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Speed like Santa on a snowmobile in Lapland


The engine roared beneath me as I squeezed the accelerator and picked up speed, the heated handles keeping my gloved fingers warm in the sub zero temperatures. Trees, bent double under the weight of the snow, whipped passed me on either side, the snowy trail flying by as my Juha, my guide and I sped through the Lappish countryside.

I’d come to the ski resort of Ruka in Finland to work for a few months and this was my first time out on a snowmobile. One of the local guides had promised to show me the real Lapland, away from the hustle and bustle of the ski resort, and the only way we could get there was by snowmobile. Already a ten minute drive away, everything around me was a pristine white, the snowmobile track winding through the still forest.

Finnish Lapland

I rounded a corner feeling the power of the machine beneath me, leaning slightly to manoeuvre my weight and suddenly the trees were gone. In front of me was a wide, frozen lake. A huge flat, empty area, the other shore a hazy glimmer in the distance. I let my snowmobile slow to a stop, flipping up my visor to get a better look. Lined all the way around with trees, the snow on the lake was so bright under the clear blue sky it almost hurt to look at it. Frozen water particles sparkled in the air and glistened on the snow like diamonds.

A loud roar brought me back to the present and I turned to see Juha speeding off across the lake, the distance between us growing, fast. I smiled and flipped the visor back down.

Bring it on.

A squeeze of the accelerator and I was off across the lake, the trees and trails left behind, nothing but a vast expanse of snow covered ice lay ahead.

My eyes widened and a smile pulled at my lips as I squeezed the accelerator a little harder, trying to close the gap. Adrenaline burned, a touch more pressure on the handle and the guide drew nearer, the snow little more than a blur beneath the tracks of my snowmobile. A touch more and I was passing Juha, laughing.

Victory.

As the edge of the lake loomed closer I slowed down, pulling to a stop near a wooden lean-to hut with a fireplace on the lake bank. The guide pulled up next to me and removed his helmet, his eyes sparkling, and we shared an adrenaline fueled grin.

He nodded towards the hut. ‘Coffee?’

We both cut our engines and went to sit by the fireplace, Juha building a fire. Without the roar of the snowmobiles I suddenly realised I couldn’t hear another thing.

Nothing. Absolute silence.

I sat back with a smile and closed my eyes, the midday sun warming my face. I could grow to like this Finnish wilderness. I could grow to like it a whole lot.

And she did, in fact she never went home again. Heather Sunderland now lives in near Ruka in Lapland and writes a blog, www.rukakuusamo.com, about the area, highlighting all the fun things to do there.

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