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.
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.
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.
Every time we drive to the exercise grounds we pass a juncture. I don’t remember how long ago it was when I looked it up on the map, but today was the first time I managed to get down that road. According to our maps, it leads to Võhma mires and so called Võhma island which is surrounded by mires and Soodla river. The map shows some ruins on the island. The map also shows a road connecting there clearings, but occasionally it disappears. I was interested if it still possible to follow that road. And as i was near the Võhma mire itself then visit it also and ski over this old Soviet airforce and artillery target area called Jussi nõmm.
It was seriously cold in the morning, but eased up during the day. (termomeetri pilt)
I decided not to follow the road, but cut through the forest to a clearer patch of the mire. That got me a bit disorientated, but soon enough I was back on the trail and reached the Võhma island. Shortly before I crossed a ski-track made not long ago – maybe two days old ’cause we had some snow recently. It seems that there are more explorers around. These so-called islands used to be habituated, but now there are only ruins. Found some good camping spots in the higher ground. The road that is not on the map, actually exists and and the ski-tracks found before headed the same direction.
Found this stump, that seems like a training ground for woodpeckers or just contains extremely delicious, but evasive maggots.
Reaching the Võhma mire itself – a vast area, sparsely covered with low trees. Some trees were dead and blackened as if by fire, but I haven’t heard of recent burns there.
Now reaching the Jussi nõmm (heath). Although the morning promised low temperatures and clear skies, it didn’t happen. But when reaching this place the sun shone through clouds for about half an hour. And this became the highlight of the day. I think it was even better this way than with full sunlight all day.
After taking the pictures I headed north along the NÕMM towards Jussi lakes. On the way there I managed to get descents to test out the skis, but those measly 5 meters downhill don’t give much credit. The snow itself was pretty good and firm, but it seems that the boots restrain some control over turning.
Near the Jussi lakes are some really neat spots of a lunch break or even a night, but the latter was not planned for this time.
Heading east towards Valgejõgi and then turning south again leads back to Jussi Suurjärv and Võhma mire. The lake itself is about 2 meters lower that the mire. I first had planned to follow the edge of the mire to a road leading back to my car, but halfway there decided to take a quick look at the bog pools in the middle of the mire. Those turned out to be nothing special.
Somehow I managed to get disorientated again and reached the small lake designated with number 75. I DID plan to get there, but bot that soon. Than messed up my navigation and for the tenth time I swore to get a decent compass when I get back. I even managed to surprise myself by getting on the ski-track I myself had made in the morning. But that meant that now I exactly knew where I was. A elk had been investigating my track while I was on the other side of the mire. Actually I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t see any animals during that day. Some tracks, but nothing moving.
So after 5:30 and 19 km I was back at the car and it was still daylight. I had felt that I wasn’t moving very fast – mainly because I had taken my short walking poles – but after measuring the distance I considered it a good day and also a good training.
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…)
It took just a spark of an idea to start planning for an overnighter in the coldest night of the year. Like in elsewhere in Europe last week was pretty damn cold. How cold it actually is I discovered this week when I shaved off my 3-months-in-growing beard. Now it really was cold and I’ll never do that again in the middle of the winter. So for the weekend of 03-05.02 the night temperatures were supposed to fall under -30C. I whimped out on Friday night, but was out there on Saturday. (more…)
As we had some decent snowfall finally I had no choice to tar the skis and plan a weekend for some snow action. As I didn’t manage to go to Endla Nature reserve in the late summer I chose this destination. (more…)
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…)
Last weekend we got on the skiis again to continue the conquest of the highest hills in Estonia. To be more precise the hill 21 to 40 codenamed Lumeilves-2 (Snowlynx-2). There was four of us again – me, my brother Tanel, Mattias and replacing Karmo from last year was Tarmo. We started from Plaani at about 1030 with the goal to bag as many hills as possible. Although the weather was on the cold side the snow was warm still and formed heavy clumps under our skiis, which made sliding nearly impossible. It was actually great when going up the hills – almost like skinning up, but frustrating when trying to get down. Occasionally the clumps of snow let go and usually at the moment one was trying to get down down the hillside covered with trees so to avoid collision with trees one had to use the universal ass-brake. An old-school method of applying candle wax to the skis helped quite a lot. The hills aren’t marked so it was anybody’s guess if we really did reach the tops we planned – then again – who can prove we didn’t.
Day one ended quite late in the dark. Maybe we could have bagged all the peaks that day, but we decided to leave some for the next day. Another motivator for that was that we had a car in hand which could tow us the remaining 6 km to my brothers place. That proved to quite fun. Didn’t go much over 20km/h though.
Some sauna and dumpling lasagne in the evening and we stayed up late into the night.
Next day was much colder and we finally could get some speed out of our skis. The remaining 6 peaks went flying.
So great event again and we also made some plans for the summer in the same area and I also shared my plans about the next winter trip in Northern-Scandinavia. It could evolve into a bigger event.
Another winter holiday getaway attempt.
Trysil is somewhat far from Estonia, but than again almost everything is. Youd’d have to take a overnight ferry to Sweden and then drive, drive and drive some more. We drove for about 10 hours. The biggest problem about these long hours in the bus is probably the other people in the bus. I tend to get easily irritated – like when someone is attempting to play ukulele or a 8 year old girl is given a very irritating whistle. But that’s my problem. Another thing that I found weird was how vain prople are. It’s a tradition of the group to get to know each other during these rides. Everybody comes to the front of the bus and briefly introduces him or herself. Nothing fancy, like diving 200 meters underwater with just one breath, just how one got to know the group and something about hobbies and so on. And people are able to make such a fuzz about it and badmouth themselves. It was like “i’m too ordinary” and “i’ve done nothing special” and “actually i’m a very pointless person”. WTF?! I don’t want to know what someone thinks of him/herself. I’m perfectly capable of judging you myself and if you really are a pointless human being without an excuse for excisting then i’ll find it out. Don’t talk bad about and pity yourself – I don’t wanna hear it! It doesn’t make me feel better about myself when I hear something bad about you.
Other thing that makes me dislike groups of mixed people is when you put them into smaller groups or teams or houses it produces friction. Maybe it was because our accomodation was a distance away that we didn’t interact so much. But that was only like 2 minutes of walking. Maybe it was that people were tired after a long day on the slopes. And maybe it was just because we weren’t forced to communicate. At ski lessons group “leader” did most of the talking and other people just seemed to create random, occasionalt groups based on who met who at some particular moment at the elevator line or “värmestuga”. I personally didn’t care about forming relations at this trip, but it disturbed me strongly to see how people take sides based on those “alliances” made and behaved just awfully to each other. I heard quite a lot pickering about the “other” house that wasn’t that nice to hear, but it was topped by the most silly case of them all. In the morning of the last day when we were getting our things into the bus and people were choosing their seats for the remaining long bus trip. Somehow it is that people tend to choose the exact same spot they had when coming. They think of it as “their seat” or ” their territory that they have marked by compressing the seat cushion with their ass for several hours and that others should act accordingly. So when some people changed seats it was treated like a hostile gang invading their turf and stealing their hoe’s. No real blood was shed, but again poisonous remarks were dropped and I’m willing to bet that there was some behind the back bitch-slapping going on. And there was like 10 free seats at the bus and almost none of those better than the others.
And while we were driving back we watched a recent theatre/reallife political piece and there was and interview (maybe staged), that carried a very important thought for me. A Russian youth, speaking excellent Estonian, was asked if he could change something about Estonians, what would it be. And he replied that he would change the way Estonians talk about other Estonians, explaining that he has never heard anyone talk so badly about Estonians than other Estonians. That is a very interesting point.
And I’m seriously rethinking of the possibility of attending theses group trips ever again. Just too many things that I wasn’t satisfied with.
So about Trysil.
I found the place to be mediocre at that time with half the slopes and elevators closed. Not much snow and quite icy. I won’t even talk about the prices in Norway. I managed to almost deepfreeze one of my big toes on day too. Really awful – just like a hard lump of something and still not feeling right. I think my carving improved a bit and I managed to get plenty of good runs on different slopes. I also sneaked down some black slopes that aren’t actually that bad when not covered in ice. The equipment wasn’t that good, especially boots ’cause again they didn’t fit me very good and that caused a lot of unnecessary stress on me feet. I really feel that if I want to enjoy skiing I have to invest in boots of my own.And five days seemed to be a bit too long this time, but it might just be all the small things adding up. I think that I’ll have to come up with something more varied next time.
Went skiing today. Started from Tõreska and the first plan was to go all the way to Moe, but that changed a bit. Karmo drove me to the starting point (he was supposed to come to, but decided to be lazy instead) and at about 1pm I was off. Snow was very light, basically powder so it was rather easy to push through it. 10 minutes on the trail I had a minor failure on one of the bindings, but I managed to fix it. After few kilometers the tracks turned left and I had totally untouched snow. Easy going still. Weather was perfect – no wind, -5 C. Some sunshine would have been nice.
Near the Udriku lake I encountered a wild boar. I saw it first at about 75 meters, so I stood still and tried to get a picture. It went on and off the trail and when it was about 50 meters from me and still didn’t see me I gave out a blood-freezing and ear-crushing roar letting the beast know, who is the boss here. It froze, probably trying to blend in with the snow and when realizing his pitiful attempt has failed escaped in terror. So I carried on.
After about 6 km the snow grew thicker, but still about half way to my calf. Going got tougher. I hadn’t treated the soles of the skiis and they gathered clumps of snow which hindered the gliding seriously and it began to get dark. It didn’t really dark because all of the snow and the glow from Tapa was visible too. So I pushed on like that for the last 8 km to the Valgejõe bridge, where I called Karmo and arranged a pickup. Still had about 1km to go. By that time the temperatures dropped to about -10 C and I was mighty tired.
But it was great to get out and start the skiing season In 3 weeks we’ll try to ski to Vormsi and after that I’m going to Trysil. Hope the winter stays like this ’till March