Last Tuesday I finished my last exam. More or less at the same time, the last snow melted from the forest and the nearby mountains. The weather is good. The trees are starting to bloom. The grass is turning from yellow to green. The sun is shining 24 hours per day. And I have a world to explore.
Earlier I posted my wishlist.
Tuesday night I made a midnight sun cycletrip to Håmojåkk, and explored some tracks in the forest. From Råtsi, where Svappavaarabanen connects to Malmbanen, a track leads into the forest along the railway, but ends soon. Another track goes onto the military shooting range terrain. First I explored the dead-end track, to see if it was really dead-end or if it somehow connects to a dead-end track from the other way, coming from the airport. The track is really dead end. But a footpath from Lombolo leads to this point; two footpaths, in fact. One can make a roundtrip from Lombolo in around 8 km. I am at the furthest point of this tour, thus halfway. On the map it says Ávžžijeaggi. There is a little guestbook to write your name in. It was refreshed in March, and in March and April it is full of names, many names every day. From the second half of May or so, the number of names reduced to one per day: the same name every day. Many people ski. But only one walks (or probably runs). I add my name to the book. He'll be surprised tomorrow. I hear a train and minutes later I see it coming ever so slowly. I didn't know they had iron ore trains from Svappavaara. I thought that mine was closed. Maybe this is one of the test runs I read about. But it's almost midnight; an odd time to run a train if one doesn't run many every day.
I continue over the military shooting range. Access is only prohibited when exercises are planned, which is almost never - maybe six times per year or so, judging from the (outdated) calendar that is hanging at this entrance, which they probably assume is only used in winter. They may be right because the track gets very muddy, and at one point I fail to keep upright and find myself standing knee deep in the water. Wet feet. I continue towards Håmojåkkvägen, back to the normal route and on the road that was inaccesible a month ago because it wasn't ploughed this winter. Access is allowed. Leaving the road is strictly prohibited. The road is straight and the late evening, near midnight sun is shining on my back.
The river is nice, but not as nice as at Kalixforsbron or as the various places where I have been to Rautasälven. Too many trees are standing in the way. Cycling back in the midnight sun is wonderful. The weather cooled down, but not too much. It's probably some 9 degrees celsius.
On Wednesday I climbed Ädnamvaara/Eatnamvárri. I had tried this twice before. First when there was still a lot of snow, thinking I could walk on the skiing track. I could but it was too heavy and would take too long, and I turned back. Secondly two weeks ago, when I thought sufficiently snow would have melted. As reported before on this blog, that was a misjudgement. Wednesday, however, it was fine. Almost all the snow had melted; the few patches still there are like snowfields in the mountains in summer.
The path leaves from the parking place near Viscariagruvan. The trees are just starting to get green, the path is still quite wet but very easy to find. It took me one and a half hour to get up to Ädnamvaarastugan, from where you have a wonderful view over Kiruna, with Luossavaara on one side and Kirunavaara on the other.
After that I continued my way up the mountain. I lost the trail. But in Lappland above the treeline on a clear day you don't need any. Just walk to the highest point over the mosses. According to the Swedish Wikipedia this is "Kirunas närmaste kalfjäll" - Kiruna's nearest mountain above the treeline. It's true according to my map, and just one and a half hour hike to the (closed) hut that is located at the treeline. I walk straight up and find myself at a point on the ridge that is not the highest at all, so I decent and climb up again, to see I am at the wrong point still. With all those vertical detours it takes me some time before I am up at the top, but it's worth it. The view is magnificent.
I see dozens of mountains, if not hundreds. The furthest are probably more than 100km away. They are blazingly white. So many. Far away. Three days walk at least. But cycling can be done in a day. To Nikkaluokta, or to Abisko.
I stay up quite long, and as I left late (I slept late after coming home late last night) and the way back takes a bit longer than I expected, it's past seven when I come back to my room. It turns out there was a council meeting at 18.00, which I missed, they tried to inform me but my battery was empty and they couldn't reach me. Oh well. It was not a proper meeting anyway. They went to a restaurant. I join in just in time for the coffee. After dinner we stand in front of the restaurant to say bye. A kid comes to us and says "Ich will euch verprügeln".
I went by bike to and from the starting point of my hike. I pass by the parking place of the skiing lift of Luossavaara. From here, one has a wonderful view over the lake. During the day, the lake has undergone a significant change. The picture to the left was taken in the morning. The picture to the right in the afternoon.
Yesterday, Thursday, I made a long, long cycling trip. I went to one of the forestry tracks leaving from the Esrange road. First 34 km to the place where that track actually starts, then another 18 along that track, to a place at the Torne river. The trip is beautiful though. Now that it's summer, a new route has become available between Kiruna and Laxforsen, so that it's possible to cycle to Jukkasjärvi with hardly any E10. I decide to take that one on the way down to Jukkasjärvi, but it's quite uncomfortable to descend steeply with so many stones. Climbing is fine, I did that twice already, but downhill I will take the asphalt instead next time.
At Jukkasjärvi I have another look at the Icehotel. It's still melting, but it has still not fully melted yet. The roof has collapsed, but most walls are still standing. I take a look and walk through the fallen and melting roof on my bare feet in my sandals; my feet get pretty cold. But it's a sunny day and they will warm up again for sure.
I continue my way towards Paksuniemi, passing by the beautifully named village of Pikkupalo - not on the map. I have a look at Paksuniemi and actually see some sheep - finally another animal than all those reindeer (I hardly report it anymore on my blog, but they stand regularly along the road or just on it. It's not noteworthy) I wonder how those sheep survive the winter. They must be given a lot of hay.
Paksuniemi is the last settlement on the road, but because of Esrange the road is still large. But there is almost no traffic, as nobody lives here. Well - almost nobody. I pass by a sign pointing into the forest saying "Här bor jag" - I live here. Swedish humour?
Some kilometers further the forestry road start. Paurinkivaaravägen. It goes up and down and up and down and after 18km it stops at the river. This is the end of the road.
The ride back is quite long. Longer than the ride here, because of the height difference. When I finally arrive back I have cycled more than a 100 km, including 36 km on unpaved roads and around 400 meters of height difference. Tired.
More pictures here (panoramio).