The forest wants us to visit its soft shadows. It has been snowing a lot in Lapland, and there are heaps of snow in the woods near our cottage.
Although Ylläs is best known for its downhill skiing slopes and a vast network of cross-country skiing tracks, there are also snowshoeing trails in the area. However, we don’t want to follow a track.
We head into the woods without a plan. Our snowshoes sink in the snow but keep us afloat – without them, we would be thigh deep in the soft fluff. It is quiet. The only tracks we cross are made by zigzagging hares and jogging foxes. I’m looking for grouses and shrews but can’t see any sights of them.
We snake through the woods without knowing exactly where we are. It is difficult to keep track of one’s location with a 1:550 000 map, but we don’t need to be too exact. We circle snow-covered spruces, climb over round piles of soft snow, and dive under bent birches, which form graceful arches over the unspoiled white blanket.
The sky is dull. The whole week has been overcast and colours have been limited to greyscale. When we reach an edge of an opening, the clouds crackle slightly, letting through some light. A little bit of blue and even a hint of orange reflect back from the snow. Maybe, just maybe, the sky will clear up tonight.
The cold breeze brushes against us on the open field. Ahead the fell Ylläs turns blurry in the wind. It was nicer among the sheltering woods. Then we see a little teepee on the far edge of the opening. It is not on the map – the tarp-covered structure is probably built for guided snowshoe groups but is there for anyone to stop by. It seems like a good destination for our aimless wandering; a good place to turn back to our cottage where coffee and Karelian pies are waiting.