Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Postcards from Above the Tree Line

BrummaBrumma, the Gorrissen family cabin, is in Brummastølen. Brummastølen is a very small summer farm community about 200 kilometres north-west of Oslo. It sits above the tree line on Brummaknatten (which translates as Brumma crag).

The Gorrissens were pretty confident that there would be snow there, if anywhere. Would there be enough snow to ski on? Probably. If not, then Beitostølen, a stop on the World Cup XC tour and only a short drive away, would almost certainly have groomed and track set trails to ski on.

Confident I would get in some good tracks either at Brummastølen or in Beitostølen, I packed up my skis and drove north.

Despite a four hour drive in high winds on an icy road, I was feeling more upbeat and positive than on either of my two previous trips north. This was in no small part due to the fact that I was finally going skiing. That the sun was out and I could see the countryside for a change also helped.

Brumma


Brumma is well off the beaten track. While you can drive in to it during the summer, the only way in during the winter is to either ski in or take a snowmobile in. Since we had more provisions than was practical to carry on our backs, we opted for a snowmobile.

Brumma

Brumma


As you can see, the weather upon our arrival was pretty frightful. A heavy wind was blowing. I couldn’t tell if there was new snow coming down or if the wind was just blowing around what was already down. It was also quite cold. When we opened the doors to Brumma, it was -11 inside. It took a full day of heating from three wood stoves, one fireplace, one kerosene heater, and two propane heaters for the place to warm up to the point where I could take my fleece off!

Brumma dates back to 1943 when Willy and Magdalene Gorrissen purchased an ancient farm house (built in 1682) and put it up in Brummastølen next to some other cabins / summer farm houses. These summer farms were (and some still are) used for dairy pastures.

Brumma


A massive, central fireplace was installed and a supplementary wood stove was added (just to the left).

Brumma


The Gorrissens added to the cabin over the years. It is now a fairly large structure that includes a small, detatched "guest" hut, which is where I stayed.

Brumma


Not surprisingly for a place this old and remote, it is very rustic: there is no running water and only a small amount of electricity is available from a solar powered battery system. That’s not to say it was a hardship being there. With plenty of wood on hand, we could melt snow to get water for washing. For drinking, we had packed in a large supply of bottled water. Also, there were plenty of candles and kerosene lamps to brighten the inside.

Brumma

I’m starting to get hooked on photographing stars, so when the sky cleared, out I went with my camera. The snow may have stopped, but the wind hadn’t let up. I had to stand in the lun of the cabin to prevent my camera from being blown over in order to make this shot.

Brumma


There is a simple mathematical equation:

FUN = SNOW + KIDS


Brumma

Brumma


The kids were not the only ones happy to see good weather and lots of fresh snow. I was ecstatic because I was able to get out and make some photographs.

The mountain light was incredible. Sunrises are usually pretty special, but come this far north and then go up a mountain and sunrise is pure magic. There were incredible pinks and reds everywhere I looked. For other photographers reading this post, I actually had to desaturate these images!

These colours lasted for about 30 minutes, enabling me to make many captures. I'll start with a wide shot of some of the cabins immediately north of Brumma.


Brumma

Brumma

Brumma


Moving in for a closer composition on some of the cabins:

Brumma

Brumma


In the above shot in the top left-hand corner you can see a far-off mountaintop in the background. It really stands out because it is much lighter than the clouds. When I reframed to get a shot of the rolling mountains, I noticed that one peak looked like a wave about to crash on top of the other peak.

Brumma


I then zoomed in on the cabin in front of the mountain (yes, that black dot is actually a cabin, not a rock), just as a jellyfish-shaped cloud swam over it.

Brumma


To the north-west, the mountain tops were a little craggier. This gave a little more tone and structure to my images.

Brumma


During this magical time, the sun continues to rise and the pinks start to give way to the yellows and blues, as you can see in these two shots. They are of the same mountain and taken only a few minutes apart.

Brumma


Brumma


Eventually, the cooler pinks fully gave way to the warmer yellows. Here you can see a sapling struggling to move the tree line just a little bit higher up the mountain.

Brumma


With brighter light you can see the far-off cabins much better.

Brumma


Since the area is used as summer pasture for milk cows, the milk produced needs to be brought down the mountain. In the "old days", farmers used to store milk in this old shed. The containers stood in a stream which runs under it, keeping the milk cool until it was picked up and taken to the village below.

Brumma


As I skied by it, I couldn't resist capturing the graphic composition created by the yellow light on the wood-planked door and wall, the lines of which are interrupted by my dark shadow.

Brumma


The amount of yellow in the light depends upon a couple of things. Here are two very different shots of the farm to the south of Brumma. They are taken at different times into the sunrise, and, there is a different amount of cloud in the sky to reflect the light.

Brumma

Brumma


As the sun asserts itself even more, the yellows and blues brighten and the contrast is much higher. This is a good time to shoot black and white images.

Brumma

Brumma

Brumma


Here you can see how the clouds roll over the mountain peaks as if they were water flowing over rocks in a stream. You may need to go here to see a larger version.

Brumma


As I was processing the above images afterwards, I was inspired to go back and try converting a few of the "pink" shots into black and white.

Brumma

Brumma


After only a few short days of skiing and shooting at Brumma, it was time to head back down the mountain. To save expenses, the journey out was by ski instead of snowmobile, which was fine by me.

Skiing in these mountains brought me back to when I was a kid and started skiing. We (me, Bonnie, Mom, and Ron) would often ski in Terra Nova National Park and would usually ski up to the Blue Mountain Lookout. I remember the wonderful feeling of sitting at the lookout with a cup of hot chocolate, munching on some treat, while looking out at the fabulous view. That same feeling came back as I skied around Brummastølen, and I was very much reminded of why I started skiing in the first place.

Brumma


I had an extra pack to bring out and since he was going for a ski with his son Vilhelm anyway, Fredrik agreed to carry it out for me. I skied on ahead so I could take photographs along the way, including this shot of them with Brumma in the background.

Brumma


I was in the parking lot waiting for them when another skier came off the trail with a dog hooked on to his pole.

Brumma


This dog immediately caught the attention of other dogs that were waiting in the parking lot to go sledding. I have never seen a dog with brighter, bluer eyes than the dog in the bottom photo. They were so blue, they were freaky.

Brumma

Brumma


The skier had found the dog wandering around. The dog, who was missing an eye, was called “Lucky”. Lucky had an “if found” phone number on his collar, and the skier (whose name I didn't catch) called the number and talked to the owner. While he was talking on the phone, I gave Lucky a good ear rub. They then headed on down the road to meet up with Lucky’s owners who, it seems, were staying nearby and could come straight away to get him.

In the meantime, Fredrik and Vilhelm arrived with my other pack.

Brumma


With all my packs now in the truck, I set off down the road. Not two minutes into the drive, I met an oncoming truck. This stretch of road was quite narrow and only one of us could drive on it. We both pulled slightly over to one side in order to size up how we were going to get by each other. Besides being narrow, the road also had a camber to it. With 10 cm of fresh snow on top of a solid layer of ice, neither vehicle could hold the road and both slid sideways into their respective ditches.

I got out and went over to the other truck, only to find Lucky inside with his owners! Fortunately, Lucky spread around some of his luck and it wasn’t long before we had both trucks out of the ditches and back on the road. The rest of the journey back to Oslo was happily uneventful.

This is my final post about my trip to Norway and a great way to end my trip. You may want to enjoy these photos in a larger format, and can do so here.


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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.

4 comments:

fredrikioslo said...

Great blog, wonderful pictures and fantastic to spend time with you in the mountains at this magical time of year!

All the best, and we look forward to the next time!

Mariana said...

Absolutely amazing, Scott... Congratulations, you're just great.

Jørgen said...

What a collection of great pictures! Norway is beautiful for sure ;-) Hope to see you at another trip!

Jack taylor said...

Beautiful place. Looks like you have done a lot of enjoyment there. Fireplaces and wood stoves are necessary in this type of cold places. recently I have also bought a new Nagle Fire dovre-640cb wood burning stove.It is doing a really good job.