Reindeer, moose shit and ice-fishing in Norrland.

Winter in south Sweden is well and truly over. That won’t stop me from chasing it, this week with a trip to Norway, last week with a skiing trip to the edge of the Arctic circle. There was plenty of snow still in Norrland.

After a brief stop in Luleå, we headed North along the thawing river Luleälven, to a little stuga by a frozen lake in the middle of the forest, we being my dainty little fiancée and her parents.
The weekend was spent skiing across the frozen lakes from island to island, and even doing a little fishing. A whole lot of fishing actually without a fish to show for it, so it goes.
Beautiful sun halo, caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere apparently
The weather was excellent, clear skies, low temperatures and no wind.
An inferior mirage on the lake, caused by a layer of hot air at the surface of the lake. 
A hole had to be drilled into the lake not just for some ice-fishing, but also to supply the stuga with water.
A wickedly sharp Mora ice-screw cut through the ice with ease, but it still took a hell of a lot of work to get through to the water, the ice was well over 60cm deep. Periodically pulling the screw out cleaned the ice parings away.
After a good ten minutes we finally got a gusher.

 

The water was excellent, despite its long Winter spent in the dark.
Later we gave ice-fishing a try, it’s a game of patience not well suited to my attention deficient personality.
Threading the maggots is always the worst bit, I was lucky and got to do mine and that of my fiancée, hurray for the unrealised ideal of sexual equality.
Dipping the poor little bastards down into the chilly waters felt a little cruel, the trick apparently is to lower them to the bottom and then bob them up and down over the lake floor.
After half an hour of bobbing I had a nice build-up of ice on my line.
It was very meditative to stand in the freezing air and just bob the line over and over. Probably not so comfortable for the maggots though.
During this time we also saw a load of Reindeer pass nearby, crossing from one patch of forest to another. They looked like lost camels crossing a desert in the evening shadow.
That night we headed out to the lake to see if there was any hint of the Aura borealis, the forecast indicated that there would be no show, and there wasn’t. It turned out to be amazing to stand in the middle of the massive frozen lake, watching the stars so far from any light pollution. The most amazing part was hearing the incredible, massive groans and cracks from the ice as it settled. It’s something I’ve read about often when indulging in my addiction to books about Arctic exploration, but I’d never heard before. Slow, stuttering creaks like a haunted ship, and then perhaps a sudden groan or a sharp crack that sounded like a shot. Sometimes it sounded like some just barely incomprehensible spoken words, it was eerie to stand in the middle of the star-studded blackness and hear these strange muffled words that seemed to come from nowhere, it must have been terrifying for the men of Shackleton and Nansen that had to live on ice. It was an amazing auditory show to compensate for the lack of a light show.
Around the stuga my soon-to-be parents in law had a million birdhouses and birdfeeders, so we not only had a lot of birdsong but also had visits from a pair of red squirrels.
Heading out to the river for some bird-watching, we saw more reindeer moving into the forest.
Lots of reindeer all over the place actually, but as usual we only saw signs of the moose, he himself was nowhere to be seen. Fresh tracks and shit were everywhere.
And even his dietary habits were on display, he’s been eating the tops of all the small trees along his tracks.
Luleälven is a stunningly pretty river, especially at this time of year when it’s just starting to break free of the winter ice.

We got to sit and fika while some dippers dived repeatedly into the freezing waters for worms and larvae. They have some very interesting adaptations to their aquatic lifestyle.

Some more reindeer were on display on the way home, grazing quietly in the woods.

A fun trip, it’s always nice to see north Sweden, it’s a shockingly different pace of life to that in Stockholm, so laid back and relaxed.

3 thoughts on “Reindeer, moose shit and ice-fishing in Norrland.

  • April 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm
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    Maybe you could cough up a list of recommended well written books about Arctic exploration? Please. Cherry on top.

    Reply
  • April 13, 2011 at 10:09 am
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    Sounds like a great idea Steffen, will do! I'm already driving my fiancé and workmates crazy with all the stories I've been reading about Arctic exploration, may as well indulge here as well 🙂

    Reply
  • April 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm
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    Tomas, fantastic account and pictures again. I second the list of Arctic exploration reads. I went through a stage of reading mountaineering books, a genre I enjoyed but that my friends christened 'death in a tent'…

    Goodbye winter, don't be a stranger.

    Reply

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