Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Arctic Adventures in Abisko

My mom AnS and brother OK are in the very north of Sweden this week, in the province called Lappland (=Lapland, of course), and I thought you might like to see how this area north of the Arctic Circle looks like. They landed in Kiruna today, and are now driving to Abisko, near the Norwegian border. Here are photos taken by OK on his iphone. (Note, this is the time of year for midnight sun, so these photos could have been taken late at night or 4 AM, who knows).

Torne Träsk, aka "Torne lake" is a big lake near Abisko. I am glad to see that it has no ice on it. When I was here in 1986 or so, during the last week of June, the whole lake was covered with ice. Global warming in action... This is looking north, so if you take a boat across the lake and walk north you will end up in Finland. I think, maybe it is Norway. Maybe even Russia after a while, not really sure. The borders up there aren't that exact :)
The giant U-shaped valley in the distance is called Lapporten (the Laps' portal), and is probably the most famous valley in Sweden. It is a textbook example of glacially formed valleys, where the sides have been carved out as a half circle by the moving ice during the ice age.
The trees are birches (fjällbjörk) and small and cranky, the views are vast, and the snow are still on the mountain sides. That is indeed a small rental car, but in this landscape everything looks small. The bogs are full of cloudberries later in the season. The poles are for the electricity and telephone lines. This road was only built a few decades ago, before then all transportation was done on the railroad, which was originally built to ship iron ore from Kiruna iron mine to Narvik in Norway. Some of the most fierce battles in Scandinavia was in Narvik, because the Allied wanted to stop the Germans from shipping out iron and steel to Germany. The Swedes stayed out of the war by shipping iron to whoever paid the most and was winning at the time (I know, a horribly dark period in Sweden's history and shameful).

A tiny little rental car on the highway. This is really the E-10 highway, the only road between Sweden and Norway in northernmost Sweden. Not much traffic.... You have to watch out for reindeer of course.

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