We arrived in Kilpisjarvi in November 2019 with the intention of working the winter season, to experience Lapland for the whole of winter. The snow had already covered the ground, and at -35ºC it was so cold as we set up our fifth wheel ready for the long winter season that our hands froze in our gloves as we unhitched and covered the lower sides of the fifth wheel to prevent the cold air from flowing beneath us and freezing our pipes. The next job was to find and collect a snowmobile from Inari (6 hours ago).
At the end of the first month we were fully set up and ready, we welcomed my sister & nieces for a REAL white Christmas! Enjoying Christmas lunch in our RV for the first time ever, jacuzzi’s under the starry night sky with frozen hair, rolling in snow to cool off, saunas and log fires in kotas. We all welcomed the New Year 2020 in with fire works on the frozen lake, copious amounts of gin (for me) and then returned to the warmth of the birchwood log fire in the kota.
January and February saw our Events business take off with our client numbers doubling during January, with 2020 looking set to be our best year yet. We spent the weekends traversing the snow plains and climbing the fells. I increased my running and signed Gabriel up to start the local school in Kilpisjarvi – total pupils 16, 2 in his age group (including himself!) Grey also was offered a free place at the nursery.
All the while, the snow kept falling & falling, (apparently 2020 had seen the greatest snow fall in years) in March my sister Nat, came back to visit and we took her to Rovaniemi, had dinner in an ice restaurant, experienced a snow sauna – a sauna experience but the room is dug out of snow and ice and the coals are buried in the snow, we were frozen to the bone after dinner sat on blocks of ice covered in reindeer hides, at an ice table eating off ice plates, that we weren’t sure we wanted to do the snow sauna as we were so desperate to warm up, however we mistakenly thought that the snow sauna was going to be cold – it was the same temp as a normal sauna but the steam is so thick you can’t see past the end of your nose, a truly unforgettable experience, followed by a jacuzzi under the stars in -30ºC! That night we stayed in a glass igloo and watched the elusive aurora from our bed dancing above the tall pine trees.
Back at home in our RV in Kilipisjarvi, Nat and I took several walks around the base of Mount Saana finding ptarmigan birdshuddled around the bases of the silver birch trunks, and hunting for wolverines. We ate a picnic lunch on the top of a hill overlooking the entire of Kilpisjarvi and the surrounding lakes, despite our determined hunting effort we never did find a Wolverine.
March came with more snowfall and the announcement of the corona virus. overnight our events business took a huge hit and went from being successful & able to fund our traveling habit to not even being able to feed us for more than a few months. Brett sought to extend his employment at Tundrea for the summer season as it looked unlikely that borders would be opened up for free travel between countries until Autumn. However, it is now looking unlikely that the restaurant here at Tundrea will even be opening up over summer, we will see over the coming weeks.
In amongst all of the mayhem of the coronavirus, the Arctic hares began bounding across the abandoned campground, birds began returning to the trees and the snow slowly began to melt. By April we could clearly see the tarmac on the road beneath the ice and compacted snow and the snow on the roofs of the caravans had melted leaving icicles hanging. Mount Saana started showing black holes in her blanket of snow where the rock beneath was jutting out, the sky began to become more blue and the sun shone brighter and warmer each day. Sunglasses became necessary for my runs as the sunlight glinted off the snow. The days became longer & longer and on the 7th April I noticed tiny buds begin to appear on the Silver Birch tree outside my bedroom window. I was filled with sadness because Lapland is so magical in the winter, and I don’t want it to ever end. I feel we just haven’t explored the area enough and experienced all the amazing things to do here. With a toddler it is so hard to be able to get out and do anything in the snow for more than 2 hours as he just gets too cold. My experience of cross country skiing ending in disaster in February as I went down a slope and each ski went in the opposite direction, one getting stuck in the snow and leaving me with a very sore knee, I never did make it down the ski slopes at nearby Levi on either a set of skiis or a snowboard, as we kept saying when the winter season calmed down we would go, and then they closed 6 weeks early because of coronavirus! We never had a reindeer sleigh ride and our husky sleigh ride was only 10 minutes long, we definitely feel the need to return to Lapland for another Christmas season. I am so grateful that we got our snowmobile and managed a trip to the 3 countries border before the border lockdown and enjoyed an evening in a cabin. The snow shoe expeditions across the border in Norway have been great fun and the scenery is staggering.