Tag Archives: Richard Tegner

Going north

Going north. This time to Skellefteå to participate in Scandianvian Winterswim Championship. I am a true rockie in this matter but couldn’t resist the challenge of swimming 25 m lane in ice water.

Travelling by train through the snowy landscape is relaxing and a proper mental preparation for what is to come. The fields and the snowcovered forests passes by in a milky blur. During a part of some 15 kilometer the train slows down considerably due to a raildamage, said to be caused by a freight train with a defect wheel. The delay is not big and ther is still plenty of time to catch the connecting bus from Umeå. Some confusion accurs about which bus to take and we are all anxious to get on since it is snowing – that wet kind of snow that sticks and melts on your clothes when the temperature is above zero. A talkative smoking woman says she often does this trip to visit her daughter in Burträsk. She is from Bollnäs and speaks without interruption.

It seems like ages before we get on that bus when the busdriver doesn’t know how to handle the ticket machine. He is pushing buttons without result looking helpless and tired. I guess he is close to seventy. We are waiting patiently face to back outside the bus in the falling snow. Watching the bus driver as he fumbles with the machine with yet another cashpaying traveller. I have a printed ticket in my hand and it is getting soaked by the snow. Kerstin is further back in the row. Finally I get onboard and find two seats in the rear of the bus. When Kerstin gets on she says she will be roadsick sitting this far back.

Someone has written a love message on the back of the seat in front of us – ”I love you and haven’t seen you for two days and I can’t stand it any longer”. Touching.

There are seat belts which we manage to put on after some difficulties. Once you stop pulling you can not stretch it any further, so you have to let it slide back all the way and then keep pulling consistantly. It is dificult because the seats are narrow and you have to do this in an awkward position. Finally we are safely buckled up and on our way. The road is narrow and slippery and the carriage throws back and forth. In the loo there is no water to flush or to wash your hands with, which I mention to the driver. – Typical, he replies.

The walk from the busstation to our hotel was not far, about a kilometer, but the snow clogged the wheels on our suitcases and the pace was not great.

Testswimming was an oportunity on the night prior to the competition to try the lanes and the water before the actual race. We walked from the hotel through the snowstorm to the competition site. Four lanes were cut in the river ice adjacent to the town hall of Skellefteå. Changing of clothes had to take place on the slushie ice which was uncomfortable. Due to the strong current an assistant tied a belt attached to a rope around my waist and ran along as I swam. The current was strong but to my favor so it was a surprisingly quick swim. It was tricky to get on the clothes but Kerstin helped me. I am glad I did the test swim so that I was prepared of what was to come. We went to the nearby restaurant to get warm again. Small parties were gathering with drinks for their friday night pleasures. Groups of young women chatting and laughing and happy to see eachother. I had taken off my boots and put them on the heater next to the window, socks too. I tucked my cold feet in Kerstins wind trousers which she had put under the table. After warming up and a meal and a glass of beer we returned to the hotel.

The dressing room for the competitors was temporarily hosted in a conference room at the town hall. When I entered there was a solid concentrated silence in the room and I felt an urge to comment this and all of a sudden everybody started talking and laughing. Swimmers who recently done their race came in. Their skin was red from the cold and they all had a happy smile on their faces. They groaned and made it obvious to everybody about their achievements. So typically mannish manners. I got ready and started to warm up. On my feet I had my neopren socks and my head was protected by a rubber swimmers cap. I wrapped myself i my terry cloth robe and got out in the entrance where the heats gathered before they strode down to the river. I made contact with the men in my heat to get a feeling of my opponents. One of my age, slightly older, a finnish busdriver and two younger men – a bath attendent from Burträsk and a psychologist from Umeå. Shortly after we stood at the edge of the ice. Each lane had a ladder on both ends. I put my robe, glasses and socks in a basket held by an assistant ready to run with the basket to the opposite side. Suddenly I realized I had forgot my goggles in the dressing room. To late to fix that now. We climb in to the water. It is 0,1 degrees Celcius but I dont even think about the temperature, I just want to swim. On the signal I push away from the ladder. It was a good start and I swim with all my might taking quick strokes. The bath attendent is in the lane next to me and he is taking the lead. Where the other two are I cant see but it feels good and I can sence the cold water in my eyes. Reaching the other end and climbing up the ladder it seems like I was at least second best in my heat. My blood is rushing in my vaines and my skin is steaming and I feel a push of happiness. I get my things back and walk up the stairs from the river where K greets me with a smile and we make company up to the town hall. It was a good race and I gave all I could.

Back at the improvised dressing room the finnish men drink some stuff from a thermos. I ask the if I can taste and get a cup of a hot choccolate, mint and alkohol mixture. It is nice but I had expected a stronger brew due to my preconceptions about fins.

At the office collegues want to hear about winter swimming and they shake their heads and put up that forgiving smile – Are you crazy! Nobody, so far, wants to join me next year for a relay team. But I will definitely be back next year, at least to protect my gold medal.


Adventurers hangover or reverse culture shock .

Coming home from a long and adventures trip is not easy. My familiar 84 kg body is right here at my desk at the architects office, at the computer, at meetings, at my bike riding to work. But my mind and soul is less present here. They must in a sence have got stuck somewhere in Canada or Alaska north of the arctic circle. The good thing is I feel more present at home with my family than I did before. I appreciate to be close to my family and my friends. I take more care of relations and I don’t put much energy anymore trying to convince ”old friends” that we should meet if they dont make any efforts themselves. Shallow friendship is not an issue anymore.

Being home also means trying to incorporate your impressions from the trip, to make them pronounced and to use them to create something.

During the first part of my trip on Dax I experienced hardships and social problems which was a tough lesson but they also serve as a emotional base for the rest of the trip and for the rest of my life. The journey in its whole would not have been as solid and complex as it came out without theese initial problems.

Encountering problems also creates a wish to express yourself and, as a new thing music came to me. I have been playing in a rockband for 25 years and I have also tried folkmusic on fiddle but without really beeing in the music. Now I realize I was using music more like an attitude and not expressing much inside of me. In the difficulties during the trip on Dax music came natural and without any effort. So now I have a song for you dear blogreaders. It is called Waltz on Baffin Bay and is about the beauty and the troubles but mostly about the beauty. I hope you like it. The clip is from a lecture about my Northwest Passage I held for friends recently. On the twelve string guitar is Catharina Frediksson and on the base is Karl Boson.

Haida Gwaii – Copenhagen

What life is about and the essence of my journey

What life is about and the essence of my journey

Haida Gwaii and The Spirit Lake Trail

Haida Gwaii and The Spirit Lake Trail

17th of October

   Now I am in Copenhagen with two days of flight travel in my body. I am tired but happy. Looking back it has been quite a journey and just to review it briefly – at the end of June Dax left Island and after nine days at sea, partly rough and troublesome we arrived in Greenland. After sailing north along the westcoast of Greenland with stops in harbours like Nanortalik, Sisimiut, Qaqortok, Nuuk and Upernavik to mention some, we crossed Baffin Bay and entered Canada 5th of August. From Pond Inlet, Nunavut  we continued westward and encountered engine problems which forced us to abort the trip. Martin and Bengt returned with the boat and got as far as Clyde River, Baffin Island where the engine broke down completely and they had to put Dax on a sealift to Montreal for wintering her there.

   I stayed in Pond Inlet for a week or so before I got a lift with a russian cruiseship, the Academic Ioffe. After a week on the cruiseship I disembarked in Cambridge Bay, still in Nunavut, Canadas Arctic. The 28th of August I embarked the swiss catamaran Libellule and joined them all the way to Duch Harbor, Alaska. Libellule continued with a new crew to Hawaii and made it there at the 13th of October while I roamed the west coast of southern Alaska on the Alaska Marine Highway ferries. The ferry Kennikiot and the ferry Taku took me to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. Another ferry and I came to the islands of Haida Gwaii. Haida Gwaii was my last stop on my marine oriented travel round the north american continent so from Haida Gwaii I flew to Toronto where I did touchdown to connect to my friend Rick Irving who I met on the  Academic Ioffe. I also stopped by the office of Primitive Entertainment at Bloor street downtown Toronto to see how the documentary series The Polar Sea is developing. This is a documentary where the adventures of Dax and me will be able to be seen on television 2014.

   Staying on Haida Gwaii I hired a car to explore the hikes accessable from the one and only official road. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take the rental car on the logging roads which would have brought me deeper into the island. Anyway, I did some wonderful hikes through mystic, magic, mytical and mossy forests and desolate beautyful beaches. On Thanksgivning I picked up two hitchhikers, John and Chris and gave them a ride to a camping ground. They invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving together with them at the camp site. They had brought Salmon, Halibut and Antilope meat and I found two kilos of Chanterelles on my hike on the Anvil Trail. We cooked it all and had an improvised Thanksgiving celebration together with a young couple , Ryan and Robin, on their honeymoon trip. Had a terrible headace the day after. Why? I just had a sip (or two) of the whiskey Ryan brought and I didn’t drink much of Chris‘ home made Fireweed and Rubarb wine ( or did I?) And the beer was just to soak my dry throat – a bottle or two.

   Tomorrow Kerstin will come to Copenhagen and we will spend the weekend here together before we take the train home to Stockholm, Sweden. It is nice to travel but even nicer to be back home.


Good bye Ketchikan! Hello Prince Rupert!

The  Museum of Northern BC is built with enormous logs of red cedar. Simple and rough and beautyful

The Museum of Northern BC is built with enormous logs of red cedar. Simple and rough and beautyful

9th of September 2013 Prince Rupert, BC, Canada.

I am in Prince Rupert now. Yesterday was a troublesome day. After receiving an email from the company I booked my flight ticket through, telling me they had problems with my credit card, I tried to reach them several times via email and phone. Now I searched the booking company’s name on the web and read all these severe disliking on Tripadvisor like eDreams really sucks! or Never use this company! I definitely got worried. Found a travel agency called Qadra Travel and a nice woman named Sandra who helped me book a new ticket. Lets hope eDreams don’t charge me for my, hopefully, canceled booking.

Because of these obstacles I have not been able to explore the city of Prince Rupert. Tomorrow I will take the ferry to Haida Gwaii and spend some days there. On the 15th of october I fly from Sandspit (Haida Gwaii) and, after several stops in Vancouver, Toronto and Warsaw I will land in Copenhagen on the 17th

My last day in Ketchikan was rewarding and I was on a hike in the mountains together with John, the husband of Susan who I met in a shop while seeking shelter for the rain in Ketchikan. We hiked up the Dude Mountain, a quite difficult trail since it is very steep and this day also very wet since it was raining. Before we entered the the cloud covered summit we got some nice views over the landscape. I specially appreciate seeing all those old trees like Western Hemlock, Mountain Hemlock, Sitka Spruce and Red Cedar. The smell of Red Cedar is wonderful. Cedar contains resins that preserves it from rotting so it is used a lot in house construction.

The visitor center and museum in Prince Rupert is constructed with huge logs of Red Cedar and entering the lobby this smell is very obvious. I just popped in there to ask a question yesterday but I think I will try to visit it before I leave PR.



USA, Alaska, Unalaska, Dutch Harbor

Cinematographer John and me. Bering Sea in the background

Cinematographer John and me. Bering Sea in the background

King Crab, Eagles and Salmon.
19 th of September Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA.This landscape looks like the home of the Hobbits in the Lord of the Ring. Mountains covered with a green soft carpet. In clear weather you see snowcapped mountains and volcanoes. On the summits of around Unalaska there are remains from World War Two. Bunkers and batteries. The bay is habited by seals, sea utters and hump back whales. In the air and on rocks and masts there are white headed eagles in abundance. The creeks around the village are boiling with salmon who are striving upstream to breed. As soon as they have done this they die. That’s their moments of being 😉 On the banks along the creeks you see heaps of smelling dead fish. On the docks the crab cages are piled up, ready for the crab fishing season to start. Despite the number of inhabitants (4400) the harbor is huge. It actually consists of several harbors. So different compared to the harbors I have seen so far in Greenland, Canada and Alaska. Very wealthy and BIG.
Yesterday 18/9 was the last day of filming with Primitive Entertainment. They spent almost the entire day on different locations interviewing me. Backgrounds like the sea and the mountains. In the evening we all ( me, Kevin, John, Sanjay, Scott, Yves and the two new crew members of Libellule; Alain and Julie) went to The Aleutian Hotel to eat their famous sea food buffet. We were all stuffed with King Crab, Sushi, Halibut, Salmon, Shrimps and desserts before we said goodnight and split up.
Today 19/9 I have booked a ferry that will leave Dutch Harbor 24/9 and arrive at Homer the 27/9. I have not decided yet but my plan is to continue along the coast to Prince Rupert BC and hopefully go the island Haida Gwaii which, according to Kevin is a magic place. There are pine tree rainforests and old Indian villages.
I have also moved from the boat to the Aleutian Hotel where I will stay until I catch the ferry. This morning I said goodby to the film crew. It feels sad in a way because we have been together now and then during three months on locations like Reykjavik, Nuuk, Illulisat, Pond Inlet. In Cambridge Bay there was another crew.
In the meantime I will investigate Unalaska and the surrounding nature which is, as far as I have seen, very promising. I have contact with a naturalist guide and if all things fit together, she will take me for a hike in the mountains looking and birds and flowers.
I will be back with more about Unalaska and how things develop here.


Alaska Nome Gold, King Crab and Beer

House-boat in Nome

House-boat in Nome

White rainbow

White rainbow

11 th of September Nome.
Entering Nome Harbor you immediately get the impression of a busy place. A couple of years ago Nome was a sleepy outpost in the southern Arctic of Alaska. But things have changed since since the TV documentary series about gold diggers here started. Before that only a handful of dredges were established in Nome but now there are over 200 registered dredges. It is like back in the late 19 th century when people came from all parts of the world to seek their luck in Alaska. In the harbor you see them everywhere – small pontoon dredges up to really big and advanced ones. The gold diggers – mostly men, often recklessly dressed, bearded, heavily smoking looking like trolls. Hair sticking out wildly under the cap. Rugged faces. According to the Harbor Master the city of Nome has great difficulties keeping up with the boom. They are remodeling the harbor facilities to be able to receive bigger cargo ships and tankers. Another thing illustrating the growth is all the bars and restaurants along Front Street and not to forget the liquor stores, gold buyers and souvenir shops.
We started our celebration of the completed North West Passage onboard Libellule, safely moored at the south wall. At 1830 Nicolas and Marco from Perd pas le Nord plunged in with some bottles of wine. Their North West Passage was about to end with a catastrophe near Point Barrow – they hit a sandbar and struggled for 24 hours in the storm to get their ketch loose but finally they gave up and got evacuated with helicopter. After four days in Point Barrow they returned to their boat on a tugboat that was capable of pulling them loose and eventually they managed continue sailing to Nome. They intend to haul their boat and put it on the hard over the winter in Nome.
At 21 we went to Bering Sea Restaurant to have some steaks and pitchers of Alaskan IPA. After being properly fed with New York style steaks and fries it was time to explore the bar culture. All the bars we visited seem to compete in tallest bar desk. At one bar the baldheaded female bartender was running back and forth along the 10 meter desk handing out drinks, jokes and encouraging comments to the not so sober guests. And of course loud rock music on the PA. Atmosphere was good. Next, Breakers Bar, a combination of Lotto boutique, snooker lounge, Laundromat and bar. A woman won 250$ on the Lotto and bought us all drinks. Two crab fishermen, slightly refreshed, were playing pool and imitating the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show when they found out I was Swedish. The balls were jumping out of the pool table – oops! Kavit the chef from Airport Pizza, a successful restaurant in Nome, presented himself and we had a chat. Two gold diggers showed me an iPhone picture of their last four days harvest – and it looked like a lot of gold nuggets. They told me they made over a million bucks last year. 
 At 0200 all the bars close and everybody are out in the street at the same time. Outside Brakers we met Sheila, Andrew and Arlo. I met Sheila earlier at the souvenir shop with carvings. So the party continued at Libellule. Arlo Hannigan brought his guitar and we had a jam session onboard. He is a musician and sounds like a mix of JJ Cale, Dylan and a dash of Cohen. Our playing styles fitted together and I tried his Martin guitar. I played my Baffin Bay Waltz and he followed and he played some of his songs and I followed. Outside it was raining heavily and the party went on until 0430. That was a proper celebration of our journey though the morning after felt a bit heady.
 Philipp and Michael left the boat to catch their flight back to Europe and Yves, Sylvain and I motored out of Nome Harbor in the rain. Nicolas and Marco from Perd pas le Nord waved farwell at the dock.

On my own now. Canada Pond Inlet

Film crew in canoe

Film crew in canoe

DSCN0925Dax just left with Martin and Bengt sailing south along Baffin Island and then crossing Baffin Bay at Cape Dyer over to Greenland and Nuuk. I am at a computer in the library and I am enjoying my solitude. This new blog is ment to illustrate my impressions of the people, the landscape and the culture of the Arctic as my trip proceeds. It is a freestanding blog but is intended to follow up the blog http://northwestpassage2013.wordpress.com which won’t have any more posts from now on.