There is a place on the East Coast of Sweden, in the Baltic Sea, that I named “Magic Island”; I paddled to it on my recent Scandinavian sea kayak trip.
The seas were bumpy, created by the waves rebounding the rocky cliffs hitting the outer islands. I was paddling unprotected waters and the steady breeze from the preceding days was sending a decent swell in my direction. My paddling companion Petra was a little concerned as her paddling experience was mostly limited to very different waters of land locked Austrian lakes; the last time she paddled salt water was in Pacific Ocean, Australia.
Rounding the South-East point still presented non land-able locations for a camp. The map showed a little cove but I was having a bit of trouble finding it; after all with 30.000 islands in the Stockholm archipelago alone I was now having doubts that I was in the right place…
And suddenly there it was, as promised by my little map, a fantastic sheltered bay of polished granite.
The action of the glacier of the last Ice Age some 11.000 years ago managed to shape this very hard granite into smooth rocky waves. The location of this island away from the mainland prevented a lot of vegetation from taking hold and the winter storms have dwarfed and shaped the small trees. The presence of this windy place was palpable; I felt exposed and vulnerable here.
The skies turned to dark clouds and storms could be seen approaching.
I climbed up a small rocky outcrop and could see lighting in the distance. The storm would be upon us soon and I made sure I secured our tent with extra guidelines anchored to the cracks in the granite.
The wind came followed by a downpour and as we lay in the tent, I was glad that I was picky in selecting just the right tent site as small creeks ran down the smooth rocky slopes. We stayed dry and the tent proved to be solid.
But as most summer thunderstorms this one did not last and eventually it passed leaving only a few puffy clouds around.
The sun was getting lower and the magic hour was approaching (I borrow this term from my early inspirational photographer Galen Rowel. Galen describes the perfect time of the day to take photographs when the light is warm and the shadows long as magic hour).
The rock was still wet but we wanted to see the sunset on the other side of the island, facing West.
We took a walk.
In Sweden, at such high latitudes, the sun sets later in the evening and the twilight lasts so much longer than at home in Australia; I did not have to rush to see the landscape in its best light but I could take my time to wonder around and pose to take it all in.
Cold enough to wear a wind braking jacket I could feast with my eyes on the sensual soft shapes of granite waves sculpted by ice. A few birds were still trying to catch dinner before darkness fell and I kept on smiling, happy to be present in this magical place.
Video coming soon