Roaming the Land of the Midnight Sun

Laponie 2013 Fanny Cathala 2

We’d had a view of the ocean ever since we’d reached our last bivi the night before. And our surroundings had had a maritime feel to them for the past couple of days already. The -25°C temperatures of the Sarek range, in the heart of Sweden’s Lapland region, were well behind us. The weather had changed; it wasn’t what you’d call fully rotten, but capricious would be an apt description.


The skies changed frequently and there were bouts of wet snow, which would have been unthinkable two weeks earlier. The night before, we had finally reached the summit of the fjord that we had been working our way towards for so long. Our journey was coming to an end. We would finish our migration in the heart of the homeland of the Sami, the indigenous reindeer herding people of the region.

In two months, under the midnight sun, the herds would complete the same journey.


The Hellemobotn beach was beneath our feet, 800 metres below. We imagined it through the deep green of the pine forest. We dreamt of it. Our sleds pushed us downhill, seemingly as impatient as we were to arrive. Our route zigzagged through trees and around cliffs. We stayed focused, knowing that the hardest was yet to come. No one descends the Hellemobotn fjord in winter. We knew that a cliff blocked the access from above. We were 300 metres above sea level and we needed to find our way down the smooth, icy slabs. Two hours later, our sleds were lined up side by side at the bottom of the slope.

We took off our harnesses before continuing on our way. We skied three kilometres through the forest, alongside a crystalline river. Rushing water escaped from the ice to dance amongst the rocks. Spray misted the air before falling back into the waves. The frequent animal tracks and the odours of spring reminded us of a world that we had nearly forgotten.

After two weeks immersed in a landscape of whiteness and silence, what a contrast!

Fanny Cathala, Rail and Ride

Fanny Catala

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