The Wilderness Road

I had a long drive ahead of me, so I started early. I was looking forward to the Wilderness Road as it goes above the treeline, so the scenery should be good.

Initially it was a bit cloudy and the wind was only marginally lighter than yesterday. It wasn’t particularly warm either – my fingers were numb after a very short hike to a waterfall. It’s not the temperature as such, but the wind chill…

Reindeer along the Wilderness Road

Already as I was approaching the tree line, the photo ops were appearing one better than the other. I drove past most of them, shame on me, but like I said, time was an issue so I wanted to use all I could spare on the tundra. Unfortunately the sun still hadn’t come out by the time I reached the tree line, so I didn’t see the scenery in all its glory. Because glorious it was for sure – you could stop every 100 meters and find something interesting, a small brook, or a different angle to a mountain, or a new bend or rapids in the big creek… even waterfalls. And reindeer. At first I stopped the car and turned off the engine, got out and took pictures. Then I stopped the car at a lay-by and got out. And then I just opened the window and shot from the car… without even bothering to pull over to the shoulder. I didn’t see any other cars as I was driving through the tundra so it’s not like I was blocking the traffic!

I was half expecting the beautiful scenery to end when I descended from the tundra. But I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was just simply gorgeous, driving through Klimpfjäll (the place is much nicer than its name), then Saxnäs, and I was surprised to see that the road was still photogenic as I turned north from Stalon towards Dikanäs. I only had two problems – no time, and a lot of wind. It had taken me over 3 hours to drive the first 100 km and I still had 500 km left until Luleå. In that respect, I should be grateful for the wind because it was spoiling most of the opportunities. Still water was anything but still, so all those beautiful lakes with mountain views were wasted today.

It’s perhaps not so obvious in the picture but this place was like a wind tunnel – I was bending down on my knee to keep myself (and the camera) steady.

My original plan was to visit Storforsen before getting to Luleå. But after spending so much time on the Wilderness Road, I had to drop Storforsen. Better to use the little time I had one on the photo opportunities I had in front of me, than chance on something I had no idea if it would work or not. And I still didn’t have enough time to shoot everything I wanted to. The Wilderness Road really made an impression on me, it’s by far the most photogenic 200 km I’ve ever seen in Sweden. It’s easy to find some photogenic roads, but solid 200 km of beautiful mountains, lakes and creeks… it’s hard to beat! It was a constant waterfall there, rapids here, probably impossible to squeeze it in a whole day let alone a few hours as I had. I’m just simply going to have to drive it again, but then I’ll make it the goal of the trip instead of a de-tour on my way somewhere. And September is probably the right time for it, too. The days are shorter, but you can keep shooting through all through the day and still get good light. And the autumn colours are never wrong!

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