Arctic Playing in Abisko

08:18 Alyson Tart 1 Comments

When we booked our trip to Abisko, Sweden, the focus was on the Northern Lights, so we didn't book anything. Who needs a guide when you can walk out to the great outdoors and find it on your own?

About a week before the trip, I started to think about the fact that we'd want something to do during the day. I looked at the website for our hotel and found all kinds of interesting things: dog sledding, ice climbing, Nordic skiing, snowshoe hikes, photography classes. Perfect outdoor activities!

Then, my hopes were dashed as I went to book  - each and every one was booked solid, many of them booked up through the end of the winter season. Panic ensued - what the heck were we going to do for 2.5 days? There was nothing around, no sights to see, only outdoor stuff.

Of course, I shouldn't have panicked - you can rent your own gear, find your own trails, even just look out at the beautiful scenery while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate inside. But, in my anxious state, we went searching high and low for things to fill our time in Abisko.

Dog sledding was one of the things I KNEW I wanted to try so we focused on it. In Abisko, there was absolutely nothing. Not a single dog sled available to mush us around. Luckily, I happen to have a very sweet, and persistent, husband. After a day of emailing and calling sledding companies, Paul found someone in Kiruna with availability. They picked us up at the airport and whisked us off to the anticipated dog sledding.

I was expecting the stereotypical husky - blue eyes, big puffy fur, just like my parents dog at home. When I arrived, our sled was hooked up to 12 dogs, none of which were what I had pictured. But perhaps, it was better. Each dog had it's own look and personality. Our driver told us that while the Siberian or Alaskan huskies are what some companies use since that's what people think of, these breeds were better - smaller, therefore, more agile and quicker! I took a few minutes to introduce myself to each of my runners, then settled myself on the sled for the ride.

We went across snowy terrain, basking in the sun, taking in the sunlight glinting off the snow. Our guide told us about the dogs and the area. It had been a warm winter even for them, not as much snow (although they were about to get more), meaning what was there was hard and packed down. We had a stop to warm up in a cabin with a log fireplace, coffee and tea, then got back on our merry way to finish up the ride, before getting back to more conventional transit on our train ride to Abisko.

For our time in Abisko, we found a company to take us ice fishing. I was hesitant on this since I don't fish, but fears of boredom won out, so I agreed to give it a try.  I am so glad I did, it was an incredible experience. Because of the snow storms, we were some of the few people out on the lake. This combined with the wind swirling the snow across the expanse of ice made you really feel as if you were all alone on the Arctic tundra, fishing to survive. We drilled a few different holes, taking the metal device and cranking it until it made it all the way through the meter thick ice and freezing cold water came erupting out. After sitting with the poles for 10 minutes, we decided it was much better to leave them there out in the open, then go get ourselves somewhere a bit less windy (and therefore hopefully less cold! and come back to check on our luck later.

This meant we got to explore the ice caves nearby, as a good spot to get out of the wind. They were magic, with icicles dripping down from the ceiling, some forming columns within the cave. As we scooted into the cave on our stomachs, you could look down through the ice to the bottom of the lake, giving you an intense sensation of floating on water.

Next, we braved the winds again to trek out to view where the ice had pushed together to form a giant crack in the middle of the lake. We did have a guide this time, who confirmed it was safe to walk, so once we got close, we simply stood there, enjoying the view and the magic of mother nature.  When we returned back to our poles, we found we were as unlucky with fish as we were with the Northern Lights, so we went home empty handed.

For the rest of our time in Abisko, we explored on our own. We rented some snow shoes to explore the paths around the hotel and river. The first day was cut short by high winds, snow and my fear that we had taken ourselves off the path and would end up making ourselves an igloo to spend our night lost in the forest. Luckily, I was wrong and Paul's sense of direction took us right back to the trail.  The next day, the winds had subsided some, so we enjoyed the fresh powder on the trails as we looked for ice falls and simply soaked up the beauty of being the first ones out in the snow that day.

After that, I had to say that I had my fill of winter wonderland for the winter. Now, hopefully London's summer will be filled with sunshine and warm weather (here's to wishful thinking!)

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1 comment:

  1. Great post!
    We were in Abisko last year and your post surely refreshed our memory. Here is the link to my blog on our Abisko trip!