Author Archives: BiTh

Lake Tåkern – Paradise for Birds, Birdwatchers and Skaters!

Lake Tåkern is a very shallow lake situated in a historical landscape, surrounded by big agricultural fields and Mount Omberg rising in the west. Today the lake was covered with a thin layer of snow, but big areas was just powdered like dust – so we could often observe the ice quality. Do we skate if there is snow on the ice? We had prior knowledge of stable and smooth black ice under the snow so we decided to try it . But you have to be cautious, because if you can’t see if there is open cracks in the ice, it can cause you serious problems. If you fall – e.g. high risk, especially for the shoulders!

  • Swan traces - the swan is a symbol for Lake Tåkern

It was overcast and everything seemed grey, but the white surroundings enlightened the scenery. A big Sea Eagle rose majestic from the ice with heavy wings, quite a long distance in front of us. Maybe it just have had its lunch – perhaps a swan. Thousands and thousands of birds (especially swans, geese, different ducks and cormorants) inhabit the lake during the “open” season. Right now the lake had just a little “opening”. Other overland predators as foxes and minks take advantage of the “ice age” – to enlarge their hunting area – during the winter. We passed numerous traces from foxes and some minks.

  • Covered with snow
    Sun break through

When the whole lake is frozen – and all birds have migrated – it’s not easy either for a predator or its prey to find suitable nourishments. On top of the food chain we find our earlier eagle mentioned, who has a hard time. The authorities of lake Tåkern Nature Reserve give special support for eagles – to increase the population to a reasonable level, in a suitable nesting habitat. They feed them with slaughter waste.

  • Support feeding place for eagles - wild boar

A big part of the lake area is covered with huge reeds. You find reed islands and a lot of channels and open parts – many of them skatable – bu its very easy to get “lost”. The reed zone stretches all around the shoreline. In the skatable reed zone you have to be aware of “methane holes” – can be very difficult to recognize them when they are covered with snow under thin ice!

  • Frozen pressure ridge

Obstacles often occur during a long tour – of many kilometers – as for example pressure ridges and open cracks in the ice. Today the pressure ridges were frozen and stabilized. No cracks at all and we skated on most all of them on very smooth black ice. Luck! However, on grey thick ice covered with snow – there are often open cracks.

  • Lake Tåkern
    Pause after 15 km skating

After about 30 km of wonderful skating on lake Tåkern we felt very satisfied, even if the weather was grey and foggy – what an experience – to be right in the middle of a Bird Nesting Paradise “off season”.

Bartmeise.JPG

The Bearded Tit is another character bird for Lake Tåkern. It’s metallic sounds followed us in parts of the lake. They stay in the reeds all year round and feed on reed seeds. Wonderful birds!

Next day we did a new try – “Snowskating” – in a deep forest region called Tiveden. A vast wild area with almost no human population. Quite another habitat! We had good skating, but both of us fell in grey ice cracks hidden under the snow. We were lucky not to get any serious problems this time, but our shoulders hurt a bit for some days or may be for a week?

  • Black ice under a thin layer of snow
    Last year's reeds

Covered with snow

A skiier longs for snow, a skater finds snow as a hazard. If it hadn’t been a slight snowfall some days ago the northern part of Lake Vättern had offered splendid skating conditions today. Anyway, our trip today gave us a lot – as always. – 5 degrees below zero, wind about 5m/s south east and cloudy. Was the snow frozen on the surface?

  • Foggy day - a palette of grey colours

Under the thin layer of snow we had smooth ice 🙂

  • Tensions in the ice due to temperature changes between day and night causes cracks

We headed towards open water. What a great feeling hearing the waves far away.

  • Pay attention - weak ice!

While skating on natural ice you always have to pay attention. Pressure ridges are quite easy to observe. You have a lot of choices, to pass over, pass around them or return. This one we had to return. Another danger is open areas called “wind wells” which can occur anywhere.

Tomorrow new adventures are awaiting. We are planning to discover new lakes for us further south, hopefully not covered with snow.

Black, black ice…

Weather conditions right now makes the south of Sweden to a skating paradise. Today we experienced a sunny, calm, – 4 degrees C day in total wilderness on lake Långvattnet (Bohuslän) on black ice framed by a rocky conifer forest landscape.

The surface was just perfect! Along the huge rocks by the lake nature has formed enormous icicles.

There are many lakes and tarns, and the exiting thing with nordic skating is to skate around one lake and then walk to another one. We heard a drizzling sound and followed the creek by foot. Wonderful ice sculptures in the running water showed up. A dipper showed itself on the iced stones. Down stream we skated round a little woodland tarn – not bigger than 1 km circumference. We had a feeling of March when we sat in the sun for our packed lunch.

As always in our part of the world we find traces from our last ice age. Grounded rocks and bare stones from old sea level, before the land rised after the high pressure of the inland ice 10 000 years ago, shows up. Before sunset we headed back home and hoped to observe some animals. This morning we had a wonderful meeting with a giant elk just by the road!

Three months of skating adventures are awaiting

Five different lakes in three days offers five different conditions. Ice and nature is amazing. From one day to another nothing is the same. When temperature varies over and below zero the most different phenomenas occur.

  • Testing ice quality +5 degrees C

  • Tiveden, great bolder
    Huge boulder in Tiveden - ice age remnant
  • What's around the corner?

Foggy ice adventure into the unknown

Nights are still long and days are short one week after the winter solstice. We woke up in the dark foggy morning eager to skate on a lake we never had investigated before. Lake Ölen is a rather small, oblong lake lying in a landscape scattered with boulders. We had hoped a sunny day to admire the scenery but what we experienced was a mysterious misty day with so many special impressions you never can get a sunny day

  • nordic skating, foggy adventure

Minus 2 degrees below zero. The sun was struggling to get through the fog but the fog overcame the sun. We were both a bit doubtful about the ice conditions and this day we really had to use our ice poles a lot to be sure. There had been black ice, then snow and thaw…

  • skater's road choice

Along the cracks water had been pressed up and “built” excellent skating roads. Sometimes we were in the middle of nowhere just skating around following the lake almost anti clock wise. By the north western part we observed some huge boulders – remainings since the last ice age.

  • Foggy island, skating

Suddenly – there it was! The black ice, thick enough for skating (about 5 – 6 cm). What a joy. Before we realized we were back at the starting point after about 20 km. You really need to use all your senses while skating – especially in weather like this. We followed the map to know where to avoid inlets and outlets as the ice is thinner there. And of course we used our ears. To listen to the sounds of the ice to decide if it is thick enough. One of the most impressive moments was when we heard the sound from a waterfall in the distance.

  • Tysslingen, Kilsbergen, ice

On our way back home the weather cleared up and as we passed Lake Tysslingen – a famous bird lake – we couldn’t resist to meet the evening on skates with a wonderful view west over Mountain Kilsbergen. The whopees accompanied us in the sunset.

Some of county Värmland’s 10 000 lakes

This year we experienced a very early start of the skating season in Värmland county. A long time of high pressure and cold air from the Arctic and Russia gave us exceptional good possibilities. When lakes freeze it happens gradually. The smallest and shallowest lakes with little water flow will freeze first. The land area of Värmland county is slightly smaller than half the size of the Netherlands. Värmland is the landscape of forests, rivers and lakes. There are about 10 000 lakes from small forest lakes to huge lake Vänern. Värmland is used to be called “the country of glittering lakes”. The south western part of the county is exceptional rich of small lake systems connected to each other by rivers and creeks – a wonderland for nordic skating.

It’s very interesting to follow “the succession of lakes freezing from small to big waters”. All possible parameters as local climate, topography (landscape above and below the water surface), altitude, wind, currents, snowy or not etc, affect the icing process. Ice is perishable, it differs in quality from day to day, even in a few hours. This is clearly visible on large windswept lakes.

Before the first snow fall we had a marvellous time to explore the small waters. Snow on ice is the worse case for a nordic skater.

  • Inviting forest lake for skating

Just before noon we found our first “possible” lake. A wonderful feeling walking out in the frozen marshland covered with rim and realize that the ice was thick enough. Black, transparent ice!!! About 6 – 7 cm.

  • Ice phenomenon

The temperature was 8 degrees Celcius below zero, but as the sun was shining from a clear blue sky and almost no wind we had a wonderful lunch in the sunshine. The lake needed a few more days of cold to be frozen all over, so we skated round in a little part of it with joy for a while.

  • Ice not thick enough for skating

We decided to look for some new lakes. A little bay of a bigger lake was skatable. The sound of thin black ice with its different tones is just delightful music. Just before sunset we explored two tiny lakes situated on a higher altitude. The ice was over 10 cm thick.

  • Purple morning hour

New day, new experiences! The night had been really cold. Our plan was to investigate lake Sandsjön. By the shore the ice was only 1 cm and out there the lake “steamed”. A sign just before the ice sets. So – our plan didn’t work. BUT – we followed the road along the crevice that formed a smaller lake. And there we were lucky! After checking the thickness of the ice we were ready to skate.

  • on the black smooth ice

A divine feeling heading the sun towards open water. A big moment of peacefulness and joy.

 

We skated north into a nature reserve. This area has been inhabited since stone age and you can find a lot of settlements and pitfalls. The reserve was established to preserve, nurture and restore fire affected forests in different successional stages. Brännan

  • Steaming lake, frozen moment

So much to explore in total wilderness without any sounds of human activity.

  • frosty gem

A new gem by the road that we couldn’t resist – a woodland lake only a circuit of 3 km – well worth for a tour in the sunshine.

  • Rövattnet, Östervallskog

The end of these two skating days was more than we could wish. Another rime enveloped forest lake with black ice in the middle of nowhere.

Follow us in search of black ice in our wonderful Nordic Skating country!

 

 

 

 

Skating season has started

For three days in the beginning of November we were fortunate to visit Lake Rogen Nature Reserve.

We skated in a landscape formed by the inland ice – a geologist’s dream. The Rogen moraine consists of stones and gravel in a network of ridges with lakes in between. The park ranger Per Roger Wiberg guided us through the magic landscape. He knows his landscape well and has a lot to tell about wild life, human life and nature in this region.

Our starting point was by lake Käringsjön, the childhood home of Per Roger, at the end of the road. The source of the longest river in Sweden is situated here.

Old twisted pine trees and abandoned rowing boats remind us of times gone by. Common Goldeneyes find their nests in holes of pine trees. Nest boxes made of old hollow pine trunks are still there showing us how the grandfather of Per Roger got eggs from birds arriving in spring.

Smooth skating in a foggy environment and walks over low ridges to find new exciting lakes.

The primeval forest, with pine trees that can be many hundred years old, is impressive and and the lichens light up the landscape. The yellow Wolf Lichen” – Letharia Vulpina – is found in very old forests and not common at all in Sweden nowadays.

The last day we were lucky to see the sun. Even if the temperature was a couple of degrees above zero the ice was skatable. The water on the ice gave gorgeous reflections in all different colours.

Nordic Skating is a wonderful way to experience new environments, nature and wildlife. We met some Capercailles, grouses, a frozen frog and found droppings of reindeer on the ice. Eventually – on our way home – we met hundreds of reindeers. What a start of this season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayaking in autumn colours – Norway

Our collaboration with partners in Norway led us to Hotel Hurdalsjøen in splendid autumn colours. The hotel is situated on a cape, by the shore of Lake Hurdalsjøen, with high mountains around. The view is very spectacular, especially in autumn colours when the birches and aspen trees are glowing like fire among the conifers. If you want to experience the Scandinavian trend – nature, tranquility, outdoor activities and last but not least the Scandinavian kitchen – this is a perfect location. The atmosphere in the hotel is very welcoming with an open fire and a big lobby with stylish furniture. After a tasty lunch and a guided tour in and around the hotel we were ready to discover the northern part of the lake.

Almost always you wish sunny weather, but it is a very special feeling to paddle in mist lightened by autumn colours. Our goal was the inlet in the northern part of the lake. Finally we found our way in the estuary. There was almost no birdlife this evening, just some gulls and mallards. We saw signs of beavers but unfortunately no real ones.

The water level was very low, and after paddling about 5 km we had to turn around and head back again. The last kilometers we paddled in dark. It would have been nice with an evening sauna and a swim in the lake, but dinner was waiting!

We were treated a wonderful three-course dinner prepared from local ingredients.

After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast we explored the area around the lake before heading south. The hotel is situated only 25 minutes drive from airport Gardermoen, and a perfect place to start or end a visit in the borderland of Sweden and Norway.

Thank you Pål, Dag and Marianne for your hospitality! Besides perfect food and accommodation you had a lot to tell us about history and nature in your paradise. We will be back in wintertime for skating and skiing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archipelago Paddling, Bohuslän

Another sunny August day – ideal for kayaking. All paddling starts on shore as beginners need a tutorial before taking off. The participants, a family group from Grenoble France,  did a good exam in a short time. It convinced us to start our expedition very soon.  The weather was wonderful with sunshine and a smooth breeze took us out to the outer archipelago. Our little group was gliding over shallow, crystal clear saltwater heading towards horizon. Below the water we could study the rich presence of Japanese oysters.

A little stop at the “entrance” to open sea. In the far distance we saw a stunning image from ancient time – an old sailing ship – a full-rigger that sailed slowly northwards. In the easing swells we moved silently along smooth, of the ice age shaped, cliffs. The Bohuslän archipelago is one of the few places in the world where you can see the effects, especially of the last ice age not covered with moraine.

 

Ancient beautiful pink colored granite rocks surrounded us in narrow passages.

What a cruising day! After a “taste” of the outer archipelago, it was time for a much needed break. With homemade bread, black currant muffins and other refreshing delights we had filled up energy.

Back to the kayaks again and out on open sea. We were paddling in perfect weather, now moving for a longer distance. After finding an interesting waterway among rocky islands we finally found a wonderful sandy beach for swimming and a nice rest. It was also a perfect place for snorkeling in the crystal clear water.

Turning back home we chose the inner archipelago. Here is a lot to see and discover -remnants  and culture tracks from the ancient society, from times when a lot of people inhabited this archipelago. They where fishermen and shippers and also did some farming for the local household. Today all buildings are repossessed by summer residents. Our last stop was at the nature reserve Ulön Dannemark for a rest, late lunch and a nice walk on the island.

Many thanks for a nice paddling and good company to family Maffet !

Search, Explore and Discover the pearls of Bohuslän archipelago together with us!

 

 

 

 

Safari aux Fruits de Mer, Bohuslän

Kayaking, archipelago, salt water, collecting and preparing your own sea food – is there a better mixture?

A sunny August day our French guests arrived to the boat houses at Heestrand, eager to experience the Mussel, Crab and Oyster Safari. We were as eager as they were.

Equipped with collecting bags, baskets, neopren shoes and life jackets we were ready for the departure. For comfort and safety we chose the three men kayak for our guests.

Sheltered by the islands from the strong west winds, we had a wonderful paddling over the mussel and oyster banks. In the crystal clear water we could observe the life under water. As blue shells are filterers, the poisonous plankton algaes sometimes can make the mussels inedible in summer season. As we didn’t want to take any risks we were just happy to watch them. We paddled out to admire the mighty waves. Refreshed by a snack pause we were ready to paddle to our harvesting bay.

Periwinkles are semi aquatic organisms and live their lives in the waterline. Wonderful and easy food to collect and prepare!

What a day to search food! The sun was shining and the water temperature was over 20 degrees Celsius. Periwinkles, a few seaweed shrimps and some wild herbs on land was the result.

Now to the next stage – a quick ride by motor boat to check our crab pots. It is always exciting. The crab pots lies on the stone bottom at a depth of around 15 metres.  They are quite heavy to land. And look – some crabs and some whelks.

Back to the boathouses we prepared our food together. Periwinkles, mussels, whelks and crabs were boiled and the sauce for the crabs was prepared.
Starter – Periwinkles – quickly boiled with garlic, leeks, littorial herbs and white wine.
Second coarse – Blue shells à la Christine – white wine, parsley, onions, garlic. (These were bought at the fishmonger for safety reasons.)
Third coarse – Crabs with our special Swedish sauce  – Hovmästarsås. The ingredients are sweet mustard, sugar, oil and loads of fresh dill.
Freshly baked bread was served to all the dishes. There are different ways to “attack” the seafood. For periwinkles you use toothpicks, the blue shells are eaten with your hands and the shell is perfect for the sauce. The best way to get the meat out of a crab is to use a spoon to crack the hard shell.

After a day like this you are happy with life. Nature, physical activity, taking part in nature’s gifts, wonderful food and not to forget meeting new people!

Go periwinkle with us!