Last week the sun hit the village of Abisko for the first time. Yes, we are still here, biding our time and patiently waiting for the conditions to be good enough to continue. This great wait will proceed until the end of this month, as we are now working and have a contract until the 28th of February. Hopefully, and I really mean hopefully but don’t dare to say definitely, we will move on again on the second of March. When we leave Abisko for the third time I’ll be sure to pack a beer or two in my sled and stage a celebration if we really make it past Abiskojaure this time.
I’ve been enjoying life in the village far more than I expected. After turning around in the beginning of January we decided to wait for the marking of the safe route over Akka in the beginning of March. That meant we had two months of time on our hands. Rather than sitting around and spending our trip budget we quickly realized it would be good to find a job for that period. Ideally that job would be in Abisko, we concluded, since we saved ourselves the hassle of traveling all the way south with the big sleds plus we would get front row seats to judge how the conditions in the mountains would develop.
Any job would do. Just anything to get in some extra funds and keep ourselves busy for the next 8 weeks. We got a contract fixed within 36 hours. One of the local hotels was in dire need of people in the restaurant so we decided to drop by and find out more about it. There was a palpable relief in the air when we walked through the door and said we were there to apply for the positions, though some quickly evaporated when it became clear that we only intended to stay until the end of February. But we got the job nonetheless and just like that extended our stay in the Arctic by two months.
“Any job would do.” And yet, after we got it we looked at each other with grave doubts. In the restaurant? Would that really be something for us? All this time we’ve been on the outside team, wearing our fluffy layers while carrying on in the snow, and now we’d have to be all nicely dressed and pamper people at their tables rather than making them haul water from the ice hole. In fact, we almost decided against it, feeling so uncomfortable about the idea that we nearly did not sign up for it.
Our wallets made the final decision. We accepted, got a room for the coming months and decorated it with what expedition gear we could put on display. We had a package sent up from Oslo with some normal clothes and shoes so we could stop wearing our ski gear 24/7. Soon after we started loving it.
The job is great, the hotel is great, the people are wonderful and Abisko is a brilliant place to live. It’s hard not to love a village surrounded by mountains and bordered by a massive frozen lake. It’s so nice to wake up and see Lapporten every day, to go for walks and small ski trips, hear the dogs howl again, watch the aurora dance in the night sky. Just yesterday we had one of the most beautiful displays I’ve witnessed in my time up here.
We’ve had the opportunity to go swimming in the ice (but politely declined), to go climb on the frozen falls, to walk up some hills to catch the first rays of sun of the year. We’ve met a lot of old friends again and hopefully before we leave we can drive dogs once more. We can take a sauna, roll in the snow and have a beer in the relaxing room before going for a second round. Life in Abisko is good, it’s almost too good, and it’s going to be hard to trade it for cold nights in a tent.
But now that the days are getting longer and the snow is settling I feel an itch in my body. We can see the slopes we once descended on the opposite side of Torneträsk bathing in the sunlight and we imagine how good it would be to cross slopes like that once again. The spring, the months of March and April, is a brilliant time to be out in the mountains. Part of the adventure was to get stranded in Abisko and be surprised about how much fun it was. But that part too, will end, and the mountains call for us to disappear into them once again.