Our day started at 12pm with breakfast in our cottage. Milow, our canine fishing companion who is part of the @catchtastic crew, had spent the night in the pet-friendly cottage with us. Despite his intimidating appearance (he’s half Doberman, half German Shepherd), he has a soft soul, but showed that wasn’t really a ‘morning’ person by grumbling at the male members of the team as they came down to greet him in the kitchen.
Once all our gear was packed, we set off towards Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park for something a little different. When in Lapland, you mustn’t miss the opportunity to catch the midnight sun on top of a fell, and what better spot for this than Taivaskero, the highest fell in the National Park at 809 metres. We had also heard that the route to the top was clearly marked and easy to follow, so we thought this would be a perfect way to stretch our legs in the middle of all this fishing and driving.
We drove to Pallastunturi Visitor Centre, the starting point for the hike, to get a bit more information before it closed at 5pm. The staff were very helpful and gave us a free map. Before starting the 9km round trip, it was time for some dinner at the only restaurant on the fell, in the historical building of Pallas Hotel. The restaurant has a quirkily stylish interior with views over the national park. Not wanting anything too heavy before the hike, we had a divine meal of Arctic Char with beautifully crispy skin, on a bed of roasted turnip and some mashed potato.
Although originally the whole gang was supposed to head up for the hike, we could see from Felix’s face that all he could think about was fishing. Finlay was also itching to get back out on the water. Having never seen such passionate young fisherman, who have travelled all this way to experience Lapland’s waters, it seemed unfair to keep them on dry land any longer. We therefore decided to split the group and send Felix and Finlay off in search of fish. The other half of @catchtastic, Maria, a keen hiker and @dansmoe, an adventure and outdoor photographer were both eager to make the climb, as was Becky, who fell for Lapland’s fells a few years back, resulting in her moving up here.
The hiking crew started up the trail under some extensive cloud cover, wondering if they actually would see the sun. Many would have given it a miss, but locals know that Lapland’s weather and cloud movement often has surprises in store and rewards those who have faith in it. Committing to the hike paid off. We heard the tinkle of a metal bell, and a small herd of reindeer appeared on the horizon, coming closer towards us and then heading to the peak, as if to show us where to go. The clouds started to part and lift as we reached the stop revealing the low-lying sun, as if on demand. The light was unbelievable, casting the most spectacular dusky glow over the 360° landscape, highlighting layers of fells and forest and gleaming lakes. Then the clouds set on fire, looking like neon pink flames in the sky. It was pure magic. More info from the hike.
Meanwhile, @scottish_mountain_man and @catchtastic were joined by fishing guide Juho Oksanen from Arctic Anglers, who took them to a small river outside the border of National Park, where they struck on little muddlers and klinkhammers in tiny pools that held a nice population of beautiful brookies. Our fishing fanatics caught fish with their flies pool after pool, wearing smiles on their faces as wide as the river.
Yet another perfect day was crowned with a session in a traditional sauna used by the well-liked, outdoors-loving Finnish president Urho Kekkonen (in office 1956-82) in a beautiful location on the edge of lake Pallas. Our roadtrip crew spent some quality time together cooking sausages on the campfire, watching the pink sunrise before resting their heads in Metsähallitus (Finnish Forest and Parks Service) cabins.