Skiing in the forest

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Today my plan was to go hiking in the nearby forest and take my camera with me. I’m glad I changed my mind about the hiking in the very last minute, and decided to go cross-country skiing instead. It was a lot of fun!

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The first downhill slope on skis is always a bit nerve wrecking as I feel like a Bambi on ice, but after some minutes getting comfortable with the skis it starts to feel great. Especially when the ski trails are on excellent conditions, you can really enjoy the slide. It’s very easy to find skiing places in Finland, also in the capital area. There’s a good service called mSki, which tells in what condition the ski trails are. There are possibilities for both classic and skate skiing. You can also try the Nordic walking if you’re not into skiing.

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When I was young, skiing was all we did during sports class at school in winter time. Only if it would be below -25C or terrible snowstorm, we would have gymnastics indoors. At least that’s how I remember it. I was so fed up by the time the elementary school was over, that I swore I’ll never ski again! Luckily that promise didn’t hold forever. As an adult I bought skis, Peltonen, of course. And I rediscovered that skiing was a lot more fun than what I remembered. Of course, that is partly due to the voluntary nature of this activity nowadays, as well as the development of sports clothes and equipment over the last 20 years.. I’m glad to see so many 60 to 80 year old people skiing. And believe me, they wouldn’t bypass me if we were jogging, but on skis I have no chance to those pros who have been skiing before I was even born. And ladies, if there’s anything extra hanging from your arms, cross country skiing will give you the triceps of ballet dancer by the time winter is over.

 

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Blueberry bushes sticking through the snow, reminding that eventually summer will arrive.. Forest is such a great place during winter, too! Beautiful landscape and fresh air, and hot sauna waiting when you get home from the skiing track… what more can one ask for a day off?!

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Ice, ice, baby!

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This winter the snow arrived late, but when it finally came we got plenty of it! It’s been around -15C – -25C (5 F to -13F) already for some weeks, so the lakes and the Baltic Sea have already frozen. It’s time to head to the ice and enjoy the sunlight reflecting from the pure white snow.

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We decided to go to Matinkylä beach, which during summer time is a popular beach for swimming, and turns into place of various winter activities as the weather gets colder. You can have a different experience of the shore by walking across the ice to the nearby islands for picnic. Many people also go there to do cross-country skiing, although in this case, cross-ice skiing.

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And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the ice swimming? Just pack your swimming gear with you together with a beanie and gloves, and take a refreshing dip in the ocean! I promise you that you don’t feel cold after coming out of the water, you just need to bear the cold when walking to the ice hole and have enough courage to get into the water.. Not for everyone, but there are Finns who do this daily and claim they never get sick because this boosts their immune system.

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The trick is that you have to get into the water up to your chin, if you only partly dip into the water you’ll feel cold afterwards. But don’t dive, keep your beanie on so that you don’t freeze your head.

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You’ll need the gloves unless you want your hands to be frozen to the railing! You can wear similar kind of shoes that are sold for snorkeling. Would you dare to try this without sauna?!

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Fatbikes are becoming popular in Finland, too. There’s a sport event called Rovaniemi150 which takes place in Rovaniemi city in Lapland, where people either run, ski or bicycle on fatbikes 150km. Mind you, it can be around -30C (-22F) cold there! Competitors have 2 days to complete the race. Perhaps it’s worth the challenge, if you get to see the northern lights while there. Personally, I’d choose the Kakslauttanen hotel instead, and check out the northern lights while warm and cozy in a glass igloo 🙂 That is definitely on my “to do”-list for homeland travels.

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Although the winters seem long and dark, during sunny winter days like today, you’ll actually need sunglasses. Fresh air, frost bites on your cheeks, snow reflecting the sunlight.. and a glass of warm juice from a café when it starts to get too cold. Life is good!

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