Sunday, 23 March 2008

Kallovaara cycling

According to Gretha Sierink, in Kiruna one can only cycle back and forth, and it is not really possible to make a reasonable sized cycling round trip. Today, I have proven her wrong. At least for the winter.

I went from Kiruna north to Kurravaara. From Kurravaara Södra I crossed the Torne river and climbed the slope on the other side, arriving in Kallovaara. At Kallovaara I entered the road (well, track. It's probably not asphalt but it will take some months before I can find out) from Laxforsen to Vuolosjávri. As I was exploring, I tried to see how far I could go in the direction of Vuolusjávri first, but soon I found out that the road to Vuolusjávri wasn't ploughed. This was not surprising. I'm surprised by the roads existance in the first place. it doesn't seem to go anywhere. Just ends somewhere in the forest. Which will be nice in summer, but then again in summer going to Kallovaara is a lot longer. No way to cross Torneälven in summer. So I went down to Laxforsen along a very, very beautiful road with marvellous views over the Torne river valley. I will certainly come back here in summer, but probably before as well! There were almost no cars, the number of cars increased a bit as I got closer to Laxforsen, since the cumulative traffic is larger closer to the start of the road. When I stand still, I usually hear nothing. Sometimes I hear a car far away (about 10/hour). Sometimes I hear snowmobiles on the river, in the distance. Sometimes I hear a dog bark, far away. Probably some dogsledges. But usually it is completely silent.

The road begins - although for me, it ends - at Laxforsen, near the Torneälven bridge. Rather than going to the right to Kauppinen and back to Kiruna, I turn left to Jukkasjärvi, the Icehotel village, and in the direction of Esrange. To my surprise it's only 23 km to Esrange; maybe this actually lies within my reach as well. Though going there and back from Kiruna is probably slightly further than Nikkaluokta, and a lot less interesting. I wouldn't like to live in Jukkasjärvi. Too many tourists coming to the Icehotel. I wonder what it looks like in summer though. I cycle to the church at the end of Jukkasjärvi and eat my lunch, noticing that one can actually see Kiruna from here. That's way up. Around 220 m.

On the way back I take the furthest upstream bridge on the Torne river, and I attempt to get to the EISCAT radar via Laxforsen (which lies on two sides of the river). This fails; the road might exist (on my map it is "worse road") but it's not ploughed, so I go back to the main road and climb to the village Kauppinen, where I can cut off a part of the road to Jukkasjärvi and the E10. In Kauppinen I see some icycles that are several meters long. Quite impressive.

I realise that I will pass by Space Campus on my way back, and decide to drop in to get warm and eat the rest of my lunch. To my surprise - and surely there as well - a number of students is working there on a project, so I'm not alone on this easter Sunday. I walk around for around 20 minutes before I proceed the climb back home; by now, I'm really tired. I've been outside from 9:30 to 16:30, and have been on my bicycle most of the time. And it's cold outside... But it's definately worth it. Tomorrow I will take a day rest and go only briefly outside, but on Tuesday I am planning to go to Nikkaluokta. 65 km. And take the bus back.

More pictures of todays ride are on my picasaweb album.

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