Saturday, 31 December 2011

Postcards from the Boreal Forest Canopy

Tree Top HutStretching from Alaska, through Canada, across the Nordic countries and into Russia, is the taiga: the world's largest terrestrial biome. I didn’t realize that boreal forest is another term for taiga. In Canada, we seem to use the boreal forest term to refer to the more southern, more wooded part of the taiga rather than the more northern, more sparsely treed part. In Europe, the term taiga seems to be used for the whole thing.

I was able to spend some time up near the top of the boreal forest (taiga) canopy when I stayed in a tretopphytte (tree top hut) while in Norway.

I arrived at the hut late in the afternoon, which in December meant it was dark and cold. The owner of the hut had kindly started to warm up the hut, so much of the chill was already out of the hut when I got there. After dealing with the freezing insides of Bridaro, up in the Arctic Circle, I really appreciated this hospitable touch. He also had lit up some lovely red candles, which cast a warm glow over everything.

Tree Top Hut


Outside the hut was a balcony, which was almost as large as the hut itself. It had several bird feeders, a fire pit, and benches to sit on. The owner provided reindeer skins to cover the benches so you wouldn't freeze your ass off while sitting outside.

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut


I didn’t dilly-dally outside, as it was too cold and too dark to do or see anything. Inside, the wood conspired with the yellow light from the candles to make the whole place seem warmer than it really was. After getting a nice roaring fire going, I took off my jacket and made a self-portrait.

Tree Top Hut


As you can see, it is not very big. But it is well thought out, and resembles a boat's cabin or a camping trailer in that it makes the best use of the available space. For example the eating area is a simple table hung from a ladder. This means there are no table legs to bang your knees off of when sitting at the table.

The ladder leads to a small sleeping alcove. Here is a shot of the alcove taken from the top of the ladder during the day, when there is more light. The space is split in two, with a sleeping area on either side of the ladder.

Tree Top Hut


Each side can sleep two people; 4 people in total could sleep up there, but only if they knew each other very well.

Tree Top Hut


Back down the ladder to main level, looking from the table back the other way you can see the door to the loo (on the left), a glimpse of the main sleeping room (through the open door), and the heat source (the wood stove on the right).

Tree Top Hut


After a good night’s sleep (or perhaps it was a frost-induced coma because I left the window above my head open) I went outside in the daylight to take some more illustrative shots of the hut. In this shot, you can see how well the builder was able to nestle the structure into the trees.

Tree Top Hut

The whole thing is quite solid. There are a lot of beams and posts in place to provide support. In this shot you can see the relative area of the hut (the solid wood) compared to the deck (the planking).

Tree Top Hut


The support beams are well anchored, too. The construction is certified to resist winds up to 22 m/s, which is about 80 km/h. I doubt that would fly in Canada, as it is not even hurricane strength. But then I wouldn't expect to see a hurricane hit a forest valley in Norway.

Tree Top Hut


The curved tree trunks used as support posts are partly decorative and partly functional.


Tree Top Hut


To go up the 8 metres to reach the hut you have to take a long staircase.

Tree Top Hut


I arrived after dark, but thankfully there was a bright red candle burning to mark the bottom of the staircase.

PTree Top Hut


With a mind to safety, there is a wire mesh all along the staircase (and all around the balcony, too). More curved tree trunks provide both a decorative touch and functional purpose.

Tree Top Hut


The hut is not that well insulated. You can see how the snowmelt off the roof results in some very large icicles.

Tree Top Hut


The hut is located north-east of Brumunddal, up off of a small, narrow forest road. The attraction of the hut, aside from the novelty of staying up in the tree canopy, is the outdoors. In the summertime, there are a couple of canoes and bikes that you can use to explore the surrounding area. Of course in the winter they are not of much use.

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut


In the winter, you can ski right from the hut. Not thinking there would be much snow, I left my skis in Oslo. So of course there had to be a lot of snow! Worse for me, the snow was the fat, flat flake variety of snow powder that is so wonderful to ski in. Most of it had fallen quite recently and was still hanging on the tree branches, dragging them down to the ground.

Tree Top Hut


Instead of gorgeous ski shots, I bring you a ski lesson: I learned recently that the origin of the English word ski is the Old Norwegian word skíð, which means “plank”. The planks had a lot of uses, including building roofs. You can see the skíð in this cabin. They are the yellow planks on the side of the roof.

Tree Top Hut

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how someone would adapt a couple of short skíð to get around in deep snow, thus inventing a new means of transportation that would eventually become a competitive sport dominated by the very descendants of the Vikings who invented the whole thing in the beginning. That's a little too cosy for me; I think the fix is in.

In the above photo, you can also see how well the eves protect the side of the wall. Notice how both the wood and the paint are nowhere near as faded under the eve as they are further down the wall.

Moving around the the front, you can see that this cabin had some lovely, muted colours peaking out through the foggy mist.

Tree Top Hut


Since it was winter and I didn’t bring my skis, there wasn’t a lot to do here other than park my butt in the middle of the reindeer skin-covered bench up on the balcony.

Tree Top Hut

From this position I shot birds and squirrels as they fed at the feeders. As in, I shot with my camera (of course). During this shoot, I learned that the photogs who take wildlife pictures are a special breed. They have incredible patience and a knack for timing. I seem to lack both, for out of several hundred photographs, these are the only ones I would bother keeping.

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut


The birds were very cautious and I found it hard to get close enough to them to shoot, even with a long lens. I tried to figure out why by taking a shot from their view point, to see what they see.

Tree Top Hut

Now in the middle of all that put a guy with two cameras hung around his neck and a Newfoundlander's fleece "squid" hat on his head, and I would be scared to get close, too.

The squirrels, however, allowed me to get quite close.

I suspect they have been photographed quite a bit, because I accidentally slipped into fashion photographer mode and blurted out: "Work it baby, work it. That's it, now give me sexy", and they totally responded.

They would not sign a model release, though. Something about there was supposed to be only blue Smarties in the feeders. What a bunch of frickin' divas.

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut

Tree Top Hut


Looking for a different take on a squirrel composition, I switched to a wider-angle lens. This enabled a novel composition of the car below (lower left in the photo) and a squirrel feeding at the birdhouse(upper right in the photo).

Tree Top Hut


If you are ever in Norway and are looking for something unique to do while exploring the outside, I’d recommend these tree house huts. You can go here to learn more about renting them.


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Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.

1 comment:

slang09 said...

looks like a very intersting place to stay