As we drove in our white minivan straight up north towards the arctic on E4, I took a sigh of relief that finally, this trip was happening. For the past two weeks, we were on the brink of canceling the plans many times. We had been unsuccessful in finding a rental car that could fit 6 people. Eventually, after spending a couple of afternoons calling each rental agency in Gothenburg and Stockholm we somehow found a white minivan at a fuel station in Västerås, a small town an hour away from Stockholm. At last, we had found our ride for the next ten days.
Fully aware of the anti-petroleum sentiments in the north of Norway, we started our journey in a van covered with ugly stickers of an oil company. Nevertheless, the ugly exteriors of the van were easily outdone by the vastness and comfort of the interiors. We were six, and the maximum capacity of this minivan was nine, so there was plenty of space for everyone.
After making a few quick pauses along a few lakes on the way, we made our first stop at Skuleberget at Höga Kusten. When we went to the information center at Skuleberget to know our options for hiking up the mountain, we were presented with two options, either to take the long but easy route which was 2km long or to take the short but steep route which was 600m. Of course, the word ”easy” was too hurtful for our egos and we chose to take the steep route, well, wrong choice. It was a climb of 300m in a distance of 600m, so almost a climb of 80%, most of the trail was stairs or rocks with ropes for support. All this was still doable, but, it was one of the once-in-a-year 30°C days of Swedish summer. By the time we reached the summit, all of us had our shirts dripping in sweat and had to take them off. Thankfully, there was a small cafe atop Skuleberget selling ice cream and without losing a second we headed straight to it. The cafe offered a majestic panoramic view, and it was definitely worth all the sweat.
We were calmly enjoying the view with icecream until someone noticed that the area was full of blueberries, so the next half an hour went by in plucking blueberries. For the obvious reasons, we took the ”Easy” route back to our van and proceeded on our journey up north. The warm sunny day had a perfect ending with a magical sunset worth stopping for. 1000km and 12 hours after leaving Stockholm, we entered the Arctic circle and spent the night in Jokkomokk.
As we continued on our journey the following day, we were still 600km away from our destination in Norway. En route, there was a plan to hike to a lake called Trollsjön in Kiruna close to the Norwegian border. As we started our drive from Jokkomokk up north, we could see that the landscape has completely changed from what we had seen in the 1000km journey before entering the Arctic circle. Our drive was pleasantly interrupted several times by reindeers and arctic foxes wandering onto the roads. Not just the landscape, but a cultural change was also evident with all the places marked in Sami in addition to the usual of Swedish. I picked some words in Sami too; like Jaure is a lake and Johka is a river. The lake we were headed to also has a more popular Sami name called Rissajaure.Continue reading “The Adventures in Arctic Summer”