On snowshoes below the full moon
- Most of them are hibernating right now, and are very inactive. Tobias, the owner of Skellefteå Adventure Park explains. He is our guide for the evening.
- Any other predators I should be worried about? Agnes asks again, with the same cocky attitude as Ronja Rövardotter when she walked of into rövarskogen.
These question are totally justified if you've grown up in a city in Poland and just recently moved to Skellefteå. Agnes Boeske moved here with her husband Konrad just two years ago, but the matter of fact is that a lot of the people in Skellefteå would ask the same thing. About the animals I mean, especially considering the adventure we're preparing for.
The sky is pitch black, and we're about to walk into the, seemingly, pitch black woods. We have snow shoes on our feet, headlamps and strict orders not to light them (!). You see, we have another source of light right above our heads. A big bright full moon.
“We tumble and someone falls in the soft fresh snow. Kick turn! someone shouts and everyone laughs, which feels good.”
The bright and dark woods
Ok, some context might be needed here. Agnes and Konrad is visited by two polish travel bloggers, Karol and Alex, who travels through the northern Scandinavia, and none of them have stood on a pair of snow shoes before. We're going on a walk below the full moon together with Tobias, who starts with teaching us how to take the snow shoes on and off. And how to do a kick-turn. That means making a full 180 degrees when you´re out in the deep snow.
When we're all feeling familiar with equipment and kick-turns it's time to begin. We're quickly engulfed in the dark woods that ruthlessly closes in around us. It's complete darkness for the first couple of minutes. Uncertain. We tumble and someone falls in the soft fresh snow. Kick turn! someone shouts and everyone laughs, which feels good.
But after that the dark woods gets lighter. Partly because we've reached an area where the the spruces and pine trees are further apart, but first and foremost our eyes have adjusted to the darkness. Or perhaps, the light?
– Your pupils will be fully dilated in about 5 minutes, and then the moon shine will be a sufficient light source, Tobias explains, and he's right.
10 minutes in to our snowy walk and the moon is almost blinding us. The woods have become a beautiful place to be. The trees, the stones and the paths are fully illuminated and the snow crystals sparkle in the moon light. As is the smile on Agnes, Konrads and their friends faces. Even Tobias has a big smile on his face. Although he's probably seen this view a thousand times in his life, I guess that seeing the reactions and joy in their faces gives him great pleasure. To be able to see them experience this for the first time.
Fishbone beard lichen and homemade lingonberry drinks
There's actually a plan with this walk, we're not walking around aimlessly. Tobias leds us to a wooden forest hut where food and coffee awaits. Tobias tells us along the way about how the area used to be a mining area. He tells us about how the fishbone beard lichen and tree bark had great significance during the times of famine, and takes note of the groups questions and wishes. This is what a host should act like, I think proudly.
- Welcome in to the warmth! He says and opens the door to the hut.
The welcoming light feels as straining to the eyes as the darkness did before. But we quickly adjust. He starts a fire and brings out two Muurikka pans, and there's time for something more luxurious than fishbone beard lichen and tree bark. We're being served reindeer, mash potatoes and homemade lingonberry drinks. Tobias continues to tell us about this place with great empathy. About the mining, the ancient monuments, the Adventure park. The Muurikka he's cooking on. But he also takes the time to listen to Agnes and her friends talking about their experiences that are as exotic for him and me as snowshoe walking is for the.
A dutiful cup of coffee
The coffee pot and cups are brought out, almost by reflex, and Karol laughs. Unlike Agnes and Konrad she's only spent a few days in Sweden and she can already say:
– You Swedes, really need your coffee. Always. Morning, day, evening, and we’re just grabbing each opportunity and drink way more coffee than we are used too.
Agnes and Konrad smiles and nods in agreement, and this is where this story ends. The only thing remaining is another cup of coffee and our incredible hike back together with the full moon.