This post was last updated on August 12th, 2014
This is part 2 of a travel narrative describing our wilderness adventure with Aurora Retreat in Swedish Lapland. Don’t worry—if you missed part one, you can read it here.
It was the second day of our arctic adventure. We had slept soundly that first night in the wilderness; our small sleeping cabins proved surprisingly warm and insulating (once we realized we should probably close the vent at our feet). We awoke to silence, allowing the natural rays of the sun to substitute for the buzzing of an alarm. And when we were ready to brave the crisp morning air, we made a run for the main cabin. Leif already had a fire blazing in the hearth and a breakfast on the table consisting of oatmeal with lingonberries (a small red berry and staple in Scandinavian cuisine), bread and cheese, and coffee and tea. We watched the birds flitting around in the snow while we sipped on our warm beverages, soaking in the slow transition to the day.
Eventually, with lunches packed and winter clothes piled on, we set off for another day of cross-country skiing under a bright blue sky. It was the kind of winter day that I love—cool air and glittering snow, the sun shining overhead, and just the slightest hint of a breeze.
Our day’s journey took us along the frozen river that ran in front of our cabin. At first it was almost difficult to tell where the land ended and the water began; the fresh powder snow covered the entire landscape. But when we came across the river rapids, the vast white scene opened up to reveal the vivid blue water hiding beneath the ice. The contrast between the running water and frozen terrain was surprisingly striking. One after another we stopped in our tracks to admire the view.
We then continued onward down the riverbank until Leif pointed out three shadows ahead. A look through the binoculars revealed the shadows to actually be reindeer; like us they were soaking up the sunshine on a lovely day. The reindeer, perhaps sensing our presence, slowly awoke and stretched their legs before slowly meandering to the other side of the forest. We had visited these animals on a Sammi reindeer farm a few days before, but it was quite another experience to see them in the wild.
Though it hadn’t been that long since breakfast, we worked up an appetite for lunch quickly. Sitting on reindeer skins and perched in the sun, we savored sandwiches and soup. Leif used the snow to boil water for traditional Swedish coffee, which we enjoyed in true Leif fashion – with a piece of cake.
“This is life,” said Leif, his back resting upon a tree, his eyes lightly shut.
There was no arguing that.
Having spent our first two days cross-country skiing, we decided to pursue something a bit different for our third and final full day in the wilderness: ice fishing.
After snowshoeing to a portion of the river we had yet to explore, we huddled around Leif so he could instruct us on using the hand drill to break through the ice, (while he also alluded to a certain 45-kilo salmon that lurked beneath it). We drilled a few more holes and then sat down to wait, our pocket-sized fishing poles in hand, hoping a salmon lunch might be in our near future. I lasted about thirty minutes, my impatient nature showing its true form. Dan and I decided to trade in our fishing poles for traditional Swedish snowshoes, aka oversized wooden tennis rackets.
By afternoon the 45-kilo Salmon still swam free and all fishing hooks remained empty. Leif suggested we get our adrenaline pumping with some sledding, to which five adults couldn’t have more readily agreed. We piled on the snowmobile and sleigh to make our way up into the mountain, taking the time to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the surrounding forest along the way. It took a bit of practice to get our sledding technique perfected, but soon we were racing and twirling down the hill, our laughter echoing into the calm surroundings.
The night before Leif had awoken us around midnight to a spectacular Aurora show, the entire night sky illuminated by a green haze. We quite confidently decided there was no way to top the previous nights Northern Lights, so for our final evening at the cabin we opted to bask in the warmth of the cabin while playing a few card games and sipping on the last of our wine. At the end of the night we decided to top off the experience with one last sauna, making sure to alternate our time in the sweaty room with plenty of full-body, swimsuit-clad snow rolls (video footage coming soon!)
When it came time to load our gear on the snowmobile the following morning, I was surprisingly torn to leave. We had gotten one last ski in that morning, but still I wasn’t ready to depart from our cozy sleeping nooks and remote location. Indoor plumbing? Yes, I was ready for that. A hot shower? Yea, I was probably going to need about an hour in one of those. But if it wasn’t for the bathroom necessities, I could have happily stayed for at least another week in this arctic bliss.
Prior to our forced digital detox, I don’t think we were aware of just how addicted we were becoming to ‘checking in’. We detest when we see other people on their iPhones while at dinner, and we try not to get sucked into technology when we should be taking in our surroundings. But still, the first thing I do in the morning is check email and our social media networks. And then I do it all again, at least twenty times throughout the day. We use the excuse that we have to be plugged in all the time as we’re building a business out of our blog and freelance work. But really, how honest are we being with ourselves? How much time do we waste everyday trying to stay ‘connected’? When we returned from our wilderness adventure, we had over 100 ‘important’ emails to organize and respond to. But it was fine. Nothing exploded; no one anxiously wondered why we hadn’t responded to their message within two minutes of receiving it. Everything was a-okay.
‘Digital detoxes’ are getting more and more popular as people realize the power of ‘disconnecting to reconnect’. And in our opinion, that’s a very good thing.
Our wilderness adventure with Aurora Retreat was one of the most unique, memorable trips we’ve taken. If you’re looking for inspiring scenery, active adventures or cultural experiences in the arctic of Swedish Lapland, you really can’t go wrong. Aurora Retreat will provide everything you need, including equipment, food, and wilderness guide. Their trips are also fully customizable—just get in touch with Michael and Maya to start brainstorming what your ideal excursion looks like. The family operated, eco-friendly business will do all the rest. Personally we couldn’t have imagined anything better than our Northern Lights Wilderness Adventure, but there are also various options for a summer or autumn in Lapland, too.
While I might have been a tad bittersweet to leave the forest, the adventure wasn’t over just yet. We were returning to the Aurora Guesthouse, and the next day we would be trying our hand at mushing a dog sled. As always, more stories on the blog to come soon!
This trip wouldn’t have been possible without Aurora Retreat kindly hosting us. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.
What do you do to disconnect? Ready to sign up for a wilderness adventure yet?
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