A tale of two summers…

Well, it seems I’ve not felt much like blogging recently! This is certainly not for lack of interesting things happening to me in the past year or so; f.ex, last spring I spent 3 months on fieldwork in the Arctic Ocean, during which time I had dinner with Norwegian royalty, was featured in a BBC documentary, and encountered a couple of Polar Bears rather more closely than I would like!
Actually, its not so much that I’ve not felt like blogging, but rather that I fell into a horrible rut of thinking that I should post things in chronological order. So I have a lot of half written blog posts and needing-to-be-edited photographs, and the more ‘old’ news piled up the more I felt paralysed by this feeling that I couldn’t skip over stuff and just start in with the most recent thing! A kind of extremely neurotic form of writers block. I get this in my working life too, that feeling that I can’t start writing until a long long list of other stuff is done, and then of course the urgent gets in the way of the important & I end up with no papers published. Which is bad.

So; a new beginning. I am going to try and post something on this blog every other day for a while. I’m hoping that regularly writing about something, anything, even complete drivel, will help me get into a writing mindset which in turn will help me make progress with writing those academic papers. I’ll let you know in a month or so if its helping!

Lets start with something easy: a tale of two summers in Tromsø. Summer in Tromsø is a shortish season, it can be snowy in the mountains well into June, and start freezing up or snowing again in late September. I see that my last post here was about Spring, on 8th June 2014. Shortly after that we had some lovely sunshine, deluding us into believing summer had arrived, all our things arrived from the UK in a giant packing crate, and my Aunt arrived for a weeks visit. Since the house was in chaos with boxes everywhere and no furniture; we took her to Senja.

Where it snowed sideways. Some summer holiday! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This was our first trip to Senja, which we found to be absolutely beautiful, if a little plagued by crazy weather! We stayed in Senjabu one night, then rented a cabin at Senja camping for two more nights because the rain put us off actually camping!
In July it was the turn of my folks to visit. They really lucked out with the weather, getting blue skies and over 20 °C for almost all of their 10 day stay. Since then I’ve had to endure endless jokes about the tropical Arctic paradise anytime I dare say anything negative about the weather here. We first took them on a 5 day hike from Kilpisjärvi around the place where the borders of 3 countries meet.

Then we rented a ‘luxury’ holiday apartment in Lyngen for a couple of nights (where we found the only foggy weather in the area) & did some day hiking there.IMG_0917
Then we had a couple of days around Tromsø, where Richard kept suggesting museums and my folks just wanted to go hiking! 

Now he has some idea why I am how I am with regards to wanting to be outdoors all the time! In the middle of all this our furniture delivery arrived from Ikea so we also put our guests to work assembling furniture.

The good weather continued well into August, allowing for mountain trips on weekends and after work in the evenings, a couple of the most noteworthy being Store Blåmann (1044m, a Kvaløya classic), Vengsøy traverse one Sunday with the gang from Fjellsportgruppa,
and Hamperokken (1404m, another classic) on a weekday evening, finishing in a rain storm at 1am.
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Summer 2015 was very different. It rained constantly in June and July, so I had plenty of opportunity to say negative things about the weather. We escaped to the south of France for a little sun as soon as I was done with fieldwork in late May, and I escaped again to join a riding tour on Sicily in mid June. Meanwhile in Tromsø it kept on raining, or being grey and windy. Daniel came to visit. It rained. We went to Senja. It was grey & windy to begin with but did eventually brighten up. Phew! I wouldn’t have wanted to send Daniel home not even having seen the fjords!

Richard wanted to do Tromsdalstinden and Hamperokken, (I’d done both previously) so we did that. Somehow ended up doing Hamperokken on a weekday evening again so I’ve had the dubious honour of being up there in the middle of the night twice! No rainstorm on the descent this time around thank goodness! IMG_2369IMG_2373

I took a week off mid August when it was forecast good weather and went to Senja to hike ‘Senja på langs’, solo, a really relaxing trip. The following week Richards parents arrived in Tromsø, fortunately the weather held for them to see the sights (and unlike my crazy lot Richards folks do like museums). We also took them to Senja for the spectacular scenery (2015 became a bit ‘the summer of Senja!’).

It’ll be interesting to see how summer 2016 turns out. We had a lot of plans to explore the climbing around here that never really came to fruition last year, so it would be nice to do that. We also had plans for a cycle tour in Lofoten that we called off due to the weather. We definitely need to visit Lofoten once before we leave Norway, having heard so much about it!


Last weekend I went hiking again, with another friend, Geli. Our objective was Tromsdalstinden- the really big mountain in all last weeks pictures. The weather was a little bit less than ideal, there was a persistent low flying band of cloud hanging around but it looked like the top of Tromsdalstinden was above the cloud and we were slightly hopeful that the cloud would burn off, so away we went. The route sets off up the track in Tromsdalen for not quite 3 km, then a signposted footpath leads down to a bridge over the stream and up through the trees the other side. This brought us into the cloud. We emerged from the cloud at the place were the path goes over a col towards Skarvassbu with the flanks of Tromsdalstinden rising on the right.


The path soon becomes very steep, until you gain the ridge proper. From here on in the way is rocky, but less steep, and well waymarked with red paint. We were really lucky in that it stopped drizzling when we were part way up that first steep part, and remained dry until we were on the top. We were super lucky to arrive at a cloud free summit, although we could see a lot of cloud all around. Unfortunately it did start drizzling again, and the cloud rolled in, as we got our sandwiches out.

We continued along the ridge from the summit, towards the southwest, admiring more rocks & clouds. The route we took turned back on itself after reaching the col between Tromsdalstinden and the much lower Salen, traversing along a ledge above the meadow in the head of the valley. Eventually we were in the meadow, then fording the stream, and so returned on the track.


Elsewhere everything is going well. This morning I had my interview with the police & got the paper documenting that I am legally resident in Norway. Then I was able to register at the tax office, who will send me a personal number – without which you cant really do anything in Norway. I filled out the forms at the post office that will allow me to receive post. My landlady returned and we do now have a hob to cook on. Work is interesting. Oh and I have (second or third hand) furniture – massive thanks to Geli for helping me move it across town – no more sleeping on the floor. I’m still in my sleeping bag, of course, but that is nice & cosy. 🙂