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Autumn Storm over Vestfjord

Autumn storm clouds over Vestfjord, Lofoten islands, Norway

Autumn snow flurries fall over the Vestfjord as seen from Moskenesøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

I’m in the process of making a new photo gallery website for the Lofoten islands that should be finished sometime in the end of June.  I thought about just putting more Lofoten photos on my main website, but I think a site dedicated to the islands is better suited.  I also hope to make it something a bit more creative and interesting than my main site, which is admittedly a bit boring.  Perhaps I’ll throw in some writings/stories as well.

I’ll also be traveling to the islands again sometime in July/August for some summer weather and long days, as opposed to the dark and cold months that have consisted of my last few trips.

Henningsvær – Lofoten Islands

Travel photography, Henningsvaer, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Harbor reflection at Henningsvær, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  I think it’s with good reason Henningsvaer is nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North.’

Å I Lofoten – Lofoten Islands winter

A I Lofoten in winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Winter view from Å (I Lofoten) towards the southern end of the islands.  The peaks of Værøy can be seen in the far distance.  This was the 6th of January, the first day the sun rose above the horizon since the middle of December.

Reine – Lofoten Islands

Landscape photo Reine in Autumn, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Autumn, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

What a difference two months make can make to a scence.   The Lofoten Islands have become somewhat of a long term project of mine.  I was there 3 times in the last year alone and have a rough plan to be back again in July, as I haven’t been there during summer since 2006, so I need some better coverage of the islands during that time of year.  So far I’ve been there in: January, March, April, May, July, August, September, and October.  So I’ve still got a few months to fill in.  And one might think what difference does a month or two really make, but with a place in the far north, there are quite dramatic changes in scenery as the year passes on and I think all of it is interesting to see.

Reine in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Reine in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Glenbrittle and Black Cuillins

Reflection in lochan, Black Cuillin hills, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Pleasant autumn afternoon wandering around down in Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland.  Glenbrittle is probably one of my favorite places on the island, both the the view and access to the Black Cuillins as well as the coastal hiking.  This was generally my go to spot whenever I thought the sun would shine for more than a few hours – which isn’t all that often in November.

Black Cuillin hills as seen from Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Reflection in lochan, Black Cuillin hills, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Stockholm

Sightseeing boats along waterfront, Stockholm, Sweden

I feared Stockholm, as I did all ‘big’ cities back then.  It was the summer of 2001 and my buddy Joe and I were on a 2 1/2 month trip though Scandinavia.  We had good plan, yes we did.  Arrive at Arlanda airport, put our backpacks on and walk out into the forest, heading north for several weeks.  Visit a couple rune stones, drink from rivers and lakes, make a nice little camp fire each night and visit a town or village once every week or so to resupply on food.
Cobble stone street of old town - gamla stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Ha!  Our backpacks were so heavy that we could hardly even walk.  After wandering around for 45 or so minutes we discovered that one simply couldn’t ‘walk into the forest’ from the airport, or at least not without more bushwhacking than we had a desire for after some 30+ hours of no sleep.  So the decision came, Stockholm or Uppsala.  “Well, Uppsala is fairly small.  We can go there then walk out into the forest and find a place to crash for the night, better than being stuck in some giant city with no idea where to go.” So we thought to ourselves.  45 minutes later we were getting off the bus somewhere in the middle of Uppsala around 10:00 at night.  Hmm, Lost again.  Luckily, my asking a woman on the street for directions in my 5 words of Swedish led to her letting us stay at her place for the night.

“We’ll probably go to Mora next.” I said.
“What?  No, you don’t want to go to Mora!”  Camilla replied.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, there is nothing there.  It is just a boring town, nothing to see.”  She replied.  “Why don’t you go to Jämtland.  There are nice mountains and lots of hiking. Quite popular among Swedes.”

Storkyrkan in the old town, Stockholm, Sweden

So the summer started.  We headed generally north through Sweden and into Norway. We ended up in some real shitholes of towns as well as some cool places. Mostly we traveled by pure dumb luck of two 20 year olds, not having a guidebook or anything for help.

By the end of July we ended up in Göteborg, a city down on the south west coast of Sweden.  By this time we felt like veteran travelers.  We knew that you had to get on the correct ‘wagon’ when taking the train, otherwise if you just sat in a seat with your number on it, someone else might show up looking to sit there at the next stop.  We could hop on the city trams like a local and navigate the streets with only minor episodes of getting lost.  We could catch ferries out to cool little islands, being the only non Swedes around.  My Swedish had improved to 10 words and I actually knew how to say ‘Hemköp‘ correctly.  Life under the long summer days was good.  So the decision was finally made, Stockholm.

Historic ship AF Chapman at Skeppsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

Now, to cut a long story shot, I loved Stockholm and ended up spending nearly two weeks there all in all.  Normally, and even to this day, I’m not much of a fan of cities.  But Stockholm, well, It is such a cool place that I can’t help but like it.  I spent endless days just wandering among the narrow streets of Gamla Stan or out on the wilds of Djurgarden.   Afternoons sitting in Cafe’s or eating ice cream with new friends on warm summer evenings.  I guess it’s good that I put of Stockholm until the end of the trip, otherwise I may have just been lazy and sat there for 2 months…

I finally returned again in October 2009, the streets still familiar in my mind like I was just there the month before.  The crisp autumn days and colors turned the city into a near magical place.  As much as I liked the summer, I now think autumn is the time to visit.

Wooden park bench with autumn leaves

Mount Whitney Mountaineers Route

Adventure travel stock photography - View from tent to Mount Whitney, California

View from my tent at Iceberg Lake, about 12,600 feet, towards the east face of Mount Whitney (and my smelly socks).

Sort of at the last minute I decided to make a quick trip up Whitney this past weekend before all the snow melted and before I leave California again (somewhat soon).  Weather was sunny the whole time but the winds were quite strong.  I’d estimate it reached 60+ mph on Sunday when I was on the summit.  I didn’t even bother bringing the camera out as there was so much snow flying around.  On the way up, whenever a big gust would come up, I would just have to lean into the mountain as I received a battery of snow and ice and rock for a minute or two, then climb on again. Good fun.

Mountain landscape photography - East face of Mount Whitney sunrise


Mount Whitney Mountaineers Route – Images by Cody Duncan

Kirk

Church ruin, Kilmuir, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Church ruin, Kilmuir, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

I’ve no idea of the history of this ruin.  Though by the looks and condition of it, I wouldn’t imagine it to be more than 200 or so years old, which is relatively new by Skye standards. It’s a big structure, offset from the ‘highway’ by about a half mile or so.  Perhaps it simply fell out of use with time and population decline.  Now only sheep and cows walk among the walls, and American photographers.

Neist Point Lighthouse – Isle of Skye

Neist Point Lighthouse panoramic landscape photo, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

What can’t be seen in these photos is the 60-70 mph winds that were screaming over the the island.  Near where I was standing for the first photo was a small waterfall, flowing completely in reverse.  No water was making it down the cliff, it was all being blown backwards towards were it came, and soaking me as I had to pass by.

If there was bus service to Neist Point, it would probably be the most popular tourist location on Skye, but since it is a fairly long drive from Portree, it’s only the 2nd most popular location.  On a nice sunny (and calm) day it is a pleasant place to hike around and enjoy the scenery – some of the most dramatic cliffs on Skye are here. There is a paved walkway most of the way to the lighthouse, but if it has been raining a lot, bring waterproof boots if you want to go further as there is some fairly evil bog that needs to be crossed.  The mountains of South Uist are visible in the distance.

Neist point lighthose and sea, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Stenness Stones – Orkney

Stenness standing stones, Orkney landscape photography

Standing Stones of Stenness, Orkney.

The Stenness stones, along with the Ring of Brodgar form part of the UNESCO world heritage site known as ‘the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.’  From Stenness, Brodgar is within eyesight and about a 5 minute walk to the north.  The Neolithic chambered cairn, Maeshowe, is also within visible and also a short walk away.

Even though the stones are man made, their age makes the appear as just another element of the Orkadian landscape.  Something that is just ‘there’ as you drive by in a car or are looking out the window of a bus.  Covered in moss, struck by lightning, and standing among grazing sheep,  simply ‘there;’ part of a living land.

Stenness standing stones, Orkney Neolithic site photo