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Above the Arctic Circle

sunny -3 °C

20.3. Saturday

7:20AM we steered our car towards Nuorgam, Finland’s northernmost village.
Before reaching there we would be sitting in the car for a long long time.
Combination of holiday (no work for an week!) and getting out of home (renovation chaos) was making me in to an very good mood!

First stop we had in Simo. There was lean-to made for Mauno Koivisto and his hunting group (Finland’s 9th president, two terms in 1982-1994), which made good stretching place and coffee stop.


Hankasalmenaho lean-to


Coffee from kuksa, wooden cup

Though the road out of there were really icy and my spouse, who was driving wasn’t too pleased about that.
In the end we reached Tankavaara Gold Village for another coffee break after 220 kilometers and crossing the Arctic circle.


Crossing the Arctic Circle

The village wasn’t big but in summer there would be possible to pan gold. In winter there were cabins available for rent for people going in Urho Kekkonen’s National Park (Urho Kekkonen was our 8th president, terms 1956-1982).
First sightings of gold was in 1539 but the gold rush in Finland didn’t start until 1868. If you compare our gold rush to Klondike for example, you see that ours was significantly smaller. Our peak was 500 hundred miners while stampede to Klondike was 100 000 miners.


Gold Village Cafe


Gold for sale


Gold for sale

Rest of the way we stopped only to do grocery shopping and finally, 13,5 hours and 910 kilometers later we were finally there! Our little holiday haven beside Teno, border river between Finland and Norway.
Temperature was only -3C and it wasn’t too late, only 9PM so we did what every finn would do, we heated up the sauna! And also tested our jacuzzi! What a bliss to be on a holiday.


Cabin at night

21.4. Sunday

When we woke up and walked to the living room the view were spectacular! We had a 1,5 wall made of glass and we could see frozen River Teno and beyond that mountains on Norway. Previous night it was already dark when we arrived so we haven’t got the chance to admire the scenery fully.

Morning coffee sitting at the coach and looking through the window was in order!


Morning coffee with amazing view

Weather looked great so were going to go for an walk and look around. Sun was shining but the wind was quite cold. Luckily it wasn’t more than -3C. The village was 1 kilometers from the cabin but before we could reach it it started to snow a lot. We actually had an mission on this walk too. The great packer my spouse is, he forgot his quilted pants, so were going to try to find new ones for him.
We couldn’t, there were clothes, shoes and everything you would need but not the right size for Toni.

Still, the trip wasn’t all for nothing, I found some postcards, fridge magnet and sausage sticks with telescopic arms.


Sausage sticks

Outside the weather was sunny again so we walked back to the cabin, left our spoils there and continued our walk towards north. As far as we could get!

At the border stone we turned around and get back to the cabin.


We are this high up north


Walking back from the border

Before night fall there had been more snowing and sun shining, only the wind was constant. When we sat in the jacuzzi we saw dim northern lights.

But after when we got out and dressed again the sky was on fire! There were vivid green veils dancing in the sky!

Have you heard this folklore about the origin of the Northern lights?

In a one starry night this fox was going to annual Cunning Competition. He was in such a hurry that he decided to cut through Lapland mountains even when he knew that it would be strenuous. In the end when he started to tire, his tale started to sag. So great was his speed that he didn’t even notice that his tail was hitting snow whirling sparks in to the sky on his wake. Those sparks danced in the sky flaming and changing color.
Even this day, high up in the North, if the weather is right those same sparks keeps twirling in the sky and they are called Northern lights or Aurora borealis.


Northern lights

22.4. Monday

This day we would head out to the wilderness.
Kaldoaivi is Finland’s largest wilderness which 2 924 km2 includes deep river valleys and gentle mountains. When I wrote this I tried to translate tunturi, which is a kind of an small mountain but translator offered me that it would be “mountain in Lapland”.

Through Kaldoaivi goes many hiking routes which variates from ones which you can walk in a day to ones that are near 100 kilometers long.
Shortest of them is 5,8 kilometers and takes an loop near Skaidjärvi (lake Skaid). I am not outdoorsy enough that I would enjoy walking days in wilderness and sleep in desert huts (which there are on the route of the longer hikes) but these shorter ones I like. Of course now is an winter so I don’t know what kind of conditions the paths are and to be honest I read that these routes are for experienced hikers so we will have to see if it is possible to walk this Skaidjärvi ring trail.

I am not sure how common this is in other countries over the world but in Finland there are these huts, almost, if not in every, town and city. Some of these you need to bring your own fire woods and in some those are provided by the town or city that attends to them.
One of them are in Skaidjärvi.

Weather was sunny today too and -6C weren’t too cold when you are on the move. We started with car which we left on the side of the road and got our rented snowshoes on. At the beginning of the trail we realized that conditions were so good that there were no need for snowshoes. We took tiny track outside of the trail and headed back to the car to leave the snowshoes there.


Trying snowshoes

We proceed towards Skaidjärvi with regular shoes. There went snowmobile tracks which were great to walk in and we saw only one snowmobile which we sidestepped off from the track. He passed us with a wave of his hand and our journey continued.


On the way to Skaidjärvi


On the way to Skaidjärvi

Even with the freezing wind the scenery were awesome and to me it felt no time at all when we reached the hut. Toni had some doubts that we were on the wrong trail when it looked like the trail would continue for kilometers and we didn’t see the hut. But the but was just after “Lapland mountain”.


The hut

The hut was quite spacious and we started to build a fire in the stove. The wind had blown a lot of snow in front of the shed so we had to dig a little to get the door to open to find the firewoods but ultimately we had fire going.


Digging firewoods


Making fire

We drank coffee while waiting for stove heating. Then roasting sausages and marshmallows for dessert.
Simultaneously the weather had changed again, which we notice to be normal in here. It was snowing so much that we couldn’t see the horizon anymore. But almost like the mother nature would know how long it would take to make sausages and be ready to leave, the snowing stopped and sun was shily peeping behind clouds.

After finding our way back to our car we decided to visit the highest point to this “Lapland mountain”, Isonkivenvaara. Our walking route should have gone by this point but somehow we missed it. My guess is that by walking in the snowmobile tracks to the hut and walking back in the trail, we just walked same way back but just little bit differently, when we should have just continue to follow the snowmobile tracks. But not being locals we didn’t know and how would you see any paths when everywhere is packed with snow.

At the top of Isonkivenvaara, whole lot of 222 meters from the sea level, is a Sitting stone where people had sat to take a break after climbing from the village.
You can also find and boat made from stone up there, called Nuorgamin menijä.


Stone boat with the Sitting stone on the backround

Back at the cabin we took a day dip to the jacuzzi and spent relaxing evening playing cards, drinking beer, sauna and some more jacuzzi.

23.4. Tuesday

Last day.
For some reason, maybe the few beers yesterday or the placing of the moon, who knows, both of us felt little bit lazy next morning and around noon it started to snow again so most of the day was spent inside.

But I was going little bit stir-crazy so immediately when the weather improved I went for an walk. We had seen a start of another walking trail on our way to Skaidjärvi yesterday so I head towards it. I knew that there would some climbing, the road was steep, but I thought that if I would be spent after the rise I would just go back but when I reached the start of the trail I was good to go on. The track was made for skiers and there were suppose to be another hut or lean-to which I tried to find.


Steep slope

There were only one skier track which I followed. There weren’t anyone to be seen and I enjoyed the feel of being alone.


Fielbmajärvi 3 kilometers


Enjoying my own time


On my own on Lapland mountain

In the end I didn’t find the lean-to nor the frozen Fielbmajärvi before I had to turn around. In here the snowshoes would be great but for being non-local, I didn’t know that. I had had couple of sinks earlier but not deeper than ankle but when I sank almost knee-deep in snow I knew it would be best to give up when my shoes were still dry. So I headed my own tracks back to the road, down the hill and back to the cabin, straight in to the jacuzzi!



24.4. Wednesday

This morning we started driving south at 7.30AM but we wouldn’t be going home just yet! Even if our cabin was perfect and I would have enjoyed spending more time there, we would spend next night at hotel at Pudasjärvi, little bit closer home.

We wouldn’t be driving straight there either.
I have been wanting to visit Siida Sami Museum at Inari and now when we would be driving by anyway we would stop there.

We could have slept little bit later though, we were waiting for the opening thirty minutes too early!

There are always floating exhibitions and this time one of them were called Albma Olbmot or Real People which consisted of photos of Sami people today.


One of my favorite photos of Albma Olbmot


One of my favorite photos of Albma Olbmot


One of my favorite photos of Albma Olbmot

Sami are indigenous people of Finland who live in north of Finland, Norway and Sweden and in Kola peninsula.
First people immigrate to the northern Scandinavia between 10 000-6 500 BC from areas which became Norway, Sweden and Russia. These groups formed the basis of our population and culture.

The firsts Scandinavians believed in nature spirits and sacrificed always part of their catch in these places of seita. Seita could be specific rock or natural formation which were hallowed to certain spirits. Like spirits of weather, fish or reindeer. If you know where to look, you could find these Seitas all over Lapland.


Witch drum


Hat of four winds

Source of livelihood for Sami people came naturally from nature, in form of fishing and later reindeer herding. Now the practice has come to be an cultural cornerstone in northern Finland.

In Sodankylä, is statue of reindeer and Laplander, Poro ja Lappalainen, which is made in 1970 to honor the huge amount of work that had gone in
to the reindeer herding industry for it to be the way it is today.


Statue of Poro ja Lappalainen in Sodankylä

Near the statue is one of the Finland’s oldest church. Build in 1689 to serve the people of Middle Lapland. Albeit we couldn’t go inside it made nice walk in the middle of all the sitting in the car.


Sodankylä old church

Still one more stop before the hotel. It was to be made because of chocolate! In Ranua, just before the entrance to the zoo are MurMur Castle where they sell Fazer chocolate. I was able to spend unbelievable amount of money for such short visit but it was all worth it!


Mur Mur Castle

Then it was only 1,5 hour drive to Hotel Iso-Syöte.

Of course doe to corona the restaurant was closed but you would be able to order food to eat in your room.
Unlike the restaurant the pool and sauna was open and situated just outside our room, so first little dip before food.



25.3. Thursday

After breakfast, also ate in our room, we took a little walk around the hotel. Hotel was situated at the top of the Iso-Syöte mountain so the views were great but the photos didn’t come up so. We looked the ski slopes and headed towards home at 10.20AM.


Take-Away Breakfast


View from our hotel room

Our one stop tactic didn’t quite work, we took a little detour in the city of Raahe, where we suppose to stop to have some coffee but the café was closed. Another stop for stretching our legs and we drove to another café where the owner was super nice older guy. I am sure that if it would be possible to sit inside and drink our coffee we would have nice chat with him but that wasn’t possible so we headed out to have our lunch.

Then it wasn’t but a quick drive (<200km) and we were home. Clock was 3.40PM, our car odometer have 1915 kilometers more and I had a nice surprise to find postcards from abroad waiting for me!

Posted by hennaonthetrek 17:56 Archived in Finland Tagged #winter #north #finland #lapland #reindeer #jacuzzi #northernlights

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All that snow looks amazing. I love that you keep saying it wasn't too cold only minus 3 degrees. We have government issued cold weather warnings if our temperature goes below plus 12 here. I also love the northern lights picture. I have never seen this. All the best, Irene

by irenevt

This sounds like a great winter tour.

by Nemorino

Hi Irene! We would be having cold weather warnings all the time then, I think our temperature average is below 12 at least for half of the year :)
That was only picture which became looking good, others were just blob of color on black..This was 3rd time I have seen them :)

by hennaonthetrek

Hello Don! It really was great tour, we had good luck with weather! :)

by hennaonthetrek

Have you found any Seitas in Lapland?

Are Seitas only found in Lapland?

by road to roam

What a view from your holiday home! I confess in -3 I would spend more time inside looking out, but a short walk in such a beautiful snowy landscape would be fun :) I hadn't realised that Finland had a gold rush so that's today's learning :) And I would enjoy the Sami museum I am sure - I am always interested in traditional cultures.

by ToonSarah

Hey Jerry! No, we didn't see any Seitas but it would have been fun :) Yep, they are only in Lapland (in Finland, Sweden and Norway) and I would think that also in Kola peninsula Russia where Sami people also live.

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Sarah! Yep, I was totally happy sitting in the sofa or jacuzzi just looking the view! But the walks were also fun, not at all too cold :) Well, our gold rush was so small that I am not at all surprised that it isn't notorious abroad :D

by hennaonthetrek


by DAOonVT

DAO, Lapland is handsome isn't it :)

by hennaonthetrek

Thanks for sharing your great story, Henna! Merry Christmas Eve!

by Vic_IV

It was a great trip! Merry Christmas Eve to you too Victor!

by hennaonthetrek

I hope that one day I can see the Northern Lights as well. It would be awesome I can have that moment too while have a dip in the jacuzzi! I really loved the story of the fox and may I add that you have some amazing pictures the area!

by Ils1976

Maybe you will have nice holiday up to Lapland one day to see the northern lights :)

by hennaonthetrek

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