Springtime

The world is alive again!


The sun makes its appearance in a slightly more convincing manner, a bunch of plants realize now is the time to start to bloom instead of two months ago, and hibernation is over for all participating animals (homo sapiens included.) 

Fauna

Not all animals hibernate, but still a lot of them are tucked away in winter, away from the (mild) cold and (lack of) snow. Now that the sun is getting back in action, so is the world’s fauna. Inspired by the sunny days I wanted to go out and photograph some of these lovely animals popping up everywhere. But I also wanted to just chill and read a book on the balcony. So I compromised and did the latter. In my defense, I already have a bunch of pictures of animals, so let me just show you some of those instead!

 

Garter Snake eating frog - Algonquin Park, ON, Canada
Frog - Algonquin Park, ON, Canada
Spider - Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, Gent, Belgium
Spider - Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, Gent, Belgium
Loon with baby - Algonquin Park, ON, Canada
Swan stretching - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada
Ant - Allan Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada
Turtle (not tortoise!) - Algonquin Park, ON, Canada
Birds at feeder - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada
Squirrel - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada
Otter - Toronto Zoo, ON, Canada
Raccoon pretending to be a bartender - Toronto Zoo, ON, Canada
Jimmi the Cat - Zulte, Belgium
Downy Woodpecker - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada
Squirrel throwing nuts at my face - Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada
Accidentally interestingly lit ladybug - Zulte, Belgium
Hoverfly - Zulte, Belgium
Some kind of moth I'm guessing - Zulte, Belgium
Elk probably - Rockies, BC, Canada
Confused little Lab and reflection - De Gavers, Belgium
Male House Sparrow - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada
Unknown - Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, Belgium
Little common Garter snake - Algonquin Park, ON, Canada
Stella - Deerlijk, Belgium
Columbian Ground Squirrel - Canadian Rockies, BC, Canada
Fly - Zulte, Belgium
Squirrel - Brighton Pavilion Gardens, UK
Some kind of Katydid? - Zulte, Belgium
American Robin - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada
Dragonfly? - Toronto High Park, ON, Canada

 

Jasmijn

Holi

Holi

In light of recent events I figured a bit of colour and love on the blog would be welcome. Today the festival of Holi is being celebrated in India and Nepal (mainly). This festival marks the beginning of spring. It is a celebration of fertility, love, colour and the triumph of good over evil. It starts with a burning of wood and dung-cakes to signify good defeating evil. The next day is when people famously throw handfuls of coloured powder and water at each other. The idea is that everyone participates, young, old, rich, poor,… Communities, friends and families get together and celebrate. For me, this is how all holidays should be celebrated (or with a million lights, like Diwali. – Doesn’t India have the best festivals?!) 

Toronto Color Festival

During my stay in Toronto last summer I had the chance to photograph the Toronto Color Festival. Not an actual Holi celebration, but it had the colourful, eye-watering, camera-destroying powders so it’s close enough. It will have to do until I get my ass to India to experience the real thing. Taking my gear in to the powder-covered colourful chaos was far from evident, but there’s nothing a few zip-loc bags and a bunch of tape can’t fix. These are some of the pictures I took that I liked.

Holi_015

Holi_002

Holi_016

Holi_009

Holi_018

Holi_006

Holi_004

Holi_017

Holi_013

Holi_012

Holi_003

Holi_008

Holi_001


I suggest we all do a little holi festival today. I’m not saying you should throw a bag of flour in your loved ones’ faces (I’m also not saying not to) but I’m saying let’s celebrate love, and remember that good triumphs over evil.

 

Jasmijn

Meersman

Meersman

Last summer we were asked by the lovely people of Meersman Bouwbedrijf to take images of their past and present building projects. This is a building company that builds quality buildings with quality materials so they wanted quality photos. I was thrilled and honored to have been chosen for this cool task.

Meersman

This has been the biggest project I’ve done so far, and though I was nervous, I was very excited. Checking out the buildings and sites beforehand to see what time of day would be best to take pictures, briefly stopping traffic to get that perfect angle, driving around in an airconditionless car on the hottest Sunday of the summer because the nice clouds that day would add to the picture… All these things were part of the job and I loved every minute of it. I am pretty proud of the results, and our customers ensured me that they are also very happy with the images. I believe them, because now their office is decorated with 9 huge prints courtesy of NindoPhoto. Below are some of my favourite images of the project and if you’re curious about which pictures they’ve chosen, you can check out their website

7-Kesselstein_001

3-Kasterlinde_010

6-'tBad_001

4-Bareel_085

 

4-Bareel_019

 

1-Rivierzicht_022

1-Rivierzicht_001

 


Jasmijn

Sverige Part 3

Sverige var kanon!

This is part three of my Sweden-diary. If you haven’t yet, check out the first part  and the second part! (The trip has been a while now, and since I didn’t keep a diary during the trip itself, I have forgotten a few things already, I’ll try to keep it interesting though)

 Day 5

GOOOD MORNING SWEDEN! Day 5 is here and light-packed Jasmin is ready to go!

The place I had picked to set up camp was far from ideal, but the waterfall proved to be a good background-noise for falling asleep. Feeling well-rested (or, let’s say, adequately rested) I made my way down the river to fill up on water. My knees and feet were feeling quite sore but nothing too bad. Just as I was packing up Randy walked by. He started way earlier than me so he had been on the trail for quite a while.We had a little chat before he makes his way and I continued to pack. 

Sweden 2015 - Day 5

Down by the river

Since Randy and I couldn’t find the bridge we were supposed to the day before, I have lost all faith in bridges, so I tried to navigate myself on the map without using them. Thankfully, I checked out the ‘How To Read A Map’ guide that came with my compass one of the nights before. (Which eventually ended up being less helpful than expected, it’s actually pretty straightforward.) Being distracted by the location of hills and water and myself, my hike went pretty smoothly, despite the slight constant elevation.

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 5

“Okay so I am near 3 hills and a bit of water…. Could be friggin’ anywhere.”

My pack has gotten significantly lighter over the past few days, and I’m walking a good pace. Every now and then I stopped for a few minutes and just stare at the view. As the elevation became higher, the views were even better. Mother nature had decided I’d gotten enough sun over the past few days, as it was a bit more clouded that day. It’s pretty cold when the sun is hidden, but the clouds playing around with the sunlight, creating a rather nice light-spectacle in the valley, more than makes up for it.
Halfway my way up the ascent there’s a fork in the road. One way takes a longer route that passes by the Singi huts, the other way is a slightly shorter but more elevated road. Both roads converge somewhere not too far from the next huts. Since I didn’t have much trash to get rid of, or needed anything else from the huts (and was also hoping for good views), I decided to take the shortcut. 

Kungsleden_map

Sweden 2015 - Day 5

View of the valley looking back in the direction of Tjäktja pass

It was getting colder, but as long as I kept hiking it was okay. The route does not disappoint, the view is constantly amazing and I pass by some nice lakes. Too bad the sun was nowhere to be seen because I would have enjoyed a picknick by the lakeside. As this is kind of a shortcut, and not the route that passes the hut, there’s less to no signs (the red-painted stone cairns.) Good thing I’ve been practicing my map-reading skills! 

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 5

Waterfall

After the lake it’s a nice downhill, not too steep which my knees were very thankful for. By this time the sky was covered in clouds with the sun peeking through very occasionally. My original goal was to get as close as possible to the next stop, which would be the Kebnekaise Fjällstation. I realized very soon I wasn’t going to make it but I kept going until I found a nice place to set up my tent. I continued another hour and a half until I stumbled upon a tiny bit of grass next to a little creek. According to the rules I was camping a bit too close to the water, but I made sure I didn’t dispose of anything close to it.


Sweden 2015 - Day 5

The wind was picking up so I continued building a little wall of stones that was already there, so I could cook my meal. The pegs were hard to put in the soft ground and the wind made sure that the ones who I managed to get in didn’t stay there for very long. The little wall didn’t do much of wind-breaking so I used some of the stones to weigh down the tent. Not sure how bad or good of an idea that was but it worked so, fine by me! The wind made for a very restless night, but I’m just glad it didn’t get any worse than that.

 

The next day it was clear the clouds were there to stay (check out the video on the bottom of this post) and were joined with bits of rain every now and then.  After about an hour of walking I saw a tree, hadn’t seen one of those in days! The landscape got more and more interesting, with more nice waterfalls and a rapidly increasing number of trees.

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 6

I almost forgot what they looked like!

Sweden 2015 - Day 6

More trees

A bit passed the first tree (and many more after that) I arrived at Kebnekaise Mountainstation. Just in time so it seemed, cause it started pouring just as I took off my backpack. I got rid of any trash I still had and went inside to check out the shop. After days of being all alone the place felt a bit crowded (even though there were maybe 10 people inside.) I didn’t need anything from the little store but it was fun to browse a bit, relax while waiting for the rain to stop. After about ten minutes I continued the hike. 
Kebnekaise is the highest point in Sweden, and the views from up there are phenomenal. If not for the bad weather (wouldn’t be able to see much from up there) and the fact that I lost a day due to a weird bus-schedule, I might’ve tried to climb it. Ah well, maybe next time. 

Sweden 2015 - Day 6

Just passed Kebnekaise, fall truly is the best season for this hike

Further on the trail I passed by a lake of which I can’t remember the name. I tried to get closer but the amount of mosquitoes was crazy. I went near the water for not more than 20 seconds and they managed to bite at least as many times. Another reason fall is the best time for this hike, mosquitoes are almost nowhere to be seen.

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 6

Lake aka Mosquito Central

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

River

The sun decided to join me again from time to time, which was nice. Around 4pm I started looking out for a good spot to camp for the night, which proved to be quite a challenge. Trees were everywhere of course, and the terrain was very hilly, rocky, and hard…y. I decided to spend the night in a little open spot in a small forest. Since there were trees again, I could make a little campfire. Seemed appropriate, since we also made one the first night. I just sat there, enjoying the fire, thinking about the trip that would almost come to an end. 

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 6

Here comes the sun, nananana!

Sweden 2015 - Day 6

Last night cozyness

Not sure why, but the last night was the best night for sure. Even though it rained and there was more noise than in the valleys, it was less cold which helped me get a good night’s rest. In the morning I was greeted by the sun, who would join me for the rest of the trip. I really enjoyed the new views. The sun lighting up the already golden looking trees was quite a sight to see (and hard to take a good picture of.) 
Here’s some examples of the nice views of that day:

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

GOOOOOD MORNING DAY 7!

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

More waterfall

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

More impressive irl, take my word for it

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

Nice path between Kebnekaise and Nikkaluokta, a very popular bit of trail

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

Water refill!

I left around 9.30 am, and had to be at Nikkaluokta at 4.30pm at the latest because if I’d miss my bus, I would miss my flight the next day (There’s 2 buses / day and If I took the bus the next day, I would arrive at the airport about 10 minutes after my flight leaves -_- ). Despite my developed map-reading skills it was still hard for me to actually imagine how far the distance was between my position and my goal, and so it was hard for me to calculate how long it would take. I knew I had enough time to reach the bus in time, but wasn’t sure how long it would actually take me, so didn’t take any breaks. To my surprise I arrived at my goal, the little village of Nikkaluokta, at about 12:10pm. Just in time to catch the first bus of the day! Both happy and sad I get on the bus, and soon I was on my way to Kiruna.

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

First sign of civilization!

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

I made it!

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

Village

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

Last view from the bus

I arrived at Kiruna about 2 hours later. I had looked up a few places to stay beforehand. To my surprise, there were a few hostels. I was surprised by that because this is a really small village. But apparently this region is very popular in winter, people visit Kiruna (and Abisko) for their range of winter activities, and for seeing the northern lights. I went to the nearest hostel and unsurprisingly there were tons of beds available (it was very late in the hiking season, and way too early for winter season.) I dropped off my pack, had a little rest on the bed (felt good after a week of hard-floor-sleeping!)  and then went out for a walk, which was SO NICE without that heavy pack. I walked around the little city to find a shop, got some food and shampoo and a sweet drink (Two of the things I missed most in the past week). I walked back to the hostel to take the best shower in my whole life. Talking to some people in the hostel I learned a little bit more about Kiruna. 

The main source of employment in Kiruna is an iron ore extraction mine, the biggest in the world, which produces about 90% of all the iron in Europe. But because they’re mining in the direction of the city, the whole city has to move! So they started building a new city about 5km further. Some buildings will be replaced, while more iconic structures will be deconstructed and rebuilt in the new city. One of those buildings is the Kiruna church, which they suggested I check out. It was once voted as the prettiest building in Sweden. Also, this little weird mining town has a space research center (that they call Rocket School)! After my evening walk of checking out the church (which did look really cool), Rocket School and more exploring, I went to bed. Even though I had only hiked a few hours, I was still exhausted and the thought of sleeping in a bed made me very excited. 

That was the end of my trip. The next day I packed up and went home. This was an amazing first solo hike of hopefully more to come.
Thanks for reading and or watching! Hope you enjoyed the story and or pictures!

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 7

Kiruna church

I added two short videos as a little extra. The timelapse one is very short, I didn’t take enough pictures out of fear of not having enough battery/memory card space for the entire trip. The clouds were on the second to last day on which I realized I would have enough of both :) 

 


Jasmijn

Sverige Part 2

Sverige var kanon!

This is part two of my Sweden-diary. If you haven’t yet, check out the first part here

Day 3

I’m up early, the cold wakes me up better than my mom ever could. I quickly heat up some oatmeal, and get as close to the little stove as I can without setting myself on fire (which wouldn’t have been the first time). When I’m done with breakfast I get dressed. After 2 days of hiking my body is already starting to feel the consequences. My legs are fine though, it’s my shoulders that have been doing all the hard work it seems. Not only the weight of the pack but the chafing of the straps on my skin have left their mark. It’s not very bad, the only (8) time(s) it really hurt was when I sprayed some Reflex spray onto it.

Still the sight of my backpack gives me pure disgust. I take out some more things I don’t think I will be needing and I climb up the little hill to were the huts are. I stop a second to check out the view (and take a breath.) I gave the hutkeeper my balast in the hopes that now my pack would now defeat gravity and pull me up instead of down. I also took the opportunity to sort out my trash, to get rid of a few extra grams. If only losing weight was always this easy.

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

View from Alesjaure huts

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

Stream between our campsite and the huts, picture taken from the squeekiest bridge in the world.

By the time I get back, Matthew is also packing up. I test the weight of my backpack, and I can’t really tell if it’s my imagination or not, but it definitely feels lighter. I try not to think about it too much in order not to spoil the possible placebo effect. Matthew is not joining me for the rest of the hike, he is planning to do a different route that will take him back up north to Abisko in a day or 3 (or so he hopes). By the bridge we say goodbye and go our own way.

I’m really alone now. But it’s good, it’s nice. I enjoy the views and the sun and the views some more. The pack is definitely lighter, which I’m happy about. In the morning I had set myself some goals, since there is a bit of a time limit. My first stop would be the 2nd bridge I come across (I found bridges are the easiest way to situate yourself on the map, since they’re clearly marked on the map, and it’s very hard to miss them on the trail.) Sooner than expected I arrive at the bridge. Happy with the progress I’ve made, I find myself a nice place by the river to sit down and enjoy my Snickers.

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

Picture of what seems to be a shadow of a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle on a bridge.

The first hour or so after my little snack break is a breeze, I feel like my pack only weighs like half an elephant now and the Snickers gave me some energy. But then time seemed to slow down, together with my pace. The way to the 2nd bridge seems endless. The bit of trail between that bridge and the huts for the day (Tjäktja huts) seems even more endless. Only a bit past 4pm do I arrive at the Tjäktja huts. Well, the entry at least, the huts themselves are a few 100 meters further up, over a bridge and on a little hill. Since I had no trash, and still lots of water, I decided to keep going. I needed to walk a bit further each day to comfortably reach my destination in time (had to leave the trail a day earlier because of the bus schedule). I decided to keep going for at least an hour. 

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

This way!

That hour again seemed to fly and it was 5 now.. The sun was dangerously close to being hidden away behind a mountain. As I wanted to at least eat while there still was daylight I started looking for a spot to set up my tent. I only wanted 2 things, water and a soft enough surface. I could not for the life of me find water and a soft surface. I tried not to panic, and use my adventure instincts which included listening for waterfalls and guessing how far away they were and praying to all the gods that there would be a nice patch of grass somewhere near said waterfall. 

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

Endless.

This well thought-out plan seemed to work beautifully because about 45 minutes later I had found a little patch of grass reasonably close by a tiny waterstream. I quickly set up my tent (aka threw it in the air and voila!) and heated up my fancy mac and cheese (fancy in that it had 3 bits of bacon in it). Having dinner while watching the sunset and some interesting reading (finding the bridges on the map), it’s as nice as it sounds. Probably even nicer. And if that wasn’t nice enough…

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

Checking out the bridges for day 4

… AURORA TIIIIME!

Sweden 2015 - Day 3

Not getting tired of this :)

 

Day 4. Again, I can not get up until sunrays start poking me. I had a good sleep this time though. Before I left I was worried I was not going to be able to sleep because of unknown sounds and such, but I am usually so tired I fall asleep almost instantly. + There is no sound apart from the waterfalls, which sound very soothing. 

Sweden 2015 - Day 4

Goooodmorning day 4!

 

Today I will be crossing Tjäktja pass, the highest point of the trail. I camped right before the ascent, so about 15 minutes in the uphill started. It was fine though, if I can survive the Canadian Rockies with no training at all, I’ll survive this. The ascent isn’t that bad actually, not too steep and not very high either. There’s still a bit of snow left, the only snow I saw during the trip.

Sweden 2015 - Day 4

Snow and moss.


When I researched this trip, the view of Tjäktja pass was the most photographed area for sure, EVERY blog, album, review, had this image. And I can totally understand why. While the views throughout the trail are stunning, there is not much elevation going on. When on day 4 you suddenly have a view like this, you just HAVE to take a picture. So I did. You really can’t imagine how far you are looking at that point. Couldn’t even see the Sälka huts yet, and they are definitely in this valley.

Sweden 2015 - Day 4

Taktja Pass

On the top of the pass I met Randy, an American hiker. We had a little chat on the top, and later he quickly caught up with me. He told me he hadn’t talked to any one in 2,5 days and wondered if he could join me. I didn’t mind. But Randy was an experienced hiker. He was telling me about his hikes in the US, and his yearly hiking trips overseas. He didn’t have to tell me he was experienced though, I could tell by his pace. I was struggling to keep up with him, I was almost jogging my way to the huts. But conversation helps. We talked about hiking, youth, soccer and hiking poles. Apparently bridges are very popular on this trail/map as Randy was using them for orientation as well. We were both expecting a bridge to show up somewhere halfway the pass and the Sälka huts, but we never came across it.

 

Sweden 2015 - Day 4

Watah

By 1.30 pm we had already reached the huts! They very unexpectedly showed up, I was very surprised. Time had gone fast and so had we! We had been so focused on looking for a bridge we didn’t even think of the huts.

Sweden 2015 - Day 4

Salka huts

At Sälka me and Randy check out the little store.. It’s the end of the season, so there’s not much left. I didn’t plan on buying anything until I saw the last can of Sour Cream & Onion Pringles catching dust on the top of the shelf. So I took it. That cost me about 30SEK, which is about 3 euros (thank god for easy calculable rates). Expensive Pringles for sure, so I decided to keep them for later. After a little break at the huts, filling up on water and repositioning the tent on my pack (2 second tents are terrible for hiking. Great for setting up though!) we continue our way. I want to go as far as I can, making full use of the fast pace we did before noon to get further. Since Randy started a few hours before me, he’s getting quite tired and started looking for a place to set up his tent. About an hour later we pass by a spot upon a tiny hill that has definitely been used for camping before. 3 or 4 patches of grass, each with their own campfire circle. Randy decides this is the spot for him so we say goodbye as he sets up and I continue my way. I keep walking for another few hours, in search of the golden combo of water and grass. After more than 2 hours I reach another bridge. The spot is not ideal, but I am too tired to keep going and there is water, so I decide to make the best of it. Tent. Food. Sleep. But like every night I wake up around midnight, and of course I am curious. At first I didn’t see any lights, but after a while I see some faint clouds in the distance. It’s really hard to distinguish normal clouds from lights sometimes, so I take out my camera to be sure. I set it up, take a pic, and sure enough, AURORA TIIIIIME!

Sweden 2015 - Day 4

3 nights in a row!

To be continued…


Jasmijn

Halloween Mini Game!

Win a treat!

It’s Halloween! For this evening of scary fun I have made a little game for you! Below you will see a collage which I have made using only my own pictures. Underneath you will see all the images I have used to make the collage. BUT! There is one picture that I did not use! If you are the first to tell me which image it is, Nindo will buy you a nice Halloween treat!

The collage

Halloween

 

The parts

Halloween_mini_Game_22

Somewhere in the Canadian Rockies

Halloween_mini_Game_18

Stormy cloud above somewhere near Leuven

Halloween_mini_Game_17

Stormy cloud above somewhere near Toronto

Halloween_mini_Game_11

Spooky house somewhere near Edinburgh

Halloween_mini_Game_10

Lightning strike somewhere right next to my house

Halloween_mini_Game_09

Open air play somewhere on the main square of Dendermonde

Halloween_mini_Game_07

Bird somewhere in the trees

Halloween_mini_Game_06

Tree somewhere near other trees

Halloween_mini_Game_12

Graveyard thingy somewhere in a graveyard

Halloween_mini_Game_05

Bat somewhere outside my area of focus

Halloween_mini_Game_04

Bat somewhere a little bit closer to my area of focus

Halloween_mini_Game_03

Moon somewhere in space

Halloween_mini_Game_02

Graveyard somewhere in Bruges

Halloween_mini_Game_01

Carved out pumpkin and carlights and unknown people somewhere near Kruishoutem

Halloween_mini_Game_23

Also somewhere in Canada

Halloween_mini_Game_21

Walter somewhere in Oostende

Halloween_mini_Game_20

Church somewhere in Ghent

Halloween_mini_Game_19

Stijn Kolacny somewhere in Zoersel-Parwijs

Halloween_mini_Game_08

Spider somewhere near me

Good luck!

Jasmijn

Sverige Part 1

Sverige var kanon!

Ever since an amazing trip to the Canadian Rockies a summer ago, I knew I wanted to go out and explore again soon. After stumbling upon a link on Facebook called “Europe’s 10 most epic hiking trails” by chance, I discovered the Kungsleden (meaning King’s Trail) in Sweden. I’m not 100% sure why out of all those ‘epic’ hikes, this particular one got my attention, but I’m glad it did. Sweden has always been high on my to-travel-list, and now it’s even higher.

Kungsleden

The Kungsleden is a trail going from Abisko way up north in Swedish lapland, to Hemavan, about 450km to the south. The trail is divided into 4 1-week (approximately) sections. I hiked the most northern part, going from Abisko to Singi and left the trail to go east to Nikkaluokta. This is the most popular part, and from what I’ve read also the most beautiful and diverse part of the whole trail. This section of the trail also has huts every 15-20 km (so about 1 day’s walk) where for a fee you can cook, spend the night, and in some of them go shopping (only essentials like toothpaste, bandaids or sour cream and onion pringles) or enjoy the sauna. The path is marked with red painted cairns, which makes the trail easy to follow, even in snowy or misty conditions. It’s also pretty easy to hike, with no real big elevations. Because of the huts, the easy difficulty and the fact that I’d be hiking in Sweden AND above the arctic circle (hello northern lights!) I knew this was a perfect trail to do my first solo hike.

 

Kungsleden_Stor

Map of the entire Kungsleden

Day 0 and 1

I arrived at Abisko at about 4pm, after 10 hours of travel. Since the turiststation is in a National Park, you’re not allowed to camp there. Sweden has the right of public access (Allemansrät), which means you can camp (ski, walk, cycle, …) almost anywhere as long as you use some common sense and respect a few rules. This law does not apply to National Parks though, so I booked a bed in the station, went to the room to drop off my stuff and had a little lie-down. I woke up about 6 hours later in the dark, confused and wondering why I’m still wearing my coat and 1 shoe. I got a bit more comfortable and quickly fell asleep for another 8 hours or so. 

The next morning I got up pretty late, considering I had slept for about 14 hours. I got ready, packed my backpack and headed for breakfast. The only hotel/hostel-kind of breakfasts I’d had up until that point consisted out of eggs, beans, fried stuff, sausages and more eggs. This one however, was very different. It had several kinds of yoghurt, and about 20 kinds of berries, cereal, and other stuff you could add to your yoghurt of choice. Also a wide selection of cheese and meat to put on your rather hard and sour bread (the bread was the only thing I didn’t like of the whole buffet). I ate as much as I could because I figured it would need the energy (and even more because it was so damn delicious.)

As I leave the Turiststation to head out for the trail I see Matthew. A German guy I had met shortly the day before at Kiruna airport, he was also waiting for the bus to Abisko. He left for the trail the evening before, but figured out it was too late to be able to get out of the park (so he wouldn’t be able to camp) and decided to turn back that same evening and start again the next day. So we started the trail at the same time and ended up hiking together.

I had gotten a good sleep and a good breakfast, so was feeling very good and ready to go. Though it soon became clear that I had overpacked, I could already feel the shoulderstraps of my pack doing some damage. I didn’t weigh my pack with my full waterbottle and camera attached, but I’m guessing it was about 20kg, which is a bit too much for me, I now know. Despite the heavy load on my back, I enjoy the walk. The surroundings are beautiful, every now and then we see a waterfall through the fall-coloured forest.

Sweden 2015 - Day 1

Not a bad start!

My pace is a bit slow, mainly because of the combination of the pack and the little elevations. Around 4 we arrive at the first hut, the Abiskojaure hut. I take the opportunity to take off my pack for a bit, and check out the ‘store’. It’s just a little room with some food, candy, medical supplies and stuff like toothpaste and shampoo. Since I can’t bear the thought of adding even one extra gram to my pack I quickly leave the minishop again.

We ended up chatting to the hutkeeper a bit, who was telling us about how last weekend 75 people slept in the huts even though there is room for only 53 people. These huts have a guarantee that if you want, you will have a place to sleep in the hut. It might be on a mattress on the floor, or on a bench, but you will not be refused entry. If we wanted to camp there though, we had to pay a fee (since we were still in the park). We said we’d rather keep going and then camp, so the hutkeeper told us about a little foresty area on the trail about 3km outside of the park, where lots of people end up camping. It sounded like a good spot so we head out on the trail again. On our way we came across some Sami huts. No Sami people though. While talking to the hutkeeper we found out that they had left just a few days earlier. They only live in these villages during reindeer migration season. It was very cool to see nonetheless.

Sweden 2015 - Day 1

Little Sami hut

Sweden 2015 - Day 1

Just outside the National Park, on our way to the campsite

We arrive at the camping area, where a few people had already set up camp. I think there must’ve been 5 or 6 tents in total. I’m glad I get to remove the litteral weight of my shoulders and quickly set up my tent. This was obviously a popular camping spot, since there were still leftovers from a fire. We decide to get a fire started, because it was getting pretty cold pretty fast after the sun set behind the mountains.

Sweden 2015 - Day 1

End of day 1

I have never camped without being cold and this time was no different. I was glad when the sun hit my tent, and after it heated up a bit I quickly put on some warm clothes and started breakfast. No yoghurt and berries this time, just instant oatmeal flavoured with a bit of cocoapowder I forgot I had. Not an award-winning meal by all means, but after a day of hiking and a night of being cold in my tent, this hot meal tasted more than ok.

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

Goooodmorning!

After breakfast we got ready to go. I filled up my waterbottle at the nearby river and off we went. The first 2 hours or so were all uphill, YAY. I had given away some wraps and my jar of peanut butter to the hutkeeper the day before in a weak attempt to make my pack lighter. Theoretically it worked, but I didn’t feel much of it in practise.

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

Photobombed by a mosquito.

Fortunately soon the views distracted me enough to not care about the little elephant that obviously had sneaked into my backpack. Once we were up the hill we saw snowy mountains in the distance, and a lake with a Sami village in the nearer distance.

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

Nice view of a Sami village (on the right)

And as if that wasn’t pretty enough, very shortly after that we saw a herd of reindeer passing by. We stopped and sat down to look at them for a few minutes, until they disappeared behind the horizon.

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

One of the reindeer strolling by

And the views only got better from there on out. I still can’t believe how lucky we were with this perfect weather. Sun, no clouds, and just enough wind to cool down a bit. I am also glad I decided to hike from north to south, which meant I would be facing the sun most of the way there. If I wasn’t forced to keep an eye on the trail to not trip and possibly break some bones, I would definitely have closed my eyes and just soak up the sun (though my red nose soon had proven that I had soaked up more than enough sun already).

These valleys and hills are quite a sight to see, and because of the vastness it was very hard to get a sense of distance. From very early on we could see the huts, which were our goal for the day. But it still took several hours to reach them. (Which after a while started getting frustrating, seeing your goal in front of you but seemingly not getting any closer.)

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

View of the huts in the distance

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

They’re so fluffy!

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

It’s actually quite a miracle I didn’t get distracted by the view and trip over rocks more than I did.

Around the same time as the day before we reached the huts. No running stream nearby, so we filled up our bottles in the big watertank the huts had. We quickly found a spot a bit further up the trail. Again I had a hard time wearing the pack, but I think my body was starting to get used to it. That and the view kept me sufficiently occupied.

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

Alesjaure huts!

Sweden 2015 - Day 2

Another Sami village near the huts

I was so tired from the hike that after dinner I fell asleep almost rightaway. I had planned to set my alarm in the night, since the skies looked like the would be clear and we were in a great position to see the northern lights. I forgot to actually set the alarm, but fortunately my trusty enemy, coldness, woke me up. Not even thinking about the lights, I open up the zippers of my tent a bit to check out the starry sky (not a lot of light pollution going on here). I immediately see this cloud-like thing dancing in the sky. Without even looking away I grab my camera and quickly set it up somewhere for some shots. I can’t take my eyes of the sky, it was so hypnotizing.

Sweden 2015  - Day 2

My first aurora!

I put on a warm sweater and face the outside of my tent, which is even colder. I go to Matthew’s tent to wake him up and show him the sky. Knocking on a tent is not as effective as I’d hoped, so I quietly shout at him to check this out. The colder I get the louder I yell and fortunately he wakes up pretty fast. I’ve done my duty so I quickly go back to my shelter and enjoy the spectacle from inside my sleeping bag and think about the person who I would’ve loved to share this moment with. Just as the lights start to fade a bit, I start feeling really sleepy. I happily close the tent and lie down. This was a perfect ending to a great start of an already amazing trip.

To be continued…

 

Jasmijn

Le Brouillard

Clouds of Motivation

Like my carkeys from time to time, motivation can be hard to find. Even if you’re convinced your idea is the best idea since.. I don’t know, the internet, if you don’t act on it nothing is going to happen. I know sometimes there is just no energy to actually do anything other than bingewatch Netflix and find food to inhale because chewing is just too much work. Often you just have to motivate yourself (or let Shia LaBeouf do it), but sometimes it just shows up.

The fog

It’s thursdaynight, 11-something p.m. I’ve been working since about 8 a.m. and just started my 1 hour drive home. I’m already pretty tired and the dark repetitive highwaylandscape (or lack thereof) isn’t helping. I’m yawning more than I blink my eyes, opening my mouth so wide you’d think a dentist is about to pull out my wisdom teeth. Luckily, not even 10 minutes into the drive, I see something. Or rather, I don’t see anything. There’s a big fogbank coming from the surrounding grasslands creeping onto the road. 

I look to my right and see this amazing scene; a field, covered in a soft looking white blanket of clouds, as if someone had just put it to bed. The moon, a streetlight and a passing car make for the perfect 3-light set up. I take the next exit. Google Maps is shouting at me “TRY TO TURN AROUND FOR GOD’S SAKE” (disclaimer: dramatization), but I keep going. I try to guide myself towards that field using the age old skills of orienting myself using the pole star and setting a waypoint in my GPS. After about 15 minutes of small roads, smaller roads, and what I think can only be described as super mega crazy off-roads, I reach the field I’d seen from the highway. 

I spent the next hour and a half or so making images of the fog. Using my car as a tripod and my much-needed sweater as some kind of ballhead I tried to capture that which had captured me (I know, so deep.) Not one yawn was yawned during that time. I was cold and exhausted, but the thought of getting even just 1 cool image made adrenaline take over my bloodstream faster than a proton in the large hadron collider.

In this kind of moment there is nothing except for me, my camera and the subject. Just that feeling of thinking about the image you want and trying to get it is just amazing, there are few things I enjoy more. I feel very blessed that a simple thing like some fog, a cool reflection in a window, or basically anything that catches my eye can make me get up and do something with it. I can only hope everyone has something that makes them feel the same way, and that a bit of fog might appear in their lives from time to time.

Oh, and in case you are curious about the images:

FogtownFogtownFogtownFogtownFogtown

Jasmijn