Information on the region of Pyhä-Luosto and the nature and features of Lapland
Pyhä-Luosto national park
The region of Pyhä-Luosto national park covers 142 km2, and it was founded in 2005, when part of the Luosto region was included in the already existing Pyhä national park. Pyhä national park was originally founded already in 1938. The park is located on the area of three municipalities, Sodankylä, Pelkosenniemi and Kemijärvi.
At the heart of the national park is the fell chain between Pyhä-Luosto. It includes the southernmost one of the large fells in Finland, Noitatunturi, which rises to 540 meters above sea-level and to 340 meters from its surroundings. The second-highest is Ukko-Luosto, which rises to 514 meters above sea-level.
Between the fells there are deep and rocky ravines, for example the 200 meters deep Isokuru in Pyhä. The sights in Isokuru include for example Pyhänkasteenputous and Pyhänkasteenlampi, where, according to a tale, local people were baptized in the 17th century.
Lampivaara in Luosto is the home of the only working amethyst mine in Europe. It welcomes travelers and even lets them dig for a lucky amethyst of their own.
The amethyst deposit in Lampivaara was discovered by an amateur geologist in 1985. The crystallization of amethysts and other quartzes of crystalline form in Lapland primarily took place 1800 – 2000 million years ago. The purple color of amethysts is caused by small quantities of iron and aluminum in the aqueous solutions. Most of the amethyst in Lampivaara is opaque or translucent amethyst quartz, and only a small portion is transparent precious stone, amethyst. There are many beliefs about amethyst and it is for example believed to bring a person who carries it peace of mind, spirituality, safety and healing power. It is also said to be a purifying, strengthening stone of friendship, which brings relief to headache and insomnia alike.
According to a Greek legend an amethyst protects its bearer from alcoholism.
Northern lights (Aurora Borealis)
Northern lights are a very common phenomenon in the skies of Lapland. They occur year round, but during the summer they cannot be seen because of the nightless night. Northern lights are created in the altitude of about 100 kilometers when electrically charged particles hit the earth’s atmosphere near the magnetic poles.
The closer to the magnetic poles you are, the more frequent the northern lights become. In the latitude of Pyhä-Luosto, northern lights occur more or less every other night. The likelihood of northern lights is greatest just before midnight.
There are many beliefs about northern lights as well. It has been believed that they are fires in the sky lit by evil spirits. The Finnish name revontuli (“fire of a fox”) comes from a belief that when a fox runs in the fells its tail hits the snowdrifts and its sides rub against the trees flying sparks up in the sky.
The Midnight Sun
In the latitude of Pyhä-Luosto the nightless night begins in late May / early June and ends in mid-July. During the nightless night the sun does not set below the horizon. The phenomenon is caused by the inclination of the earth’s axis with regard to the orbit. The phenomenon only occurs at the polar circles and in the latitudes above them. The closer to the poles you are the longer the nightless night lasts.
The beautiful autumn colors of ruska appear when the days become shorter, not when the temperatures fall below 0°C during nights as is commonly believed. According to an old saying in Lapland ruska begins in Utsjoki on September 10 soon after midday. The most colorful ruska lasts for two or three weeks. The best time of ruska is usually during the weeks in the middle of September. Ruska can first be seen when ground vegetation, blueberries and black bearberries begin to glow in different shades of red. Next the peatland vegetation becomes colored reddish brown, and finally the leaves of trees get their ruska colors. The glow of the ruska colors is often ended by the first snow covering the land.
Kaamos, The polar night
The polar night, kaamos, is the period in mid-winter when the sun does not rise above the horizon. Despite of this it is not completely dark all the time, but during midday there is so called blue dusk, which lasts for a couple of hours. In Utsjoki kaamos begins in late November and ends in mid-January, and in the latitude of Sodankylä kaamos lasts for a few days around Christmas.