03 Aug Cycling Finnish Lapland
Waking up in the morning is not very hard around here. The sun seems to always be in your eyes and it gets pretty darn hot around 05:00. However, we do seem to nap off and on for another couple hours before finally crawling out from under our mosquito net. The sky is clear and blue and across the lake the trees are reflecting off the water’s surface as if it were a mirror. The mosquitoes are out in full force, but the biting flies seem to be sleeping in or have moved on, which is fine with us. We light a mosquito (repellent) coil and it helps in keeping the little pests at bay while we enjoy our coffee and pack up our gear.
Out on the road, traffic seems light and as usual the drivers are very courteous giving us plenty of room while passing. Around noon, we decide to stop at the upcoming lake for a quick bite and we see our new Polish friend from yesterday. He was just finishing packing up and about to hit the road when we rolled up. Through hand gestures and other forms of communication, he tells us about the fish that he caught and how good they tasted. That is when it hit us that maybe we should pick up a fishing pole and try our luck too! Again, we say our goodbyes and to be honest we did not think we would see him again because he rode some serious miles yesterday and if he did that again today there would be no catching him.
Following our little lunch break, we hit the road again The scenery is still pretty much the same as the past few days: rolling hills, lakes, rivers, trees, and reindeer. A couple hours into our afternoon ride, two motorcycles with Polish plates pass us and within 15 minutes we catch up to them. They are stopped and chatting with the Polish cyclist, so we stop to say hello and make sure everyone is ok. Right off the bat, one of the guys asks us when we left our house because he could not believe that we had been traveling so long. We were a bit shocked by the question, but he explained that the Polish cyclist was telling them about us. Come to find out, our Polish cycling friend does not speak English, but he understands a lot of it. We also learn that the Polish motorcyclists are heading to Nordkapp too and will be there tomorrow. Great, we still have about 4 more days of cycling! After several minutes of small talk we bid farewell and head on down the road.
Not long afterwards, we roll into the next town and start looking for the Tourist Information office because they seem to all have open Internet and will let us charge our computer. While sitting on the steps of the Tourist Information and checking emails, we once again see our Polish friend cycling down the road. (This is also the last time we see him for the next couple days!) After spending a few minutes on the Internet and giving our computer a quick charge we hit the road again.
The road-leaving town is a long uphill and the longest climb we have done since crossing through the Thüringen area of Germany. Fortunately, it is not very steep and before we know it, we are above the tree line and the hills are covered with fences to help reduce snowdrifts. The area also reminds us of the Highlands in Scotland. Getting late and liking what we see, we head off in the shrubs to find a place to camp for the night. Being another beautiful and clear night, we decide to push our bikes up a little higher on the hill and hope to see the midnight sun again, but this time overlooking the mountains.
After setting up our tarp and mosquito net, we have dinner while relaxing under our net. Just like the night before, the midnight sun did not disappoint, but for some stupid reason we did not take any photos this time.
In the morning, we awake to the sound of raindrops hitting our tarp. Initially Ron says it is just the bugs again, but soon we both realize that it is really raindrops and quickly jump up and start packing some of our stuff. The tarp helps, but it does have a few leaks and we do not want our sleeping bag to get wet. The rain is off and on and remains light, plus it is really foggy, so we make coffee and have breakfast hoping the weather will clear up. Needless to say, the weather did not clear and we get going. Since we stopped for the night on top of the mountain, it is all downhill for the next several miles. By the time we reach bottom, the fog is gone, the sky is clear, and the trees are back.
Late afternoon, the clear skies are now dark and we see lightening off in the distance. Based on the counting method that we use back home in Florida, we guesstimate it is about 2 to 3 miles from us, so we start looking for cover. We also come across a reindeer that appears to have the same idea as us and is hunkered down. The wind picks up and it begins to sprinkle, so we quickly find some low ground away from the taller trees and setup our tarp. It seems to take about an hour for the storm to pass and get far enough away where we feel comfortable to get back on the road.
The scenery in northern Lapland is quite different than what we were cycling through. The lakes are much clearer, the hills are a bit higher, and there are huge boulders everywhere. As we cycle along, we wonder where the boulders came from because there are no mountains for them to roll down. It is almost as if the mountain exploded, leaving nothing behind but big rocks! Interesting indeed. As usual up here in the Arctic Circle, we cycle late into the evening because it is so easy to lose track of time. Finally, after finding a spot down a long dirt road near a boat ramp, we once again quickly set up our tarp and mosquito net, pump water from the lake, and have dinner. Being exhausted, we quickly fall asleep knowing that tomorrow we should make it into Norway.
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