An Evening Of Magic And Serenity

For days now I have wanted to share the absolutely wonderful and magical evening I spent up on Skule Mountain with my brother during my visit to Sweden last week. Last night I got started on editing the photos, but I have been so tired since I came back home to Finland that I had to go to bed. Even though I added a few extra days to my stay it still seemed like I ran out of time. I was in constant motion, and my head burst with ideas–so many places I wanted to visit. I knew that I will be going back later this summer, with Lilli and Loke, but something happens when I am back in Ångermanland, among the mountains, deep rivers and old forests. If I am not outside I keep being drawn to the windows, knowing what is out there, waiting.

My brother works in a flower and gardening boutique. On my first day back in Sweden I went to see him with my mother. I even bought a couple of plants that came back to Lappi with me. Later that day we went for a drive–my brother is getting his license and does practice driving with our mother. We were out for a few hours. I had some coffee and sandwiches with me and the original plan was to sit by a lake out toward Viksjö, about 20 kilometers inland from Härnösand–another truly beautiful place. When we arrived so did the winds, and massive clouds floated toward us, hiding the wandering sun. My brother listened to me gush about the views while we huddled inside the car and drank our coffee, and we ended up driving all over while he showed me some highlights he had discovered during his drives with our mother in the past few months. Eventually it was time to go back to the apartment and I asked my brother if he wanted to come with me to Skule Mountain that weekend. And of course he did.

among-mossy-rocks

They are currently doing a lot of landscaping and building at the foot of Skule Mountain, so when we arrived we weren’t sure where to put the car. One other car stood in the turning zone, though, so I parked there. And then we were on our way. We had already decided to take the Mountain Path, which is a 0,6 kilometer steep climb–and the shortest way up. Little did I remember my fear of heights. But my camera came out a few steps onto the path and my brother laughed as I crawled around on the ground to take some photos of the steep, rocky path disappearing into the forest.

forest-mountain-rock-path

We also took the same way back down, and it was just as challenging going up as it was coming down. In different but equally taxing measures. Even though the trek down went much faster. Going up we still had fairly good light, but on the way down, at nearly 11 p.m., the sun was making its final descent below the horizon. Luckily we are in the land of the midnight sun, so it doesn’t go far. The sun lingers behind the mountains, takes a few moments rest, then begins its ascent back into the sky.

 

skule-mountain-stairs-climb-up

skule-mountain-steep-climb-up

skule-mountain-steep-rock-wall

skule-mountain-steep-stairs

skule-mountain-steep-stairs-view

Possibly our climb up taking much longer than the one back down was not so much due to my loss of equilibrium, or clinging to the mountain and railings, but more due to my camera getting pointed in every which direction. Every five seconds. Haha But that is the thing with fear–I find something else to hold on to, something else to think of, to take my mind off that which threatens to swallow me whole. This trek was definitely a glorious moment of being louder than my fears. I threw them down the mountain and grabbed my camera instead.

Before continuing up the top we took a little detour half way, to finally visit the Bandit Cave (Rövargrottan in Swedish). Every time we went to visit our grandfather as kids, we would drive past on route E4 and peer up at the dark spot in Skule Mountain towering over the road. The name comes from stories of alleged bandits roaming these mountains–a long, long time ago. In reality the cave was probably hollowed out and carved by the ocean current and waves grinding rocks against the cliff side when the shoreline was above this level. It’s just so fascinating. Incredible.

skule-mountain-bandit-cave-rövargrottan

When we left the cave I aimed my camera one last time before securing it for the final climb up the top. I needed both hands and full focus. Otherwise, who knows, we might have still been there–my brother waiting while I ohh and ahh at every drop and angle catching my eye.

fishbone-beard-lichen

Scaling that wall, even though it is perfectly accessible and safe without climbing gear, took the breath out of me. So when we finally reached the top I planted myself on some rocks and we didn’t move for at least twenty to thirty minutes. And the view–my soul ached. I just marvelled. We had some cheese rings with us, which I was very glad I decided to as a last minute thing shove into the backpack before departure. As we sat there, I took out my phone and recorded a little clip for you all. (Best viewed in HD. And, yes, that crunching in the background is the sound of cheese rings. I wanted to add a nice instrumental piece instead but gave up. If you happen to have it, you can always turn the sound down and listen to Paul de Senneville’s Mariage d’Amour. I adore it, and it fits beautifully. Not Richard Clayderman’s version, though.)

skule-mountain-top-evening-view

Done with munching and drinking, conveniently we found toilets. The toilet itself was a non-flush version, with a large hole into whatever container collects human waste, but there was a sink, a tap with warm water, and soap. And the actual restroom itself was heated, which came in handy later. Additionally, if you see the roof there in the photo–that’s a Raststuga. A hiker’s resting cabin, which was also quite warm. It had a fireplace and wood for starting a fire. Behind me sits the Top Cabin, which is open during the day. They serve some light food, drinks, and (my favourite) waffles. With cream and strawberries. Yum. Next time I will be here before they close.

Our time here had only just begun. For the next few hours we trekked all over this mountain top while I took photos of every view I found. And considering you have a 360 degree view from up here, that is a lot. You just follow the top trail that takes you all the way around.

skule-mountain-top-forest-dead-gnarly-tree

skule-mountain-forest-gnarly-mossy-tree

skule-mountain-top-twisted-birch

skule-mountain-top-view-skuleskogen

skule-mountain-top-view-ocean-vista

skule-mountain-posing-top-view

taking-in-the-top-view

My original plan was to stay up on Skule Mountain past sundown and wait for sunrise. As the sun sank lower, though, the cold crept in. By the time both my brother and I agreed we should start our climb back down my fingers and toes were completely numb. I was having trouble handling my camera, and when we took a moment in that hiker’s resting cabin, it felt like my fingertips caught fire.

But the views. That sun wandering lower and lower, so skillfully, so artfully painting the sky and clouds in pinks and lilacs. And the magical haze–like a glowing veil draping the breathtaking vistas in warmth. My heart was so full of emotion I felt I might burst.

skule-mountain-top-evening-glow

skule-mountain-sunset-haze-vista

Out of all the photos I took that day, these are my absolute favourites. I want them on our wall so I can look at them always.

We continued our journey around the top, and suddenly my brother started shouting from up ahead. You MUST come look at this! And he was right. There, on top of this mountain in a little dip nestled close to the edge was a tiny pond full of moss and water. And in it a rock stuck up. I rushed forward to set up my camera and asked my brother to pose so I could get the settings and the focus right. He also had to help me get onto the rock. When I finally sat there, though, and looked out over our gorgeous forest-dressed mountains and valleys I didn’t want to move. I could easily have stayed there and let that moss cover me, as well. At least, that was the feeling in that moment.

my-brother-on-a-rock-in-sunset-glow

me-on-a-rock-in-sunset-glow

It was with great reluctance I left this magical and mystical place, but the sun dipped lower and I wanted to capture the ocean view again in this light. We returned a little later, but not quite this far, so I could take some more photos just before the sun went into hiding.

skule-mountain-cloudy-sunset-ocean-vista

skule-mountain-orange-glow-sunset-vista

skule-mountain-peach-lilac-glow-sunset-vista

Thus, our time on Skuleberget came to an end and it was time to brave the mountain path, descend back to reality. Speaking of which, when I return with my daughter later this summer, we will come up with the lift and walk down another path that opens up officially this summer. Much more suitable for families.

skule-mountain-lift-evening-vista

I deliberately decided to share the entire trip in one post, even if I knew it would be very long. I simply couldn’t split it–I didn’t want to. So if you have read this far, I want to say how grateful I am to have gotten to share this magical evening with you, too. My brother fell asleep on the sofa after a cup of coffee (which we requested on our drive home–our mother had fresh coffee waiting for us when we arrived at the house). I stayed up and gazed at the photos, already dreaming of the next visit. The High Coast truly holds a piece of my heart, and I hope to one day be able to get a little summer cottage to which we can go from time to time, the whole family.

I wish you all a wonderful evening. Thank you so, so very much for reading. ❤ See you soon!

Advertisements

Photography – A Beginner’s Journey

Good morning, everyone! Or, well, it was morning and then I took Loke for a walk and suddenly it was nearly lunch time. Whenever I decide to go exploring I end up losing track of time, especially if I have a camera with me. This time I brought my phone, though, because my camera has caught dust on the sensor again. After last night’s adventure down by the river, almost four hundred photos (and manual settings practice) later, I came home to find most of them in such poor quality I wanted to cry. Not only because of dust, though, but because I simply do not understand my camera yet.

Let me tell you a silly story. This is me in a nutshell–was me. After the hike with my daughter in 2015, I was super excited to see the results of the photos I took. A few photos I had taken of the sky while playing around with manual settings had dots in them. I assumed I had dust on my lens and cleaned it, took some photos, and… no go. Still those pesky dots. So I cleaned again and again, but it didn’t help. So I changed to the lens that came with my camera when I first bought it in 2011 or -12 and… still dots! I jumped online, looked around, a little sloppily I might add, because I was already in full-blown panic.

And then I gave up.

I honestly thought I had broken my camera somehow, or the lens, or both. The feeling was a hopeless and helpless one.

So here is the silly part, the me-in-a-nutshell part–I wanted but didn’t dare to take my gear to a photography shop to get it checked out because I was too afraid I would be laughed back out. That they would ask me how I managed to break it. That they would dismiss me as an amateur and tell me to find another hobby.

After that I lost heart. I would still take my camera with me–sometimes–but I had convinced myself I didn’t have what it takes. The joy I felt rarely returned. I stuck to the presets. Point and shoot. All the while berating myself for investing so much money in something I wasn’t qualified to use.

Even as I write this I want to shake my head at my former self. But I remember the journey still–from there to here. It’s so easy for me to look at all the ways my thinking patterns limited my entire life. I guess it both is and isn’t silly–do you know what I mean?

Tomorrow I am taking my camera to a photography shop in Rauma to get some help. I have bought a kit and read instructions on how to clean the sensor, and I have done so now on a few occasions, but I am in this for real now. And with my scatter-brain I need to see someone else do this in front of me, together with me, so I can learn.

The thing is, I want to take breathtaking photos. I want to create unforgettable images–transform the images and visions I have in my mind, in my soul into actual artwork. And I want them on my wall. Heck, I would love it if you wanted them on your wall, too. But, hey–one step at a time. First I have to want to put them on my wall, right?

In light of that (or lack thereof, hah), I am going to present you with some raw material from this learning experience of mine. These are but a few from my three-hour session by the river yesterday evening. Enjoy! And thank you so much for reading. See you soon!

Lapinjoki – Lappi River

A Shed In The Sunset

Unidentified Flying Objects

MehSunset

Attempting Spot Removal

…and other things!

EmbraceSunset_01

EmbraceSunset_02

Now You See Me

NowYouSeeMe
After a lot of editing.

Now You Don’t

Sort Of

NowYouDon't