Friendship began with snowmobiling

Finnish social media influencers Inari Fernández and Michele ”Minttu” Murphy-Kaulanen got to know each other through snowmobiling

How did you end up with snowmobiling?

Inari: When we moved to Lapland with my family few years ago, I had a preconception that it is impossible to live here without a snowmobile. I thought everyone has a snowmobile here at home – just like a car. During the first winter here I got a Lynx and soon I realized that I couldn’t imagine living here without it. It has enabled me to move around and explore the wilderness even in middle of winter.

Minttu: Our other family home is in Tampere, southern Finland, but when we finished our new home in Ylläs, Lapland, we have spent more time here in north. My husband Sampo became interested in snowmobiling which was his favorite hobby when he was young. Of course I tried it also, but I never expected I would get so excited about it, too. I got excited because finally I had found a way to get into nature by some other way than walking. Soon we had to purchase another Lynx.

What kind of snowmobiling do you do?

Inari: I’m crazy about making a cross country skiing tracks in woods in our home village. First I take my children grill sausages over a campfire and then I go into the woods towing a trail groomer with the sled. My other favorite way to go riding is just ride on trails by myself. In addition, I have found a close sled-ladies community on social media and we have made a few longer journeys with them with great female company. During the first two winters I have over 3000 km on my sled’s odometer. The snowmobile is a tool for me for everyday life and adventure!

Minttu: I ride mostly on trail. I’ve ridden on trails in Ylläs, Levi and Saariselkä. First my speed was very slow but through experience and after examples given by my riding friends I’ve managed to speed up and I’ve gained confidence in my ride.

You have met each other through snowmobiling. How did that happen?

Inari: Minttu’s husband Sampo visited in my podcast and he said they had purchased snowmobiles with Minttu. Sampo had an idea that we would get along well with Minttu and thanks to his tip, I started to follow her in Instagram. We started to keep in touch with Minttu and soon we were riding together in Levi. I immediately felt that we were getting along well. Later our meetings have been related to snowmobiling in one way or another.

Minttu: I’ve always believed that something significant follows when women put their forces together. I immediately liked Inari’s high-flying stories and I really appreciate her raw honesty. Snowmobiling has really connected us.

Inari: Snowmobiling is not enough for friendship, for sure. Let’s say that sledding has brought us together physically and gave a reason to meet. I appreciate Minttu’s authenticity and the fact that she dares to say her opinion.

What kind of highlights you have experienced with snowmobiling so far?

Minttu: Probably when I realized that by having more speed riding is much more flowing and comfortable. If you ride too slowly, riding is jerky and heavy. When I saw how my husband Sampo hit the bumps, I learned that you can ride that way too – and finally dared to try it myself.

 As an entrepreneur I meet my work coach regularly. He advised me to go on a sled journey by myself and to take lunch with me. During that journey I got a feeling that nothing stops me in this world. I survive everything. Afterwards, I’ve managed to reflect that feeling to everything I do. I feel I get empowered by snowmobiling.

Have you noticed any prejudices against snowmobiling?

Inari: I’ve always been a nature person and spoke strongly for moving in nature, conservation and vegetarianism. For many, that hasn’t fit to same person with snowmobiling, unlike, for example, hiking. I think that you can enjoy nature in many ways. I equate snowmobiling with boating in summer time. I think a snowmobiler and a nature person fit well in the same person. In the village I live, I've hardly seen other females on snowmobiles. In the beginning I came across an attitude of, “let’s see if that lady from the south can even start a sled, let alone back up with that sleigh.” I’ve shown that yes she can!

Minttu: I’ve also had a thought that snowmobiling is a very masculine thing. Then I realized that with the right equipment and certain confidence you can make it – no matter age or gender. Thanks to snowmobiling, I’ve noticed that even I can enjoy nature and powersports. In the past I’ve underestimated myself in many ways and that was again a good example. I dare!

What has been your best learning in snowmobiling?

Minttu: A sled lady’s sandwich – stuffed bread wrapped in foil heated on stove at a wilderness hut. I also heard that you can heat a small frozen pizza next to your sled’s muffler. Just a great innovation, which I’m going to try! I’m also surprised how many different ways you can ride a snowmobile. Inari tows a trail groomer, you can have an adventure off trail and do long journeys on trail.

 I’ve learned that going faster with your snowmobile can be a good thing. For example, if there is slushy water on the frozen lake or river, you have to have enough speed to pass that to avoid getting stuck. Sometimes I feel enormous moments when I overcome myself on sled. Here I am, originally a woman from Helsinki, towing a trail groomer in the woods of Lapland, in the middle of polar night.

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