a body to match the eyes

Start of December means I begin planning for spending the last days of 2013 in Lapland where there should be plenty of snow and quiet and no Christmas songs.

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I had the core of it in place pretty quickly. Urho Kaleva Kekkonen National park would be a new place for me , but all the rest was fairly simple. Although it took some work to get the gang together we were ready to go a day after Christmas. As the heat wave hit Finland as well as Estonia I was checking the snow-chart and weather forecast at least once a day. It didn`t look that good.

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There was only 25-50cm of snow in UKK and the temperatures kept rising all the way to +2C for the duration of out visit. And like a bad karma they would drop to -10C right after we would leave. So I made a plan B to go to Käsivarsi wilderness area where snowmap showed 75-100cm of snow and temperatures would stay below 0C. We would have time to decide `till we reached Oulu in the middle of Finland.

Although we had quite a lot of snow down in the middle of the November I didn`t get any skiing done due to an injury. And then the snow melt.

The plan was to take the evening ferry and then drive through the night and reach destination somewhere around the noon. Let me tell you – 7 people in a minivan for close to 15 hours isn`t that great. Doing this in summer would be easy `cause you can just  take a break and sleep basically anywhere, but winter is a total different ballgame. Of course you could crash somewhere just the same, but..

Anyway we made a group decision quite early to head for Kilpisjärvi and Halti. I was there two years ago but the we didn`t reach Halti. This year the plan was to make an approach from the Norway and spend the first night in Lossujärvi hut.

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We started skiing quite late in the afternoon and headed uphill. It does get dark rather quick at this time of year and soon we were finding our way with headtorches. Didn`t work that good and we soon found out that were not where we`d want to be. We had actually made a rather big loop. Electronics got us back on the course and not very soon we were crossing a reindeer fence and crosse Lossujärvi to reach the hut finally. People were tired. But a hefty dinner and warm (it actually got warm when we opened the doors and windows – until then it was like a sauna) hut everyone got better.

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Next day we headed to Pihtsusjärvi hut and I checked out some border guard cabins which were locked. Two years ago Pihtsusjärvi was as far as we got, but this time we actually got there in daylight and got some nice views. We got an early evening and people were just resting and reading and chatting.

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Initial plan was to continue to Halti hut, but that did not work out. Instead we made a plan to get there next day, leave our bags to the hut, get up and down the Halti and maybe go back to Pihtsusjärvi to avoid too much sitting on our asses.  But the weather had different plans and we spent the next day in a whiteout. Which was bad because it took only two hours to get to Halti hut.

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We had a small break to see if the weather get any better and then we would try to go up as much as possible. The weather wasn`t that bad when we started climbing, but deteriorated. We made use of the GPS and just pointed skis uphill. We went on or about an hour, but then concerns were voiced and we decided to turn back `cause it was clear that there would be nothing to see if we`d reach the top. Skiing downhill in a limited visibility is another type of fun is you are sure that there are no deep ravines on your way. In that case I`d strongly recommend to avoid it. Back at the hut the night went as previous. It did clear up in the late evening and I tried some starshooting and long exposures, but my TZ4 just isn`t made for that in very limited light. But it was promising for the morning.

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And what a great morning it was. Halti opened up for us and it was a pleasant ascent. Clear downhill looked very promising and the views to the south were great. We signed our names to the book, did some posing and and then down we went. It took like 10 minutes to get down.

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This time I wished I had more ankle support to really apply the skis. At the hut we donned our packs quickly and continued back to Pihtsusjärvi were had a small break and then cut a corner to reach a small hut half way to Lossujärvi hut. Break again and onwards in the growing darkness. The Lossujärvi hut on the Finnish side is rather small and if you`d really have to the it would be possible to fit 10-12 people there and the latter was the exact  amount of us planning to spend the night there. The other group decided to head back across the border to the hut on Norwegian side despite the fact they had their stuff spread out in the hut. There was five people and every one had a huge sled with them. I could probably fit a months worth of food there and my gear for the same period. But they were just chillin.

It was my intention to spend one day to go to the meeting point of Finland, Sweden and Norway and spend a night in a hut there, but someone brought up the idea of renting a hut in Kilpisjärvi and having a sauna and there was just no way my plan would stood up against that. “What?! More skiing after we have already reached the bus? But there would be a sauna and sheets and sauna and TV!” So we just skied across the lakes and down to the road. The final descent was pretty good.

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And the sauna was also good 😀

Gearwise it was pretty simple for me. Salomon 89 edge skis, and XADV5 boots for skiing. Hannah Wrapper III pants and GoLite Tumalo shell over just a baselayer. The best item by far was my brand new GoLite Demarra down jacket which went on during longer brakes and while waiting for the hut to warm up. Another new item in my bag is the RevelationX 20 by enLIGHTened equipment. It`s a 3season down quilt, but in heated rooms it gets you through winter also (they don`t seem to make the exact model anymore though). More about these pieces in the future. Everything was again carried in the GoLite Pinnacle. The skiboots are actually the weakest part of the gear `cause they started to fall apart pretty much from when I got them, but the replacements are waiting.

Margus was kind enough to provide a GPS track

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Next year it`ll be something bigger if someone provides a WINTER.

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