Lapland indeed delivered many magical experiences during the two-week excursion we had in the beginning of our studies. The expedition taught us a lot of technical, social and practical skills and along with the teachers, we learned a lot from other students
Marianne Vesala and Emmi Sarvijärvi
From the moment we stepped off the train and hopped into the bus in Kolari, we saw reindeers right next to the road. At that moment we knew that it was just the beginning of a great expedition.
The first nights in Lapland we stayed at the 7 Fells hostel and visited Ylläs area hiking and fatbiking routes with our teachers. In the evenings we had time with the group and made our own shorter trips to the nearby forests and lakes. For some of us, it was the first-time fat biking or cycling on other terrains than asphalt.
Cycling up to Kesänki and back was one of the greatest experiences in Äkäslompolo region for many reasons: friendly birds greeting you when arriving at our destination Tahkokuru, getting to know people while cooking and setting up the tents and tarps for the first time, seeing how snow arrived from behind Kesänki and cycling back down while it was snowing.
The expedition of Pallas-Ylläs Nationalpark consisted of multiple separate hikes, which variated in length, but all of them were either easy or intermediate. The focus was on a variety of skills and not the expertise of one. The method suited our group of many different levels of skills.
In the mornings we couldn’t see more than ten meters further because of the thick fog. When it cleared out, we witnessed the autumn foliage while we walked through the canyons and coves. Some evenings we had the pleasure to heat up the sauna and as a highlight of the night, some of us had the energy to stay up and see the northern lights.
Thick fog covered almost everything and created beautiful landscapes.
From Hannukuru we were able to go on an individual day hike with a group of our choosing. Our group ended up hiking up to Lumikero, which was one of the highest peaks nearby. Halfway through the hike, we decided to have a break in a tiny hut which was along the way. The hut looked like no one had visited it for years. To our surprise though, once we entered the hut there was already a fire in the pit. It seemed like someone had been expecting us. There were some creepy looking woolen dolls hanging on the wall and in the middle of the hut there was a rustic looking rocking chair that had a big cross carved into it. Our imaginations ran wild thinking that we must have entered the witch’s hut.
“The Witch’s hut”
The rocky canyons formed by the glacial rivers and creeks were as beautiful as the mountains and the fells. One great example was in Äkässaivo, a steep-walled ravine lake, and the massive Seida rock just a few kilometers away from our rentable cabins in Peurakaltio B&B.
View from lake Saivo.
We were able to spend a lot of time in Peurakaltio, so we got quite familiar with the area. One day one of our group members wanted to take us on a sensory walk. First, she told us to concentrate on our sense of touch. We ran our fingers through leaves and spruce needles while walking by, hugged the tree trunks and took some of the soil and rubbed it against our skin. After that, we changed our focus on the sense of smell and tried to find different scents in the forest. Our favourite was the smell of the spruce needles as we rubbed them between our fingers to release the scent. One by one we took our focus on each of our senses. The sensory walk offered us a chance to take a moment to ourselves and connect with nature. We felt calm and grounded.
The expedition taught us a lot of technical, social and practical skills and along with the teachers, we learned a lot from other students. We all had unique talents and ideas that we shared and ended up doing different workshops together. From spoon making to photography, we taught each other the basic skills of our favourite hobbies. As you can see, the most memorable moments were the things we couldn’t plan. The element of surprise.
Nature played a huge role in our learning experience. It provided us the tools to work as part of the environment and turned our experience into what in Finnish we would call “elämys”. It also stands for the experience, but in Finnish it has a deeper meaning. Some might call it a unique emotional experience.
Picture taken from Sioskuru on a frosty morning.
Photos: Sebastián Mardones, Yingyi Wu and Emmi Sarvijärvi