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Clare
Clare

Day 7: Saariselkä

There was no chance of seeing the northern lights last night; the sky was really cloudy.

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When we stepped outside after breakfast this morning, there hadn't been much change in the weather.

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Our plan for today was to hire snowshoes, so we set off towards a rental shop in the village. It cost EUR 20 per person to hire snowshoes (and poles) for the day. The hardest part of snowshoeing is strapping yourself into the equipment in the first place, but once we'd managed that we were ready to go :) 

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There are a couple of snowshoe trails within the Urho Kekkonen national park, where we'd walked the Aurora trail earlier in the week. This map at the entrance shows how huge the national park is; we were just going to walk for a few kilometres within the recreational zone around Saariselkä, but the park stretches all the way to the Russian border. You definitely wouldn't want to get lost and end up there :D

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Our snowshoeing journey started by following the beginning of the Aurora walking trail.

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After a while we turned off onto a narrower track, designed especially for snowshoeing.

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From here the route became steeper.

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It's hard to make out how big the slope is in the picture below, but this was one I really didn't enjoy trying to get down this time last year.

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Luckily, today it seemed loads easier and I got down without any difficulties :) 

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After that the path flattened out for a while, as we crossed over several cross-country skiing tracks.

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There are two separate snowshoeing loops which both have the same starting point. Up until now, we'd been walking on the shorter of the two, which is around 3km in length.

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From here we had the option of turning off onto a longer loop, which was about 6km.

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We'd attempted to do this longer loop last year, but given up on the idea because the track started off by heading down an almost vertical slope. We checked it out again today and yep, still no chance I was going down this slope!

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That meant we couldn't do a circular walk, but we could walk about half of the loop in reverse and then retrace our steps back to where we were now.

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This part of the trail was much easier to walk on.

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When we'd taken this route last year we'd had some amazing views of the sun behind these trees, but this year we couldn't see anything at all.

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It was so misty today that at times we could only see a few trees ahead.

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And all the photos have come out a weird shade of blue because there was so little daylight.

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Eventually we reached the point at which we were going to turn around. The snowshoe trails are the purple-dotted lines and we'd reached the red circle.

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It would have been possible to continue further, but we could barely see anything into the distance.

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It had also turned into a freezing cold day!

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I was getting icicles on my eyelashes again.

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And between snowshoeing and the freezing temperatures, it was difficult to take our gloves off to take photos.

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We turned around to follow the trail back to Saariselkä.

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The way back was nice and easy because it was mainly downhill :)

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Before too long we were nearly back in the village, ready to walk back to the cabin and warm up. I'm not sure whether my Fitbit managed to count every step while we were snowshoeing, but it's given me credit for 16 000 steps so it was another pretty active day!

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