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Clare
Clare

Day 8: Saariselkä

There was no drama with smoke alarm batteries this morning, so we had a nice relaxed start to the day before heading out through the village of Saariselkä towards the national park. It looked like quite a dull and cloudy day as we started retracing our steps on yesterday's snowshoe trail.

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It was quite cold, though; the thermometer at our cabin showed that it was around minus 10 at the point we left.

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The route seemed quite easy now that we knew where we were going and we made good progress.

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The scenery was just as beautiful as it had been yesterday :)

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After we'd been walking for a while we noticed that the sky was beginning to clear and we could see the pink glow of the sun on the horizon.

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There are plenty of maps in the national park to make it clear where you need to go. The dark purple lines are winter walking trails, while the dotted purple lines are snowshoe trails. We'd done the small snowshoe loop yesterday, which was about 3km, and today we were planning to turn off onto the longer 6.8km route.

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A few minutes after turning off onto the new section of path though, I was dismayed to see that we had come to a slope which looked far too steep to get down safely.

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It's hard to see in the photos because everything is white, but this was really REALLY steep. It looked like there were steps up the path in summer, which were now obviously snowed over.

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As we were contemplating what to do next, two ladies came along and decided to slide down it on their bottoms. I didn't fancy that :D 

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It was disappointing, but because the path was a loop we decided to try our luck walking in the opposite direction and at least complete part of the loop, before turning round and retracing our steps.

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We were soon on a lovely, much flatter sort of path from where we had some great views of the tree tops starting to be lit up by sunlight.

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They were so beautiful - this was definitely the sunniest day we've had in Lapland so far!

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We continued on along the route.

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There very few people on this trail and so we had the forest almost to ourselves.

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As we walked we began to get some great views of the sun. It was around midday at this point, so hard to tell whether this was the end of sunrise or the beginning of sunset.

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The snow was really deep if you strayed off the trail for a photo...

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...and there was always the risk of falling down a hole and getting stuck!

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We weren't making very fast progress with this part of the walk because we kept having to stop to take more pictures :)

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Progress soon got even slower because the snow-covered trees looked so amazing with a blue sky behind them.

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The trail began to lead us uphill, but quite gently.

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The landscape became quite bumpy; there seemed to be lots of little trees and bushes underneath the snow.

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We went a bit further uphill...

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...past more snowy trees...

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...and got some more glimpses of the sun poking through them.

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It was all so beautiful that it didn't look real.

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The path took us higher and higher.

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In one place a tree was making an arch over the path.

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The path became a bit narrower in places but it was still easy to follow, with the route clearly marked by little signs.

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I could have stood and stared at the snow all day :) 

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But we hadn't actually walked that far, so we needed to keep going!

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There was a bit more uphill to negotiate...

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...lots more snow to admire...

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...and then we finally got to the high point of the walk.

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This was the point at which the trail started looping round in the other direction, back towards Saariselkä and the very steep slope.

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We were tempted to keep following it. But, it was around 1pm by this point - so there was a limited amount of daylight left - and we didn't want to walk all the way back, then find we were unable to climb up the steep slope!

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We decided to turn around and retrace our steps along the part of the path which we knew we could manage.

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We didn't stop to take so many photos on the way back, so we made faster progress. The daylight was indeed starting to fade and the colours weren't quite as bright as they had been on the way out.

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And it was starting to feel rather cold; the hair spray which Tim had put on in the morning had definitely frozen.

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We made it back to Saariselkä before twilight fell, handed back our snowshoes to the rental shop and even managed to buy a bottle of wine from the alcohol shop before it closed :) It was a really incredible walk today with some fantastic views; a perfect end to what has been a great holiday in Lapland. I have a feeling we may be back!!

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