Cross-country skiing

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December 15th 2013
Published: December 16th 2013
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The weather is rather gloomy today with a grey and overcast sky so this morning we were pretty lazy. We decided that we couldn't spend the whole day indoors though so, about 11.00am, we put on our outdoor gear and went down to the ski boot room to pick up some ski boots for another go at cross-country skiing. Our lesson with Lynda yesterday afternoon cost us €30 each, but we can now make as much use of the equipment as we wish for no extra charge. Outside we collected the skis and poles and carried them down to the lake. For our own safety we are not allowed to use the skis on the road or on downhill slopes. That means walking down to the lake and putting the skis on where it is nice and flat! Seems like a good idea to me.

With our skis on Bernie decided that I should lead the way since I had been skiting about being better at cross-country skiing than him. We set off along the practice track to start with, although it was difficult to see the track after the snow that fell last night. At the furthest point of the practice track, rather than loop back around to the starting point, we struck out along the lake shore to explore a bit further away from the hotel. Bernie couldn't stand sliding along at my slow and steady pace so he took over the lead and promptly fell over! See, slow and steady wins the race. Although Bernie tells me it wasn't speed that caused the fall; he fell over because he was looking at the view instead of his feet and he missed a small hummock.

We continued outward bound for about half an hour at which point we were maybe 1.5 km from the hotel. With the compact cameras we took some photos of the houses dotted along the lakeshore and Bernie took some video of me in action. Once again we were amazed by the extreme silence. All we could hear was the crunch and shoosh of our own progress, our own breathing and the wind in the trees. The only other sound we heard was a local returning on his snowmobile across the lake with a load of firewood, but even that didn't seem loud because there is so much silence to absorb the sound. Either that or the snowmobile just isn't as noisy when you aren't on it?!

With lunchtime approaching we turned around and commenced our return journey. It wouldn't do to miss lunch would it? By the time we returned to the outermost point of the practice track we had worked up quite a sweat inside all of our layers. We didn't even have our goose-down jackets on this morning because it was much milder than yesterday, only four degrees below zero, but with a wind chill factor that made it feel like eight degrees below. It's amazing what a difference being active makes to your ability to cope with the cold.

Salmon soup for lunch followed by something that was like squares of Yorkshire pudding with jam. Made with batter anyway, but not quite pancakes. Really yummy with the red jam though. Our cook for the weekend has been Andy (or something like that). He is originally from the south of Finland, but loves it up here in Lapland. He also told us that he is a month away from finishing his national service which explained the army fatigues that he has worn all weekend. He was also wearing a big knife in a scabbard at his back. Pretty much everyone wears a knife here - it's only the size of the knife that differs. Andy's was a proper Crocodile Dundee sized knife that we saw him put to good use ... opening a new packet of serviettes!!

We had a lazy afternoon reading and popping our heads out the front door from time to time to see if the sky was clearing for some aurora action later on. Unfortunately, every time we looked it was just as cloudy. No stars, no moon so unlikely that the aurora will be visible. Before we left Stockholm we stocked up on munchies to eat up here inside the Arctic Circle. Bernie has eaten some of his liquorice, but I haven't touched my stash of chocolate because I am being so well fed! I am going to have to get into it otherwise I'll be taking it back to Oz.

Dinner time rolled around and it was salmon again, but this time in a cream and dill sauce with boiled potatoes. Bernie and I eat most things so it hasn't bothered us to be eating so many reindeer and fish meals. Actually the hotel is fantastic about catering for special dietary requests. Trudy was happily provided with another meal when we were eating reindeer, Matt was provided with a gluten free alternative at every meal and Sophia's request for no seafood was accommodated. Bernie and I just ate our way through the whole menu!

After dinner the cloud cover was still hanging around. We read a bit more and continued with hourly sky checks to see if the cloud cover was clearing. Unfortunately the cloud was hanging around. I fell asleep reading on the bed and when I woke up I decided I was over waiting around for the sky to clear tonight so I cleaned my teeth and got into bed. Bernie did one more sky check at about a quarter to eleven - still completely clouded over - so he decided to go to bed too. I always said that just one clear night with auroral activity would be enough; we've had two nights with auroral action, one with moon haloes and another with a meteor shower so feeling well satisfied with our visit to Lapland.

A rather lazy 6,430 steps today (4.38 km). Should cross-country skiing 'steps' count as double? It's hard work!


17th December 2013

Was lovely meeting you both!
We hope to cross paths with you again, really enjoyed the time we spent together on the holiday, will be keeping tabs on where your travels take you! Thanks again for the photos! Matt and Sophia x

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