When should you visit the park?
From darkness to light, cold to warmth. The Sami divide the year into eight seasons based on changes in nature and the reindeer life cycle.
In March and April the sun begins to cast more warmth. Migratory birds come back, and in the Sami mountain villages, people begin to prepare to move westward to summer territory. It’s time for jig fishing, mountaintop excursions and ski trips between cabin locations.
In May late winter, early spring begins. This is when the reindeer calves are born, and the reindeer must not be disturbed. It is fine to go on trips. The sun beams and the bare patches make the mountainsides look spotted. The brooks start to rise and the ice abates.
By June the snow has melted. The last of the ice departs and the spring flood gushes. The reindeer need peace and quiet in order to eat their fill. The Sami administrative units prepare their fields and fences, and the first common sorrel is picked. If you hike, you will see the midnight sun and small reindeer calves. At higher elevations, snow still remains. The first calf branding begins.
It is July and the mosquitoes are here. The ground begins to dry up and the greenery speeds up. There is calf branding in the mountains, and the cloudberries are ripening. July is the peak season for hiking tourism. The Sami settlements, where you can buy fresh bread and smoked fish, also are filled with people.
August is often an excellent time for hiking. The mosquitoes diminish at the same time as the first yellow leaves appear. It is time to pick berries, fish and gather up “skohö”, a mixture of sedge, grass and straw that is dried and used as insulation in winter shoes. The reindeer begin roaming to find mushrooms and eat their fill before winter. The first cold nights arrive.
Autumn colours and lingonberries to pick. In September the week comes that the Sami call “lastaváldinvahkku” – when the wind tries to tear away the trees’ leaves. The mountaintops become white. The grouse are heard again and get their first white feathers. There is hunting and reindeer butchering. Everyone prepares for winter. Those who go hiking now often experience fine weather but cold nights.
The first thin snowfall arrives, and the forests have become dark. Inveterate fishermen are still to be seen on the cold lakes. Bears go into hibernation, and the Sami mountain villages begin gathering the reindeer together to separate them into winter groups. The reindeer are moved to winter pastures, and those needed for meat are butchered before winter.
This is our longest season. Winter continues from December until late March. Beginning at the end of Christmas, people say that every day becomes longer by a grouse step. It is a time of short, blue days and Northern Lights. The snow illuminates the landscape and the long nights.