After two weeks of abysmal weather, cold rain and freezing temperatures, I was starting to worry as was the rest of Lapland, whose economy is based on Arctic tourism. What is the Arctic without any snow? After our first few safaris were cancelled, everyone began to realize that this was serious. If snow didn't come in the next few days business would start to drop dramatically. December is our busiest month every year. Our guides work 16-18hr days (sometimes even 20) and the dogs suddenly go from running 18K/day to 40+K/day. Now that safaris were being rescheduled for later dates in December, we realized our black month was going to turn even blacker...
Finally in the last 2 weeks of November, the snow started to fall. Relief rushed over Hetta and preparations began for the eminent arrival of clients. Our first sled-training session happened an entire 3 days before the first tourist groups arrived, meaning that our guides were able to go out on 2 safaris themselves before instructing others how to do so! Needless to say there was a bit of mayhem for our initial safari groups, but as usual the clients were oblivious to any sort of confusion or disorder.
The black period with Canterbury daybreaks (a program where our dogs have to run around an 800m loop for 6 hours) every day in addition to short 2km safaris and longer 6km safaris began before we had time to catch our breath. And the hectic schedule didn't abate much once Canterbury was over. We continued to have 20km safaris schedule during Arctic groups that go out on 6km safaris with NorthernLights safaris held nearly every night. Not to mention the fact that this hectic time crunch was only at one farm. We still had to manage safaris at the Valimaa farm as well. By the end of 3 weeks consumed by non-stop running, shouting, fire-making, snowmobiling we all sat around the table, a bunch of zombies with lights on but nobody home. Luckily I managed to escape for a few days to England and by the time I return the air will have cleared and people will start to look normal again...I hope.
We are approaching a major shift in volunteers, however, so I will soon start to say goodbye to all of the people I have grown to care about. I am excited to make new friends but I will be sad to see the old ones go. Ah well, at least the dogs will still be there to brighten my day. They are truly what makes all of this back-breaking work worth it. Love to every one in Lapland and I will be returning to you very soon!
More love to everyone back home...I promise to come back someday!