After nearly 6 amazing weeks in Norway, we needed to start the long haul south so that we could keep to our rough timetable of being in Stockholm the last weekend of August to meet Anna. First stop after picking up the van was a place in the middle of nowhere in the top corner of Finland close to where the borders of Finland, Sweden, and Norway meet. We had the idea of hiking to the point where they meet but the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was also really cold. We had planned to drive down on the Finnish side of the border with Sweden as we had been told the road would be better. After an hour or so of a very bumpy road we decided that the route down the middle of Sweden couldn’t be any worse and there was more of interest to see along the way. The so called minor road turned out to be quite good and a breeze compared with Norwegian roads – straight, flat and wide enough that we could travel at a decent speed.
The first day we managed to get to Jokkmokk in the middle of Lapland which is known as a centre of Sami culture. The landscape is so different from Norway which is so dramatic. Here we found literally thousands of lakes surrounded by forests with virtually no habitation for long distances. By contrast in Norway, you see houses in even the most remote locations, perhaps used in the summer only. One good thing – the ferocious mosquitos we had been told about in northern Swede in summer didn’t eventuate. I was told that it had been very cold for the last week or so – one positive from the cold weather.
We made a detour to a place we had read about where a couple are trying to keep alive Sami culture and traditional practices. They had built a traditional Sami village – very low key and not at all touristy. You could even stay the night in a Sami hut, sleeping on reindeer hides on top of twigs scattered over an earth floor with a fire in the middle. I tried their tea- made from a type of fungi which grows on birch trees. Richard stuck with the coffee. The other people who had arrived at the same time as us were staying the night and were a little dismayed when they realised what they would be sleeping on! Unfortunately their reindeer had escaped a few days ago and the husband was out trying to find them but we learnt quite a bit about how the Sami still graze their reindeer and move them from inland down to the coast in winter.
We had hoped to find a spot to wild camp on the way down but found nothing for a couple of hours so we ended up in a remote campground by a lake which didn’t even have showers but it did have mosquitos. Hard to believe they would attract many people without showers especially staying in the cabins. At least we have an on board shower.
From there we made it down to Harnosand on the coast to see the Hoga Kusten or High Coast. The suspension bridge at the start is one of the biggest in the world. We did part of the drive around on the tourist route but found a lot of it was away from the coast and decided to do a hike instead up to yet another vantage point. Very steep with lots of near vertical ladders and steps.