After a few days of true cold with temperatures dropping to -25 degrees Celsius, it’s milder now. A perfect time for a short hike on and around our premises. And wow! There they are again – the reindeer. While we had spotted their tracks in the snow over the past two weeks, a direct encounter hadn’t occurred until now. Finally, it has happened. These creatures are truly magnificent. Their presence here is a breathtaking sign that winter has indeed arrived.
Reindeer aren’t wild; they are a form of livestock. Similar to how farmers in, for example, the Netherlands own cows, here the reindeer belong to various Sami, the indigenous people of (northern) Scandinavia, comparable to the Aboriginals in Australia. Like the Aboriginals, the Sami have faced injustices in the past.
As soon as the food for the reindeer in the mountains becomes less accessible due to snow and low temperatures, the Sami bring them here. This location allows the reindeer to access the reindeer moss beneath the snow, a crucial food source for them.
Unfortunately, they are a bit timid, especially when you are on foot. However, for cars, they seem undisturbed. They calmly stay on the road, and you can even drive behind them until they decide to move aside. This behavior likely stems from the fact that the Sami herd the reindeer using snowmobiles. Motorized transportation is familiar to them and is not perceived as a threat.
During my hike, I also spotted traces of the snow hare, the fox, and even the moose. Additionally, about 25 black grouses were perched in the trees, some taking flight from their snowy nests on the ground as I walked by.
All of these encounters make the winter hike around Jep’s Place an unforgettable experience. Imagine waking up in the morning, looking out the window, and seeing a large group of reindeer. Such an encounter adds an extra dimension to your already transformative retreat!