At this point, our bodies are quite confused. For one, it’s basically dark ALL the time. Each day we have an activity scheduled and each night we are on a hunt to find the auroras. We are constantly checking websites: hourly weather for clear skies, space weather for aurora activity, and the kp index to see their strength and our local guides for their input. We even have little cell phones that text us when an aurora is visible (not always reliable). Every time we got a text, we were already where we needed to be capturing the moment. Each meal is a smorgasbord of local favorites to choose from ( we get breakfast, lunch and dinner). We weren’t quite sure what to expect with the food, i.e. Reindeer all day everyday, but they did an amazing job, food was delicious and plentiful! We caught some naps here and there, but this total darkness is confusing! Most nights we were up past 1 a.m. hoping for an Aurora sighting!
Nellim Wilderness Hotel, has exceeded our expectations. From the amazing staff that you get to know very well, to the food, excursions, and the grounds itself. It is a hotel after my own heart. They have candles lit EVERYWHERE 24/7. The main lodge had two living rooms with fireplaces. And then the dining room was right beside it. In between excursions or lunch and dinner the living rooms were a great place to sit down and relax. Being in such tight quarters and going on excursions with everyone, you get to know the other guests quite well. We hit if off with a few couples and to us this has been an unexpected highlight of our trip. We have met such awesome people here at the lodge. It was great to have the common interest of capturing the northern lights, but the company in between Aurora Hunting was a nice added bonus!!
dining room from outside
Two living rooms with fireplaces
Once again we travel by snowmobile to a local’s husky farm. We meet the family dogs, pyrenees mastiffs. Our new second favorite fluffy dog (Bailey will always be first!).
After a quick set of instructions, we were off! Our sled was led by six quite fast Siberian Huskies. While attempting to multitask (Go Pro), Scott dropped one of his ski gloves. In an adorable fashion, the lead dog in the sled behind us scooped it up in his mouth and carried it for us until our next break (about 15 minutes). It was hilarious and really cute. About 45 minutes later I dropped my mitten, but rest assured he picked it up again.
The total journey led us about 20 kilometers through some woods and on part of Lake Inari. Once the dogs got moving the ride was easy. Just sit back (Katie), or mush (Scott) and enjoy the ride. Other than experiencing the northern lights in person, this has easily been our favorite adventure! We couldn’t play or talk to the dogs in the beginning because they were in ‘work’ mode. They were screaming and chomping at the bit to start running!!! The dogs were so excited to mush, they barked and squealed whenever they got a break too. They just wanted to run! Our sled was behind the guide and at one point he told us to back off his sled several kilometers. We weren’t sure why, but then he explained later, that he has the young pups that he was training on his sled. They are considered the leaders of the pack and they know it. If they feel that other dogs are on their heels, their confidence goes way down. They think they aren’t good enough to lead if dogs are breathing down their necks. He said confidence plays a very important role in mushing.
Cross Country Skiing
Even though the country of Finland is relatively flat, there are loads of rolling hills filled with pine trees that make every activity fascinating in a different way. We were pleased that the temperature has slowly increased in the past day or two. It has almost reached zero degrees celsius. We quickly learned that cross country skiing is a great workout and really fun! We thought hills were made to go down on skis, not walk up as well. After a few kilometers enjoying the heavily wooded environment, our guide stopped us with an unexpected chocolate break! Her Finnish accent and bubbly personality made the day that much more enjoyable ( we want to steal her and bring her back to the states)!
Another snowmobile adventure! Scott is really enjoying the fact that a lot of the adventures we go on are by snowmobile! This one is in a particular unique fashion. We are being taken out to another remote area on our ‘nordic limo’. It’s basically a sleigh pulled by a snowmobile. The camp is a favorite of many of the guides to photograph the auroras. Unfortunately, it’s one of those cloudy nights. It seems to happen quite often in the winter months.The nice thing about the aurora camps is that they have little fire lodges. We can wait in the lodge until we see activity. One common thing we have seen with the guides (when waiting for the lights), is they take the pine fire logs and start carving them. They have become very good at it. I guessed what he was carving so I got to keep it. A nice little souvenir. Good thing we brought some champagne to get our New Year’s Eve started off right! After enjoying another campfire and some more delicious berry juice it was time to head back to the lodge to begin our New Year’s festivities!
Next up, celebrating New Year’s, the Finnish way!