Mountain ecologist Jonas Lembrechts spent ten intense fieldwork days above the polar circle in Sweden and Norway, where he follows non-native plant species and their spread in the mountains. This post appears in a serie on this expedition. The story appears simultaneously in Dutch on Scilogs.be and in English on this website.
The other side of the mountain: much steeper, but probably our better option.
Our rematch on the other side of the mountain asked a lot of dedication from our leg muscles, as we had to hike up (almost…) vertically next to the waterfall. This ‘stairway to heaven’ brought us in no time far above the treeline in a rocky wasteland, where plants had to have some solid roots to stay where they were.
It is up there the reindeer feel at home, they can enjoy the beautiful view on the valley and the barren circumstances they strangely seem to like the most.
We made much more progress than the day before, so in no time we reached the little hut at ‘the other side’ of the river: a cosy wooden chalet with ‘soft’ wooden beds where tired hikers could have a well-deserved night of sleep. If they managed to cross the river, of course…
There we had a surprising meeting with this brave little snail, probably taking even more time than we to hike all the way up to the 1000 meter plots.
With this progress, the day turned in another nice and beautiful hike. We jumped up and over rocks like trained reindeer, but we were getting used to that now anyway. Our plots at a thousand meters were luckily free of snow, and there even were some plants that survived the winter. Another win!
After this, one more day to go in the field, and our trip above the polar circle would be over again. Every time again, it is uncertain if the wild nature and climate will allow us to do what we want to do, and it never goes exactly as planned. But experience is the best teacher, and an ecologist quickly learns how to improvise…