I always thought I’m more of a spring and summer person, but when winter means snow, ice and aurora watching season, then there is no other season that gets me quite so excited. One of the reasons I love winter is because of the way it transforms the landscape. A cover of snow and ice crystals just makes everything look magical. The other reason I love winter is that it turns me into a big kid. All I want to do is be outdoors and play in the snow. So you can imagine how excited I was when I had the opportunity to go for snowshoeing in Lapland.
During winter & spring season (November – May) Lapland is covered in snow and ice limiting your options of transport if you choose to venture in to nature. A normal hike is pretty much impossible as you’d be sinking in to the snow with every step. Snowshoeing provides the perfect solution. It’s a fast growing and increasingly popular winter sport and I’m not surprised. It’s easy to learn and compared to other winter sports it posts little to no threat of injury.
I have tried skiing, husky sledding and build countless snowmen, but I have never been snowshoeing. So when Aurora Holidays invited me to come along on a snowshoeing hike, I just had to say yes! The hike is part of the winter package they offer and it usually lasts a few hours.
We were picked up from the cottages in the morning and the starting point of the hike was only a few minutes drive away from Utsjoki where we were based . Before we could get started, the guides Emilia and Tiina gave us our equipment and a short introduction. It is useful to understand how to move around, turn and get out of deep snow before you set off.
I had visions of old school wooden snowshoes but when I saw the equipment I realised, that I could not have been more wrong. The snowshoes we were given were very light and modern and putting them on felt a lot like getting on skies. I was hooked from the start.
The Ellin Polku Trail
We left the parking lot and headed towards the Ellin Polku trail, which is roughly 4km long. The chosen trail was relatively easy throughout, which made it the perfect choice for any fitness level. Emilia was leading the group as she was the designated trail maker. It had snowed heavily the night before, so all tracks that might have been there from previous snowshoeing groups would have disappeared. Even though the average snow depth during winter in Lapland is 80cm, the trails are well marked which makes it easy to follow.
After an hour of fun, silliness and spectacular views of the wintry landscape, we arrived at a little hut ready for some food. The huts are provided by the Finnish Forestry commission and can be used by anyone. You can expect to find a fire place, some seating and of course fire wood. To make sure the fire can be lit even in damp conditions, it is best to bring along some small bits of dry wood. Once the fire is lit you can start roasting sausages and marshmallows to refuel your energy levels and of course warm your hands and feet.
The sun was considerably lower by the time we left the hut so we slowly started heading back. Despite the trail being fairly close to Utsjoki, the nature surrounding us on the hike felt almost untouched. Every now and then we were able to spot animal tracks in the snow and our guides gave us clues helping us to figure out which animal left them. The great thing about Lapland is that the people that live there are still very much in touch with nature and I felt privileged that Tiina and Emilia shared that knowledge with us.
The snowshoeing hike was not just a winter activity, but a chance for us as visitors to explore the Arctic landscape of Lapland and take in the views being surrounded by nothing but nature. The leisurely pace of a snowshoe hike also means that you have plenty of time to take pictures, pause and admire the wilderness.
How to dress for a snowshoeing in Lapland?
As for any activity you’d engage in during the winter season in Lapland winter clothes are an absolute MUST. I would recommend wearing a water & wind-proof ski or winter suit to protect you from snow fall and icy winds. Layers are key as you might get warm during the walk and having the option to take a layer off will help you regulate your temperature. The thickness and amount of layers really depends on personal preference and the time of year you’re visiting. The winter months (December – February) are colder and darker than the spring (March – May) where you have the sun warming you. Generally I would go with a base layer of long underwear and additional layers (merino wool, fleece etc.) with a zip to regulate the temperature. Never forget the basics! It might seem obvious but leaving for a snowshoe hike without gloves (2 pairs if necessary), a hat, scarf and sunglasses would be something that could ruin your entire trip.
Thanks to Aurora Holidays for hosting me on this Snowshoeing hike. As always all opinions are my own.