Do you need a guide…

…to hike in Laponia? Probably a good question this time of the year as many are working on vacation plans for this summer. And, when you think of the costs for guided tours as well as personal equipment and costs to get to Jokkmokk, it would be wise to think double hard about guide services.

tarrapath04.jpgPhoto: A small group of hikers crossing Palkat Stream in the Tarra Valley

The background to so-called “Laponia Guides” is that, after close to 10 years of doing nothing more than erecting a few signs, Jokkmokk and Gällivare municipalities had to market and advertise “Laponia” in order to sustain, or at best, create new income areas within tourism. Through EU project fundings, the Laponia Group was created to get the ball rolling. A few people were employed in this temporary project group. A website was created, and a course in “Laponia guiding” was started, where participants would receive an “official Laponia guide” diploma. (It should be added here that this project doesn’t exist anymore and people are grappling for new ways to make an income)

Participants in these courses were mostly motivated to attain diploma status, a status to prove a person’s knowledge of Laponia and give them a “legitimacy” with guiding, but the participants had very little, if any, experience in dealing with people or even quality time in Laponia to such a degree that locals would almost feel uncomfortable. I feel it was like start-a-business-and-hope-to-learn-on-the-way. One can ask, does a diploma make a person a guide and does this diploma signify quality?

But, everyone was happy. It was a win-win situation. Long-term unemployed people could start new businesses as tour guide operators and the Laponia project could show they actually did something other than warm chair seats.

The key thought with all this is that, since the end of the 19th century, people have been hiking in Laponia without needing a guide! So, Why need guides now? The answer is probably to satisfy the egos of community leaders, possibly create a new market saving communities from financial decline and to instill a belief that visitors are incapable to hike in Laponia without this…uh…guide person.

If you want to go hiking in Laponia, all you need is some equipment, a little knowledge with map reading, some experience with tenting, an eye on weather conditions, being out in the bush and… plain old common sense! Just follow the paths. Not hard, eh?

resize-of-churchcoffeestalo01.jpgPhoto: Laponia hikers at the yearly church services at Staloluokta. WHICH ONE IS THE GUIDE?

What people need is extra equipment. Like a kajak or canoe. What Laponia needs is an outfitter…they don’t need people portraying themselves as guides and who need a yearly income to be able to live in the area. If anything, beginner Laponia hikers need a few hours of common sense talking with an experienced Laponia hiker and…off they can go.

With a correct frame of mind, investigations and planning of a hiking trip and some risk management, most people don’t need to follow in the footsteps of a guide to enjoy Laponia. Most people shouldn’t want to shell-out between 12,500 SEK (£1,034)-16,500 SEK (£1,328) extra to follow after these guides and most people should need to use their savings for travel costs, basic equipment and food needed to get so far north. It’s all a bit of a scam, really, for people to fall for.

If people need anything, it is the confidence to not be so easily led to believe they need a guide to hike in Laponia! Think about this!

“Lampik Executed for Murder”…

…would have been the appropriate headlines if there had been a newspaper in Jokkmokk in 1823. A journalist would have been one of twenty or so men, women and children that were ordered to watch the execution of Påhl Larsson Lampik, for the murder of his older sister Lotta (Lohtsa) Påhlsdotter Lampik just a year earlier, and he would have reported these details for any readers. The execution took place east of “Death Pond” in Jokkmokk, February 17, 1823.

According to the court records of the time, Påhl Larsson Lampik, a short 4 ft. 3½ in. (1.42 mt) 25 year-old, believed to be a “weak” person, having learning difficulties and known for a rowdy behaviour, was left at home with his sister. The father, Påhl Lampik, had skied to the winter market in Jokkmokk. Thrity-two year old Lotta Påhlsdotter, quick to learn, honest and respectful had charge of attending the reindeer and sheep.

When the father returned from market, Sunday the 24th of February, niether Påhl Larsson Lampik nor Lotta Pålhsdotter could be found. Reindeer and sheep were unattended and there were several storage houses broken into with things scattered all over the snow covered ground.

With the aid of a local official, the father searched the area. After a couple of days of light snowfall, it was somewhat difficult looking for signs of anyone, but they finally found Lotta Pålhsdotter face down in the snow by a fishermen’s hut near a frozen lake. Påhl Lampik and the official brushed the snow off her body, turned her over and found that her hair was matted with frozen blood from several deep cuts in her head. They took her body to a neighbouring house when, afterwards, Påhl Lampik skied to Jokkmokk and told constable C. M. Granström what had happened.

The constable sent out requests concerning the whereabouts and detention of Påhl Larsson Lampik. Apparently, Påhl Påhlsson Lampik had been seen and held by Johan Petter Chrisophersson, Tjauruträsk, near Gällivare. Lampik was sent back to Jokkmokk for questioning, was arrested for murdering his sister and went to trial March 28, 1822.

During the trial, witnesses explained how Lotta Pålsdotter was found, how her skull had been violently split in five places, that a couple of these cuts had gone deep into the brain, and that she had a large cut on her left arm. She obviously died instantly. (It can be noted here that the autopsy was conducted by a surgeon E.M.Waldenström, Luleå, who had taken 7 days using three horses to get to Jokkmokk and charged the court a little more than 44 Swedish Kronor for his services.)

When Påhl Larsson Lampik was summoned to witness, he explained that on the morning of Feb. 18, Lotta and he went out to gather hay and to feed the animals when they started to argue. He became angry and left his sister. He went back to the village, where he forced open all the storage houses, stole a reindeer steak and some flour and went to the Lampik “hut” and started to make dinner for himself.

After this, Lotta Påhlsdotter apparently returned to their “hut” and became angry. Påhl Larsson Lampik entered into a struggle with his sister and, after grasping the small ax his sister was known to carry in her belt, hacked his sister in her head several times killing her.

He stayed in the village that evening and the next morning, after letting loose the sheep and killing one lamb for food, tried to escape towards Luleå. After reaching Harads, he changed direction towards Gällivare, where he was captured by Christophersson.

Påhl Larsson Lampik had earlier been convicted of reindeer theft and punished with being placed in irons, strapped to a pole and given 12 whiplashes. At his murder trial, he explained his deed as being under the control of “evil powers” and was not to blame for killing his sister. And, he added, he was only defending himself because his sister had hit him.

The court found him guilty of murdering Lotta Påhlsdotter and sent Lampik to the regional prison until he would be summoned back to Jokkmokk for execution.

In 1823, almost a year after his trial, Lampik was transported back to Jokkmokk and the winter market, together with an executioner. February 16th, he was locked in a small timbered shed, east of “Death Pond” and near the road from Luleå at the top of a hill overlooking the Lule River Valley.

The next morning, February 17th, all the men, woman and children of Jokkmokk were forced to attend the execution as witnesses that murder would not be accepted in Jokkmokk. A small, probably very cold and scared Påhl Larsson Lampik was taken from the shed towards the chopping block where, after laying his head down, he was beheaded by the executioner’s ax. Rumor has it that it took two ax swipes before Lampik’s head was severed from his body.

Påhl Larsson Lampik’s head and body parts were nailed up on poles along the old road from Luleå to warn people of the consequences for murder. These body parts hung there for several months and were finally taken down and buried in the grounds nearby. Murderers were not allowed to be buried in “blessed” churchyards.

resize-of-re-exposure-of-dsc_0377.JPGPhoto: “Exectution Hill” as you approach central Jokkmokk along Rt 97 from Luleå-Boden

In Jokkmokk, the place of execution is somewhere at the top of the small hill, which the road from Luleå follows as one approaches the central part of Jokkmokk. Still today, people in Jokkmokk always refer to this slope as “Execution Hill”.

References: Tingsprotokoll, Jokkmokks Dombok 1822
Norrbottens Hembygd för Tidskrift 1924, Häft 3
Döds- och Begravningsboken 1823, sid 60 rad 3

PS- Sorry this was late coming. I had/have very much to do just now. My apologies!