1 June 2012
Today we packed up in Luleå and headed north towards Björkliden and across the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle is the most southern point at which the midnight sun can be witnessed on the longest day of the year. It lies at the latitude line of 66° 33’ 44”. We of course stopped for a group picture.
Our second stop was the Ajtte Sami Cultural Museum. The Sami people are the indigenous race of the area. There are still approximately 70,000 Sami people living in the area. The group looked around at the displays and tried to decipher the descriptions that were in Swedish and possibly the native Sami language as well, while there was no English to be found. The visual imagery still painted a great image of the ways the Sami people lived and till live. A few of us grabbed some souvenirs and we all headed to a nearby pizzeria for lunch.
We watched as the temperature slowly dropped and we began to see exciting wildlife such as reindeer, moose, and snow hares on the side of the road as we continued our drive through various rain showers on our way to our next stop in Kiruna. We drove to the top of a ski hill that had been closed for the season and enjoyed the view fortunately during a break from the rain showers. From the top we could clearly see the largest iron mine in the world. LKAB supplies about 10 percent of the world’s iron. The mine is bordering the town of Kiruna, but slowly working its way under the city. The iron supply runs diagonally under the town, and plans have been made to move the city to allow for mining to continue.
About 10 minutes from our final destination, we stopped at a waterfall passing under the road. We explored for a few minutes before heading to the grocery store to stock up on food for dinner and for the next days activities. We arrived at our destination and unpacked in our cozy cabins. After a few card games and some time in the sauna, we gathered for some warm chili for dinner as a group. We discussed our plans for the next day and parted ways for the night to our own cabins.
2 June 2012
Today was all about experiencing the unique environment we were in. The group got up and had a good breakfast then set off for Narvik, Norway. We made few
stops along the way for picture opportunities as well as the occasional snowball fight or rock stacking event. We passed a lot of beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and lakes and drove through the town of Narvik including taking a strange detour through a parking garage, which was a tight fit for our large 9-passenger van. At the side of the road on our journey, we passed a field with approximately 20 awe-inspiring wind turbines slowly turning and producing clean power preserving the beauty and life of the surrounding environment.
We arrived at our hiking site after a bumpy, twisting drive and took a lunch break on the rocky shore before we got started. After eating enough for the journey, we started on the trail. It started out literally as a walk on the beach then slowly wound up the mountain. As we got higher, we found numerous flat, slick rock faces that created a challenge. It became a puzzle to find the best way up.
Soon the group became split up. We called to each other to signal that it was time to meet back up and head down the mountain. The hike down was possibly and probably harder than the ascent.
We were finally all together again with a few scrapes, some drenched shoes, and one pair of tattered pants, but no major injuries for the group, and we headed down the mountain. We eventually reached the car and all piled in. Most of us passed out for the ride home. We made a quick stop for gas and groceries then headed back to the cabins to cook dinner. We met up for a deliciously filling dinner of spaghetti after a physically demanding day. Extremely content with full bellies, we all retired to our own cabins to prepare to head back to Stockholm the next morning.
Bjorkliden seems to have a lot of opportunities to connect with nature. Common activities around Bjorkliden include hiking, fishing, hunting, and enjoying the midnight sun and northern lights. We may have the opportunity to do some hiking in the area. There will certainly be beautiful sights to see.
We may be visiting the Ajtte Sami Cultural Museum as well. The Sami people have inhabited the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, and even parts of Russia in the past. They are known for fishing, fur trapping, and sheep and reindeer herding. In fact, reindeer herding is a right reserved only for the Sami people today. The museum shares the way of life of the Sami people as well as the way their culture has changed over the years.
The climate plays a large role in the kinds of hobbies and tasks the people of Lappland participate in. There is also a lot of opportunities to ski in the area. We are staying at a ski resort in the mountains of Lappland. Not too far from the ski resort is the famous ice hotel where one can practice ice scultpting, gaze at the northern lights, or go to the ice bar. The Swedish people sure have learned to embrace the climate they live in.
Lastly, we will likely be making a visit to the LKAB mine in Kiruna. It is the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. It has the capacity to produce over 26 million tons of iron ore every year. The mine now reaches a depth of 1365 meters or 4478 feet after a new level was added in 2008. The mine will give a look into some of the energy supply in Sweden.
Activities. Björkliden, 2011. Web. 15 May 2012. .
Ájtte Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum. N.p., 2010. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://www.ajtte.com/>.
Kiruna Mine. Wikipedia, 2012. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiruna_Mine>.
LKAB. Wikipedia, 2012. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LKAB>.
Welcome to Icehotel. Icehotel, 2008. Web. 15 May 2012. .
(1) Nygårds, Leif E. Bjorkliden Station. 2012. SJ AB, Bjorkliden. Web. 16 May 2012..
(2) Polcirkel. 2011. Ajtte – svenskt fjäll och samemuseum, Jokkmokk. Web. 16 May 2012..
(3) Alam, Shahroz. Ice Hotel In Sweden City. 2012. My Sansar. Web. 16 May 2012..