t look too interesting.

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Some place nearby which is further north than the north cape...


All in all I share the opinion of the people I asked about it: Not a recommendation, it’s no use going there. Especially in Summer because the payment booth is open until 2am or so and in Autumn because it’s 150km north of the tree line so there’s not much going on concerning colors…

Oulu recap / more northern lights

I'll be back -- T-101 / another guy with a german accent

I wanted to post this two weeks ago but I wasn’t in the mood to edit the pictures and I thought the text isn’t really catching it. Since waiting doesn’t change stuff I’ll just leave it as it is…

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Oulu more or less did the trip for me. I met nice folks before and a saw beautiful nature for sure. But here there were also fun/cultural events and literally everything happened at once. I was there for about a week and didn’t spend a single day alone. I roamed around the arts night with different folks and had a beer at often recommended “never grow old” bar. I watched the air guitar champignonships and met folks who instantly felt like we had been friends for ages. I ate the local mayonnaise pizza, drank beer in a private sauna, had two campfires (one with BBQ, one with roasted bread), enjoyed art installations at a park and kissed at sundown. I rode the ferry to Hailuotu Island, saw northern lights on four different evenings and even showed a local her first northern lights (talked about it and half an hour later I just pointed at the sky). And these were only the opportunities I took, I missed quite some stuff as well 🙂 I could have stayed there for weeks but the comming autumn pushed me further north.

To cut a long story short: I’ll be back.

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A kiss of autumn

"Up in the hills we say that autumn kisses you, 
but winter fucks you hard. 
This is only autumn's kiss" -- Big Bucket Wull

True words. After using the heater for the second time I looked up some weather statistics. The temperatures started dropping below zero already!

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thx to yr.no

Sunset is at 19:00 and T-Shirt hours are reduced to sunny afternoons without wind which are seldom. Eva described it as “crisp” weather. I guess both descriptions are quite fitting. It constantly feels cold just as 30+ degrees constantly feel warm. It’s not exactly uncomfortable but it’s there. In some moments you think like “fuck, that’s hot/cold” but most of the times it’s alright.

The colors of autumn really make up for the temperatures. Ah, yeah, there are northern lights as well….

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Besides that I finished reading “a song of fire and ice” and I’m quite sad that there will be some waiting until the next book is published. But maybe it’s a good thing, it really got me hooked up well so now there’s more time for other stuff. So if anybody wanted to discuss something with me now is the time since there’s no risk anymore of spoiling something…

After finishing I did some research on the author, George R.R. Martin. Fun to read, what really caught my attention was that he’s still using Wordstar 4 for writing the texts. It came out 1978, so it’s actually older than me. That doesn’t happen with software that often… Medieval software for medieval stories. As long as that’s not the reason for him for taking quite some time to finish a book I won’t blame him…

The world of word processing from the view of George R.R. Martin

The world of word processing from the view of George R.R. Martin. thx to wikipedia for the screenshot