It’s the beginning of March. A mantle of snow one-metre thick has already held the land in a vice-like grip for several months. In spite of it being a relatively balmy minus five celsius, spring still feels a distant prospect at 67 degrees latitude in Sweden’s far north. Just weeks before temperatures had plummeted to minus forty.
Muddus: a land in summer of marshes rich in birdlife and ravines thundering to the sound of waterfalls; yet in winter a silent, frozen wilderness.
I feel grateful for the ‘warm’ snap as Kenneth, our driver, drops us off on the side of the road and bids us good luck. We press our boots into the ski bindings and clip into our harnesses. Rocking our hips we feel the strain: the pulkas we’re dragging behind us, loaded with gear and provisions for six days, glide reluctantly at first on the snowmobile trail we’re following.
We stop after a few minutes at a signpost informing us we’re on the border of Muddus national park. Consulting the map we take a compass bearing southeast away from the trail. Moments later we disappear to the world, shuffling forward on our skis deep into the pathless winter woods of Muddus.
Muddus: a land in summer of marshes rich in birdlife and ravines thundering to the sound of waterfalls; yet in winter a silent, frozen wilderness. A realm of ancient spruce and pine, some specimens attaining over 700 years old, it is a pristine fragment of the vast boreal forest that forms an almost uninterrupted belt across the northern reaches of the planet.
Picture the gnarled beauty of Scotland’s remnants of Caledonian forest dominated by pine. Muddus and its surrounding area is that forest writ large. This is a forest under whose needled canopy one can walk for days if not weeks. It’s a time machine taking the traveller to what large swathes of the Scottish Highlands probably looked like several thousand years ago after the last ice-age.
Read the rest in TGO Magazine