Not Alaska related, but I want to share my snowmobile holiday in Sweden. I went in March and finally got round to writing the report in English.
Hope you'll enjoy the read and the clips on youtube.
17-3-2014 Netherlands - Sorsele
The first day of the holiday is a day of travel. We flew from Amsterdam to Stockholm and from there to Luleå.
We were in the plane in Stockholm, waiting, together with the flight attendants. We got delayed for 1 hour, because the pilot and crew were delayed due to the snow which was falling in Stockholm. After they arrived, the plane had to be de-iced.
It was about a 3 hour drive to Sorsele.
We had landed around 17:30, so we were pretty hungry. We ended up eating in a good hamburger in Arvidsjaur, where we also did a bit of shopping and withdrew some Kroner.
We finally arrived in the vandrarhem (a kind of youth hostel) around 20:30 and we were dead tired. A travel day is always exhausting. We did go for a little walk and went to bed early.
18-3-2014 Around Sorsele
The first day on snowmobiles. We got Ski-Doo Grand Touring 550f’s (2-stroke), (windy) overalls, helmets and (too large) boots, so the fun could start! Unfortunately the snow conditions were bad. It was a thin layer and directly beneath it was ice everywhere. Because of this Arina knocked over hard on a frozen lake. She was in pain and the snowmobile needed a new windscreen. Fortunately I didn’t topple over, but I did make a pirouette of 180degr and immediately after spun a little again. In the woods is was OK. We had lunch at our guide’s home. Delicious waffles. We also got acquainted with their sweet Labradors. After 80km (50mi) we were back in the vandrarhem. We did some extra shopping and made grilled cheese sandwiches (with ‘borrowed butter…). In the evening we went for a walk and saw very short week Northern Lights.
19-3-2014 Sorsele - Storberg
This second day we had nice weather. We did start with -22degr C (-7.6degr F) (and we also ended the day with this), but during the day is was very sunny and warm. We drove 94km (58mi) to Storberg Fjällgård, where we had a nice place to sleep, in a gästekota (http://www.mobitours.de/winterreisen...n-storberg.php). We got there on time, so we did an extra round of 24km (15mi) on hills (of a small ski resort). In the evening we had delicious food, amongst it reindeer, prepared by the host, Gerhard, in their grillkota.
We also went for a short walk, through the woods and didn’t see the Northern Lights.
This was the first day with the helmet camera. The short films of this day:
http://youtu.be/26DfxPsmuVE The extra round.
20-3-2014 Storberg - Kronogård
This day was an abomination and a challenge at the same time. We knew is would start snowing soon, but we had figured to be able to stay in front of the snowy weather, even though it already looked grey and gloomy when we left (and -15degr C (5degr F)). After about 15km (9.3mi), we had just crossed a lake on which a car was driving and doing some stunts (that area is known for test-drives on ice), when we stopped. This because our guide had driven on, but his sled had stayed behind. When he returned, Arina and I fixed it for him and tied his sled with some rope to his snowmobile, after which we went back to Arvidsjaur (near Storberg, where we had filled up in the morning).Eventually we found a small metal workshop where the sled got repaired. We also took the time to eat our lunch at that company, in the ‘canteen’ (an open hall/office with a chair and a barstool). And in the meantime it had started snowing.
Finally we started again in the afternoon. Next we got lost/took the wrong way multiple times and the guide fell over with his snowmobile 9 times. Arina and I not once, thankfully. We were actually able to do a few nice little jumps.
Because of the getting lost/taking the wrong way we got very difficult tracks and took it a lot of (extra) time. It started snowing more and more and it also got darker at some point, of course. Quite at the end, it was already really pitch-pitch-black, we did get really lost. We tried to cross a River/lake, but couldn’t find the continuation of the trail. Then the GPS of the guide went dead (empty battery) and finally he could someone (I think Gerhard) and with his indications we got back on the right trail. After that we had to fill up and then it was still a few miles to the end destination and finally we arrived. We left at 9:00 and arrived at our destination at 21:00. In Total we had driven 171km (106.3mi) this exhausting yet challenging day.
We didn’t want to cook anymore, but we were hungry, so we heated up some grilled sausages. These unfortunately were inedible (due to taste), but when your hungry… The accommodation wasn’t good either. It was a small cabin with 1 bedroom met 2 bunk beds, so the guide was in our room as well.
Two short films of this day, in which you can see how it gets darker: http://youtu.be/YjoND4l88Cw
21-3-2014 Kronogård - Jokkmokk
The day started well… After a few miles I crashed right into the sled of the guide, causing the front of the snowmobile to collapse. The rest of the day was pretty boring, we also drove in a very slow pace over many annoying little bumps and we drove the wrong way quite often.
The weather wasn’t too bad though, and we were able to make few nice little jumps and had some deep(er) snow, due to the snowfall the previous day and night.
In the evening we went to the centre of Jokkmokk (10km (6.2mi) to and from) UNACCOMPANIED, without the guide, and finally had a nice steak at a restaurant. We had gotten used to driving in the dark, so from the city centre we drove back in the dark (with a little with of snowfall).
In total we had driven 81km (50.3mi) that day.
We slept in a house on a camping site. We slept in a bunk bed and the guide slept on a sofa bed. But at least there was Wi-Fi...
22-3-2014 Jokkmokk - Kvikkjokk
This day was a lot better. We started with a little bit of snow, but soon it was nice and sunny. We crossed quite a few lakes, making the average speed a bit higher, about 70km/u (43.5mi/h).
We had lunch on the way on a lake, in the sunshine. Just beforehand I had made an awesome jump (too bad I didn’t film it) over a small mound, made by others to jump over. In any case it was a day of a few nice little jumps.
Along the way we saw some beautiful Mountains.
It was bloody hot in the end (+2degr C (35.6degr F) or something) and it even ‘rained’. We stood under a tree of which the snow melted off and fell on top of our heads.
We had driven 132km (82mi).
In the vandrarhem we had one room for the 2 of us, with 2 large bunk beds and a way too low hanging lamp, on which we constantly bumped our heads.
In the evening we ate in the vandrarhem: reindeer stew and moose burger.
23-3-2014 Kvikkjokk, Årrenjarka
This sixth day was meant for resting, when needed. But, because we had the snowmobiles anyway and the guide let us go out unaccompanied, that’s what we did. We did stay in bed until 11:30. We left around 13:15 and went back to Årrenjarka. This is where we had been the day before to fill up and sit comfy inside , so we knew we would be OK there, also because we had to fill up again before the next day.
It was a pity that it was gray and snowing a little bit, but it was a very nice drive through deep snow on the River and we tried out some things (leaning and steering stuff). Close to the Årrenjarka Mountain Lodge (http://www.swedishlapland.co.uk/plac...-ab-kvikkjokk/) we searched for a (little) hump which we could improve/raise ourselves if applicable, to be able to jump over it. And we found it. After we went at it with a small shovel, I was able to make a few nice jumps. Arina only once, because she injured herself (chin on handlebar). We had a lot of fun, none-the-less. At the Mountain Lodge we filled up, and inside we had hot chocolate with whipped cream and then we went back to the vandrarhem and along the way back we played in the deep snow some more.
In total we still did about 42km (26mi).
In the evening we made pasta and it tasted good.
24-3-2014 Kvikkjokk - Jäckvikk
The first day of the second week, at least, that’s how it felt, because we had that ‘day of rest’ planned between 2 x 5 days of snowmobiling (but this was the seventh day on the snowmobile), was a pleasant day. It was beautiful, quite sunny, weather. We really went driving in the mountains, so it was a very beautiful surrounding. Arina did get stuck for a bit (tilted slightly), so I went ’to-the-rescue’, but because of that action I toppled over, in the deep snow. So no pain or anything, but the snowmobile was pretty stuck. A (small) shovel was needed to get us out...
The guide seemed to be more in his element en more cheerful. I went with him on a extra hilltop to enjoy the view. Arina had a bit too much pain in her shoulders and neck, from the day before, and had decided not to go up with us, due to the strain. It was only a short extra round. In the woods and across the lakes it was also nice to drive. Occasionally we were able to make a few nice jumps again.
We had driven 127km (79mi).
For dinner we had the grilled sausages again, but this time we cut them in small pieces and together with a can of peas and this tasted fine.
We slept in a bunk bed, for a change, which stood in one large open room, together with the living area and such. The guide slept in the living area on a sofa bed, only 30cm (ft) away from our bunk bed.
25-3-2014 Jäckvikk - Ammarnäs
We started this day a bit later, because the guide had forgotten something. His snowmobile didn’t start and when finally someone came, it was clear the guide had forgotten to put back the pull cord of the safety/kill switch. After this we then had another nice day in the sun and Mountains. We ate our lunch on a nice quiet place. And we drove over a few parts of the famous Kungsleden.
Again we were early at the accommodation and went for an extra round. First we climbed a hill, but Arina’s fuel light went on. After filling up, we went to Örnbo in Ammarnäs, where there were a few sights, like an old grain (water)mill, a Sami-farm and a beautiful waterfall. This outing was 32km (20mi), making the total of the day 126km (78.3mi).
At the vandrarhem we had a nice roomy, quite luxurious room (without bunk beds!). We didn’t spend much time there, though, because after the dinner at the restaurant of the vandrarhem, a big and a double big hamburger, we quickly went to a nearby lake (2km (1.2mi) to and from) with the snowmobiles (unaccompanied). We stood there until 23:30 getting cold and making pictures of the Northern Lights.
26-3-2014 Ammarnäs - Tärnaby
This was also a nice Sunny day. It was a nice trail, again with parts of the Kungsleden. We had our lunch break on a nice spot.
After only 75km (46.6mi) we were very early at our destination, but this time the guide didn’t want to go for an extra round, so we walked into the ‘town’. Tärnaby is a very boring village, where there is nothing to do except for the ski slope (which they are famous for). We ate a pizza at the ski resort and went to bed quite early. This time we had a separate room (separate from the guide), but with a bunk bed. (And the toilets in the bathroom(only a small shower)/toilet space (2 toilets) on the hall were so small, we had to sit with the door open.)
27-3-2014 Tärnaby - Umnäs
Again a nice day, good weather, nice surroundings, nice views, good driving, and now and again able to make small jumps. We did get really lost/drove the wrong way once, because we couldn’t cross a river at the spot where we supposed to according to the GPS. So we crossed the river via the road, over a bridge, after which it was pretty difficult to get back on the right trail.
After 79km (49mi) we arrived quite early again at our place to sleep, (the) Skoterhotellet (http://www.skoterhotellet.se/) where we were the only guests and we could pick our own room (with normal beds).
We could convince the guide to take us on an extra round this lovely Sunny day. He eventually took us an a ride of 41km (25.5mi), during which we also went off trail and climbed a 1200m (ft) mountain with the snowmobiles. There we could enjoy a spectacular view of the surroundings. This all happened at quite a high speed (the guide didn’t have his sled with him) and therefore was very enjoyable (also with a nice jump at some point).
In the evening we had grilled sausages with peas again.
http://youtu.be/ZZkKgR6Xi_s The 1200m (ft) mountain on and off.
28-3-2014 Umnäs - Sorsele
Unfortunately this was the last day on the snowmobile already. Fortunately this day was also a very nice day. Nice and sunny and a nice trip. When we arrived at the vandrarhem (where we had stayed the first 2 nights), we had to refuel. The gas station was quite close, over the road, but we couldn’t go that way with the snowmobiles (no snow on the roads), so we had to take a detour. The guide still had enough fuel, so he wanted to ride along on the backseat. I asked him if he was sure and took him on the back of my snowmobile. (Arina preferred not to ride with him on the back.) After agreeing on him tapping me on the shoulder to go left or right or such, we left full throttle. I felt a few bumps along the way, but not much and I didn’t even try to make little jumps or anything. I did drive at a nice speed of around 70 to 90 km/u (43.5 to 56mi/h). At the gas station we asked if he wanted to sit on the back again on the way back, but he’d rather walk back… After (out of sight of the guide) I asked Arina how it went on the way there. Apparently the guide had bounced up and down, a bit like a bobble head, and had to hold on tight. I had noticed him signalling me quite late before turns, resulting in abrupt breaking and fast turning to go left or right. I also discovered that when you drive with someone on the back it absorbs things. I really hadn’t noticed the bumps and such were a lot worse and pesky than I had imagined. Arina even told me that the first large bump we took, that we had been going so fast, that Arina at the same speed came loose from the ground with the snowmobile.
We were in tears from laughter about all this.
We then drove with the guide (on his own snowmobile) to his house (in Bjärdakken), where we left the snowmobiles and all the gear, so the guide could use it 2 days after for a day tour with guests. The ride to his house was also much fun. It was over a river (Vindelälven). And because the guide had dropped his jerry can of fuel, Arina and I had to stop to take it with us, after which we had to drive full throttle to catch up with the guide. And with full throttle, the speed was just on/was just short to 120km/u (74.6mi/h). The needle kept hitting 120, but didn’t stay on it.
We first spent the evening in the Sorsele River Hotel, the base of operations for the Mercedes-Benz Driving Event. We ate some sort of big hamburger, which tasted really well. After we watched (and commented at) the pictures that were taken that day from the participants of the Mercedes-event.
On the way back we saw some really nice Northern Lights, but when we were at the Vandrarhem and walked onto a lake to make decent pictures of it, there was pretty much nothing.
29-3-2014 Sorsele - Amsterdam
Another exhausting travel day. First a flight from Luleå to Stockholm, where we had to run, we only had 20 minutes to change over, to catch our flight to Copenhagen, where we had our final flight to Schiphol. Our luggage had fortunately made it as well.. At Schiphol we (Arina, her parents and I) had a good dinner. After we drove to Arina and I drove from there back home.
I was able to practice my Swedish a few times, for example with ordering dinner, and I was successful. In which I was successful, I don’t know, because the people replied in Swedish, making me trying to interpret what that person was saying, all the while looking like I had no clue, to end up switching to English by all of us. (The Swedish was too fast and my knowledge to little.)
Despite a lot of negative things by, through, with and over the guide (which I left out as much as possible in this) it was a great expedition. Driving the snowmobile is and stays just so much fun to do. Excluding the first few days we had great whether, and because it had been snowing those First few days the snow conditions were perfect after. We did a lot of fun things.
And next year we want to go on another snowmobile trip… Maybe Alaska!