Saturday, 31 May 2008


From Karhuniemi, where the stables are just west of Kiruna, goes a track into a forest on a hill called Báhpagobba. From here goes a hiking route almost straight north, ending at Rautasälven, the Rautas river, after some 7km.

It is the warmest day of the year until now and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the warmest May day ever in Kiruna or even ever north of the arctic circle whatsoever. It is 22°C according to one source and 24°C according to another. Two weeks ago it was snowing. Quite a change. The path, which is quite wide and probably accesible by a quadmobile as well, goes up and down and down and up. Through some swamps, through the forest with often huge puddles on the track requiring me to find a way through the surrounding birches, and again through some swamps. It passes by some little lakes and finally, after one and a half hour, I hear water. To my right I see an old, abandoned shed - maybe one of the two houses that is on the map. Soon thereafter I see the river.

It's much bigger than I had expected. I had expected a large stream. But this is a real river. And it's loud. I sit at the edge and feel the water. It's cold, of course. The photograph doesn't quite catch how wild it is. At some places the water splashes up more than a meter. At such a hot day the snow upstream in the mountains must be melting rapidly. Some of the buses at the edge of the river are underwater. The discharge today is probably very much above average.

I sit and eat and sit and enjoy the warm sun and continue and wander around a bit and sit again. In total I spend nearly two hours near the river before returning.

Walking back I'm actually hot. I'm in shorts and a t-shirt, but I'm sweaty. When I reach my bicycle I have another look at the view from Báhpagobba. I can see two villages, both with some eight houses, just a few families. My first guess is that they are Krokvik and Rautas, but those should be in one line. After a more careful look at the map I decide those are Krokvik and Käyrävuopio. That means that some part of the mountain range behind Käyrävuopio, the right village, must be somewhere in Norway. Like I suspected all along.

I walked more than three hours in total, on a very sunny day, with more than 20 °C, in a forest right next to Kiruna, the biggest (and only) town in a wide area, to and from a very beautiful spot along the river, and the total count of number of humans I have seen remains solidly at zero.

Cycling back up the track up the lower half of Luossavaara is even hotter. It's 24 °C, no wind, full sun and I'm cycling upward. Oy.

I decide to make a detour around the campingsite. I see a woman putting up a chair next to a camper with a Dutch license plate, and I decide to say hi and make a little chat. It's been months since I could speak my own language. They are here on holiday, she is surprised to hear that I aren't, but actually live here. We exchange some information about sights, mainly from my side. When I leave it is more than an hour later.

Back at Vilan the other students appear to have discovered as well that it is summer now. Summer in Kiruna. Their windows are open and several are sitting at the driveway. Not the most interesting place to enjoy the sun, but possibly a more productive one given the tricky but important exam coming on Tuesday.

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