This blog is quite like my life has been recently – uneventful, when talking about hiking and outdoors. I did ride some bike, but that’s a lame-ish excuse.
So when we had to organize a march for conscripts finishing their basic training I decided to make this into a training walk for me and choose the route accordingly. Usually the march is two days with around 25km each day. Before the event I had measured the distance on the map by eye and it seemed like around 50km. I had to man one checkpoint in the beginning and after that was free to pace off. Soldiers usually do this in full gear, but as I ended my basic training almost 10 years ago I can do much as I please. So it was combat gear (minus rifle and helmet) and light sleeping gear for me.
Travelling was mostly on gravel roads. 60km in total with walking time around 12 hours. About a third I walked in total darkness, which was cool. Got some blister, because I neglected foot-care, but nothing too painful. Muscles felt stiff in the evening after finishing, but the next day it was almost OK.
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…)
The greatest thing about the birthday of one’s country is that it’s a day off from work. Unless one has to attend the parade. Luckily not me this year so I could pull off another day skiing in the countryside. I had some work to do also so it was good that it could be done during the trip.
But again – lazy as can be so I again started at 12:30pm. And again starting from the Ohepalu hiking trail for some kilometers and then turning west towards Saksaare. Reaching that place I continued west aiming for the Kukepalu practice area where I was to mark some coordinates for the upcoming live-fir exercise. Reaching that proved not very easy, but I had plenty of time and too it easy. There were other ski tracks around, but those were much narrower than mine, but as the snow is rather compact those seemed to carry as well.
The weather was very good, with temperatures at -15 again, but sun shining at warming quite well. Had to wear only quite thin layers and moving kept me from cold. Gloves were a problem until I switched to thick mittens. Still, when you remove the mittens to do something that requires fingers, they get cold very quickly.
So with the sun getting lower already I started towards Pakasjärv. It’s a small lake in the middle of the bog. At summer I tried to reach it once, but it was too wet for my gear at that time. In a winter like this – no problem and skis are just perfect. The snow was powdery, but carried fine. After reaching the lake, headed towards the main road going through the exercise area. Went off the planned course a bit and had to go back about a 1,5 km on the road. On the road the going was rather quick, ’cause the road was icy. The edges of my skis aren’t actually that sharp so it was quite slippery also. When reaching the planned trailhead I was on the path already well known and therefore going was easy. Unfortunately some tracker vehicles had also moved on that road and it wasn’t very good path. Still a lot quicker than breaking my own path. Quickly going through the old rocket-base it was already very dark and I had the last strech to go. But it was also the worst strech ’cause it was a long-long, very straight path. There was also a smaller, partly unfrozen stream I had to cross. No problems though. Reached the car at 19:30, after being on the move for almost 7 hours and 32km.
A very good day and hopefully some more to come before everything starts to melt.
Now as I didn’t get enough of skiing on the last weekend i had planned two days of ski touring with consripts. Area – Ohepalu nature reserve.
First day was perfect weather, but very hard going. I failed to navigate precisely enough and that led us through quite bumpy and dense vegetation, which slowed us down. But the soldier liked it – at least mot of them seemed to enjoy the day out. We started at about 10am and finished near 10 pm. And in that time we covered 25km.
As the second day was Friday and most of the conscripts were supposed to go home I didn’t want to take that long time to reach the end so I modified the track a bit and we stayed mostly off the harder terrain. Again starting at 10, but today I finished as early as 17.30 covering about 25km again.
Now most of the group managed quite fine and we would have moved at a much faster speed and reached our destination hours earlier that we did, but there were some factors.
When I went to school we had skiing lessons in winter for our PT. So everybody could ski. We also had plenty of ski-tracks in the vicinity. And we had some slopes that we particularly enjoyed, ’cause going down hill is by far much easier than just cross-country skiing. So long story short – 99% of people I know could ski. But now I have theses 20+ year old young, supposedly strong men at my command and there are those who have never been on skis. Fair enough – a lot of them managed quite well. Maybe slow, but at least their movement was co-ordinated. But then there are those who were like they had woken up this morning and discovered that they had grown two hands and feet and didn’t know what the fuck to do with them. That meant that at the time I had covered 100m in a moderate speed they managed barely 10m. And they didn’t get any of the instructing I gave. Like talking to a cactus-plant. I swear there were moment when I thought that one of us will not make it to the end of the day. How the fuck have you managed to get by for so long!! Now I know what people mean when they describe somebody so clumsy that they probably wouldn’t succeed in getting hit by a truck, while standing in the middle of the highway at the rush hour. Unbelievable.