Between finishing the blog and going to bed last night we had some unexpected excitement; the aurora app I'd subscribed to sent me a notification to say that the northern lights should be visible outside. I was slightly sceptical, as I'd had a notification the previous evening too, but nothing had been visible when we'd stepped outdoors. Last night was different, however. I opened the door and.... wow...!
This was 100% the best time we've seen the northern lights.
We did see them on our final evening in Saariselkä last year, but they were much more visible with the phone camera than they were to our eyes.
This time we could actually see the lights and see them moving, which was really cool
I don't think we'll be so lucky tonight, because it's been a rather cloudy day, threatening to snow on and off. When we stepped out of the apartment after breakfast this morning we could see that it was going to be another cold one.
As we started walking down the main road, I realised that literally everything I could see in the scene in front of me was white.
We were planning to head off on a walk through these woods.
The footpath was signposted, but in order to get onto it we had to climb through a rather small gap in the wall of snow in front of us.
It was a bit of a challenge but we managed to climb up the snow and squeeze through the gap.
There was then a rather steep slope down to negotiate on the other side.
Once we'd managed that the route was nice and straightforward.
We crossed over a snowmobile track...
...and began making our way through the trees.
Some of the trees were so covered in snow it was hard to believe that they'll bounce back in the summer.
The path was fairly flat initially.
After a while it began to climb uphill.
There was ultimately going to be quite a lot of uphill on the walk, because the path was taking us to the top of a fell called Kaunispää.
It was quite gentle uphill though, so the walk never felt too tiring.
And we passed some amazing trees
The higher we got, the more snow the trees seemed to have on them.
Once we started to get up above the trees, the wind chill factor made us feel absolutely freezing. Possibly the coldest we've ever been in Lapland!
Tim's glasses started to freeze over...
...and I had ice forming on my eyelashes.
We were quite high up above Saariselkä now though...
...and the summit of the fell was in sight.
There's a viewing tower on the top which is used to look out for fires during the summer.
There's also a restaurant...
...and a very cold-looking Saariselkä sign.
Tim's beard was pretty icy now!
We went into the restaurant to get a drink and warm up for a bit There's a ski lift up here, so we had a view of people getting ready for downhill skiing.
Afterwards we ventured back into the cold for a stroll around the summit.
There is actually a road up here, so some people had just driven up to eat at the restaurant.
We felt virtuous, having walked up instead. But we now had the walk back down to Saariselkä ahead of us.
Happily, the wind seemed to have eased off a bit while we were inside and the walk down felt a lot warmer.
It's always a lot easier walking downhill anyway
In what seemed like no time at all, we were more or less back down to the village.
Once we got there we found that, in our absence, someone had been and bulldozed a route through to the footpath from the main road. So if we want to do the walk again this week, we won't have to squeeze through that small gap in the snow