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Day 4: Snowshoeing in Äkäslompolo

Shortly after I finished blogging last night, our doorbell rang and there was a lady outside with Tim's missing suitcase :) He was very happy to be reunited with it.

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It turned out that the original baggage label had indeed fallen off, so I'm going to be extremely paranoid when using self-service baggage check-in desks in the future!

When we woke up this morning we both felt more energetic than yesterday, so we decided to try out some snowshoeing. The snowshoe expedition which we'd been on last year now cost €68 whereas renting the snowshoes had only cost €50 for the length of our stay, so even if we only used them today we would save money :)

We decided to start on the Äkäslompolo lake, where we knew from last year that there were definitely some snowshoe trails. Last year we went on this walk, but had to turn back when we got to a slope that was too steep to climb without snowshoes. This year we thought we should be able to do better :)

The thermometer in the centre of the village showed -19 today, so it was a bit warmer than yesterday. It didn't really feel much warmer, but whereas yesterday had been quite bright and clear, today was very cloudy and it was starting to snow lightly. It didn't take long for Tim's beard to freeze again :D 

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When we got to the lake, we strapped on our snowshoes.

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Strapping them on is actually the hardest part; the straps are quite stiff and it's difficult to pull them tight enough to keep your feet secured, especially when your fingers are going numb.

We managed it in the end, and set off across the lake. Whereas yesterday we had been able to take photos of the fells in the distance, today we could hardly see across to the opposite side of the lake :o

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We made our way across the lake, towards the forest on the far side.

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I remembered from last year how beautiful the trees looked, all covered in snow.

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We could see occasional people skiing past on the some of the ski runs in the distance, but for most of the time we were completely on our own and when we stopped it was absolutely silent :) 

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The air was so cold that it was almost painful to breathe, so I was very glad of my neck-gaiter :D

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We made our way through the forest, following the snowshoe trail. The path was marked with intermittent blue poles, which made it easier to follow.

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Some of the trees were completely bowed down by snow...

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...and others were just so perfectly covered in snow that it was hard to see any tree at all :)

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In some places we saw animal tracks in the snow, though not sure what this one was.

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Eventually we got near to the place where we had turned back last year, when the path started to go quite steeply uphill.

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Equipped with our snowshoes, we managed the uphill no problem this year and were soon following a narrower path along a little hill.

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It was very pretty, although I had to pay attention not to trip over my own snowshoes :D

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What hadn't occurred to me in advance was that if we followed a path uphill, we'd have to go downhill again at some point. Sure enough, we soon came to a point where the path led downhill very steeply indeed (though you can't really see it in this picture, because everything is so white!)

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Tim managed to get down the slope but it was way too steep for me, even with snowshoes, so we had to turn around and return the way that we had come.

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That was fine though, because there were other snowshoe paths to explore :)

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The snow had started to intensify by this point, and we could no longer see all the trees quite as clearly.

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I did spot these little ones though, which were so small that the snow had covered all but their very tips.

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We were rather cold by this point, so we decided to call it a day. If you look very closely in this picture, you may be able to see that the little bit of hair poking out from under my hat is completely frozen :D

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We walked back across the lake and towards the warmth of the apartment. We've discovered that it has a special drying cupboard for wet clothes (it's a bit like a tumble dryer, but in a cupboard) so we have been making use of that this evening; our clothes were surprisingly wet after a few hours of being snowed on.

It was a lovely day, and really good fun to be able to snowshoe on our own rather than in a group :) 

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