Lille Raipas is a World Heritage listed mountain in our home town, Alta. It was one of the points used to calculate the circumference of the earth, and how flat the North and South Poles are. It is about a 2km casual walk to the top with diverse scenery.
To start we walked through Englandskogen, (England Forest). We are not sure exactly how the name came about but we guess it might have something to do with all the English men mining for copper in the mountain.
Norway is a very wet country. Not that it rains all the time, unless you live in Bergen, but the soil is filled with water, there are many little creeks and waterfalls that run down from the snowy mountains even during the peak of summer. Along public walking tracks it is usual to have planks to skip over the extra muddy patches.
Below is a picture of an ant hill. You might be thinking ‘why?’, but this is the first ant hill I have ever seen in Norway, with my first ants.
About a third of the way up is a lovely (big) pond, something that I would call a Billabong, being from Australia – secluded with marshes and a small waterfall keeping the water fresh. It’s perfect for a break up the mountain.
The mountain contains Europe’s oldest fossils, 1.8 billion year old algae.
Cabins in Norway are the norm but this little one on the side of the hill was unusually placed. Powered by solar panels, it sat lonely by the public track half way up the mountain.
Many different wild flowers and vegetation grow along the track. Each corner turn gives a new perspective of the Finnmark landscape.
Near the top of the mountain is a desolate rocky area. It is all the leftovers from the copper mine, which was worked from 1835-1869, dragged out of the mountain and left.
The copper mine is fenced off for safety but the entrance can still be seen from the ridge.
Around the top we were delighted to see cloudberry plants growing in the marshes, although it doesn’t seem like it will be a good season this year because it was quite cold at the beginning of June. Early summer cold tends to stunt the growth of the season.
Near the top of the mountain we were using more planks to walk on. The soil is wetter near the top because the snow melts later. In a corner pocket of a shady ridge there was even a crevice of white snow still left from winter.
Over the last climb the views started opening up. There were a number of high spots on the top of large rocks which we could conquer with ease giving us spectacular panoramic views of the city.
Just a little further and we reached the summit, marked with a post.
Off to the side was the totem cairn, to which we added our own rock. The pile of rocks is actually the meridian marker they used for the geo-scientific survey of the earths circumference. It was just one of the points in many that crossed 10 countries from the Black Sea to Hammerfest, 2 hours drive north of Alta, the highest city in the world. On the rock underneath is a plaque in three languages to commemorate the point.
As part of the trail walking tradition in Norway, there is always a book to sign, marking your achievement of the climb.
Every Norwegian city (with a mountain) has a trail walking program. Ti for toppen, is a journey to ten peaks. It is always a race, and last year two Norwegian men raced with their mountain bikes, climbing all the peaks in just one day! During Environmental week in June, Alta at least, has a family activity of hiking three of the smaller mountains around the area. Lille Raipas was one of them this year, along with Komsa and Hjemmeluft mountains. Our family climbed to the peak of each and punched a special card to receive a commemorative t-shirt at the end.
We had a picnic at the top of Lille Raipas and while we sat we picked out landmarks and areas of Alta – the sand quarry, the salmon river, Haldde – where the first Northern Lights observatory in the world was built, the fjord, the ski jump, the city, Komsa mountain – an old Sami spiritual ground, the airport and landing planes – yep, the whole city. It would definitely be the perfect place to watch the Midnight Sun over the northern mountains (if you can survive the monster mosquitoes that come out in the cool afternoon).
Lille Raipas is a fully marked trail and is an easy climb. Alta kommune tourist information has maps of trails in the area. If you have the time when you’re visiting Alta and really love the outdoors and scenery, I recommend a trip up Lille Raipas for a half day activity. You’d want to take the trip during a sunny day so the mosquitoes won’t want to come out an play!