Saturday, 31 May 2008

Ylinen Aptasvaara

Yesterday, after the Optics & Radar exam, I decided to explore the path behind university. At the junction with the E10 there is a sign saying "Tågran 10 km". Not to be found on a map, but the path that is on the map goes from uni to Aptasjärvi, a lake around 8km south of university. I decided to explore this path. Completely improvised - I have nothing with me except what I have on me. No proper boots. No photo camera.

I left at around 12:15 and decided to walk until 12:30, then I decided to walk until 13:00 and then I took my final decision and told myself I would go all the way. The path departs to the right from the track leading south from university to the LIDAR-station. It is marked as a skidspår but it's clearly a hiking trail now, even though there is some snow left. On the first part there are many nestboxes. Probably someone at Spacecampus has been busy, presumable the same that has written the booklet "Djurliv vid IRF" that is sometimes lying around at the restaurant Atmosfären, from which you can see the forest and some of the nestboxes very well and from behind glass. The path passes by a tennis field and a distant shed before branching off to the left going deeper into the forest. It crosses a nameless stream, a swamp (the same swamp that the LIDAR-station is located at) and a birch forest before it starts to ascend a hill. After about half an hour there is a sign pointing to the left. "Kala berget 2.5 km", it says (or something similar, I need to check again). I think and consider and reconsider and decide to go in there. There is a lot of snow on the path and my feet are soaked, because I don't have proper boots on. The snow sometimes reaches down to my knees still. And this is a southern slope on 30 May. From the point where the route to the top of the hill branches off the path to Aptasjärvi the route - which is also still visible as some sort of path - is marked by pieces ripped off plastic bags. I recognise one of them to be from a LIDL, bag which is remarkable, because the nearest LIDL is some 600 km away. The path ascends increasingly steeply and after some 20-25 minutes the forest clears and I am above the treeline. I look behind me and see a flabbergasting view. I run the last fewhundred meters to the top and look around.

To the south I see Dundret, the hill where the Gällivare people ski. To the east I see the lowlying lands of Finland, far away. Nearer to me I see Laxforsen, Poikkijärvi, Jukkasjärvi, the Torne river and the ruins of the icehotel. I also see the hills around Esrange. This must be an excellent place to watch a rocket launch. To the north I see the hills in the Northern Triangle, the triangle in northern Sweden where there are no roads and no villages and no people. And to the east is Kiruna. I see in front of me the picture that I previously assumed to be fake: the mountains all the way from Sarek via Kebnekaise and Abisko-Narvik to the Bardu-mountains, and right in front, the hills Kirunavaara and Luossavaara, and in front of even those, I see Kiruna. When I saw that picture in the newspaper, I was sure it had been put together. Put a picture of the mountains behind a picture of Kiruna and glue in the Kiruna hills - but from Aptvasvaara, it is real.

I will definately return here with a photo camera!

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