This summer’s first trip to the north started on the first week of June. I, my son and my dad went there for a week with a camper van. Our first real stop was in Simo, in a place called Martimoaapa. It is a wetland reserve in Northern Bothnia region. The day had been sunny and warm and it was kind of late when we arrived there, but after sitting the whole day in a car we still decided to walk the few kilometer nature path that run through the wetland. Even thought we were still below the Arctic circle and didn’t technically have the midnight sun yet the sun was still high up and did only disappear for a moment.
Of course we didn’t get through the whole way without accidents, since when you release an eleven year old boy from a car after day of sitting, there’s a lot of repressed energy. On the half way he and grandpa started a little running race on the duckboards with a result that my son took a little side route in the wetland and got his shoes all wet. Well no problem, we had just reached the bird watching tower where he could take off the wet shoes and I gave him my socks. So the rest of the way he walked (read run) just on my socks on the duckboards.
Next day was a little rainy and foggy so we used it for driving with couple of stops in Rovaniemi to complete our food supply and to visit Santa’s village. There, you can see Santa of course, visit Santa’s official post office and use your money in many many gift shops. In Rovaniemi there were really no signs of green in the nature yet and still few piles of snow, which increased the more north we got. We end up to spending the following night next to Pallas fell. Sun had started to shine again in the evening but the view on the fells was mainly white. The parking lot we spend the night had still huge piles of snow left.
Next morning the sun was up, well it never really got down, and the plus degrees started to rise. And they didn’t go down on the rest of the trip. We left Pallas and stared driving towards Levi where we drove the car to the top of the fell. It really looked like you could still ski in there. After enjoying the view we headed north towards Inari. On the way we stopped few times just to have a brake in beautiful scenery. This was the first time I have ever seen Lake Inari frozen, well it wasn’t completely frozen, a little bit from the shore was open. We didn’t really stop there, just continued our journey now to south in Ivalo. On the way we saw the first little reindeer fawns with their mother and they were so tiny and cute. I have no picture of them because I didn’t want to go to disturb the little ones.
The must-have stop of the day was at Karhunpesäkivi in Myössäjärvi. We go there every year, well more than ones actually. It is a coffee place but there is also a little nature path (mostly stairs) to the bear den rock (Karhunpesäkivi). It’s a huge glacial erratic at the hill top with a cave underneath it in which you can crawl into. There is a small cave, just large enough for an adult to stand in it. If you walk a little more up there’s also a nice place to see the view. We drove to spend the night by the road that goes to Raja-Jooseppi. The road goes to the Russian border and there’s also a place to cross the border.
In the morning we had a nice walk in a small forestry road, we even found brain mushrooms (Gyromitra esculenta) a type of mushroom that grows in spring. Really poisoned but cooked right edible and delicious for some people. I have never been brave enough to taste it let alone try to cook my self. We also had a funny incident there. Right next to our camping side was a little lake. During the night we spend there it lost its ice cover. In the morning my dad went to wash an old camping chair on the shore. After a minute he came back. He had fallen in the pond with the chair. A rock on the shore he had stepped had sunk and so did he. My father never swims let alone in ice cold water. Thankfully the temperature was already way over +20 Celsius degrees already so he warmed up quite fast. And got the chair cleaned. And the rest of us got a good laugh.
Our target that day was the skiing center on Saariselkä. On that day they had opened few slopes again for skiing and my son wanted to see if he would like to go. And there was definitely enough snow but it was really wet since the temperature was closer to +30 that day in the sun. The whole parking lot was like a little river and the snow looked really wet indeed. My son just watched other people skiing and said that he preferred skiing in the winter. But there were quite many people; one even had to queue to the elevators. We ended up renting a cottage in Saariselkä. We spent time walking around the skiing center enjoying the weather, climbed to the top of the fell Kaunispää to enjoy the evening sun and of course went to sauna after several days without it.
Next day we continued our trip to south. We stopped shortly after Saariselkä to Urho Kekkonen national park; in which part of the fells of Saariselkä also belong to. We decided to walk through a little nature path since there had not been much snow left after Saariselkä, so we could survive with summer gear. Well, we were really wrong. After walking a bit over one kilometre, the path started to go little up and there the melting waters were using the same ready-made path that we were walking on. My dad turned to a short-cut after few kilometres but I and my son wanted to go up this little fell and we did. The melting streams calmed down after walking to the steeper hill but then there was the snow. The fell is really small one, not really a fell since there are still few trees on the top. But still there was snow. But we got to the top quite easily by using other peoples footprints. My son got snow in his shoes but not enough to bother him. On the top there’s a little sightseeing tower. There’s a great view to the surrounding fells. But there our way stopped. The path went back down on the northern slope and there was more than half meter of snow left. Even my shoes wouldn’t keep the snow anymore. So we turned and had to walk back the same way, but the scenery was still worth the climb. Although kind of surreal. We were sweating in the heat wave but still surrounded by snow.
After our climbing trip we had to drive a longer while since our holiday was almost over. We drove through Sodankylä center, to village of Tanhua in Savukoski. On the way we stopped to eat nearby a little river just on the perfect moment. We were at the beginning of the river just by the lake that just started losing the ice cover. Pieces of ice started drifting to the river making a little dam by the bridge we were standing on. The ice was kind of soft but it still made different piles and nice spring-like sounds.
Our next sleeping place was in Salla on a beautiful esker, in a place that had nice walking path (skiing tracks in the winter) around it. We were planning to use two days for driving back down to southern Finland but we ended up driving all the way home from Salla during next day. I think the men had had enough of sweating in the car since that day was hot from the early morning. We drove on smaller quieter roads back home. But we had really fun week and we ate a lot of ice cream in that heat.