Category Archives: In water and on ice

Project “Around Lake Vänern by kayak” part 3

Randviken to Stavik

The paddling continues and so the ideal paddling conditions. We decided to make a two day trip from nearby Karlstad to connect with Stavik, Värmlandsnäs, where we ended up last summer. The northern part of Värmlandssjön has the biggest cities in Värmland – Karlstad and Kristinehamn. As Värmland is a forest county two big forestry industries – Skoghall and Grums – are situated by the shore. Historically,  and even now,  lake Vänern has been of importance for transports of timber and wooden products.

We started in a lush bay, Randviken, and headed south to cross Kattfjorden. The head-wind was uplifting as we  came out on open water. In the distance east we could see the enormous pulp mill, Skoghall. We already felt far away from civilization. Oyster catchers and common sandpipers were busy protecting their nests.

Our first stop after 5 km was a sandy, shallow sound where we easily could pass with our kayaks.

Towards south the windmills “Gässlingarna” (The Goslings) showed up. We enjoyed our paddling in the evening sun through nature reserve Segerstad and arrived to our goal of the day – Åsundasundet – in sunset, eager to continue next day.

New day, new horizons! The north and south winds were struggling towards each other which made our 7 km crossing over the bay Åsundafjorden very special. We did meet some loons and some cormorants – otherwise we were quite on our own. And no signs of boats or human beings. In the distance Värmlandsnäs was dimly seen. Water and sky – what a view!

Our first landfall was a little islet patrolled by a sea gull. An erratic block balancing on the rock showed traces from the last ice age. Wonder where it came from. All along our crossing we had observed the 7 m red and white lighthouse Åsnegrundet in the distance. It marks an underwater due and has been there since 1961.

Time for a break to stretch our legs and fill up with a little bit of extra water and energy. Boiled free range eggs are perfect food.

Energized we followed the coastline southbound passing stony beaches and ground gneiss rocks. The rocks with different colors in red, grey, black and white and different patterns are all great pieces of art. Two Canada goose families melted into the environment and followed us for a while. The sky turned grey and we wondered if our trip for today should end in thunder and lightening. In a peaceful rain we arrived at Stavikens fyr, one of the oldest lighthouses in lake Vänern.

 

 

 

 

Project “Around Lake Vänern by kayak” part 2

Hjortens Udde to Vita Sannar

We found a very nice sandy beach to start from, close where the end moraine Hjortens udde heads out in the open “sea”. Blue horizon as long as we could see – only the haze profile of the volcano shaped mountain Kinnekulle breaks the line in the far east. The mountain has always been an important navigation point for seafarers. In the past, the mountain was thought to be  held by magic powers. It was unfortunate even to watch the mountain.Today’s paddle goal was to take us to Mellerud and Vita Sannar – a twenty km paddling. To reach this we had to round a number of capes exposed by waves. That can be particularly dangerous as the waters here are shallow and filled with large pebbles that form ridges on the bottom of the lake. Because of that we always try to keep far out from the shoreline where you reach deeper water – safe water! The area around Hjortens Udde is well known for its shallow rocky bottom. Too many shipwrecks testify that!

Even today the weather was on our side! We could fully enjoy the trip. Lots of birds showed up during our trip. Common sandpiper is more or less our constant companion along rocky shorelines. After passing some capes without strong winds we changed our direction more westwards and immediately the strong headwind pressed us to paddle harder. In our sight was a rather big forested rocky island, “Storön”. In shelter from the island we steered our kayaks in a calm little bay. The geology changed from striped rocks (gneiss) to dark grey/black rocks (gabbro) with lot of cracks. Time for lunch and preparing next stage. An adorable mini archipelago surrounded us. Far in the east we assumed the majestic contour of mountain “Kinnekulle”. Suddenly two sea eagles showed up in the hard west wind – the wind kept one eagle on the same spot in the sky over the forested island – probably their nesting place.

After lunch we planned to try to go inside “Storön”. Our map showed a little channel in the reeds. But after an hour of testing to find a way through we had to give up. Well – back again to the lunch rock. We discussed whether to go the outer way around the cape of Storön or to head back again. Suddenly the air was full of mating and dancing dragonflies. We admired the dancing dragonflies! And then a falcon, a hobby, posed up from nowhere.  As a shooter it chased the dragonflies in all directions and levels. What a show!

We decided to meet the strong headwinds behind the cape of Storön. After 4 km we reached the sandy beaches of “Näs Sannar”. Amazing clear water and fine grained sand welcomed us for a meritorious break!

After some rest it was time for kayaking again. The shoreline with several sandy beaches called  “Sannar” consists of three different beaches: Järns Sannar, Näs Sannar and Vita Sannar. After leaving adorable Näs Sannar we arrived to a mini archipelago and a rocky coastline met us again. Suddenly we heard warning calls from an osprey. We observed the fantastic well situated nest in a top of a fur tree growing on the rock. Quickly we paddled further towards the sandy shallow waters of Vita Sannar.

Hjortens Udde to Dalbergså

Again we started on the sandy beach just north of Hjortens Udde. It has always been an adventure to round this cape, especially when hard winds comes from the big open lake; e.g wind from almost all directions, except western winds. Another factor is the shallow waters in a very big area around the cape. This place is said to be the most difficult place in lake Vänern to navigate across. Hjortens udde is an end morain – created during the last ice-age. The ridge  “dives” under the water to appear again on the other side of Lake Dalbosjön. There it’s called Hindens rev – a four km long and very narrow cape (looks like an arrow pointing to Hjortens Udde in the west). Today we were lucky to manage to pass it close to the rocky beach as the winds “were on our side”. Very soon we passed the old wooden lighthouse – from 1852. It’s the only lighthouse in lake Vänern built by money from the state.

Fantastic paddling over shallow waters with fresh tailwind heading southwards. In the far south we saw the flat “cake” contour of a magnificent mountain seeming to swim on water! It was the profile of Halleberg. The sight southwards was several kilometers along the flicky coastline which informed us to meet a rocky shoreline and several capes to round. We where happy for the perfect weather conditions of today. Wonderful clear sights in air and also clear sight down in the water. This coast is really an adventure to investigate. Wild nature and almost no tracks of human beings! A bay of interesting islands and islets attracted us so much that we took a peaceful rest there.

Incredible clear water, singing birds and a colorful flora surprised us. A perfect place for contemplation and to enjoy a nutritious lunch.

After many kilometers with only sounds from nature itself – the waves throwing us forwards accompanied by sounds from nesting birds like seagulls and terns. We had a wonderful surf experience! Sooner than we expected we arrived to the outlet of river Dalbergså. We arrived with big waves throwing us up the river with exceptionally high speed! Just a few hundred meters of waterway and we where on our starting point again – a camping and leisure boat harbor. Outstanding!

Below are some pictures from the very old remnants of a very important fortress “Dalaborg”  (The headquarter of early “Dalsland”) during its big days 1367-1434! It was worth a visit from land after our kayaking as we passed it so quickly and had to concentrate on paddling in the heavy surf!

 

Project “Around Lake Vänern by kayak” part 1

After paddling, discovering and enjoying lake Vänern in its different environments for some summers, our curiosity led us to the decision to investigate the shoreline of the huge lake bit by bit. Lake Vänern has a total coastline of 4800 km, islands included, but our goal is to follow the coastline to add to our former expeditions to Djurö National park in the middle of Värmlandssjön, Lurö archipelago and the archipelago along the peninsula Värmlandnäs. Lägeskarta

Lake Vänern, with its 22 000 islands and islets, is the third biggest lake in Europe. As the archipelago is shallow the lake is perfect for sea kayaking. Lots of nature reserves, peaceful clear and also drinkable water, open horizon and almost no people out on the lake. You are definitely out in the wild together with flowers, birds and other wildlife.

Welcome to part 1 and follow us some days in the end of May.

Our starting point for this adventure was outside Åmål, heading south to Vita Sannar at Mellerud.

Sunny, warm, calm summer weather welcomed us during the first destination. After launching outside Åmål, we headed a bit north to round the lighthouse Fogden, before paddling south into nature reserve Tösse skärgård. The view of the wide open horizon is stunning!

Into the land of ospreys – have never seen an osprey nest in the top of a spruce! We held a reasonable distance, not to disturb the birds, and paddled to the outer archipelago. The tree on the island interested us. Was it a conifer or a deciduous? When we came nearer we realized that it was a fur tree. A calm lagoon appeared, perfect for a lunch pause and a refreshing swim in the vast lake! Could life be better? Non alcoholic beer, potato salad, tomatoes and smoked mackerel.

New day, new goals! The sun is shining, the lake is calm. Peaceful paddling southbound.

This day ends up to be the most magical part of this expedition. May full moon – and we are there on the lake to be part of it!!!

We approached the final goal and were just about to round the last island – Trollön.
A thrilling name of an island in full moon. Why is it named Trollön? The rocks were wild and had quartz veins. Very special in the dusk and the full moon light. Suddenly a big opening appeared in the rock. The home of the trolls? After a bit of thinking we found out it was an old place for quartz refraction – and it was possible to paddle inside!

A very special place and occasion to end up a wonderful day of paddling along the coast of Dalsland. We struggled a bit with mosquitoes, but didn’t want to leave the place in the magical night. The last 500 metres passing the lighthouse Vingens fyr into Vingens harbor in moonlight  before arriving back to the car is unforgettable. On our way back to the car with the kayaks through the forest, we heard the cat owl howling in the woods and the loon’s sounds out in the lake.

Couldn’t resist to start this day with a photo of the most enormous rhododendron in blossom we have ever seen – at our final starting point by car and paddle destination for this day – Vita Sannar.  After weeks of sunny weather, no rain and  hot weather we welcomed the clouds, we were hoping for rain. The paddling started where it ended last night. Today we were paddling through the nature reserve Yttre Bodane. The sky was dark blue, grey and very dramatic. Now and then the sun broke through and gave life to the water. Impressive!

Through reeds and past small islands. The production of pine pollen has been enormous this spring. We found it everywhere in calm waters.

Beautiful plants and lichens reinforces the nature experience.

Yttre Bodane is a paddler’s paradise. Shallow waters means that the fairway is very narrow and the area for kayaks is large. Silent paddling. We met a swimming roe deer crossing between islands, observed an old beaver hut. Eventually the rain started. It’s a very special feeling paddling in between islands, hearing and observing the raindrops falling – giving new life to nature.  Refreshed by the rain and the paddling today’s passage is done. Back to the car we encounter some friendly cows.

 

Ready for the last part of this expedition. We started at Köpmannebro – the entrance to Dalslands kanal. Stones and walls on the shore shows the history of trading with big ships in days gone by. In the fairway the painted warnings on the rocks for cays are still there, even if new modern red and green fairway markers show the way for boats.

We leave the nature reserve and get a free open paddling before we arrive to areas with human activity. A colony of gulls and terns live their lives on the islets by the entrance to Sunnanå – a big modern dwelling built just by the lake. After some kilometers we arrive back to Vita Sannar. In the warm evening sunlight the expedition is over for this time. The smooth sand and the lukewarm water tempts us to new adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stunning May week for sea kayaking

The Bohus archipelago showed its best when a high pressure moved in from east in the middle of May. With almost no wind and high air temperature the water temperature rose up to 16 degrees Celsius in the sea. During these circumstances its easy to reach the outer archipelago in contact with the huge sea.

The nature exploded with temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius. We went ashore in a most spectacular nature reserve – Valön. The red granite rock by the sea was surrounded by blossoming meadows filled with all kinds of spring flowers. The cowslips are favored by shells and shell deposits as well as by cattle. Typical for this habitat is the pink thrift. The sounds of the birds in spring are overwhelming. From every bush, on the rocks and in the sky the birds did their best to show up in their colorful plumage.

After a long paddling and a walk on the peninsula it was really refreshing with a swim from the cliffs. The water was crystal clear and we admired the shells, Japanese oysters, mussels and different kinds of wracks in the water.

It was time to leave this wonderful place and slowly paddle back admiring the light on the rocks and the sea in the sunset. We were companied by cormorants, black guillemots, terns and gulls who filled their stomachs with herrings who also were chased by macherels. The eiders were occupied by wooing and the air was filled by the males’ calls.

Summer 2018 entered so quickly!

P.S. We didn’t mention that we went ashore in Bovallstrand and had an ice cream 🙂

 

 

L’île du castor – Beaver island

Eventually it was time for beaver safari with kayak. The season will keep on for many months until the winter is here again. We were happy to be here from start and are eager to follow the spring, summer and autumn together with the beavers. In the beaver lodge the last years generation are still with their parents and the new off springs are not yet born.

We started our silent paddling at dusk. The sky turned to blue, pink and purple, the birds were singing and fulfilled the atmosphere of being one with nature. In company of starlings, geese, herons, goosanders, red robins and blackbirds we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The cranes were trumpeting and telling us spring was here. Now and then the sighing fog-horn call from the great bittern was heard from the wide and dense reeds. Suddenly the first beaver appeared! To our joy we realized that the beavers had been busy building two new lodges since August last year. The moon rose, it got darker and darker. We had contact with seven more beavers from at least two different territories. It was time to paddle back by the sound of the snipe dazzling in the sky and the sounds from the wood cock on its route in the sky over our heads. We were looking forward to a good nights sleep and to dream of next day’s adventures.

Morning has broken! Our mission for the day was to investigate the territories of the beavers. As most beavers rest at day in their lodges we didn’t expect to meet any beavers. Splash! A curious beaver right in front of us. Probably it was a young one as it was so interested in us. We followed it respectfully for quite a long time. We went ashore on the beaver island to investigate their habitat. The first signs were young oak trees that were grazed during winter time when fresh food is scarce.

We entered a diversified forest with trees in all stages and ages – from young plants to older trees and dead standing and lying trees covered with moss and fungus. A virgin forest! The beavers’ favorite trees are aspen and birch. They also like willow, rowan, alder and oak.

Since we were here in August last year, a lot had happened. The beavers had really harvested a lot. We observed a concentration of logs in the neighborhood of the new beaver lodge. From the harvesting place paths and canals led out to the water. The branches and logs are used for the building and small logs, branches and twigs as a winter food storage stuck down in the water nearby the dwelling.

Out on the water again to investigate the next territory. Canals in the reeds show where beavers transport their material. The entrance to the lodge is under water to prevent predators to get into the lodge. We followed down stream and on our way we saw a lot of new interesting birds as marsh harrier, grey heron, osprey, buzzard, hawk, hobby, kestrel and white-tailed eagle. It was the first day we met the swallows. There is a saying when the first swallow arrives summer is here. We also observed a lot of geese, swans, whoopers, teals and other ducks, grebes and divers.

Our turning point at the lake showed a fantastic view. Beavers live in rivers, small and big lakes and they are even seen i salt water areas. On our way back we passed another lodge, rebuilt on an old lodge. The logdes are built by logs, branches, twigs, stones and mud. Inside the entrance you find a chamber for eating and also a chamber for sleeping. The “bedroom” is covered with grass and moss to make it cosy and comfortable for winter. In the end of April life changes dramatically for the beavers when nature awakens. After a long winter with a poor diet of inner bark from twigs and branches fresh plants, sprouts and leaves starts shooting. What a feast for beavers!

It is an honor to get to know these wonderful, hard working engineers. You are welcome to follow us in our next blog. More information about ecology in another habitat where beavers build their dams. Of course you are invited to meet beavers together with us. Safari in tandem kayak or by foot!

Food from the Sea – Scary Seafood

Scary Seafood? What is that? In the mid of April we were invited to a very instructive full day workshop at Lovén Marin Centre, Tjärnö for learning more about how to use and prepare the treasures from the sea.

We were offered a mixture of interesting and informative presentations, delicious samples of seafood and insights into recent research of how to use the unexplored food source of the sea.

There is a lot to learn about seaweeds. It’s our new superfood with a lot of minerals, vitamins and proteins. A better name should be Seagreens!

Christine Appelqvist, from University of Gothenburg, and the fishermen informed us a lot about the different species of the bycatch which is possible to use for food. We were served a very tasty soup made from small crabs.

After a day filled with new impressions we are inspired to paddle out on our own and with our customers to “harvest” and prepare what the sea offers us!

Inspiration in Swedish – Scary Seafood! https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=125&artikel=6930653

Salt water ice

Our second short trip on salt water ice! Though it has been really cold for several days – down to 13 degrees Celsius below zero – it has been so windy that it has taken long time for the bays to freeze. In our opinion far too long time. Satellite maps and reports from other skaters made our direction to Sannäs this morning – near Havstenssund, Bohuslän.

The sun was shining, but – 9 degrees  C is a bit chilly in the strong wind. Who cares? Our expectations were met! Shining salt ice – just like a new polished floor. We had to be careful as the ice was rather “young”. You need to stop often and check – 7 cm is safe.

We had a limited area to circle around and were not far from open water. Luckily we found a sunny place sheltered from wind for our hot crane berry juice and sandwiches. A nice stop for photos. So peaceful to admire mussels, Japanese oysters, barnacles and lichens from the ice edge.

The rocks are  all red granite – famous for this part of Bohuslän. A piece of gneiss was transported here by the ice 10 000 years ago. It is almost incomprehensible to understand what it looked like during the ice age and the melting of the giant ice that covered our country.

Time to skate back to the car. New out door adventures are awaiting. Wonder what will happen next!

 

 

 

 

A short skating tour at lake Unden

Back to lake Unden again. A huge lake, close to Tiveden National Park. This time we chose the north eastern part. Even though it was overcast and the skating area was limited today’s trip gave extra energy to body and soul.

  • First stop by a little island. Ice covered stones and plants.

It is always uplifting to be out and be a part of nature. Sweden is fantastic – has so much to offer!

Wild skating in wild nature – in company with tracks from wildlife

Sometimes it’s not the skating which gives the most memorable moments. BUT – the skates bring you to the most stunning environments and experiences. After many days of overcast we were lucky to meet the sun again. A thin layer of snow over the black ice made the skating very easy and enjoyable. The thickness of the ice was between 5 and 7 cm so we had to be aware. Only small parts of the giant lake Unden had ice, so the view from the ice over the navy blue water gave a special feeling of the beauty of nature. At last nature had sculptured the most fantastic statuaries. From start a nice “ice goat” showed us the way out. We hadn’t skated long until we met a couple of whoopees who enjoyed the sun and the open water by an island.

Even if a skater’s dream is shining black ice, a layer of snow shows you what’s going on in nature by all the different tracks. From the very beginning on our way to the lake,  a lot of roe deer have had a wonderful meal on twigs from felled deciduous trees. We skated by the shoreline, and there – suddenly – we could follow round, quite big tracks. To our great joy there were trails of lynx. Imagine – the big cat was there yesterday! We could even see tracks from its tail dipping in the snow. It seemed the lynx hadn’t been in a hurry. Maybe it had admired the wonderful icicles – as we did.

Ice drops – icicles – ice curtains – sculptures – fantasy animals

Pine tree paws. Artist: Nature

Finally we could tear ourselves out from ice art and further on to open spaces. The skates slid easily on the smooth surface. BUT – what was that? Another creature who had had as fun as we had. Jumping – gliding – jumping – gliding – jumping – gliding. An otter! After imagining how happy it had been we continued our trip. We didn’t come far until next track stopped us. Traces of mink. This little one had jumped on the ice and dived into the water. We wished all these wonderful signs should have been alive so we could had seen all of them!

Lunch time – we found our own little island. Perfect for hot tomato soup and some sandwiches in the sun shine.

You never know what you will experience. That’s the fascination with outdoor life away from traffic, towns and a lot of people.

 

 

 

 

 

Where to go when the snow is fallen?

It was mid of January –  time for skating on new frozen ice! We were awaiting new customers in three different groups to arrive from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The weather forecast for the coming 10 days showed a lot of snow coming from southwest. We thought our base in Bohuslän, on the Swedish west coast, should be a good place to start from. Close to the sea it might be less amount of snow falling. Because of that we started investigating nice tours around in the neighborhood.

We found magnificent black ice in Norway, just an hour drive from Heestrand – our base. In our direct area ice was in the state of beginning to freeze – not only lakes – also inner salt water fjords. In the inland we had different, wonderful lake systems to choose from. Sadly they were, for the moment, covered by some centimeters of dry snow – still skatable.

When the arriving date for our second group was there, the whole of Sweden was covered by snow, more or less. We couldn’t find any skatable ice! Where to go? Fortunately we had one more base, 300 km east of Heestrand. Medevi by Lake Vättern, the second biggest lake of Sweden. As it is a huge lake it wasn’t yet covered by skatable ice. Thanks Sweden is a great waterland!  We found skatable ice in the surroundings of northern Vättern.

With the help of the skating network and weather reports we had four wonderful skating days in different environments. We started with two days of skating on small lakes in the surroundings of Lake Vättern. Lake Stråken – a “forest lake” with some mansions by the lake. Lake Tåkern – the well known bird lake – on the cultivated plain, surrounded with reeds. The third day we headed off west to lake Ymsen which invited us with stable ice. Back to Medevi in the evening where we made the decision to pack all our things and be ready for a check at lake Vättern before we headed to the west coast. On the fourth biggest island of Sweden – Orust – we had our final countdown, with safe ice on two small nice lakes. Refreshed by skating, fresh air and good company we said goodbye with nice memories for all of us.