The harsh climate takes its toll on life on mountain slopes at 68 degrees north latitude. Above the treeline, there is a lot of exposed rock, covered in places with lichen. A miniature forest about I inch high clings to rock crevices where moisture is greater, and what flowers are present, are tiny miniature copies of lusher vegetation down below.
Exposed rock and patchy vegetative cover on Mt. Njulla, Abisko national park, Sweden
The views of the mountains are spectacular as we climb Mt. Njulla, Abisko national park.
Below our feet, a carpet of tiny plants and lichen have colonized the rocky crevices.
The vista is 270 degrees of spectacular, snowy mountains and u-shaped glacial valleys. In today’s perfect sunny weather, we could stay and look out at the horizon forever.
Tiny willow plants send their catkins upward, the tallest plants I found.
Some plants, like the trailing azalea, spread by sending out horizontal branches that cling to the rock surface on Mt. Njulla.
The flowers buds are minuscule, the open flowers barely measure a couple of mm across. The leaves look almost like succulents, which might be a water conservation strategy in this arid environment. There are no pollinators around yet.
We hiked the mountain hoping to see reindeer foraging on the high slopes. But the only evidence of their presence was some poop. This Northern Wheatear was the only bird we saw or heard on our hike. They breed in rocky habitat in Northern Europe after migrating from wintering grounds in Africa.
Then, its back to our cozy cabin for dinner after a long day of hiking.