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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lapland revisited

I have been to Lapland twice before, in June 2006 and September 2007. In both cases, the visits were in summer, with the winter's snow vanished. This time, in May, Lapland was still in the grip of winter, with ice and snow covering the taiga and tundra from latitudes north of the Arctic Circle. The main objective of my expedition was to reach Nordkapp (North Cape), the very northernmost point of mainland Europe, and the next post will reveal the outcome of that mission.

As usual my route was by Ryanair from London to Tampere in Finland, hire a car and aim for the north.
First stop, the Baltic Sea on the West Coast of Finland. Don't be deceived by the clear blue sky, it was freezing at night in my little tent!

Camp One, on the Baltic, just south of the Arctic Circle - no snow in sight yet! A case of my favourite Karjala (Karelia) Finnish beer sets me up for pre-Litha ritual celebrations.

North of the Arctic circle, the taiga forest is enveloped in snow

Camp Two under a tree by a frozen lake. It was coooooold! By the morning there was an inch (2 cm) of snow all around the tent

Further north still, a small Lapp tundra settlement is almost covered by horizon-to-horizon snow



Strange footprints appear in the snow that can be traced to...






....herds of roving reindeer







After a week in the far north, the southward journey showed signs of a thaw, and spring was evidently on the way.

The endless taiga, but gaps appear in the snow
Spruce saplings emerge from the snow to harvest the strengthening sunlight

Buds and catkins appear on the birch trees

Signs of migrant birds (Waxwing) returning from wintering grounds further south

Cotton grass blooming in the bogs and mires

Final camp in Karelia, almost the midnight sun and but one day away from my flight to warmer climes

14 Comments:

Blogger simon said...

Ah yes! the sign of a true Believer! to camp out in the snow and sleet!

What a guy!

4:01 am  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Maalie,
What beautiful scenery, and a good mission as well.

I wonder if the BBC has ever interviewed you. They ought to, or NPR for that matter, as I'm sure you'd have a good and important story to tell them. Or have you been interviewed on a program before that we might be able to download? Just wondering.

I love the thought of not only visiting the UK, but that part of Europe which includes Finland. And that Finnish beer seems mighty good, and you had to drink it the way I like- cold!!! (supposed to be close to or hit 90 farenheit here tomorrow. I don't even know what that is, celsius.)

4:48 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Simon, yes mate, a true way to feel at one with the Earth Spirit.
And the beer got to a temperature that even you would appreciate!

Ted: Thanks you, yes, I have appeared on TV and radio numerous times over my career, mostly in connection with my research in ecology and the oil industry. I'm afraid I don't know of any downloads.

7:19 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

They are brilliant photographs. Do you have a telephoto lens? Have you ever done any ice fishing?

Ted: if you go back to one of my posts in November 07, you will find Maalie being chatted up by a TV presenter. Unfortunately, I haven't got a recording of it.

8:38 am  
Blogger Catharina said...

Looks like a wonderful trip!!! Even though I am getting cold just thinking about it. We had enough winter here, I am ready for summer :-)

10:51 am  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

What wonderful photos - but it looks SOOOOO cold! I have never seen cotton grass. Does it always flowering like that? Is it really a grass? I like the birch tree photo the best I think.

I'm glad you are home - you have been missed!

4:07 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I'll go there, Lorenzo, though of course I believe all that. NPR is pretty good at keeping general archives, but surely they're all better at that now.

Hopefully you'll be on again from which we can download you, Maalie. It would be interesting and fun to hear you talk about what you do as a scientist and your thoughts.

8:09 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

What a wonderful trip and an amazing experience again, with wonderful flora and fauna to admire, lucky you.

9:37 pm  
Blogger Barbara said...

What an interesting post but I'd rather you than me in that one man tent in the snow. I admire your hardy spirit.

10:49 pm  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

"NOT FAIR!" Me wont to go.

Wow, what a place to visit. I love your bantering with Lorenzybum on her blog!

8:16 am  
Blogger Magdalene said...

Great pictures as always Maalie, but you can keep the snow camping! I'll stick to summer expeditions on Dartmoor.

12:09 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks for comments everyone. "Catton grass" is really a misnomer because it is actually a sedge (Eriophorum that grows in northern acid peat bogs. I think it will be found in Canada too. Read more about it here.

4:56 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Wah! I mean cotton of course.

4:57 pm  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

It's pretty, none-the-less!

5:15 pm  

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