Monday, 19 July 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 19b

Midnight Sun, Abisko, Sweden.
My original plan was to stay in Gallivare one more night, hike up the nearby mountain and watch the Midnight Sun. However, the sun had been hiding behind thick layers of clouds all day and there was no hope it would show up at midnight, so I decided to give it a miss and move on, to one of the most beautiful and memorable parts of my trip.

Just to clarify, as I write this, I'm still sitting in the laundry room of a campsite in the unpronounceable town of Nordsjkosbotn, where I wrote the previous post (Day 19a), and I'm putting past week's events on paper (hence the title 19b).



Hiking and hitch-hiking
From Gallivare I managed to hitch-hike my way to Abisko, some 220 km further North-East, in just one evening, skipping Kiruna and getting back into the wild after a streak of cities. Abisko is a national park in Northern Sweden and one of the busiest summer destinations for hikers and nature lovers. Worth saying that there's a reason for it. I spent two very nice days in Abisko and despite having to cut the visit short due to bad weather, I had an amazing time. Although I regret missing a walk on the Kungsleden (King's Trail), the 500km long and most famous Swedish hiking trail, I still had a good time, and I saw the Midnight Sun!


The place where the Sun never sh... goes down
The Midnight Sun is simply breathtaking and I can't find words to describe it, so pictures will have to do (or you can go to Lapland and see for yourselves). The best Midnight Sun viewing spot in Abisko is on top of a 1164m mountain, which you can reach with an outrageously expensive cable car (round trip 30€), or you can do it like me - walk up the mountain. It's harder, but it's also cheaper, healthier and much more rewarding.



... if the weather permits
I must admit, though, that at the beginning I was somewhat discouraged from my midnight date with the Sun; the whole day had been full of warmth and sunshine, until the very moment I set foot out of my tent for the evening walk. At that precise moment, dark clouds covered everything and rain started pouring down. The otherwise sharp and clearly visible summit became a foggy mass where one could barely see the tip of his own nose, let alone a yellow ball in the distance... Nevertheless, it was the last day to see the Midnight Sun in that region and since I had refused a second failure, I didn't even consider the sky not clearing up!

And the weather did permit
Of course, I had been right. It stopped raining after half an hour, so I came out of my temporary shelter under a bridge and started hiking. Half the way up, already soaked to the bone by the post-rain bushes surrounding the narrow path, it started pouring down again. However, despite my resemblance to a drenched rug, it was worth every drop of water, every goosebump and every minute of risking pneumonia.

Click for more stunning photos.

When I paused to catch my breath on a clearing and turned to watch the scenery, my jaw dropped: a massive double rainbow was arched over the whole valley, from the lake on the left side to the far away mountains on the right. That view was simply breathtaking, something to definitely call home about (which I did). Seriously, one of the most stunning sceneries I've ever seen in my life.




Then I spent about twenty minutes jostling with the camera and trying to fit the whole double arch in one picture. As you can see, I succeeded.

To the summit
By the time I got to the upper cable car station, the sky was completely clear. I appreciated the cable-car guy's remark "it's another hour walk to the summit, but you seem fit, you could make it in 40 minutes". Indeed, half an hour after hearing these words, a view as stunning as the Sun at midnight can be was spreading before my eyes. If only those bloody mosquitoes didn't survive even at 1100 metres...




As mentioned before, pictures or a first hand experience will have to do instead of words for this part, so I'll leave you to the photoalbum and travel plans.

And that's all for now. While you absorb my Midnight Sun story, you can look forward to the next post. I just want to mention that on the way back I met a very nice girl from Berlin, who also enjoyed the view and, guess what, invited me to Berlin. Sounds like a perfect day's ending, doesn't it? Next time I'll tell you more (about northern Scandinavia, not about Berlin).

2 comments:

  1. Sick! My feelings are a mixture of distilled envy and pure awe...

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...and by the way: we'd like to read the Berlin story ;)

    ReplyDelete

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