Scandinavia

easy just isn’t worth it

I really had no ideas for this year concerning the annual Lapland ski trip on the last days of the year. It has become almost a no-brainer to put one together – finding like-minded people was more difficult. I wasn`t keen on joining any strangers, but when I was informed that another member from last year was putting together an event then I immediately joined the list and after some thinking joined in the group also.

(more…)

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you always scratch me at the wrong places

Aland2014kayak


It is not very complicated to understand why one would choose Aland as a destination when the time is scarce but you need to get  away from Estonia. Aland provides plenty of tiny to bigger islands to take shelter in bad weather but also enough free water to enjoy some beginner-intermediate sea-kayaking. Multitude of islands and possibilities to plan a course will definitely provide reasons to come back over and over and if you`d add the Turu archipelago to the equation possibilities will triple.

My plan began with a short overnight ferryride to Mariehamn and the on my own power to paddle around the main island and the cycling to Helsinki. Ferry schedule in the Baltic sea is pretty good and therefore it doesn`t require much long-term planning and left me plenty of freedom to manage my time. (more…)


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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(more…)


meanwhile in Estonia…

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It’s nice to get away. Even if it means sometimes frantic planning, frustrating waiting and enduring a 2×13+ hour drive in a minivan stuffed with gear, food, skis and 6 other people. (more…)


where dreams come to die

Now this is frustrating and I’ve been putting posting this off for more than a month or so. I don’t like to write about failures, but nevertheless here it is.

My big summer hike this year failed after only 5 days on the trail. Reason is very simple – it wasn’t much fun.

I was watching the forecasts for a week before departure and it showed the snow melting with promising progress and I was confident when leaving home. When the plane came over the mountains in Hemavan I got worried, because there was still plenty of snow. But I hoped for the best.

Day 1

Starting off at the skiing slopes in Hemavan I was already walking on snow and slush. But still I was thinking that it must be because they have gathered more snow for skiing and it did ease up higher. I decide to skip Sytertoppen because of the snow and made a short break in Viterskalsstugan, which was still close.

Continuing along the now constant 😦 snowfield I spotted an animal track. The prints looked similar to bears, but were too close together so I believe that they were wolverine’s. The trail came down from one side of the valley and went up to the other side.


Despite the snow it was quite easy going as I didn’t have to posthole much and even the sun shone for a bit. Before Syterstugan I had this bizarre moment when all I could see was some of the waymarks in front and behind me an everything else was just white. When it cleared again I could see a valley mostly covered in snow. Not very promising and quite disheartening.

There is a series of suspension bridges making way over the smaller islands over southern part of Tärnasjon, but that was last of the fun for the day. The last kilometers to Tärnasjonstugan were slow slogging over rotten snow. No fun at all and as the clock was nearing midnight I was getting quite tired. Finally reached the hut not a moment too soon. Eating and getting to sleep ended my day at around 01:00.

Time / distance travelled: 11h / 38km

Day 2:

Not a too early start and I was on my towards Servestugan. It didn’t get any easier, but still easy enough. Tried to find easier going by following already melted spots of ground. Reindeers were about with their young calves, but the ground and landscape were rather uneventful.

Near Vuomajavvrie it got really bad as I had to cross some rivers consisting mostly of slushy, cold and knee-deep remnants of snow. It can’t really be described, but needs to be experienced. At that point I praise my sneakers. Although they got wet along with the socks, the water was out in an instant. Try the same with some leather hiking boots and you’re f*cked for a week. I tried creating something waterproof around my socks in the last emergency hut of a old trashbag, but as I had to cut it into pieces, it didn’t work out as planned. But it was rather good until I had to go in knee-deep.

There I met a herder or smth like that, driving around and checking out how the reindeer are doing. After expressing his surprise over seeing someone hiking in these conditions and so early in the season he showed me a deer, who had just given birth. The calf didn’t even stand up yet. After we departed and he sped off I heard a loud yell and the engine noise stopped. Checking out the situation I saw the snowmobile sitting deeply in that very same slush I mentioned before. Nothing I could do though. Uphill were more wolverine tracks,  shitty weather and frustrating moments when I had to posthole like crazy. At some point I even had to yell some. But the last few km were pleasant at least. Downhill and almost clear path. Still, I lost my sunglasses and had to backtrack for about 10 minutes before I found them. And at 21:25 I was in Aigertstugan.

Time / distance travelled: 12,5h / 33km

Day 3

Going down on the northern slope it was still pretty wet, but soon got interesting as there was a winding trail among the trees, crossing some very high and fast rivers. As I got lower the terrain became more and more comfortable with tall trees and a clear path. This was actually why I came here. I enjoy big vistas over high mountains, but forests are the real deal.

Reached Ammarnäs. Bought a new waterbottle, orange and sunscreen – no idea why I didn’t take the latter from home. There was two ways to continue. Along the bottom of the valley – no snow and no vistas; or climb under ski-lifts to Stuorajabba – could  be snow and definately be views over the valleys and nearby mountain. So uphill I go. To my great dismay I soon arrive on a plateau with low vegetation and plenty of snow. Trying to get by easier I go through the bushes.. and lose my map for a while. Backtrack, find it, relieved, continue.  Occasionally it gets easier as I get out  from between the bushes, but the highest point is covered with soft snow for as far as eye can see. Feeling not too happy to follow the trail to make a huge U-turn over snow just for the sake of it I decide to cut some. As I can already see the next hut in the bottom of the valley I head straight towards it. I find a small stream and following it becomes the highlight of the day. When smaller streams can be just hopped over I come to one that needs to be waded through. It’s narrow and deep and quite fast, but I manage.

The big Vindelälven river that ends up as a lake near Ammarnäs is very fast and swollen and look as quite the fun when in a raft or playboat or packraft (IF you skill level is high enough, other-ways you might as well step in front of a full speed train as it saves you the expense of getting to Sweden). By the time I reach the hut I have again lost my water-bottle (this ain’t the end of it). I briefly chat with a woman already in there and after hearing of my problem offers me a small platy bottle (this I didn’t lose) and I make my plans to go on to reach a renvaktarstuga (this was actually a hut for reindeer herders, but unlike the previous one I encountered it was closed and didn’t have an emergency shelter nearby).

That was about 8km and turned out to be quite easy, except for the last km which took like and hour of post-holing. Even the latter wasn’t that bad because the snow was soft making it an easy effort to push through. What makes it suck is that you never know if you are going to fall through the snow or not. Even if the snow is hard and carries well you can’t walk with your normal speed, ’cause if you hit that soft spot while going fast you might end up faceplanting.

So the hut was closed, but I found shelter from the wind I decided to crash outside. Although the sun was going down it didn’t look like the weather would get worse. And then I discovered that I was missing my tarp. Must have left it into Aigertstugan, but it was bad news in any case.  The thermometer showed +5 so I had all my clothes on for sleeping. I called it a day at around 22:00

Time / distance travelled: 11h / 38km

Day 4

I usually try to avoid sleeping high in the mountains, but it was too early in that last hut. But it got even colder during the so-called night and started to snow. By the time I decided to get up my socks and trailrunners were frozen. The snow had a bit of crust, but not enough to carry. In fact it made the going even harder as I couldn’t push through with my knees, but had to lift my leg out of the hole with every step. Not good at all. And then came the crux of the day.

I had to cross a stream of slush that was balls deep with frozen crust. I couldn’t just wade through like the day before, but had to posthole gaining about 40cm with every step. Really-really bad. Changed my socks immediately after that so my toes wouldn’t go black. Onward from there is was just slogging, moderately difficult, but I felt tired and the distance on the map went past like snail. When there were occasional signposts I couldn’t believe that I had covered only so few kilometers. The ground itself would be OK in summer conditions – slightly rolling and would offer good views if the weather is good. But in my case if was more like shitty winter, rain and mist. It was totally wasted when I reached Snjulttjie day hut so I fired up the stove and slept for few hours. By that time I had fought and won a quite easy battle in my head  that this is not the way to do it. It was just not fun and I decided to bail out in Adolfström. I would get there next morning, but had still a long way to go.  It eased up a bit when descending to the valley where Bäverholmen and Adolfström are but mostly it was still slogging through all the wet snow. Before starting the descent I came by a very old shelter and foundation for a house. All the other building I had been built on higher from the ground on posts. No idea why someone went through the effort of  making a foundation like that.

It was very low in the valley when the landscape turned to my liking again. I  was walking along the river with patches of swamp on the other side. The trail was twisting along the waters edge, occasionally coming so close to the swollen river that the waves reached the path. It was clear that the trail wasn’t going to last very long in these conditions. Small hills covered in high pines were separating the river and swamps. Some walkways were established to provide dry crossing.  I had picked a laavu with fireplace by the lake for the night and the same path was the highlight of the day. This was the ground I like when hiking – a chance to see something new in the end of every small ascent or bend.

The fireplace turned out like those we have in Estonia – garbage lyin around, inscriptions on the laavu walls and so on. But the lakeside itself was pleasant, night was clam and bugs were absent. Quick wash, collected driftwood for fire, eat and sleep. Tomorrow was going to be easy.

Time / distance travelled: 11,5h / 30+km

Day 5

Didn’t get up that early, ’cause I had planned this to be the last day. When reaching Adolfström about an hour later, I realized that it would have been a good idea after all, because I missed the only bus out for the day. After consulting with a very friendly local elderly couple I made a plan to continue ’till Jäckvikk after all. Main reason was that it was a bigger place and had a bus going to eastern coast in the afternoon next day.

Although uphill, the beginning was pleasant again – small road, bigger trees, no snow. But as warned the snow returned at around 700m and continued until descending into the valley next day. As it was the last day I KCCO’d.  Again some high rivers, small and pleasant Pieljekaisenstugan, where I took time to read the logbook. Funnyly I founf some happy comments from lightweight hikers and some not so happy by the one’s who trugged along with a heavy packback and were going to quit at the first possible place. Ironic to laugh about it as I too was going to quit, but not at least because I was physically unable to continue. Left some extra food to the hut. After the hut was to be the hardest part ’cause it was the highest, but oddly it turned out to have not so much snow after all and was easy considering the conditions. I had planned to stay in a dayhut, about 8km from Jäckvikk,  for the night. Oddly I had discovered this hut in the last hut, because on my map I had drawn a path over it. The area around Jäckvikk seems to be very popular, ’cause the hut was huge. I could fit the living roome and dinner roome from my house in there easily. As it was huge it took some time to warm the place up. I spent the rest of the day tiding up my gear, making food and otherways preparing for extraction. And then it was waiting – which I hate.

Time / distance travelled: 8h / 20+km

Day 6

Late start, but I still was in the village way too early and because it was Sunday almost everything was closed. Right after starting from the hut I managed to lose the trail and therefore continued straight down towards the lake. No problems getting down, although had to find a safer crossing over one river. Thanks to the helpful owners of Kyrkans Fjällgård I got to use computer to plot my route home and shower, before getting onto a bus.

Time / distance travelled: 2h / 8km

And there it was – my “big” hike for the summer, finished before it even began. Only thing remainig was to get home an it took me around 48 hours of busses, trains and ferries and it was the most strenuous part of the whole thing.

But that was just the physical part I didn’t manage to accomplish. I also feel no I know that I failed in some personalt goals that I set and some promises to myself that I couldn’t keep. But those remain my own…

This leaves me to do some hiking in Estonia when the weather gets a bit colder.. but next year….


exceptions to gravity

I’ll try to approach this gear post in Andrew Skurka style. In his book he brings out the main points on how he decides what gear to bring along to a certain trip.

Trip objectives: Long spell of inactivity between “some” skiing when there was snow and cycling when there was no snow anymore have made me somewhat lazy, out of shape and otherwise stagnant. In addition to that I can’t really think of a better way to spend a month of my vacation than being almost alone in the wilderness of Scandinavian mountains. The plan is to start from Hemavan, go along Kungsleden to Kvikkjokk, take a left turn onto Padjelantaleden, reach Sulitjelma and from there follow Nordkalottleden until Kautokeino. I should re-emerge into the civilization fit as ever after 1000+km of walking. Time is chosen so there won’t be much traffic yet. I go solo and have arranged some re-supply points along the way in 6 to 9 day apart.

Environmental & route conditions: As Kungsleden is very popular in the season thee shouldn’t be any problems for route finding. Padjelantaleden and Nordkalottleden are less so, but still no worries.

Temperatures: According to yr.no the average temperature in June in Hemavan is 11,7C. This year the average temp in May has been 1.4 degrees colder than average – and the temperatures at the moment are around 0 C. you can go into more detailed information in here.

Precipitation: Again the yr.no site indicates that June is the driest month with only 10 rainy days. Although there is quite a lot of snow left in the mountains there shouldn’t e any additional.

Daylight: It’s midnight sun in this time of year so there are max 4 hours per day when the sun isn’t above horizon. 

Ground cover: Mostly on beaten path consisting of rock, turf. Might be a little bit wet as it’s snow melting time

Vegetation: If at all then there shouldn’t be much more than birch and willow, not very high or thick as I’m following a path. Lower vegetation shouldn’t be a problem also

Sun exposure: Sun is high and up most of the day so skin protection is needed

Water availability: Lots of rivers, streams, lakes and so on. No problem.

Wildlife & insects: There could be reindeer, lynx, wolf, wolverine and brown bear, but I doubt that any of those will be hanging around the paths. Snakes maybe – just have to watch my step. And of course mosquitoes. It seems that I have aimed for the first hatch so it could be intense. Luckily there’s almost always windy.

Remoteness: The huts are plenty along the way, but traffic scarce as it’s early in season. Some huts in the beginning might be closed. No idea about cell reception, but there are emergency phones along the path. I’m not hoping for much human encounter.

Natural hazards: some rivers might be swollen with meltwater, but bigger ones should have bridges. Some snow, but shouldn’t be any avalanche danger.


So here are the main items I’ll take.

Shelter: Integral Designs SilPoncho. I now most prefer to take a more enclosed shelter, but that’s the one I have. Although there is a pretty sweet deal on the Shangri-La1. The wind prediction is quite low and despite it could rain on most days I have experience that I can pitch it down low enough so there won’t be any trouble.

Sleeping system: Old BPL Vapr bivi, Thermarest Z-lite, GoLite RS+1 and Ferrino liner.  As the quilt is rated at around +3 then it should carry well with the added warmth of the bivi, liner and warm baselayer I’m going to wear while sleeping.

Backpack: GoLite Pinnacle. Gotten used to it and as it was a little too big last year, but now I have to carry up to 9 days of food so it fine.

Footwear. Salomon XA3D ultra2. I now wasn’t absolutely happy with them last year, mainly because the crappy soles. So when looking around in the shops I really didn’t find anything that seemed proper enough. All those ultra cushioned and colored and tuned.. and I went to the tested ones’. I know the possible problems and can avoid some mistakes. And they were comfortable. But about 3 days after I had bought the Salomons I found out that there is a inov8 dealer in Estonia. But that’ll be something I’ll try next time.

Cooking: I’ll be using an alcohol stove now with a titanium pot. Fuel is available in the Swedish huts so. But I feel that I should have gone with the Emberlite, which being a wood stove is much more hassle-free. There’s always next time.

Clothing remains mostly the same, but I have purchased the GoLite Tumalo jacket. It should carry me through the worst weather.

The topo will be taken care the same way, but now I won’t be carring all the maps, but only those I need on the current stage. Others will be (hopefully) waiting with the food boxes along the way.

maps from Hemavan to Vaisaluokta – first half of the hike

Some how it feel like underprepared. Like there has been too little effort to set this thing up. I hope that it just seems like that.

But anyhow I’ll be on the trail noon tomorrow. I think the first part – getting to Hemavan is most nerve wrecking with a night in Arlanda airport and so on. I don’t know how often will I be able to make updates, but I’ll try.

See you on the trail!


this involves a lot of shit and a big fan

Went shopping for my hike in June. As the prices are quite high in Sweden and even more so in remote huts I decided a long ago to get everything from home and send it to certain points along the route. I’ve calculated the daily distance to be 30km  so it’ll take 35 days. Possible re-supply locations are Kvikkjokk, Ritsem, Abisko and Kilpisjärvi. Some distances are longer than I like – on two stages I have to carry food for 9  and on three stages for 6 days. It wasn’t that easy to decide on the menu, but I tried to make it as light and nutritious as possible. The many might seem a bit monotonous, but I previous experience shows that I can handle it. (more…)


i’ll break you like a promise

When I decided at some point in 2011 that in the end of the year I will go skiing in Finnish Lapland I didn’t have to think long to choose the neighborhood of Halti as a destination. (more…)


education-fornication

About a week after I returned from Austria I got a call from a friend asking if I’m interested in going to Sweden to climb the highest mountain there – Kebnekaise. Interested I was and after finding out that I could get a whole week of days off from work planning was set to motion.

The plan was to use a ferry to get over Finnish gulf and drive, drive, sleep and drive some more to reach Nikkaluota where the hike would begin. Starting quite early on Tuesday we were in Helsinki at 10am and drove about 800km that day with smaller breaks.

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Visited a bell museum. The weather was very hot so you could only feel comfortable inside a conditioned car or in some shade.

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We found a nice camping place when we reached Sweden.

Next day we finished the drive and after lunch and some packing we were off to Kebnekaise fjällstation. It was an easy trek which we covered in 4,5 hours with some breaks. The station was very crowded. I probably didn’t see that much people during the month in Alps.

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Kebnekaise is above the Arctic circle so it doesn’t get really dark in there – basically the sun just goes lower and behind the mountain. So when it got lighter again we were off to the top – starting in the wrong direction 😀 I didn’t bother navigating ’cause two of the group have already climbed the mountain. So I was confident that reaching the top won’t be a problem. So I didn’t take the map with me. This resulted us going way off the track. Well, actually we were on the track, but it took a wide arc around the mountain. So it took us like 9 hours to get to the top. By that time the clouds had reached the mountaintop and we had very poor visibility.

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When going down we opted to take the Eastern route down. That involved some climbing using ropes and cables, but nothing difficult. This descent took us to a glacier. Which was very cool, but also rised another navigation problem, ’cause there weren’t any tracks visible on the ice. The cracks were small, but still we avoided patches of snow. I knew the rough direction of the station so we tried to carry on in that direction. The mist made it difficult and walking on the glacier without crampons is tricky. I also managed to step on a loose stone and lost my balance which led to a 3cm long wound on my right thumb. And we still had to descend quite a bit. While on a small break the wind cleared a bit and I saw the valley we were trying to reach. So we continued along the river and soon saw some people descending from the track. So back on the track we were and soon in the camp. The others were already there. With some help I bandaged my thumb and prepared for the night.

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We planned to make the drive back to Helsinki in one go so in the morning we rushed back to the car in rather great speed – 4 hours with small breaks. Washed up and left a note to a friend arriving later from his trip from Abisko. Taking turns behind the wheel we arrived the port in 15 hours with spare time until the first boat.

I tried to take minimal gear with me and tested how my New Balance running shoes work in the mountains. And they worked very well. The ground wasn’t that rough that I could have injured my ankles. My feet got wet a couple of times, but dried soon enough. Using Gore-Tex would have been better. Everything else was already tested and worked well. Still I’m missing a more comfortable backpack. I’ll start working on the shelter and possibly a lighter sleeping bag or a quilt.

Next bigger hike will probably in the winter.

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The pictures


a schoolgirl made of fantasies

A ski trip to Lapland in the end of last year. We spent four days skiing through one of the Finnish northernmost national park following roughly the Hetta-Pallas trail. Overall conditions were great: –15 C, very-very-very much of powder snow. Too bad the sky was mostly overcast, but we got some clear nights. No northern lights though.

Day 1

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A panorama of pictures taken near the first hut using long exposure. I managed to step outside during the few minutes the sky wasn’t cloudy and to take advantage of the situation

The first day starts actually on the previous night when we board a ship in Tallinn and start driving towards Hetta at about 9pm. We arrive at about 11am. The worst thing about Lapland is probably that it’s so damn far away. Anyhow I slept through most of the trip.  At Hetta we grab a quick snack and tea and prepare skis and change for the day. We start near a silver jewelers shop. The owner also organizes our bus to the end of the trail. When testing skis I had no problems, but the instant I put on my skis for the actual trip one of the braces breaks. Fortunately I had a spare one. To reach the trailhead we have to cross a lake and off we go. We’re instantly knee deep in powder and some people fall. Daily legs are about 15 km long each, which might not seem such a long distance, but that’s not definitely you usual cross-country skiing. On a good trail and downhill it is possible to go 5-7 km/h, but when you have no trail or it hasn’t been used for some time then you can expect 2-3 km/h. So for the first 6 km we followed a path and reach first checkpoint before it got dark at about 1530 or so. Had some tea and warmed near a fireplace. There are a lot of huts in Finnish national parks where people can warm up, spend the night, cook some food or just take a break. Most of the are free but that means you have to be there before the others, ‘cause they are free for all and you can’t leave those coming late outside. These huts are called autiotupa, which means free room. To be sure that you get a place for your own you can also book a room for some fee – these are varaustupa. There might be a sauna nearby also. The huts are mostly for 8-16 people with bunk beds, a wood stove and gas stove. Gas and firewood is prepared by the park rangers. There are also toilets and garbage bins so you don’t have to cut down living trees or carry your garbage around. The wood stove provides enough heat so you don’t have to carry a winter sleeping bag. Basically you can manage with a sleeping mat and a blanket. It became to hot to sleep in a sleeping bag in most nights, but it might get chilly when the fire goes out. Back to the trip. We started again in the dark with headlamps, but it soon became clear that it is near to impossible to follow the planned route ‘cause we couldn’t find the markings in the dark. So we decided to go over the hill instead following the valley. But we had to find the right track first. We had a GPS unit and that showed the hiking trail we wanted to reach. To get to it we had to spent quite some time to go uphill through knee deep powder, which was quite fun actually although somewhat tiring. I took point and after some time unsuccessfully fiddling with  the GPS I tried to get directions figured out with the map and compass. By that time someone had found the trail post. Or was it like that I found a post then lost it, tried with the compass, but someone found the markings again. Anyhow then we decided to follow the trail posts, which wasn’t that easy also ‘cause it started to snow and you had to really look for the markings. Occasionally they were almost covered with snow with just a little bump visible. We ascended about 300m and reached the 711m high hilltop called Pyhäkero. From that point onward we only had to descend to the first hut, where we were to spent the night. Descending was actually more difficult ‘cause the snow was blowing right to my face and it was even harder to see the markings and you were going downhill. Often you had to guess the direction and then change direction while speeding downhill. The slope wasn’t steep but it was difficult to turn with those skis. I managed to land on my face quite a few times. But in daylight conditions and different skis both the slopes we went up and down would have been great for off-piste. We arrived at the Sioskuru hut at about 8pm with another guy who had taken the point at halfway down and the others arrived about 45 minutes later. Ate and chatted a bit to get to know each other better and crashed at around 11pm

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Our first sleeping hut. Autiotupa on the right and varaustupa on the left. Long exposure again

Day 2

lapimaa '09 010The beginning of Day 2. The hut we spent the night in the background

Started off in dark around 9am. A small ascent and then about 10 km over an even landscape. My first experience in a whiteout. Although it was day and plenty of light it occasionally got totally white around you. Almost like in fog. Again you could barely see from one post to another so the visibility was around 40 meters. Very cool though. Last part was between a low forested area with the path twisting and turning. Like in a winter wonderland. And soon we were near the lake in our next hut – Hannukuru, where we spent the night. Again being the first to arrive we started the fire and got some snow to be melted for water. After the dinner most people grew silent and some took a nap. We played Tower for an hour or so when one of us agitated us to check out the sauna nearby. Four of us still not sleeping went out ‘cause it was and idea worth to check out and the night still being young we had nothing better to do anyway. Turned out to be the best idea of the day. The sauna was in excellent condition and we quickly decided to heat it up. Opened up and ice hole so we wouldn’t have to waste time melting the snow. After an hour it was hot enough and it played out to be a great sauna evening. So great that I even broke a promise of mine not to drink beer from a plastic bottle. One of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. Everyone slept great that night.

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Day 3

lapimaa '09 023During the climb

This was probably the best day. We started off searching for the path, didn’t find it and ended up doubling back for a while and then climbing up a very steep slope ending up on a flat hilltop with great views. Tried to find the path and we were close or over it a couple of times, but couldn’t find any markings. But we carried on among the trees in total stillness. No wind, no animals the only sound being the snow under our skies. Simply awesome. Somehow I managed to find some stray track and we decided to follow it because it went to a general right direction and there was no point in trying to climb the hilltop without a track. Soon our path led out to the real ski track and our speed increased. We had a lunch break near a reindeer-gate just before the final push uphill towards our hut. This ascent was probably the best part of the trip. After an hour the trees grew sparse and the slope eased a bit as we reached the saddle. There a cold wind started blowing and stopping became a bad idea. And it was just 1,5km to go before the Nammalakuru. In the hut we found a group of 9 Hungarians, but they didn’t plan to spend the night and left after an hour as we began our preparations for the New Years Eve celebrations. The best part was that they had already warmed up the hut. Blood sausages and bacon, mashed potatoes, peppercakes, Tosca cake and strawberry liquor. At some point a Finnish couple arrived and we chatted with them a bit. They had came from the opposite direction of us and therefore we knew that we would have a good track the next day and they could use ours. Later in the morning we had and argument with the woman ‘cause she thought that we were overheating the hut. Felt kinda bad because of it later. Waiting for the midnight we played some Tower again and talked about mountains and where everybody had been and so on. The midnight was as usual – outside, shaking hands, listening for the distant fireworks.

The sky was again partly overcast but had some clear windows for picture taking

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The valley of Miracles as our guide had named it

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Day 4

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The final leg started with a gentle descent through some trees and we covered 5km in one hour. Could have been even quicker, but there wasn’t much room to pass. Besides it’s not a competition. During the trip I often found myself in the front putting distance between myself and the others. Not because I wouldn’t have enjoyed their company, but I find it difficult to go slow and stay behind someone. And being in front allows one to get a glimpse of some vary animals. Not that I saw any at all, but still the odds are greater. After a tea-break in the junction we had a decent uphill section onto a plateau, which we followed for about 7 km. A final lunch break and a 3km push to the end at the Pallas Nature Centre. It got pretty clear and cold in the end. Our bus was already waiting for us so we sat down for a moment while the bus warmed up a bit. Tried to help some Latvians to get their bus going, got into a potentially dangerous situation and had push our own bus up the hill ‘cause it was pretty icy. We got going finally towards our cottage or mökki as they are called in Finland. Pancakes and sauna and TV. And we managed to get some overpriced light beer from the reception. Everybody slept very- very good on soft mattresses.

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Day 5

The last day was planned in the Levi ski-resort. Unfortunately I couldn’t go so after breakfast when others were gone I slept some more. Like 5 hours or so and spent the rest of the day watching TV and prepared dinner for the others. Started driving back at 4am Sunday and landed in Tallinn at 1030pm.

It was a great trip and gave me plenty of ideas for the future. Skiing in Lapland is pure pleasure although it might be dark and you’re getting tired but you still go on ‘cause you know that there is great place waiting for you in the end. And thanks to Raki and Tanner and Andro and Priit and Taavi and Birgit and Jaan for being such a great company.