Beyond the Arctic Circle
Staying in Arjeplog for two nights was a solid decision! Leaving the gear at the stuga for a day and exploring the area was not something we had planned to do, but after talking with other motorcyclist, we realized we needed to dip into Norway. After I went into town and bought some insulated snowmobile gloves, we headed north on 95. I'm super glad I bought those gloves, I don't think I would have made the trip over the mountains without them. It's not just the cold that is getting me, it's the rain and the wind that is turning my fingers into icicles.
We also weren't sure how often there'd be gasoline stations so we stopped nearly every time we saw them to fuel up. This turned out to be a good idea, because there really weren't many between Arjeplog and Storjord! One of our stops on our way to Norway was at the official arctic circle sign. I'm not ashamed to say I was looking forward to taking photos in front of the sign- in fact, we had to wait behind a few other motorcyclists doing the same!
As we traveled north the environment changed dramatically. The mountains in the distance still has snow at their peaks and melting water was rushing down the slopes into massive icy lakes. Soon the forest began to disappear and all around us were fields of large boulders covered in lichen and raging rivers. At the border crossing we pulled over to take a quick picture, but there were no Swedish or Norwegian officials at the border control, let alone any passport checks. We just rolled right into Norway and began the ride into Salttjellet mountains.
The scenery was spectacular and something I've never seen on motorcycle. I was cold, but hanging tough, mostly due to my awe in the surrounding. The waterfalls were loud and nearly spilling over the roads as we descended down into the valley near the town of Storjord. By now it was nearly 6PM so we stopped at the local cafe, had a full meal, and hung up our wet layers to dry on our bikes. We went on a little hike along a river and stayed dry under the birch trees.
We waited out more rain and had a dry first hour ride back to Sweden. The sun was setting behind us in the mountains and we had a tail wind pushing us forward. The last 80 km to Arjeplog turned pretty wet, cold, and windy and it the most uncomfortable riding I've ever had in my life. In the last few km I think I lost feeling in nearly both my feet and all my fingers. Not smart, I know, but I figured it was good to just keep pushing forward. At that point, there was no point in waiting out the rain as my hands and feet were already soaked to the bone.
Despite the conditions, the trip was completely worth it and my favorite riding of my trip so far. And to think, I wasn't even planning to explore the border mountains!