Hiking from Alesjaure to Abiskojaure would present quite an adventure for us and just a few laughs along the way. All the stuff that makes for a great hike. I was glad not to have been blown away by the high winds that howled through the night. My camping spot below the ridge and under some shrubs provided just enough protection from the wind. There were no opportunities to photograph in the early morning light as it was a mix of rain and snow while the high winds continued. At least 30mph, steady. So it was a relaxing morning just hanging around and visiting with fellow trekkers before taking on the long hike to Abiskojaure. I think maybe people were lingering a little longer in the cabins and hoping the weather might clear.
Eventually though, we decided to head out into the storm since the hike would be long, at least 21K, and we wanted to get rolling. Think we left around 9:30am or so into a rain/snow mix and it was literally blowing sideways. But thankfully, the wind was mostly at our backs. I suspected the rocky trails would be slick and make falling easier than normal, especially with the heavy winds. We had been lucky so far and no one took any serious falls along the way up to this point. A very real possibility given the terrain and distance hiked.
Remarkably, after about 15 minutes down the trail in some pretty fierce weather, the skies cleared a little and the sun appeared from behind the thick bank of clouds. The light hit the emerald green arctic lake at Alesjuare and seemed to make it glow. I wanted to stick around and take a few photos and so my trekking partners, Gunnar and Simona, took off down the trail. I managed a few photos and hiked a little further but it was evident that more storms were on the way. You pass by a reindeer herder's hut after a few kilometers but you have to hike that way as soon as you see it because the trail quickly turns in the opposite direction. Gunnar had planned to take a mid morning break here but hiked on past the hut and at a certain point it's too late to turn around! Something we would tease him about, just a little..., later down the trail.
The hike along the West side of massive Alesjuare lake is pretty spectacular with rugged mountain peaks in the backdrop. The trail was indeed slick with the wet rocky terrain and so it became super easy to slip. Anyway, it was great hiking in spite of the cold rain and heavy winds. Eventually I caught up with Gunnar and Simona and we began to swap a few stories about the hike so far and tease each other quite a bit. You can't spend many days on the trail together without having a big blowout full of laughter. We got going again though and soon began to leave the rolling rocky terrain and descended back down into the golden forests full of birch trees. Just beautiful. And the weather started to improve as we got closer and closer to Abiskojaure.
We finally made the long hike down to Abiskojaure and what an awesome place to be. The cabins are situated on a beautiful lake which is surrounded by mountain ridges covered in golden birch trees. Quite a site. There are some really nice designated camping areas between the cabins and the lake. Perfect! By now the winds were completely calm, amazing. So after pitching the tent I hiked down through the forest and headed to the lake to see if there were any views to photograph. Wow, just a 180 degree view and the lake was perfectly calm. Stood around for a while and just soaked it all in. Went back to the tent for a bite to eat and then went back up to the cabins to hang out with Gunnar, Simona and Rob and do our usual story swapping of the day's adventure. Rob and I went back to the lake later that night to see if we could catch the hawk owls that had been flying around down there a little earlier. Sure enough, they were still there and we just watched and marveled at the beautiful birds and their amazing flying acrobatics.
So, while we were taking in the hawk owls, Rob and I talked a little bit about aurora and the possibility of seeing one. I had never seen one but Rob had and I was really hoping that we would see one at Abiskojaure or maybe the next night at Abisko. Abisko is known to be one of the best places in the world to view the aurora. So, while we were chatting, the bright moon began to illuminate the clouds on the horizon hanging over the massive lake. I noticed a bright light in the sky that was moving much like the clouds but somehow different. As we looked at it a little more closely we quickly realized that the greenish light dancing around in the sky was not a cloud but an aurora! Hard to describe the feeling of seeing a natural phenomena for the first time. No matter how many photos you see of a place or an event, this doesn't quite compare or even prepare you for seeing it in person. Easily a highlight of the trip for me. Although the aurora wasn't super strong and didn't last long, it was enough to light the fire for me to want come back again and explore the northern lights from Abisko, just up the trail.
I would also add that the area around Abiskojaure would be a favorite stop for me. Up there with the cabins at Sälka. The cabins at Abiskojaure also have a small kiosk for food and a nice sauna down by the lake. But the massive lake, mountains, and fall color in the surrounding birch forest are a combination that's hard to beat. Sure hope to make it back to Abiskojaure in a Fall season not too far down the road. Just an idyllic place to be...
Start Time: 9:30am
Finish Time: 5:00pm
Distance Hiked: 21K