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Day 8: A walk in the woods

Today was our final day in Lapland and I wanted to make the most of it by seeing as much snow as possible. We were feeling recovered from our cross-country skiing and snowshoeing expeditions now, so we were ready for a slightly longer walk. We'd found a beautiful path through the woods by accident when we were in Äkäslompolo this time last year, and so our aim for this morning was to try and track it down again.

It felt pretty nippy when we stepped outside of the apartment, and one of the village thermometers confirmed that it was -14 :)

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We remembered that last year we had turned off one of the side roads out of the village and eventually come across a signposted walking trail, so we set off along what was definitely the right road.

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After 15 minutes or so we still hadn't seen a walking trail though, and the road seemed to be going suspiciously uphill.

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Eventually it turned into a dead end, which culminated in a little settlement of wooden houses.

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We definitely hadn't been here before, so we started retracing our steps back down the hill.

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Towards the bottom we realised that there was a turning for a side road which we should have taken earlier on. As soon as we started walking along that road, things started to look more familiar...

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...and soon we had found the sign for the path we wanted :)

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The path starts off as a wide track through the woods.

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There was so much snow everywhere; this fallen tree was almost completely buried.

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After a while the path becomes slightly narrower and starts to lead through a little valley.

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It was really magical :)

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There were lots of beautiful trees along the way. Some were almost buried in the snow...

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...and some were really bowed down under its weight.

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More fresh snow had fallen overnight and the further we went, the more tiring walking in the soft snow seemed to become.

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It was fantastic scenery to walk through though :)

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At one point we took a turning down a different path and found ourselves at the edge of a frozen lake.

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It was an amazing view but we could see running water in places so it definitely wasn't a lake to walk across.

We retraced our steps back up to the main path.

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Around 2pm we arrived at the path's destination, which is a small restaurant hut at the crossroads of several ski trails.

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No time to go in though because we only had an hour of daylight left and nearly 4km left to get back to Äkäslompolo.

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Fortunately we were able to walk much quicker on the way back than on the way there as we weren't stopping so often to admire the snow :)

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There were still some fantastic views though, in particular when trees bent with snow formed arches over the path.

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At one point, one of the trees had bent over so low that it was almost blocking the path!

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One thing I'd forgotten from last year was that on the way back there is a point where the path suddenly takes a very sharp dive downhill.

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I may have needed some assistance in getting down this bit :D

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After that it was all plain sailing and we were soon back on the flatter path through the valley.

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It was definitely getting darker though, so there was no time to lose in getting back.

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Just after 3pm we made it back to the bright lights of the main road :)

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We were pretty tired and cold by this point so went to the local pizzeria to warm up with a meal. My pizza was huge in comparison to Tim's chicken wings! And as it was our final day we treated ourselves to an alcoholic drink (€6 for the cheapest beer and €10 for a glass of white wine!!!!).

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As we walked back to the apartment in the darkness, we could see that the temperature had now fallen to -15.

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Today's walk was a lovely end to what has been a really fantastic holiday. Lapland is a wonderful destination and Äkäslompolo in particular is a brilliant place to get away from it all and relax. Our only complaint is that the week seems to have gone too quickly; tomorrow we have a flight from the local Kittilä airport to Helsinki at 10.50 and then will be flying back from Helsinki to Gatwick later in the afternoon. We may already be discussing what would be the most cost effective way to fly here again next year :)

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