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Snowmobiling brought us together

MEET INARI AND MINTTU

Finnish social media influencers Inari Fernández and Michele “Minttu” Murphy-Kaulanen have both come a far way to Lapland: Inari from Helsinki and Michele from Tampere, where she ended up originally from Los Angeles. They have in common their popularity in social media, but also a recent love of snowmobiling. We met Inari and Minttu in Lapland during a sled adventure and talked – needless to say – about snowmobiling.

 

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH SNOWMOBILING?

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

Minttu: The other home of our family is in Tampere, southern Finland, but after finishing our new home in Ylläs, Lapland, we have spent more time here in the north. Covid-19 has also kept us more here and we've had to come up with some new spare time activities. My husband Sampo became interested in snowmobiling which was his important hobby when he was younger. Of course I tried it too but I could have never expect that I would get so excited about it. I got excited because finally I had found a way to get into the nature by some other way than walking. Soon we had to purchase another Lynx.

 

WHAT KIND OF SNOWMOBILING DO YOU DO?

Inari: I love making cross country skiing tracks in the woods in our home village. First, I take my children to a campfire to grill sausages and then I go into the woods hauling a trail groomer with the sled. My other favorite way to go riding is just ride on trails just by myself. I have also connected with a ladies' snowmobiling community on social media and we have made a few longer journeys together. During the first two winters I have over 3000 km’s in my sled’s odometer. 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. This is my first season on sled and in the beginning my speed was very slow. I blamed my sled for my slowness, until Inari passed me on trail with an identical sled. I realized that you can ride faster with that too. Through experience and example given by my riding friends I’ve managed to gain speed and confidence in my riding.

 

YOU HAVE MET EACH OTHER THROUGH SNOWMOBILING. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Inari: Minttu’s husband Sampo visited my podcast and he told that they had purchased snowmobiles. Sampo thought we would get along well with Minttu and thanks to his tip, I started to follow her on 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 really 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 join their forces. I immediately liked Inari’s high-flying stories and I really appreciate her raw honesty. Snowmobiling has really connected us.

Inari: Snowmobiling only is not enough for friendship, for sure. But sledding brought us together and gave us a reason to meet each other in the first place. 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: When I realized that having more speed makes riding smoother and much more comfortable. If you ride too slowly, riding feels 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.

Inari: As an entrepreneur I meet my work coach regularly. He advised me to go to a sled journey by myself and take luncheon with me. During that journey I got a feeling that nothing can stop me in this world. I survive anything. 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 doesn't fit in with snowmobiling the same way as hiking, for example. I think you can move in nature by many ways. I equate snowmobiling with boating. I think a snowmobiler and a nature person fit well in a same person. In the village I live in, I've hardly seen other females on snowmobiles. In the beginning I faced an attitude “let’s see if that lady from south can even start a sled, let alone reverse it with a sleigh.” I’ve shown that I can!

Minttu: I also thought that snowmobiling is a very masculine sport. Then I realized that with the right equipment and certain confidence you can make it – age or gender doesn’t matter. Thanks to snowmobiling, I’ve noticed that even I can enjoy nature and powersports. I've had the habit of underestimating myself and that was again an example of that. I've proven myself that I dare!

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST LEARNING IN SNOWMOBILING?

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

Inari: I’ve learned that having a speed with snowmobile can also 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. I learned that this season and made that several times too in Saariselkä. Sometimes I get a feeling of great achievements when I overcome myself on a sled. Here I am, a woman originally from Helsinki, towing a trail groomer in the woods of Lapland, in the middle of polar night.

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