By Marina Lauck
The first week in Abisko has been full of adventure.
After some miscommunication about site accessibility and car availability, anxious to at least visit our prospective field sites in Stordalen Mire, we (Steph and Marina) managed to hitch a ride with a couple of lovely researchers from the UK who overheard our struggles to procure a vehicle for the afternoon (Drs Holly Croft and Gavin Thomas, we are forever in your debt).
The mire is awesome, and surprisingly popular. We arrived around 11am and ran into at least two other research groups out on the mire. A long boardwalk ran almost from the road to the lake which was helped us keep from sloshing about in the muck, for a while at least.
After wandering the mire for a few hours searching for suitable study ponds (for Marina) and plankton (for Steph), debating what delineates a pond from vast expanses of standing water, and making some mire birds very unhappy (I guess it’s close to nesting season?), we headed back to the road to try to find “Stordalen Station” and flag down the bus that Google Maps suggested as a potential public transportation option. Surprising, considering the village of Abisko boasts a thriving population of about 80 people.
Skeptical, we had looked into this option the day before as a back-up plan if transportation did not work out, and even contacted the bus company (which is intended to shuttle people from Norvik, Norway to Kiruna, Sweden) when their online app did not let us purchase tickets from Stordalen to Abisko Ostra. We followed Google Maps to “Stordalen Station” where we expected to meet the bus. We arrived at a parking pull out. No bus signs. No benches. Just this road sign. The number 90 sign gave us hope, but then we realized that we were looking for the number 91 bus. The shlep back to the station would have been a 2-hour hike, which we were hoping to avoid, and definitely is not sustainable for the upcoming weeks of nearly daily field work. We called the customer service number to confirm whether we were in the right place. They would pick us up, right? Do they stop? Do we need to flag them down? It took a lot of explaining to convince the customer service representative that we did, in fact, mean to take the bus from Stordalen to Abisko Ostra. Yes, just the one stop, a few minutes away. No, not from Stordalen to Kiruna. No, we’re at Stordalen now, not Norvik. No really, just Stordalen to Abisko Ostra. After about 20-minutes, the very friendly customer service representative on the other ended our conversation with, “Sure, yeah, give it a try it.” So we did.
We got to the “bus stop” early to ensure we wouldn’t miss the only westward bus scheduled that day and waited anxiously for a bus to zoom around the corner. Fortunately, we had snacks and even a deck of cards to pass the time and distract ourselves.
After about an hour of waiting, we saw the bus round the corner and we waved like lunatics hoping the driver would get the message and pull over. Low and behold, they did!! 15 minutes and $15 dollars later, we were dropped off at the local grocery only a kilometer from the research station… only to find the CIRC bus outside.
- Always bring extra snacks. Surprise Kit Kats in your field bag can be a godsend.
- It’s not a bad idea to have a deck of cards on hand for unexpected downtime.
- Trust no one. Do full reconnaissance. If people tell you a place is walking distance, or that there are cars available for you to use, check yourself and do it early. Ask for clarification from the people on the ground. Check multiple sources. It’ll save you a load of headaches and a week of postponed research.
Steph & Marina