Shoeshoeing: Not Just A Walk In The Park

Posted on July 5, 2016 in Inghams Lapland Ski Holidays by Kevin.Holland Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Another of the fantastic and hugely popular activities available in Levi is snowshoeing and we, the reps here in Levi, were lucky enough to embark on one of these guided trips available through our supplier – Lapin Luontoelamys, ahead of our very first guests last winter. Lapin Luontoelamys has been established for many years now and the English speaking guides have a fantastic knowledge of the local area.

The sight of the ghost trees and scenery at the top of the Levi fell is quite simply breath-taking! 

Snowshoeing is very popular over here and it is a superb way of exploring the fells and wildlife that Levi and the surrounding area has to offer. The origin of snowshoes is believed to date back to 2000-4000 BC and with nearly record levels of snowfall this year in this region, snowshoeing is a must. Admittedly, at first, being an adrenaline junkie, I was a bit unsure on how I would find snowshoeing when we first received the invite, however I was pleasantly surprised and on the back of this first venture I have hired my own and explored the area more using this method – which I will cover in more detail later in this blog.

Myself and the rest of the reps met on a beautiful clear night, at approximately 20:00hrs outside the Levitunturi Hotel in the centre of Levi. We were met there by our guides who introduced themselves prior to us jumping on board the transport provided. Within a few minutes we were making our way up the winding roads towards the summit of the Levitunturi fell, an area I have only ever skied previously. The transformation of the scenery in the 500 meters from the village centre to the top of the fell is quite simply breath-taking. Ghost trees, (trees completely covered by snow) are synonymous with winter in Lapland and can be seen by the naked eye up there even when at village level the trees may only have a sprinkling of snow. Once we arrived at the top, we were geared up with top of the range Tubbs snowshoes and telescopic poles (similar to those used by off piste skiers). The guides fitted our equipment, gave us a demonstration and then we were off. We initially walked about 500 metres to get familiar with the technique before stopping at the Kota (traditional tepee shaped structure with a fire in the middle). In the Kota we were given sausages which we grilled over the fire as well as eating some scrumptious homemade Pulla bread, cookies and warm berry juice. Whilst we were eating the guides told us stories about the local area and also about the tale of the Lappish Kuksa (traditional cup) and knife which can be seen worn by many of the Sami people.

On the snowshoeing safari you will get the opportunity to stop at a Kota cook sausages over the fire, eat some local Finnish delicacies, drink the homemade berry juice and hear tales about Lapland.

Once fueled up, we were raring to go and the guide took us back out into the dark and tranquil wilderness. As we clambered across the deep snow, the shoes kept us afloat and prevented us from sinking; the shoes have spikes on the bottom that are used in a similar way to Clampons which are commonly used for mountaineering. As we walked along it was nice to chat to the others in the group and also hear the tales from the guides. There were plenty of photograph opportunities and we all had our eyes towards the crystal clear skies, ever hopeful for the Aurora Borealis.

Fantastic Scenery as we headed down through the frozen forest from the summit of the Levi fell.

As we continued to descend the Levi fell towards the Panorama hotel, we noticed a number of tracks – these included: Reindeer, artic fox and snow hare. Fortunately the Bears are still in hibernation until the snow thaws and apparently sighting of the wolves and wolverines are very rare. During my time here in Levi though, I have been fortunate enough to see: Reindeer, snow hares, red squirrels, birdlife including: Siberian Jays, Lapland Longspurs, Rough Legged Buzzards and of course, the humble magpie. Sightings of moose, golden eagles and different grouse are also witnessed over here whilst out exploring. The grouse are known to cause a bit of a shock whilst out walking however, as they bury themselves in snow and if disturbed will fly out of their burrows unannounced. So whilst out, make sure you keep looking as you never know what you might come across!

You can find a number of tracks whilst out on your snowshoeing safari. Can you work out what this is from?

The descent continued, climbing over fallen trees and down the side of the fell. The action of using the snowshoes is fairly simple to get a grasp of and there is no rush about the trip so it is suitable for all ages and abilities. If you do however want to jump around and slide down some of the slopes then this is down to your own discretion (of course none of the reps did this!!) and if you do happen to fall, the deep snow is there to cushion the impact and it usually entertains the rest of the group (in fact we were in stitches the whole way down!!).

We finally got down to the Panorama hotel after covering a fair amount of ground in a short period of time and we were met by the wonderful view of Levi and the surrounding areas all lit up. We all sat down and took in the stunning views and of course took advantage of the excellent photo opportunity. There was no Auroras for us that evening but we had a great time nevertheless and with them being a natural phenomenon you can never tell exactly when they will show.

Soaking up the views and looking over Sirkka / Levi from the Panorama hotel at night time

From here, we decided to take the more technical forest route down to the bottom of the front slope of Levi and once we arrived at the bottom the guides helped us take the equipment off. We then headed to the local bar for a well-deserved refreshment or two and to relive the excellent evening we’d just had.

Following this trip, every time I saw an area of fell I was plotting a snowshoeing route. Of particular interest was the Katka and Pyha fell that look over the Immeljarvi Lake and are adjacent to the Levi fell. Every time I looked at the fells which incidentally, are on my doorstep, the untouched territory had me aching to get the snowshoes on. One day off, I popped in to Zero Point with a few colleagues and we hired our sets of poles and snowshoes (approx. 20 euro for the day) and we made our way up past the Immeljarvi Lake and to the foot of the Katka fell. Armed with some snacks and drinks in a rucksack we made our way up.

Up we went, armed with our snowshoes, poles, cameras and snacks.

Although steep in parts, the scenery was fantastic and there was plenty of opportunity to catch our breath. We reached the summit in around an hours’ time and the views from the top looking at the Levi fell from a different angle were superb and well worth the effort. We decided not to walk the ridge to Pyha fell that day and instead to descend near the opposite end of Immeljarvi Lake – this was great fun and in my opinion the best part of snowshoeing!

A different view over Levi – from the top of the Katka fell

Once at the bottom we stopped at the Riihi (Immelkartano) restaurant that boarders the Immeljarvi Lake, and had a nice warming hot chocolate. We then walked the length of the frozen lake and back to Zero Point. A great route and something I recommend for the more adventurous people out there.

All in all, if you are seeking a fun, healthy and different way of getting around in Levi as well as the opportunity to see some wonderful scenery and  wildlife then a snowshoe trip is well worth considering.

Your Inghams reps on resort will be able to advise you on where to go and we look forward to seeing you out here.

Happy Holidays!

Blog by James, Inghams Resort Representative in Levi.