Torneträsk was almost still, its calm surface mirroring the bright aurora dancing above it. At the water’s edge, I stood mesmerized for a moment by the scene before me. I had been waiting for the perfect conditions for a few nights: no wind, a clear sky, and a good aurora forecast.
I stepped forward, letting the icy water grip my ankles. The beach gently dropped away and I lowered my shoulders down to swim. The cold water wrapped around me as I pushed forward in a breaststroke. I could feel myself calm as my body responded to the icy immersion; I slowed and took in my surroundings.
All around me the lake shimmered visibly green with the reflected aurora. The only sound in the silence of the night was the gentle splash of my hands as I cut through the water, the reflected aurora undulating on the ripples radiating away from me—I was swimming in the Northern Lights!
That November night was near to the beginning of my fourth winter season living in Abisko, working as an administration assistant for Lights Over Lapland. From almost daily swims in Lake Torneträsk, I had become acclimatized to very cold water—often swimming on my lunch break. I like my job, not least because it gave me the privileged opportunity to live and work in such a special place. Being able to take an impromptu evening walk down to the shore of a beautiful mountain lake, for a swim under a sky filled with aurora, is not lost on me.
The trails and waters of Abisko National Park have become as familiar to me as the keys on my laptop; any free time away from the office is spent outdoors. I have travelled extensively in Scandinavia and Finland, which is how I ended up in Abisko—a Lights Over Lapland advert on social media offering an exciting prospect to spend a whole winter inside the Arctic Circle!
I am happiest when I’m outside, when I’m walking, swimming, or simply enjoying a beautiful view. Abisko provides abundant opportunities for me to be outside, whether it is hiking along the snowy trails from the village to the local viewpoints, or exploring the vast expanse of ice on Lake Torneträsk once it has frozen over, hunting for ice bubbles. The intricate clusters of methane bubbles formed in the ice are treasures to be discovered, they form deep set constellations, beautiful maps, abstract designs. The frozen lake sings and booms, the ice heaving and expanding, and long fissures form with frosty edges.
Polar Night was something that I had long wanted to experience. Although the sun stays below the horizon during Polar Night, there is still plenty of light bouncing around, reflecting off the crisp white snow. The sky often has a gorgeous pink hue along the horizon. As darkness falls, the landscape is bathed in an extraordinary blue light. If there are clouds, the sunless sunsets and sunrises feel endless!
The long hours of darkness are filled with bright auroras, night falling just after lunch at Midwinter. Afternoon adventures at this time of the season require a head torch, the ice crystals in the freezing air dazzling in the beam of light. The weather in Abisko is good, the encircling mountains keeping much of the rain and snow behind them in Norway. This is, of course, why Abisko is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, but it is also good for outdoor pursuits too.
When the sun returns after the darkness of Polar Night, it is still hidden from the Abisko by the surrounding mountains, the bright sunlight can be seen as a crisp line on the lake that gets closer and closer to the village each passing day as the sun gets higher. Impatient to bask in its glow, it feels so good to walk out across the ice to the sunlit islands.
There are many trails leading out from the STF Turiststation into Abisko National Park making it easy to spend a winter day surrounded by magnificent scenery. I think that is why I fell in love with Abisko, it is simply how easy and accessible the National Park is to explore. You can even arrive by train, stepping out onto the platform of a station inside the National Park, it could not be easier.
I find Abisko to be a comfortable destination as a solo woman traveller—that said, I never go out alone into the wilderness without judging the conditions first and telling someone where I’m heading, it is the Arctic Circle after all! I find it to be a joy and a thrill to be alone in the snowy birch forest, or meandering along the shore of Lake Torneträsk looking for a spot to dip into the water.
Join a Morning Hike in Abisko National Park to find your bearings. Our knowledgeable and friendly guides will reveal details in the landscape that you may otherwise miss and it provides a great introduction to everything Abisko National Park has to offer!