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.
It`s a new thing. Skate touring.
The conditions have been great this year with long periods of cold temperatures and very little snow-fall. And I have been hearing the cheering for a few week now, so I gave it a try. I have been skating on the natural ice once, but that was on a bog pool and a totally different experience. (more…)
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…)
I almost went to an overnighter this weekend, but the lack of capable enough tires on my car canceled that idea. I think I wouldn’t have gotten up the slope near the house. But I was out for a while and noticed this row of maple trees that had shed it’s last leaves on the freshly fallen snow. I returned with the camera.