“Nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start all over again.”
As immortalised in Swing Time starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
Whilst you’re travelling forwards (in a car with a manual handbrake )it’s relatively easy to make a handbrake turn and head off again back in the direction you come from…
The alternative manoeuvre is the trickier J turn. For this you need to be traveling at speed in reverse (30 mph+), then back off the throttle, give the steering wheel a sharp half-turn flick to make the front swing round to face the direction you were reversing. Simples. Although thinking about it, probably not a great idea in Margo…
Heading back we remembered we’d planned to fill up with diesel in Narvik. Our thwarted attempt at the Norwegian border meant we were running on diesel mist by the time we’d retraced our steps to the tiny fuel station in Abisko. Being in such a remote location, fuel is mega expensive, but we were just so grateful when we finally reached it.
The Abisko National Park was founded in 1909, the same year some of Sweden’s first laws on nature and conservation were created and the visitors began coming here, shortly after. Their journey made possible via the opening of the Iron Ore Line Railway, that connects Lulea on the Baltic Sea with Narvik on the North Sea (that’s Norway!)
Starting from Abisko you can follow The Kings Trail also known as Kungsleden, it is Sweden’s longest and most famous hiking trail. The entire trail takes about a month to cover but because it’s broken into sections you can choose the length of your hike. The most popular section, which stretches between Abisko and Nikkaluokta, is about 105 km long and will take 10-12 days.
The Abiskojokk river eventually flows into the Torneträsk the sixth largest lake in Sweden
On the shore of the lake there’s a jetty, a camp fire pit and grill complete with free logs (it’s forbidden to cut down trees in the National Parks) and a very nice looking sauna hut. Given its position I suspect a post sauna dip in the ice cold Torneträsk lake is mandatory!
Originally hunters and gatherers, the Sami turned to herding of domesticated reindeer in the 17th century. Reindeer naturally move across huge tracks of land to graze, and the Sami historically lived lives following the herds.
The modern norm is instead to have a permanent home and a cabin in the mountains for the herding season. And those who remain in the business have long since replaced the skis with snowmobiles, AWD vehicles and helicopters. Only some ten per cent of Swedish Sami earn a living from the reindeer industry, and many supplement their income through tourism, fishing, crafts and other trades.
Designed to be above the snow and away from predators, unless they have brought their own ladder…!
Travelling through this this part of Lapland, a famous Swedish botanist once said “If not for the mosquitoes, this would be earth’s paradise.” These comments were made after journeying along the valley of the river Lule during the short summer weeks, when mosquitoes are at their most active.
The miles of lakes and forest really do make this a beautiful place. It’s also easy to find an overnight spot on the edge of a lake with a nice view, just perfect. Well yes perfect for mozzies to torment me.
It might be unfair to say Arjeplog is an out of the way kind of place, (it has in the past offered families 100,000 kronor or individuals 25,000 kronor to move to the town). However it’s biggest claim to fame is the frozen lake which is used as a winter test site for many car manufacturers and has featured in at least one episode of Top Gear.
We stopped at Arjeplog to buy some Bushman spray and got talking to the local police about a warning sign we saw for anyone heading for the Norwegian border (not us of course). Anyway one of the helpful officers telephoned the border and checked if hypothetically we were planning to drive the 85 miles to try crossing the border, we would NOT be allowed in for the same reason given at Narvik. There you are nothing personal, apparently.
Reindeer are also tormented by the mosquitoes at this time of year. This one was on his way to Arjeplog to buy a bottle of Bushman mozzie repellent spray.
Our travelling pals Nick & Lisa had recommended ‘The Wilderness Road‘ close to the Norwegian border. To get from Abisko to join the 500km ‘Wilderness’ circuit, first involved an 800 km cross country drive. Choosing the most direct route meant Margo traversing 100kms of bumpy, gravel forest roads.
So we’ve moved on and are slowly developing a new plan. Part one is to continue to enjoy the natural beauty of Sweden with the vast landscapes of forests and lakes. It’s become very clear to us how outdoorsy the Swedes are. They really seem to make the most of the nature with sporting pastimes like hiking, fishing, boating or camping that this expansive environment offers. It has certainly refreshed our spirits and we look forward to experiencing and enjoying more ourselves.
“let’s dust Margo off and start all over again”.
Dave & Lesley