Snowmobiling at night in search of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights…when I first read the brochure for Winter activities in Finland, I knew instantly that this was a must. But somehow couldn’t make the plan to do that in March when the chances of seeing the Northern Lights are more.
Long Easter weekend …finally I gathered the courage to try it out. The sky was clear when we started out at 7:00 PM but by the time we reached the forests there was just too much mist…not the perfect conditions to view Northern Lights!
The snowmobiling experience at night by itself was fantastic. Initially as we geared up in our thermal suits, helmets, goggles etc, I started getting apprehensive on whether I would be able to drive the snowmobile. Unfortunately, my team member too wasn't very confident. They advertise that there will be a short lesson…but that turned out to be just the guide telling us the very basics for 5 mins. When I enquired whether we get a trial lesson…he was like…no..WE JUST GO!!!!
There were 2 more snowmobiles in our safari, apart from the guide and they had all tried snowmobiling before. That kinda scared me even more.
Nervous as hell, we started out. The snowmobile has skis, so if you don't maintain the right speed it tends to go haywire. Moreover, I somehow couldn't get the hang of the accelerator. I would speed up and let go and then we would slow down. It was some jhatka ride!!!
The guide had told us that the locals use snowmobiles here for transport and tend to be fast so we should remain on the right side of the track…not very easy for an Indian!!! No matter how hard I tried, it kept going to the left!!
After about 20 mins or so, I started getting a hang of it. Its not very easy as we need to hold the handle very hard to make sure we go straight, I could feel the strain in my upper arms.
Then came a snowmobile from front. Somehow managed to take the snowmobile to the right corner. The 2 snowmobiles behind me were not so successful…as in the local had to go a lil off the track to cross them. The guide now stopped for a sanity check and gave me a thumbs up…and a good job comment. Now my confidence started increasing. At that point there was also a change in drivers. My friend took over and we started off again.
Somehow she couldnt get the hang of it at all. She was like zig zagging all over the track…from one corner to the other. So we had to change again and I took over.
Confidence levels up, I started checking my speed…can I make it go a wee bit faster..a lil more…most of the times I was at about 24Km/hr…but vrooooooooooooooooooosh I did manage to touch 38km/hr sometimes. I immediately thought of my friend Poorvi… she would have freaked out and definitely touched 55km/hr at least.
Finally we reached the point which is considered to be the best for watching the Northern Lights. Till then I had been concentrating on driving that I didn't realise that there was so much mist around. So no Northern Lights :-(
But we stopped for a camp fire under a typical Finnish tent, where the guide brewed some kapi and made sausages and tikkis(for the veggies).
After about 30 mins it was time to return. My friend wanted to drive but the guide said, that while returning it is a little difficult for 10 mins and she could take over after that. Ab to I was flying in the air…I am toooo good I thought!
The so called difficult section was a steep downhill, but I managed that quite easily, so by now I thought I was a heroine. Then my friend took over. But again she had problems and she took us over the side, from where we couldnt get the snowmobile back. The guide had to help us out! So I had to take over again. Ab toh heroine was in fulltosh form.
There came a very steep turn to be taken under a bridge…the guide indicated that we should slow down…I did, but only a wee bit. You know what happens when you get overconfident and are too fast…YOU CRASH!!!
I could see the crash coming, but it didn't strike me to stop the accelerator or press the emergency button!!! And DHAM…we had turned over. I had nimbly jumped off and was on the side. But my friend lay on the snow. As I called out to her, she didn’t respond. I shook her and still NO RESPONSE.
My heart started beating really fast. It was maybe only 2 mins, but seemed like ages to me. The people at the back came over and one ran to call the guide. Everyone was looking so scared. Suddenly she raised her hand and said…’gimme a hand up’ oooooffffffffffffffffff…thank god.
We checked her up and she seemed ok…so we had to start out again. I thought I wouldn't be able to drive now and even considered asking one of the people at the back to change places with me. But somehow, I felt that if after the crash I don't drive again, I would have a permanent fear…so I got on and we drove.
But yes, I couldnt speed. Went on the perfect 24km/hr and nearly stopped at all the turns. But reached back in one piece.