So did we see them you’re thinking…Well, yes we did. In all their astronomical wonder and delight. But enough of that. Let me tell you about this beautiful sculpture. I don’t know who she is or what her name could possibly be – in Finnish or English – as it was carved by an unknown (to me) artist on the ceiling of an igloo. Or Ice House. Or Deep Freezer. Or whatever you would like to call it. Yes, I had the option of leaving my very warm and cosy Nordic wooden bed and spending a night on an ice bed in an ice house surrounded by ice. Wow did I jump at that chance! NO OF COURSE I DIDN’T. I am a total wimp when it comes to the cold – I even went into the sauna wearing a jumper and some thermal tights just to be on the safe side. But isn’t she beautiful?
Each room in the ice house had some sort of art carved into the walls depicting nature and appropriately, as this ice house was on the edge of the frozen Muonio lake, fish and all things watery. Yes that is a double bed there, all set up for a good night’s sleep. The ice table in the reception room was also impressive, although I can’t imagine supper staying very warm for very long. And talking of the lake, there are other dangers than the mere cold, as this sign indicates. I’m guessing it means – apart from Danger –
Don’t try crossing the frozen waters because there might be a bit that isn’t as thick as you need it to be. I think this is one of the best signs I’ve seen for a long time. What you can’t see is that the leg just out of shot is broken and not in the snow at all. So come the thaw I guess it’ll just fall in the river and disappear downstream. We didn’t try walking across to Sweden and neither did we try the Ice Dip, which is as chilling as it sounds. Apparently you heat up in the sauna (with or without a jumper) and then plunge yourself into the frozen lake through this little hole. An activity for some of our hardier Northern European cousins I feel.
Some German gents we got chatting to were goading – sorry, that should say Encouraging – each other to strip off and take a dip. When Klaus got out his Go-Pro and put on his sunglasses we decided to leave them to it.
At midday, it was our turn to meet these wondrous beasts. Born to Run, these amazing creatures can pelt along at about 30 miles an hour, almost howling in delight at the moon, even during daylight. Such beautiful animals. Having been rendered useless the day before at Wild Dog Pass, being surrounded by 24 barking, shouting, howling huskies almost brought me to my knees. Our guide, however, was lovely:
“You don’t like the dogs?” he asked me gently. It was all I could to shake my head ever-so-slightly, having lost the ability to speak, move and breathe. However, I eventually managed to sit on the sledge and then that was it – we were off. There was no holding them back – all they wanted to do was run and run and run. I would have got some action shots but needed both mittened hands just to hold on. Invigorating if nothing else. Feeling too wimpy to steer the sledge (I could see the icy corners being troublesome, not least because I was aware of the second pack of huskies behind us pulling another sledge and with images of me trashing the corner and ending up face down in the snow being sniffed up the arse by a ferocious husky I opted for being passenger only) I left the ‘driving’ to my best beloved. There were a few iffy moments but I didn’t like to comment on his technique as obviously I hadn’t done it myself. On returning back to HuskBase however, it transpired his balaclava had worked its way across one half of his face leaving him with only one eye to see from, but also his sunglasses had been knocked a-skew and had steamed up, so the limited vision he did have was in fact foggy to say the least. Or blind, as he put it. It’s amazing we a) got back to base, and b) alive. But hey – look at that tongue!! (All the better to lick you with….)
In the third and final part in our quest for the northern lights, we shall be going on a Reindeer Safari. In the dark. At minus 30. So until then…..