Tracing ancestry on a wild trip through Sweden

Smoke billowed out of a hole at the center of a grass-covered tepee as I passed plates of cured moose sausage, flat bread, cheese and cloudberry jam to the seven other strangers gathered in this traditional Sami home in Sweden’s northernmost Lapland region. This was a complete digital detox: no electricity, cell signal or running water. Outside the conical dwelling (called a goathie in the indigenous Sami language), the air threatened to dip below freezing. Yet, with my toes curled into a reindeer pelt and the central fire invoking another round of storytelling, none of the modern sacrifices seemed to matter. Owner Mikael Vinka regaled us with stories of herding his reindeer across the snow-dusted forests that blanket Sweden’s Arctic frontier — a region the Sami call Sápmi. Over the next three days, he led us hiking into the birch-topped Vindel Mountains. We dared our bodies to enter a frigid lake before defrosting them in a fire-heated sauna. At night, we chased the faint chartreuse glow of the northern lights across an untainted sky… (continue reading at The Chicago Tribune).

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