THE RISKS IS WORTH IT TO SHOW MY KIDS ONE OF THE MOST REMOTE PLACES ON THE PLANET.
Are you out of your mind? Many said. You really believe you are going to make it to the Arctic circle whilst going through a cancer treatment and want to drive to the Arctic circle with kids? I don’t think so. Someone said. These were the normal reactions I was getting each day.
Adventure is something I have always embraced. But some loved ones felt I was taking it too far this time. Our sons thirteen and ten years old are probably not too young for such adventure or rather such trip. But probably my cancer was raising an eyebrow or rather a typical stereotypical view of the society we live in. As always, my husband had complete confidence in me and my ability. And so now here I am, flagged off to the remote northernmost corner of the planet. I am taking our sons to the millions of acres of Arctic landscape, one of the most remote, wildest and most untouched places on the planet, for a 20 days long trip.
We will drive through, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, then cross the Oresund Bridge to Malmo and up the south west coast of Sweden into Finland before heading to Nordkapp. The journey in to the Arctic Circle would begin from the iconic Santa Claus village Rovaniemi in Finland. We will be travelling through narrow roller-coaster roads in Arctic Circle passing through 5 tunnels one of which would be 7 kilometres long going under the sea. We will also get to drive through the northernmost public tunnel in the world.
The Arctic circle is certainly not too difficult place to get to, but requires several hours on small, single roads journey. After Rovaniemi we will be very much on our own in many sections. Our phones will work at some places and we will have a GPS tracker and collaboration with YB trackers. This would provide our location at 5 minutes intervals, providing details of exact position of the vehicle. There is also a panic alarm in the tracker, which gets connected to nearest police station in case of emergency. The tracker has a facility to send and receive messages even in absence of mobile network.
I am an experienced expeditor and that knowledge helps me pack a smart medical kit and handle emergencies with some degree of confidence. But my experience has also taught me that all kinds of things can happen. We have packed tent, additional warm clothing and blankets as well as food and water supply.
The expedition would involve unique driving experience. The Arctic drive requires skill, good navigation and anticipation, finding the best route, and careful driving. The Arctic Baltic cancer drive will cross the whole of Scandinavia. In twenty days, approximately 10,000km will be travelled to a destination beyond the Arctic Circle. There are also rest days during which the team will explore the area. The target is to reach the top of Europe at North Cape, to make it to the border with Arctic Russia, to experience Lapland. And, of course, there is the stark beauty of the landscape. Arctic Norway must be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. In terms of latitude, the road gets to within nineteen and a half degrees of the North Pole.
The Arctic Highway is a relatively modern road; the product of an evolutionary process to give Norway a coherent and unbroken land link through its most remote Arctic regions. There is a sense of blissful isolation to the E6 highway in northern Norway, as it weaves through verdant forest, revealing lakes, rivers and backdrops of mountains with clouds billowing at their peaks.
The Arctic Circle is the outermost circle of latitude counted from the North Pole at which the sun does not set at the summer solstice. This phenomenon is called the midnight sun. It is also the outermost line, counted from the North Pole, that joins the points at which the sun does not rise above the horizon at the winter solstice. This phenomenon is called the polar night, midday darkness or midwinter dark. It is an area of outstanding beauty and home to the Sami people who are the indigenous population and have a deep-rooted culture farming the Reindeer.
I am not the kind of parents who push our children to do anything outside their comfort zone. With some introspection, I believe this comes from the fact that I have learned to manage risk over many years of serious expeditions. I have been on a number of driving expeditions before our kids were born. Our approach has been to allow the kids to explore their interests without any pressure from us to follow in our footsteps.
Recently, someone asked me if I would encourage my sons to go in to such adventures by themselves in future. The truth is, Yes. I want my sons to fall in love with the untouched parts of the planet, the wild and the nature. As a mother, I want them to thrive. I want them to cultivate compassion and appreciation for the natural world. I want to spend time with them in a place so completely unconnected from the way we live the rest of the year and to show them what this land looked like before our ancestors arrived.
Exposing my children to an intact ecosystem of the Arctic Circle is worth a bit of managed risk.