Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All good things come to an end..... A wonderfull morning in the field. Picture heavy!!

This morning I went for, what appears to be, the last hike for this winter.... as far as we have had any winter. In my previous posts you can read why. According to the forecasts this would be the last, true winterday with temperatures of about -6 up to around freezing at midday.
After the kids were off to school and the mss. off to work and gym, I headed out towards the busstop to pick someone up. He is one of the scoutassistants of the scoutinggroup I help out and we were supposed to meet at 08:00. The plan was to both take our cameras along, have a hike around, shoot some pictures and have a warm lunch. I waited untill 08:15, but he did not show up. So I took off on my own.... and knowing from the get go, that I made a wrong decision regarding the clothes... It was no where near as cold as predicted or at least it did not feel like that and those winterboots were a size too big and roomy for my liking, with just one pair of socks. Didn't want to turn back right at the start, so I figured I would just make due.

I walked a short bit along the road next to the lake to the east of us and the sun started rising behind my back. It was a great experience to hike into the sunrise again, seeing the line of light approaching me and then crossing it. I stopped at the edge of the lake to take some pictures..... and got startled as the lake suddenly gave of a loud noice! It sounded like a distant rumbling thunder, yet I could here that thunder travelling through the ice for some distance! Weird... Never heard anything like that before! It did that several times with sounds ranging from the thunderlike one to some moans and groans and an occassional loud crack. The surface of the lake had a strange, wavelike surface. I guess from the thawing and refreezing.

Then I headed toward a known route toward the western lake, but quite at the beginning I decided to do things differently today; I was going to follow the edge of the lake cross country. Never did that before, so I was curious to see what that might bring. It sure would make some great pictures!
The going was a little tougher than I had expected. A lot of the lakeside is made up out of grassy fields, so the underground was knobby en lumpy, covered by refrozen snow and ice. I had to cross some ditches as I went along, knowing or suspecting that there would be icesheets underneath the snow and probably some water underneath the icesheets, so care was to be taken. The icy snowcrust had one serious disadvantage; while it supported my weight, when standing on it, walking across it was troublesome, because the moment I propelled myself forward, the foot, with which I did the propelling immediately broke through the crust, ending up 10cm below the surface.
I came across the usual hare-, deer- and foxtracks, but those were barely recognisable as such, due to the thaw of late. This lake too made noices, but not as loud and more supressed. It made more whoopp-whoopp-like sounds as if someone was bending sheets of metal.
A bit furtherdown the shore I suddenly spotted a darkgreen shape. Turned out to be an upturned canoe and some lobstertraps... all waiting untill the ice would release the lake again, so they could take to the water once more.

I continued to trudge along the shoreline, incidentally veering a bit off into the fields, when the going looked to become treacherous. I did not trust the ice anymore and reports have stated the ice across all of Dalarna was in a general bad shape. A definite no-go!
The western lake has a distinct peninsula in it and I wanted to walk up to the very tip of that, just to see what it was like. From a distance one can see a group of larger pines and birches, but it also looked like those were situated on top of a small hill. Right at the beginning of the peninsula I came across moosesigns; droppings, but older ones. I walked on towards the treegroup, which seemed to be so close, when looking from "our" side of the lake.... Going over land the distance turned out to be a bit longer! yet, when I was getting close, I was starting to feel a bit of a stinging feeling, just below the outerside of the right ankle and I knew what that was... either a developing blister or that patch of skin was being rubbed sore...
When I reached said spot I was pleasantly surprised by its appreance; the trees were indeed quite large, the ground was snowfree and defrosted, the terrain was hilly with large bolders and above all... it was sunny! So I decided to take a break. I took off the backpack, hat and mittens and just sat there for a while. It was so peacefull and silent.... No wait, not silent. I could hear the ice, the wind, a goshawk in the distance, several blue- and greattits, a crow.... and a few minutes later an approaching helicopter, whose rotorsounds boomed across the frozen lake. It flew high, yet very slow, almost in a hover and the tranquil moment was shot to pieces....
With the mood ruined I decided to do a gearfotoshoot, knowing I would be putting most of it away soon.

This gives a bit of an idea of the groundconditions

I can not decide which one I like best...

After the shoot I got dressed again, feeling the still cold and increasing wind. The gentle breeze had lost a bit of its gentleness, here on the peninsula. I kept following the shoreline, knowing it would reach a forestroad later on. There was a small island situated, which, in the light of the sun, would make for some nice pictures, too.

A hidden surprise underneath the snow

plenty of thawwater all around
My favorite picture of the day!!

Ice and frost create amazing patterns

At this point I decided to head "in land" more, heading for a small island of old pines in the middle of younger growth. There is a "road" heading towards that island and encircles it. I had been there before. On the way there I saw very clear foxprints, including the nails. Funny thing is that I did not make an imprint in the same snow, but stayed on top of it, so the tracks must have been older, yet kept their detail in spite of the thawing weather. No pictures, since by now the camera had shown me that the battery was going.... So I wanted to save it, since most know what a foxpawprint looks like.
Upon arrival on said island, my feet were really starting to become a bit of a problem. So I took of my boots for an inspection. The right ankle was quite a bit raw and the left large toe was feeling sensitive too at the point where it touches the boot. I hope I am not growing a corn there!
Then I got this crazy idea of putting my feet on the thawed moss. Well, actually more in.... I sank about 10cm... What a refreshing experience that was! Not just temperaturewise, but the sheer sensation of touching the soft, moist and quite fresh moss was excilerating. It felt so..... I don't know.... good. A bit of a childlike feeling of joy.... My feet were steaming in the sun and putting them into the moss made me feel reconnecting... After I had put my boots back on again, I just remained there, sitting in the sun, replenishing the serious lack of vitamin D and while I was there I had some food and water too.

On the way to and from this little island, there is this steep cliff, covered with old and large pines, between which large bolders and rocks are strewn. I got curious as to what might be up there, so I started climbing. The terrain wasn't the easiest to negotiate, but a challenge everyonce in a while is a good thing. The total hight is somewhere around 20-25 meters. This was not the smartest decision of the day... allthough in part it was too.
On top were more rocks and bolders.... well, actually just rocks and boulders, with nothing but holes inbetween, as if some giant has poured giantsized pebbles on a heap and over time these got covered by mosses and trees. And I found the same sort of ferns growing there upon the rocks, as it does in our backyard.
If the grassy, snow and icecovered terrain proved to be bad for your feet, while wearing loosefitting boots...

The way down was as laborious as the way up and I ended up on the lake's edge again, seeing what probably made that noice in the ice or at least part of it....

An then the battery died......

So there I was, no camera, so no pictures and that was the actual purpose of this trip, along with resupplying the vitamins S and FA (Sun & Fresh Air). It was around lunchtime, yet I somehow did not feel like going through the trouble of making a fire, brewing some coffee and making bacon and eggs...
No one ever accused me of being normal!
I decided to just head back home. I had done what I set out to do and I had enjoyed a wonderfull morning in the open air in peace, basked in sun, lifting that grey gloom of the past weeks.
Going by now however had become very uncomfortable and I was seriously overheating by now too. Allthough the forecast temperature should be about 0C, it was much warmer in the sun. A lesson I should have remembered, when looking at the thermometer on our balcony earlier this week. Yet I was wearing a t-shirt, a thick woolsweater and my anorak. Taking off layers, worked fine between the trees, but as soon as I came out in the open, the still cold wind, which by now had stopped being gentle and breezing, had picked up a notch, thus blowing straight through the woolsweater. I already had switched from Finnish hat to knitted wool hat and from mittens to thin gloves, but all of these now came off, same as the wool turtleneck. The anorak remained in place, as did the sweater. Without either one it was just plain cold.
On the upside I noticed that combining my belt & pouches with a backpack worked surprisingly well. The waistebelt of the pack settled on top of the large pouch and the combined weight rested comfortably on my pelvis.

So to me this surely was a morning well spent......


  1. The first rays of sun is priceless, isn't it?
    No wonder our forfathers worshiped it.

  2. Great exploratory hike and beautiful pics, Ron! I long for sunny days and blue skies! Clothing certainly can be a juggling act in these kinds of conditions. I find myself adjusting pretty often.


  3. We have been missing those rays for far too long. It has been nothing but grey here!
    And those changing conditions indeed make it hard to choose the right clothes.