I waited the Easter week like crazy this year. That´s because our skiing holiday was planned for that week this year, a lot later than normally. All of us waited that week also for another reason, because of our way too warm winter! I live in the middle of western part of Finland and the whole winter snow has been coming and going, snowing and melting again. Not a lot of winter fun for us. So I, my husband,our son, my parents and our dog crowded to two cars full of stuff. We needed a lot of clothes because this time of year you never know about the weather, it can go from -20 °C to plus degrees in a day.
We rented a cottage from a little village called Kuttanen, which is a part of the municipality of Enontekiö. Enontekiö is one the largest municipalities in Finland by area. We had long way to drive (about 900 km) but it went fast while enjoying the view on the way in a very sunny day. When we found our way to the cottage were we had never been before, we were really nicely surprised about the great view right from the yard. The cottage was build on a hill top where you can see really far and it was also right next to a lake. We also loved the fact that there was still more than one meter of snow. At the first night we saw beautiful northern lights right from our window.
The next day we found out also the best part of our new place. We went skiing on the ice of the lake and found a skiing track on the other side of it. It was maintained by the village and we practically had it on our personal use, since we didn’t see any other skiers on our trips, only reindeer that used it also.
On the next couple of days we also made some trips around. First one was a trip to town of Kilpisjärvi, located at the most far end of the western part of Finland, on a borderline of Sweden and Norway. The views there are amazing when the sky is clear, but we had kind of bad luck this time with the weather. It was snowing, so the biggest fells kept themselves hidden except the Saana, the fell that rises right from the village of Kilpisjärvi. It is 1029 meters high, really rocky and unique looking fell.
We visited the nature center of Malla Strict Nature Reserve to get some info about the skiing tracks. We decided to try the track that goes along the Saana fell. But we ended up with a really small trip. Since the weather was little bit on the plus side and even thought the track went quite deeply up, the snow got stuck on the skis and made skiing up hill even harder than it normally would be. The track is a so called wilderness track and in that weather you could hardly call it a track at all. It was very narrow and used as a two-way-track. And if you stepped outside the track you where at least 130 cm deep in snow. So after having spend half an hour on our skis we decided to turn back, that was enough climbing for us. My son loved the coming down part, since the whole way was downhill and even thought there were lot of fresh snow to slow us down a little bit we came down quite fast. Too fast for me anyway.
After all the excitement everyone, except me, had fallen on the way and my moms ski stick was in two pieces. When we got to the car, we felt we had deserved a coffee break in the Kilpisjärvi retkeilymaja. The first version of this historical hotel was opened in 1937. We tried to get to the supermarket but we didn’t find a parking spot which sounds crazy in a village with 100 inhabitants. But Kilpisjärvi is a popular place for the Norwegians to come to buy food and also to have a holiday since is right on the border and lot cheaper than on the Norwegian side.
Next day my son and husband went to Hetta, skiing center of Enontekiö for down hill skiing. They have this nice child friendly slope and the price is very reasonable compering to the bigger skiing centers. So I went for a drive with my mom and dad to the town of Muonio, the Pallas fell and back to Hetta. The roads were already without snow and dry, so I enjoyed driving around since there was not much traffic. Pallas fell is part of Pallas-Ylläs National Park and they have also some downhill-skiing slopes in the winter as well as free-skiing possibilities. That is not really our thing so we only visited the nature center, the hotel and enjoyed the view. The hotels old part is really unique, it is made from logs and it was originally built in 1948. There was a hotel before that also but it was burned in the war. These years may not sound really old for most people but at that time the road connections to Lapland where really limited and therefore harder to reach.
Next days we also visited the Swedish side in Karesuando which actually was our nearest shopping place for food, 25 kilometer drive from our cottage. They had really beautiful wooden church in Karesuando. My husband also made a trip to Ylläs skiing center by his snowmobile, he went driving around with it whenever he had the change since he could not drive at all at home this year.
On the yard of our cottage there was a little hut where we were able to make a fire and grill sausages and marshmallows. We also skied every single day (cross-country). My dad also got the change to do some downhill skiing since my son wanted company for another day in Hetta, some grandfather-grandson time. We also had snowshoes with us which we were able to use starting right from our cottage since everywhere around us were peaceful forests to walk in. We could see Siberian jays and snow buntings on our trips, birds we don’t meet around home.
All together we had a pretty successful holiday. My son fell in love with that cottage, or the site of it. Since he could just get out and slide with his sledge kind of thing everywhere in the forest. Our dog was as excited about the snow as our son was, she run from one snow hill to another and enjoyed the fact that she could see so far ahead from the hill. That even though she could only run on the road or on the tracks that snowmobiles had made to the forest without sinking to the meter deep snow.
The day we came back home was the Easter Saturday. On the Bothnia area, which covered half of our way back, they have this tradition of burning big bonfires on that day. It was fun to look for the fires, we saw at least 50 of them, although the smell of smoke in the car all the time wasn’t so nice. It was really surreal feeling coming back from Lapland, where was still more than one meter of snow, to completely dry ground at home. Also in Enontekiö, located 200-300 km north from the Arctic Circle, the day was already longer than we have at home, the time of midnight sun is not so far away.