Finland – Day 2: Snowshoes and Reindeer

The title is fairly self-explanatory, but today we went snowshoeing and we went on a Reindeer-drawn sled ride! In the morning, we settled in to our 8-person cabin (fortunately, I knew almost everyone in the cabin). We then received a short ice-fishing demo, and were shown where to get any equipment. A bunch of us decided to go snowshoeing across the frozen lake.

I’ve been snowshoeing before in Peterborough, so it was funny to watch people try to maneuver for the first time!

We found a cute snowman.

Then we went exploring over the hills. The snow there was so deep! It must have been about a meter and a half deep. You could especially see this on the trees bent over from the weight of the snow. The snowshoes allowed us to walk only about 10-15 cm deep through the snow, but occasionally we’d find a spot where we fell 30-50 cm through the snow.

At one point there was a tree bent over with a bunch of snow sitting on the trunk. One girl, Alyssa, went to look underneath the truck and said “It’d be funny if we shake the snow off.” Then another girl, Margy, went and shook the snow right on top of her! Needless to say, Alyssa was not impressed.

After that, we went back to the cabin and napped until it was time for the Reindeer. There was a Reindeer Wrangler (what an awesome job title) who brought three reindeer with sleds. We got to ride and drive the sleds in pairs. He even gave us Reindeer Drivers Licences!

Then we relaxed and played cards in the cabin until dinner was served. It consisted of several vegetables, including a mountain of mashed potatoes, and Finnish meatballs. Dessert was a sort of lingonberry soup with a nice thick whipped cream.

We spent some of the evening in the sauna, which are very popular in Finland. There is actually a lot culture and tradition behind them. The Fins used them as a cleansing ritual. A lot of Fins used to be born in saunas and some would go to die in saunas. They would use saunas to clean before weddings and other events and on Saturday nights to clean up before Sunday prayers. These saunas were located right next to the frozen lake, so there was a hole cut in the ice along the shore, if you wanted to take a plunge. After 10-15 minutes, it becomes hard to breath in the sauna, so most people would leave the building, jump in the lake (or take a cold shower right outside the wooden door), then go back in the sauna. We were there for an hour and jumped in the lake about three times. I just took one sold shower, one dip in the lake, then one dip up to my shoulders and that’s about all I could handle.

When we got back to the cabin, we just played some more cards, lit the fire, and relaxed until it was time to go to sleep.

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