Lapland is a wonderful place of freedom and nature. After discovering Swedish lapland, a stay that particularly marked me it was a pleasure to discover a little further north this time the cities of Levi and Yllas, a hilly destination of Northern Lapland in Finland with always that feeling of well-being pegged to the body.
On a gentle morning announcing spring, we leave and arrive late afternoon at Yllas, 300 km above the Arctic Circle. A temperature worthy of a freezer, that is -15 degrees, grabs us at the airport. We will see the following days that it was hot that night!
In the morning, at 10 am the weather is a little overcast, and the outside temperature is -10 degrees. After the ski rentals for some and the waxing for the others, several small groups are constituted to leave to discover this fabulous field of more than 300 km of tracks traced in classic and skating.
Well covered, I slip into the skating skis and head towards Yllasjarvi south of the field. The track is relatively flat which is perfect to start. We very quickly go in the forest and pass next to a cottage, Vellonkota. We leave on our left to continue towards Hannukainen southeast of the field. The track, a little roller coaster, runs along a power line. It's monotonous,
The trail is at first slightly hilly,crossing a beautiful forest of pines and fir trees crowned with snow. Then follows a descent. The landscape changes. The pines and firs have given way to small birches. Photo subjects are not lacking. We meet a few skiers, evolving mainly in the rails in alternative, in a style almost perfect. Indeed, very cold snow lends itself more to skiing than to skating.
We have already traveled 25 km and it is high time to rest. We take a break at the cottage of Aurinkotupa with very nice decor, where we taste the Mehu, hot syrup of red fruits, very pleasant to drink. After this break that warmed us, we head to Yllasjarvi, a village bordering a lake. We are south of the estate and we must go north along the Mount Yllas culminating at 718 m. On this mountain, like the other six that we will discover throughout the week, there are some downhill ski runs.
In the middle of the afternoon, we take a short break, for a hot drink and cereal bars, on the terrace of the Latvamaja cottage. Then, we go along Mount Kesanki, culminating at 535 m, before forking to the left between it and Mount Lainio at 613 m.
The track is a bit more rugged and, with the help of fatigue, it becomes a bit harsh, but the scenery is so beautiful that I almost forget the distance traveled. The trees curl under the weight of the snow, offering a magical spectacle that gives free rein to the imagination. Around 5, we get closer to the goal, but it's not easy to find the way.
We ask our way twice and it is with great kindness that people try to guide us. At 5.30 pm, we return to our hotel in the district of Yllaskaltio in Akaslompolo. We traveled a good 50 kilometers. A good beer, followed by a sauna get us back to our senses. At the meal, everyone is together and the discussions are going well on what everyone has done and the plans for the next day. The guide advise to go on Mount Kukas culminating at 474 m to enjoy a beautiful panorama, especially if the weather is good.
At sunrise, the sky is clear. The temperature at 7 am is -25 degrees. We go north along the lake and attack the forest climb for about 7 km to the summit. Gradually, the landscape is more and more grandiose forcing us to many photo stops, to arrive in a magical setting at the top. Tall fir trees, like white sentinels, look down the runway.
Other smaller trees are metamorphosed by snow, forming balls, wheels. A dead trunk becomes a skeleton on which the facetious wind carved ice vertebrae and perched a head of snow. It is a real carnival! Up there, the forest gives way to a large field of snow adorned with a few pines entirely covered with a white coat.
The wind has carved the trees. We are facing a real bestiary with a lioness at rest, a squirrel tail in the air, an elephant, but also characters such as Pinocchio with his big nose! We wander in this dream setting, like children amazed by this gift of Mother Nature. The few people in front of us did not linger at the top, so we have this show for us alone.
The cold is pungent, but there is no wind at all and the sun warms us a bit. After having immortalized this magical place, we go down again on the other side, by a beautiful black track which arrives at the lodging of Kotamaja. We are forced to eat outside because it is closed for work.
It's the cold that makes us run away. We take the hilly trail towards Kutujarvi, then continue to the Peurakaltio cottage where we decide not to stop given the time. We leave south to return to Akaslompolo. The track is pretty rolling, with only photo stops slow us down. Before arriving, the landscape is more monotonous.
We ski on a lake where the trees have almost disappeared. Filled, we come back after traveling about 35 km. The many pictures and the track explain our lowest mileage.
I see a beautiful sunrise, but it is more cold. The temperature indicated at 7 am is -28 degrees. Today, we try alternative skiing because the very cold snow does not slip at all in skating. We are not followers of the alternative and this allows us to understand the technique and find our own benchmarks. In short, we do not feel complete beginners and the
While booting, we take the same route as the first day, first in the forest, ideal place by this cold to catch the nail. After arrival at the Velhonkota cottage, 250m above sea level, I take out the heaters that I had not used to climb the Licancabur, 5900m altitude! I feel a soft heat in the mittens. What happiness when the cold is always so hot.
After the climb along the house, we leave the itinerary of the first day to take a new track. The landscape is still beautiful. The trees curl under the weight of the snow, giving free rein to the imagination! I see a beautiful snail in the mushroom! We take a short break in Tunturijarvi where we see birds.
Then, we leave in the direction of Aurinkotupa to restore us to the warmth. We stop at the lodging of Aurinkotupa for a hot Mehu, a cake and a coffee and we leave our sandwich prepared in the morning. We take the track that we had taken the first day, but in the opposite direction.
It is a pretty blue track alternating forest and cleared landscape, planted with some rachitic birches. We watch for the reins, who left footprints and droppings on the track, but in vain. We reach the village of Luosu and its lake. With a big blue sky, it's a lot more photogenic under the clouds. Another ten kilometers and we will be back to Akäslompolo.
Not used to alternative skiing and lacking glide, I find it tiring but nice. After the long, rolling flat track, we hit a good climb to reach the track along the power line, before arriving in Velhonkota. The lights are very beautiful in the late afternoon. What a contrast between the outer light and the inner dimness!
Once the eye is accustomed, I discovered a few people around the tables lit by candles, all in a very intimate atmosphere. This cottage seems very nice. The last kilometers in a roller coaster seem hard. Fortunately, the sun accompanies us to the end, giving beautiful rays of light between the trees. Around 17:30, we come back happy, but tired of our 38 km traveled. The sauna awaits us for a good moment of relaxation before the meal.
The weather is still beautiful but the mercury goes down from day to day. This morning it is -30 degrees at 7 am. The majority of the group takes the bus to the north of the estate, Akasmylly. The place is idyllic, with a river lined with frosted trees, a mill and tracks ready to welcome skiers.
We leave in skate, full north while the others leave the opposite to Akaslompolo, located at about 22 km. We are in the forest, go to a lake, where the temperature is freezing. The skis screech under the cold. For the moment, it's relatively flat, but from the first climb, every step is a struggle. Fortunately, the snow has so much restraint that we can borrow the rails without slipping in the back!
But it is so beautiful, so pure that I bear the outrages of the cold, the pains of the effort, head high like all these trees, waiting patiently, because there will be an end. There she is! We arrived at the summit! And what a reward that the prospect of a descent lined with pines, disguised as for the carnival! It's grandiose!
The descent is interrupted by photo stops. What a pity to lose speed, but, it's really too good to pass without stopping! After this great descent, a long flat relatively rolling despite the cold snow. Then again an endless climb, a way of cross clocked by photo stops. Men are waiting for me upstairs.
A sign indicates Kota Maja after 7 km. The cold pump all our energy. We will be forced to eat at the edge of the track. We leave the forest to enjoy the sun. The sandwich makes us feel good. But that will hardly be enough to cover the few kilometers that separate us from Kota Maja, especially as the track profile is rather high.
A hot Mehu and a pastry help us to cover the remaining ten kilometers. We catch the group in alternative and we get closer to the goal. We return around 16:30 with only thirty kilometers on the clock, but exhausted as if we had traveled double. A good beer, a good sauna reduce our fatigue.
As every evening after the meal, we go out to feel the fresh air and go to the hunt for aurora borealis! We walk with our heads in the air, scan the heavens, but the cold and the fatigue win once again and we return empty-handed. Around 10 pm in a totally clear sky the first green lights make their appearances. The minutes pass and the show is more and more present. It is a feast of the senses. For nearly 4 hours, in communion with nature, we feel very small, admiring the spaces around us. No doubt, Lapland is still majestic.