This is what I told my newest member of the husky team when she arrived here last month from the south of Finland: winter lives in Kilpisjärvi. And so it does. Winter surfaced again, bringing us a blanket of snow deep enough to go sledding this afternoon. Today’s sled trip, the first of the season, was also to celebrate the 13th birthday of Husky Peppi, the oldest of the team. The others are: Peni, Pyry and Sulo, husky boys who will be four years of age in January, and Kiara, a beautiful lady husky, our new team member, who turned 6 years of age two weeks ago.
The arrival of winter equals the arrival of what is called the Polar Night. In Finnish we call it “kaamos”, and as far as I know there is no accurate translation for it, but polar night is close enough, because the sun does not rise above the horizon for nearly two months. We have less daylight then, but we have many other types of light: the Northern Lights, which are frequent, the light of the moon and that of the stars, both of which seem brighter than at other times of the year, and the reflections of all those lights in the sky on the white snow.. Furthermore, we have what we call the “blue moments”. They occur in the morning hours and in the afternoon hours, created by the sun which is hovering somewhere close to the horizon, where it is not quite visible, but it colors the air around us in various hues of blue.
These phenomena cannot quite be described, they have to be experienced. Come and see for yourself.
Did you know that we have eight seasons here in Lapland? In addition to summer, autumn, winter and spring we have “early summer”, “late summer”, “early winter” and “late winter”. It only makes sense because our nature changes constantly according to temperature variations and the amount of daylight.
Summer starts in the latter half of June when we celebrate the Finnish midsummer festival (yes, for those living in southern Finland the end of June marks the middle of their summer while we are just starting out up here). This year our festival weekend turned out to be freezing cold, with snow and sleet and stormy winds. To compensate for the cold start we then enjoyed exceptionally warm weather, with lots of sunshine and barely any rain for weeks on end.
Huskies were delighted to find a patch of left-over snow where they could cool off on a hot day – temperatures over + 20 C are indeed hot for these arctic dogs. Taking swims in the lake – the water temperature reached an unheard of + 15 C – was great fun for us all, visitors, locals and Siberian huskies!
Now we are gradually leaving summer behind. Before settling in for winter the nature is giving us a show of spectacular colors, which we call “ruska”. The ruska season is particularly popular among hiking groups. Hikes to conquer Saana Fell and across the Malla Nature Reserve top the list of routes and terrain bikers like the challenge of the road up Jehkas Fell.
And now we, too, start preparing for winter and eagerly wait for the first snow…!
According to the calendar summer is here, but for someone not familiar with our arctic climate, it may not seem so. Part of the lake is still frozen and we had a snowfall earlier today. We had an unusual warm spell earlier this month, with temperatures nearing + 20 C, and soon thereafter the birch trees produced the first leaves. Now there’s a feeling of summer, despite the chilly northerly winds and the occasional flurry of snow. Guided summer activities such as Mountain Biking and River Rafting & Fishing on River Könkämäeno will be offered in July & August. Meanwhile we’re getting ready to celebrate Finnish Midsummer festival next weekend. That officially marks the end of winter season in Kilpisjärvi, with the annual skiing competition taking place on Friday, June 20.
A sunny day in Kilpisjärvi, an invigorating snowshoe trek by Saana Fell, coffee & roasted sausages by open fire in a cozy hut.