Watch out for that tree

Early start…well, 8am for breakfast – for us. Then more slop for the huskies. I’m a bit sore in the upper arms but otherwise not bad. Slept ok in the roof. Usual breakfast of cold meats and black coffee and egg – this time fried though. After feeding the dogs we cleaned up the cabin and packed our chattels and started hitching the dogs.

A bit of a shakey start with David & Hella stopping on the road and Sanna going off at them – they were out of earshot but Debs & I heard it pretty clear! “YOU MUST NOT STOP IN DA ROAD!” was the command. There was a problem with the dogs being caught up in the ropes but this does not alter the fact that YOU MUST NOT STOP IN DA ROAD!

Eventually we got going ok. Up big hills, down big hills. Down infinitely better than up except Debs rides her brakes so I try and let her get a little way ahead before gliding down. We stopped for a break after a couple of hours. I have discovered why the dogs roll around in the snow when we stop – I am also VERY hot in all my gear and it feels fantastic to just lie back in a nice deep snow bank. The temperature today is about -10 and the air is very still.

We crossed a frozen lake which was pretty fantastic. Everything looked so perfect. A whole lake and just the five of us and our dog teams. All you could hear was the swish of the skis across the ice.

Stopped for lunch at a lovely cabin full of pictures (and a rather bizarre female fireplace) of naked women. The guy that owns the place did it all – obviously during some long, lonely winter night!! Harriniva rents the place from him.

Our second wilderness hut

After a lovely lunch of something Swedish, it was back onto the track for a run up the hill, down the hill and across the lake. It was about this time that I learnt a very valuable life lesson – trees are not soft. We were racing down a very steep slope and I took a right bend a little too high. Then I hit a tree. I then hit the snow. Fortunately (for me) David & Helle fell off just behind me so I wasn’t alone!

At the bottom of the hill, Debs & Sanna saw first one set of dogs, then another, then a third, all appear without drivers. Debs said it was very funny but didn’t think Sanna got the joke!

Meanwhile Helle and David were trying to pick me up, without success. At first I thought I’d broken my arm but it wasn’t that bad, still, I couldn’t move it. I managed to twist round so my feet were on the path then with Helle to lend me balance I managed to get to my knees. David had gone down the hill to let the others know what had happened. When I was on my feet I realised I’d popped the joint at the top of my arm & shoulder. Not a lot, just enough to prevent me actually moving my arm. I slowly massaged it then gave it a little pull and voila! It popped back in – Helle said it sounded terrible. Once it popped back in it was fine, just very, very sore. I think it’s going to be very bruised (it wasn’t). Boy, I’m glad it wasn’t my head.

Anyway, back on the sleds and a long tour of the lake. We went across and around and across a bit more. So beautiful.

Back at the hut we had to get wood for the sauna (David & Helle) and water from the lake (me & Debs). There’s a marker where the ice hole is and you have to pick at it with a long spike thing to break the ice. Then you scoop out water into a big bucket which we sledded up to the sauna and hut.

The lake is wonderful as the sun is setting. Coffee and tea then feed the dogs. Again the mad scramble for food. The sauna is very hot and ready for us. The girls are going first and we men wait.

Sanna was telling us today about the rivalry between the husky people and the reindeer people. Apparently it gets pretty heated. A neighbour of hers (who she ‘quite likes’) runs a reindeer farm which is quite close to the back of her place. A whole lot of them were sitting round a table drinking, when this neighbour said if one of her dogs come too close to the fence he would just shoot it. She said if he shot one of her dogs she would shoot him! When we asked what she’d do if one of his reindeer came too close to her dogs, she smiled and said “Nothing. The dogs would do enough.” She had an evil glint in her eye, I might add. A tough lot out here in the wilderness.

This hut has an outside dunny which is a bit low – I can’t stand up in it. The hut also has no electricity but is centrally heated by a fire in the centre which heats water in pipes around the house. Of course, it all gets very cold if the fire goes out, but otherwise it works extremely well.

We have a long trek tomorrow as we will be crossing into the National Park – I thought we were in it but apparently we’ve just been circling Harriniva! – and crossing lots of lakes.

This country is so beautiful it’s hard to put into words, but it’s tough and unforgiving at the same time. You realise this as you chop wood or drag water. And all the time you have to put SO many clothes on every time you leave the warmth of the hut. Quite remarkable and so different from anything I have ever experienced. I know in Oz there’s lots of places where you have to slog away for every skerrick of life (I’ve seen a few) but at least it isn’t freezing at the same time! I’ve often said give me cold because there’s no relief from the sun but now I’m not so certain. Except in the hut, you have to wear an awful lot of clothing to stay warm here.

My arm/shoulder is starting to get very sore and I’m very glad I packed pain killers, primarily for other people.

We had a very funny night. Here in Finland there is a chocolate custard, moussey dessert thing. It comes in a Tretra Pak. It’s ok, not too sweet, just right sort of thing. What had us in absolute fits is that it’s called ‘Fanny’. This gave rise to such comments as “There’s nothing I like more after a hearty meal than a bit of Fanny!” and “A bit of Fanny before bedtime does wonders!” etc etc. You can imagine. Of course all of this had Debs declaring that Dave & I had mental ages of 10 year old boys. Eventually we calmed down, had another Dalwhinnie and it was off to bed.

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