Journal Entry Contributor: Emma Walker
I’ve lived in some cold, wet places, but when we started planning a trip to northern Finland in February, I knew I was in for a challenge.
My husband Bix and I started planning our trip to Finnish Lapland more than a year ago, when his mom mentioned she’d always wanted to go. Between the three of us, we had a bunch of goals: we wanted to stand over the Arctic Circle, get aboard an icebreaker ship, ride in a reindeer sleigh, and ski… a lot.
We were somehow able to accomplish them all!
We stayed at an apartment in Helsinki for a night, then took a train another eight hours north, to Rovaniemi, the “official home of Santa Claus,” where we crossed into the Arctic Circle for the first time. In Rovaniemi, we stayed in a little cottage right on the Kemi River. From there, we could ski directly onto the frozen river, which we did each day despite the single-digit temperatures.
Of course, as our host there told us, the heart of any Finnish home is the sauna. We took advantage of the sauna each night, doing a rotation of five or ten minutes spent in the sauna immediately followed by a quick dash out into the snow. (I wasn’t sold on it at first, but Bix eventually convinced me to run outside barefoot. It was definitely invigorating.)
We drove to Kemi one day to board the icebreaker ship, Polar Explorer, which took us on a jaunt around the Gulf of Bothnia. Bix and I have long been fascinated by polar exploration (we’ve both read dozens of accounts and biographies of Antarctic explorers), so we were thrilled to see how the icebreaker actually worked.
For the last leg of our trip, we headed to Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, which is a three-hour drive north of Rovaniemi. We’d hoped for a viewing of the Northern Lights, but despite the cold temperatures (negative Fahrenheit temperatures at night, single digits during the day), we didn’t have any luck.
Still, there was no shortage of incredible Nordic skiing, and all three of us took full advantage of it. We were glad we’d waterproofed our softshells, since when it snowed—which it did every day—our bodies were warm enough to melt the flakes and send them beading off our jackets.
After ten days, it was time to take the train back to Helsinki, where we parted ways with Bix’s mom and settled into a hostel for a night before catching a plane back home, to Colorado.
I was sorry to leave Finland (which, by the way, came in at #1 the 2018 global happiness index!), but it’s alright…
…I needed to get home and waterproof my gorgeous new reindeer-skin mittens, anyway.
We’ll be back.
How Nikwax helped: We applied a fresh coat of Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather to our hiking boots and gloves (and, in my case, my beloved mukluks). We also waterproofed our softshell ski jackets with SoftShell Proof Wash-In, and refreshed our down parkas with Down Wash Direct, so that they would have plenty of loft to keep us warm when we were above the Arctic Cirle.
Journal Entry contributed by Nikwax Ambassadors Emma Walker and Bix Firer, residents of Colorado. Go follow their journeys on Instagram: @bixfirer & @emma.r.walker