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Timeless Magic Under the Midnight Sun in Finnish Lapland


Hiking up Levi Fell

I was just 30 hours removed from a summer of sheltering inside to avoid the Alabama heat, so I wasn’t going to miss hiking with the temperature in the mid-60s while the sun was out. Finland has the cleanest air in the world, with only six micrograms of airborne particles per cubic meter. This far north, I was sure it was even purer. I inhaled a deep breath that tasted like champagne, but the sweltering southern humidity may have disqualified me as a respiratory sommelier.

The hiking conditions were ideal, other than the swarms of mosquitoes that descended upon us like a parasitic fog whenever we slowed down. We tried to limit our stops but felt compelled to stop and look underneath the tarps we saw from the parking lot. Cool air rushed past our faces as we saw something completely discordant with a 60-degree summer evening. A mound of snow nearly 20′ high and the size of a football field was hidden under the fabric.

Earlier that day, Maarit, our host from Visit Levi, explained why they saved the snow. It ensured a good base for the Levi World Cup, which opens the FIS’s World Cup’s slalom season. Jenn, a 20-year ski professional, was floored when she heard this story. Everywhere she ever worked, they jokingly told their summer guests about ‘that one tent’ where they stored the moguls for the following year. Her American ski joke came to life in Levi to jumpstart the ski season.

I couldn’t stop thinking about when I was seven and kept an entire snowman in the freezer all summer. On Christmas Eve, I moved him to the winter-brown grass of my Ohio home, hoping that Santa would appreciate my efforts to create a white Christmas. I shut the flap to the tarp, smacked four mosquitos on my neck, and started heading up the hill before any more could land.



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