Minus 28 you say? Perfect day for a walk.
And indeed, that is what the frost-hardy Finlanders do, so it would have been churlish not to join them. Not too long ago I took a flight from LHR to somewhere.. er.. colder.. not having seen any snow in the UK for a while.. there’s irony for you…to land in a wet and foggy Helsinki. From here we took another flight north…and then some…landing at Kittila, http://www.kittila.fi/en/kittila-informationpage – which in case you didn’t know, is in Lapland. Yes that’s right. Having ‘enjoyed’ the visit of the beast from the east recently, as if that wasn’t enough I took a flight to almost the north pole, just to get some, oh, y’know, more snow and cold like I have never experienced before. As you can see from the photo, I’m really not joking when I say -28! That’s Muonio, Lapland for you – a place where the cold is actually jolly cold and 75% of the land is covered in pine trees. From the air the trees look like millions and millions of miniature brushes sticking out of icing sugar and as far as the eye can see. Very Gulliver’s Travels.
As is the custom in this part of the world our hotel was floor to ceiling pine and as warm as toast. Mind you, with triple glazing that you couldn’t open unless you had a Special Key, it would be. Such is the clever Nordic design however, that these handy air vents keep the air moving. Literally a small door to the outside. Genius. We thought the little space would act as a brilliant fridge too until the morning when I retrieved frozen yoghurt , frozen lettuce and a slightly solid bottle of wine. Idiot.
After breakfast, over our already multiple layers of clothes I had been saving for such an occasion, we donned our snow suits. Think Onesie made out of a50 tog quilt. Add a balaclava (to go over the one I was already wearing), pop on some snow-boots (weighing about 10 kilo each – nice lower leg work out there, making its way up to the inner-thigh region by about lunchtime) and some mittens – no gloves allowed – mittens only as they keep your fingers warm. And no, you can’t do up a zip whilst wearing mittens. Remember that scene in the film The Day After Tomorrow when the helicopter pilot looks out of the hatch and promptly freezes to death?
So, kitted up, we headed for the border. What, you say? What border? The Swedish border silly! We walked – or should I say dragged our onesied little bodies – along the Finland-side of the frozen Muonio river (that’s it in that photo there – not a field of snow) toward the border crossing. This was a walk we only completed once, and one way, due to the fact that as we passed by some log cabins that were hidden from view, two sabre-toothed hounds of hell came bounding through the snow to confront us, showing us their lovely collection of extremely large teeth and slightly deranged expressions. I could see where the legend of Little Red Riding Hood and her mate Wolfie had come from straight away. Weimmediately named this particular route Wild Dog Pass, or as I referred to it in my head Jesus Get Me Out Of Here I’m Going To Die Pass. You cannot, no matter how hard
you try, run through three metres of snow wearing a 50 tog quilt Onesie and snow boots. Really, you cannot. So taking deep breaths, with arms folded across our chests and staring forward only, we continued on our way ignoring the salivating hounds at our heels and headed, literally, for the border. Ten heart-stopping minutes later we did eventually arrive safely at the border of Finland and Sweden, hot, sweaty and slightly terrified. A swim seemed out of the question – for more than one reason – so we headed instead to the nearest village to meet the locals, appreciate the gorgeous Finland environment, and just immerse ourselves in the wonderful, wonderful culture. Oh yes, and find a beer.
Next time on How Not To Freeze To Death At Almost The North Pole:
Fancy a dip?
No, me neither.