Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/471

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455
NATURE AND LIFE IN LAPLAND.

the Little Luleä are a series of large lakes, from six to thirty miles long, and varying in breadth from two miles to seven or eight. These in turn are fed by two mountain-rivers, which join their floods at Quickjock, and pour the united stream into the uppermost lake. They are traversed in long, open boats made of very thin wood, and rowed by two or three men, according to the weight of luggage and the length of the journey. These boats are unprovided with seats, and the passengers have to squat at the bottom back to back, or crowded side by side; and, as very little movement would be sufficient to swamp so frail a craft, the limbs get cramped and stiffened, and the journey becomes very fatiguing. With a high wind the broadest lakes become rough and dangerous, and on one occasion we shipped so much water that it seemed doubtful whether our expedition would not come to an untimely end. Each lake is connected with the next by strong rapids, in some cases rising into small waterfalls, and to avoid these it is necessary to disembark, when the luggage is carried on the shoulders of the rowers through the pine-forests to the next lake. Throughout this part of the trip the silence can almost be felt, and becomes at last oppressive. No living thing is seen for hours except occasional flights of wild birds, or a solitary heron disturbed by the passage of the boat. Hills, gradually developing into mountains, and finally covered with snow as the neighborhood of Quickjock is reached, shut in the scene, and the slopes of these are covered almost entirely with stunted pine, the birch having nearly disappeared. There is, however, no lack of color, as the firs in the sunlight present many shades of the darker greens intermingled with a rich brown where some disease appears to have attacked the trees. A large sweep of pine-forest thus spread out in an amphitheatre of hills, and seen from a great distance, might be mistaken for an expanse of heather and fern, browned by the autumn rains and sun, though of course the brighter purples are absent from the Lapland view.

In the summer months there is perpetual daylight in all these regions, and the midnight sun is visible for some time in June. When we were there, in September, it was light till nine or ten o'clock, and never absolutely dark. The sunsets were most gorgeous, dark masses of purple clouds being lit up with the intensest hues of gold and crimson as the sun went down behind them, a glowing ball of fire. On one occasion the effect was heightened by the appearance of the eastern sky, which shaded off from deepest rose at the zenith, through delicate gradations of pinks and purples, into a lovely pale, pure blue, in the midst of which the full autumnal moon shone gloriously.

The fishing in the lakes is exceedingly good, and very large trout, and even salmon, may be caught with the minnow and other spinning bait. For fly-fishing the best places are the rapids between the lakes, through which the boat is screwed in and out in an extremely clever and dexterous way by the boatman, who takes advantage of the shel-