Just some final thoughts – quite unordered and far from being complete.
The good parts
Friends – I made the journey alone, but I spent time with friends. In Haukenes on the Vesterålen, in Kurravaara and in Murjek. At Solberget in Swedish Lapland, in Abisko/Björkliden, and finally in Kirkenes near the Norwegian-Russian border. Sharing time, thoughts and experiences with others is always great and I really enjoyed the time I was allowed to spend with old and new friends.
Conclusion: Share more time with friends!
Being outdoors – When I look back I remember mostly my outdoor trips. Some examples:
- A first mountain hike
- Tromsø: In the mountains
- Abisko: A first small ski tour
- Murjek: Through the forest, over the bogs
- A ski tour near Tornehamn
- Låktatjåkko – between ski tour and luxury
- A day trip into the valley Vistasdalen
- Ascent of the Komsa
Each tour gave me the impression of being in the right place and doing it right. I realised again, that I just adore being outdoors, especially in the kalfjäll – the alpine tundra above the tree line.
Conclusion: Be outside – it feels good!
The inferior parts
Driving alone – This journey involved a lot of driving, sometimes the whole day. I consider this both boring and exhausting. Boring because you cannot share your thoughts (see Friends above), exhausting because I had to drive every single of the 6630 kilometres by myself. Sometimes I couldn’t enjoy driving as much as I hoped, I was just glad to arrive somewhere.
Conclusion: Take a friend, drive less or just stand it.
Tenting and short days – Short days aren’t any problem if you have a cabin or another warm place to stay. They are less fun, when you’re still driving without knowing whether you’ll find a cheap overnight stay. They are hard, when you lie alone in your tent and it’s pitch dark outside already at five o’clock. Again boredom is the main problem (see Friends above, again) and time as well since it may take much time to find a place for tenting, erect the tent, cook your meal, do the dishes and so on. That’s why I tented only once (and slept two other night in my tent too without the need to cook).
Conclusion: Take a friend or avoid tenting when days are too short.
Some old favourite places:
- The Vesterålen – just beautiful and much easier to discover on foot than the steep and rugged Lofoten islands
- Solberget – a perfect place to calm down and to make tours with the long wooden Tegsnäs skis
- Abisko and around – an ideal place for starting ski tours between an hour and some weeks. I recommend Abisko Handcraft for accommodation.
And some new discoveries:
- Låktatjåkko – Sweden’s highest located Mountain Lodge, 1228m above sea level, a perfect place to get snowed in
- Kirkenes – great landscape with a fantastic combination of open and ice covered fjords, snowy mountains and much more. And a great team at the Kirkenes Snow Hotel
Things I can have at home, too
When I wrote about my paddling yesterday I was asked in a comment, why I travel at all, when I can have this right on my doorstep. I’ve been living in Skellefteå and Skelleftehamn for almost five years and a lot of winter experiences are really just round the corner:
- Northern Lights – I saw them many times, even if they may be more impressive more up north
- Snow – Each single year we got much snow, quite often between 80 and 100 cm and I can start ski tours in my front yard
- Blizzards – Last winter: 83 cm in 24 hours; I missed this winter’s snowstorm
- Moose – There are a lot of them in the forest, but I only see the tracks and moose poop. Sometimes even some reindeers
- Coldness – sometimes it can be quite cold with temperatures below -30 °C, but that’s seldom
- Sea ice – the Baltic Sea freezes over each year. I can ski on the sea ice or, if parts are open, take the kayak and paddle between the ice
Things I cannot have at home
- Polar night – we are south from the Arctic Circle and the shortest day is 3 hours, 45 minutes
- Real cold weather – I think you have to visit other places to get temperatures below -40 °C. Nikkaluokta and Kvikkjokk can be quite cold in wintertime
- Mountains – we have some tree-covered hills but no real mountains and no tree line neither – a pity!
- Wilderness – let’s face it, there’s a lot of nature around but no real wilderness. If you go through a forest straight ahead you will cut a way or find a summer cottage quite soon
- Fjords – no fjords neither, Norway seems to have the European monopoly. Some people say, that the Baltic Sea is not even a real sea but more kind of a big lake
- New impressions – as I mentioned I’ve been living here for almost five years and I start to know the surroundings. It’s always nice to discover something new
Wishes and ideas for winter 2016
- I want to share more time with friends, preferably outdoors
- I want to make (at least) one longer ski tour
- I want to sleep in a tent when it’s below -40 °C
- I want to visit Låktatjåkko and Kirkenes again
- I want to paddle between ice floes
- If money isn’t too short: I want to see something completely new. Greenland? Svalbard? Labrador? I don’t know yet
It’s all right as long as it’s winter!