Never stop exploring! It’s all uphill from here – and it’s supposed to be…
For this weekend adventure I went to Abisko which is 100km north of Kiruna, this puts it around 250km north of the polar circle. I’ve been in love with with Swedish Lapland and the high alpine environment since I was working on the Abisko Scientific Research Station ANS over 10 years ago. Research regarding climate change is ongoing at several sites since over 30 years. Glacial erosion has created the convexly rounded hills of the Northern Scandes. The Swedish side of the border is covered in these rounded shapes and it’s much colder. While on the Norwegian side the mountains are steeper and climate is driven much more by the warmth of the Gulf stream. This makes for a big contrast in a very short distance.
“Lapporten” is a famous feature of the view from Abisko tourist station and the surrounding area.
On the way to Abisko I pass beautiful Lake Torneträsk – my favorite lake in the world and something of a national treasure, at least for nature lovers.
This season I’m aiming at being able to carry more equipment to get stronger and more self reliant. Walking with a backpack was horrible the first 10 minutes, until I got used to it. I felt the 800 altitude meters from Abisko to Lapporten, especially on the way up! It added 10h of exercise this week which is great since I’m recovering after being very sick and need all training I can get. Solo hiking isn’t recommended with rapidly changing conditions so come prepared if you go it alone.
Trekking uphill is hard but well worth it if you love a good view. It’s 12km oneway from Abisko Östra (start at the helicopter field) and you should plan for 4 to 6 hours depending on ability and how much weight you carry. The terrain isn’t too bad and there are some markers to help find your way but it’s easy to get off track going around patches of snow or you can loose the path for a million reasons. In good weather you will see what you’re aiming for and can just get by anyway, but always take a map and a compass and make sure you know how to use it tolerably.
Reaching the top: valley life was a real pleasure!
But it can turn quickly as you get engulfed in the clouds… We call it “mountain fog” but it’s actually the clouds being the same level as you and cause big problems with navigation. Stay still for a while and hope it passes and if it doesn’t you pick up your compass. This is iron ore country which I got to experience last year being stuck in fog and my compass was spinning pointing the wrong way. I had to navigate 10m at a time according to streams and lakes and slopes and 3 km took 4 hours. No fun, but don’t panic!
Nature is dramatic, beautiful, rough. Nature is calm and relaxed – great and true. Bigger and more important than me or you. It’s worth protecting so that we can continue enjoying in its presence. Being up in a valley few people see with their own eyes completely alone in my tent was an experience!
It’s not very often yousee these parts of Swedish Lapland being lush this early. Many times the ice would still be thick on lakes at 1000m and now it had almost cleared already. This year we have had record amounts of snow and the water stands very high. It was hard to pass some of the streams formed by snow melting and you should be aware, your selected route can be blocked.
Be prepared and have fun in Swedish Lapland!