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The skis on the front of the red and black Lynx machines look like gigantic transformer pieces, the track at the back an oversized Lego bit. But weighing 300kg, these snowmobiles are definitely not toys.
After brief driving instructions, I'm still not confident to take control. I mount the back of one. John, from my tour group, takes the front seat and attaches a springy cord from the snowmobile to his overalls. If he comes off, the snowmobile will stop. It won't if I do.
I cling to the grips positioned slightly to the rear on either side of my thighs as the snowmobile jars over the equivalent of judder bars on a road, but these humps of ice have barely any space between them. I'm thankful when we get off them and on to the frozen Ounasjoki River. The jarring turns to jiggling and shaking and doesn't stop. Viewed from above we must look like scurrying ants on a blank wall as we follow Markku, our guide from Lapland Safaris, across the great white expanse leaving Rovaniemi behind.
John negotiates bends and hills like a pro, albeit a slow one. When Markku waves his arm we slow further to find a snowmobiler coming the other way. John remembers to keep to the right of the track, which may possibly be a road in the summer - there are occasional stop signs.
My fingers are icy, despite woollen gloves and mittens, I play the piano on the grips to warm them and try to take my mind off the coldness seeping into my toes by looking for shapes in the snow laden trees. A tree my height is so completely covered it resembles Casper the ghost. Treetops wear white nightcaps. Some branches bear such a load it's a wonder they haven't snapped.
We come out of the forest on to the great expanse of iced-over Pikku-Mellalampi Lake. It's hard to tell it is a lake; it could be a field under all that white. But this is Spot X. We're about to partake of one of Finland's popular sports, ice-fishing.
From the sled he's been towing, Markku brings out an auger, a large corkscrew-type tool about a metre and a-half in length. He winds it into the ice ... and winds ... scoops out loose ice ... winds ... scoops ... and winds some more ...
I let a line down into the icy water of the hole John drilled and jiggle the rod, bouncing on the spot trying to keep my feet warm. Oversized boots, (supposedly loose keeps feet warmer) and three pairs of woollen socks aren't cutting it. How can anything survive in the water below me?
After maybe 30 minutes the surface of the hole begins to freeze over. The nylon line resembles one of those scientific experiments that grows crystals on string - but on this occasion it's icicles.
Plucking up courage, I drive the snowmobile on our return journey. It does the equivalent of a few bunny jumps before I get used to the accelerator button. Too scared to go fast in case I hit a snow bank or tree and wreck the machine which may cost me 980 ($NZ1670) for compulsory deductible expenses - the insurance excess - I'm like a very elderly driver to begin with. My travel insurance doesn't cover me for snowmobiling either ...
I wrestle the handlebars to navigate corners. The skis on the front tend to slide into the grooves already made by other machines and trying to get out of them takes a bit of muscle. After a while my right thumb and hand ache from holding the accelerator button down, although they're warm. The accelerator button is heated, as are the handlebars. Bliss. I want to wiggle my thumb and hand but taking my thumb off will stop the machine. Moving my hand around a bit, I manage to position my palm on the accelerator. Relief. The windscreen seems to distort my vision and I don't know whether to look through it or above it. I do both. By the time we get back to the Ounasjoki River I'm braver - there's nothing to run into, it's several hundred metres wide.
Pushing the accelerator button to max, I get up to 40kmh. It feels faster. Markku stops us and checks to see if anyone would like the snowmobile key changed to another that will give more power.
Those who take the fast option are soon black spots in the whiteness, apparently reaching speeds of 70kmh. I race back to Rovaniemi more slowly, better late than never, rather proud of my new skills.
The writer travelled courtesy of Bentours and Mondo Travel on a Bentours "Follow the Lights'' tour.