29 July 2016

To summit Kebnekaise


It was not planned, it just happened. One Monday in July a colleague of my husband phoned and wanted to change shifts, and suddenly he had the rest of the week free. What shall we do? Wild idea: summit Kebnekaise on Friday. 

Yes it's a short notice, but we have been skiing around it so many times, it would be crazy if we never tried to go to the top, if we are given a chance. Since we had to cancel our skiing trip in March, I have been sad thinking I didn't see the mountains this year - What a perfect compensation this would be! 

It was possible to pack and to get ready in two days. We have all the gear for trekking in winter, and in summer you don't need that much. I have studied the map and been reading about the Kebne area since 2013, when we went skiing there for the first time. I even had some dried meals in the cupboard, that were originally meant for this years winter holiday.
A quick way to reach Mountain Station 

The weather forecast promised a sunny Friday morning, but rain and thunder storms after that. It helped us to decide the timetable and logistics: we had to hurry. On Thursday we drove to Nikkaluokta. From there we took a helicopter to Kebnekaise Fjällstation.  Instead of walking all day, it only takes ten minutes. In July the copter flies every morning and every evening. One person one way costs 89 €. A baggage max 20 kg is included.
Leaving behind the Fjällstation in Laddjuvaggi 

On the Station we asked do we need crampons. The answer was no; this time of the year the snow on the top is soft enough for shoes. You just have to be careful in last  few meters. So we hired only poles, which proved to be very useful. I really want to recommend them. One pair for one day costs 15 €.
Hiking up towards Kitteldalen

For my mind it was hard to follow so fast, but walking with my backpack up the hill slowly I realised we really are here. On Thursday evening we carried our backpacks up to Kitteldalen, which, to me, was like heaven.
Kebne-shoulder on the background

After a very stony and difficult path we came to a valley with ice-cold brooks, green mosh, stunning view  and Kebnekaise herself in front of you. It felt like luxury to camp there with no any other people. We cooked risotto and slept very well for eight hours. 
Our camp in Kitteldalen

And then it was Friday, the big day. Woke up at six, had a big breakfast and started to climb at seven. We left most of our stuff in the tent. We only took jackets, merino wool underwear,  2 l drinking water each and snacks like sandwiches, nuts and dried fruits in our packs.
On Vierranvarri

The weather was very hot. I counted it would take me at least 4 hours to reach the top in that heat, and I was right. First you have to go up and down Vierranvarri, which is a  1711 m high mountain. Then you are down in Kaffedalen, and can start climb Kebnekaise.

There is the Top!

We reached the top at 11.30, before most of the people, who had started from Fjällstation in the morning. There was no queue, no wind, just sunshine and a clear view to every direction. I think it must be very rare to stand on the top of Kebnekaise wearing a t-shirt and enjoying silence. I felt blessed.
On the top


They say when you are on the top, you are only half way. In Kebne it surely is true: Going "down" means going up and  down Vierranvarri again. There is not a clear path on these hills. All the time you have to try and find a place for you foot between sharp or rolling stones. It is really tirying for your leg muscles.
Scenery to Laddju-lake and Nikkaluokta

Luckily we had the poles to take off some of the weight. You can adjust the poles shorter for uphills and longer for downhills. Their support helps you not to fall down or hurt your feet. 
Going down from Kebnekaise

At three o clock we were back in Kitteldalen. Eight ours of walking made me really tired. I dipped my feet in the ice-cold water and lied down in the tent. My husband made food. After eating we slept for half an hour. 
Having a rest

At five we packed the whole camp and started carrying our gear down. Finding my way across the big stones, I really felt the baggage heavy in my back. I had to stop often to rest, but a little after seven we made it to the Fjällstation. After sweating all day,  I was so happy to go to shower!
Coming to Mountain Station after a 14 hour day

We slept in our tent near to the Station. On Saturday morning we had the loveliest breakfast in the Hotel and then there was only the long walk back to Nikkaluokta in front of us. No helicopter-ride this way, but the boat-ride on Laddju lake gave us a very nice an hours break in the middle of walking. 
Waiting for the boat in Laddju lake

We started walking from the Fjällstation at about eight and came to Nikkaluokta at two. It was still somehow difficult to believe we did it. My legs were hurting, but it was nothing a little rest would not cure. Markku went to get the car from helicopter-place. I took my shoes off. 

Back in Nikkaluokta, once again!

Sitting in the car, my main wish was - again - to get clean. Where to wash? We started slowly driving our car. About 20 km from Nikkaluokta we found a perfect place to wash and to relax our musckes, a natures own jacuzzi. What a perfect ending to a perfect trip. 

Nature's own jacuzzi

Markku drove our car to Finland. On the way found a nice place for overnight with geocatche. It was a beautiful beach. As the sun went down, I started slowly thinking about tomorrow, going home and then... future adventures.

 Here is a film with some of the feelings: To summit Kebnekaise

06 July 2016

Biking around Ruka

One day in June we did a biking trip in Kuusamo. We packed our bikes and our camping car and drove near Ruka.

In Ruka area there are many high hills. On Valtavaara and Kontainen we have hiked a couple of times earlier, but this time I wanted to to something new. I have recently bought myself a mountainbike to replace my horse.  Since May I have done a little bit of driving near home. Now I wanted to try biking on the paths of these hills, and so we ended up pushing our bikes up Pyhävaara.

We chose a forest path. With the bags it was quite heavy. The sun was shining and the mosqitos were enjoying our sweting bodies. I really wished the wind would blow them away. But when the top of the Pyhävaara hill opened in front of me, I knew it was worth it. There was nobody there. The weather was so clear we could see far in every direction.

My husband cooked chicken, sweet botato and rice. Because it was our wedding day, we had some dessert and a tiny little glass of wine, too. It felt like an evening on the roof of the world.
After the meal and rest it was time to go down. The top of the hill was too difficult for me to drive. It was steep and there were a lot of stones. Walking with my bike a thought cross my mind would it have been more clever to leave the bikes down. But in the forest path I got the hang of it. I realized I have this skill from riding cross-country on horse: I can stand on the pedals and stay in balance. I started to have fun going round the stones and roots. On the foot of the hill I was going almost as fast as my husband.

It made me very happy and felt like a beginning of a new time. Losing my horse has been sad, but now it is possible for us to stay away from home more easily and travel with our camper - and our bikes.
I june it doesn't really get dark here in the North. At about nine we decided to go on biking and see the Ruka willage.

It was very quiet, almost spooky when we got there at ten. In this empty town there was one bar open, Zone. It allway is. We had a drink and started driving back to our camper, which we had left by a lake on the other side of Pyhävaara.

It had been quite a day and I really felt it in my legs. It was late when we reached the car. We had a swim in the lake and slept very well in the camper, even if we had to negotiate the bikes under the bed, because we had forgotten to take any lock or chain so we did not want to leave them outside.

In the morning we got an idea to visit some friends, who have their summer cottage on that area. We biked there. They invited us to have coffee on their balcony. Then it was only a short ride back to car, last swim in lake Pyhäjärvi and then home.

03 July 2016

Baraka on a small river

My husband bought a Baraka Gumotex canoe. I was afraid of it. I thought it would go flat in the middle of the river or fall over in the white waters.

It took me a lot of courage to plan a trip canoeing on it. I decided we would go an a small river called Naamankajoki. I tried to find information about the river on net, but I found almost nothing. I called Syöte Nature Centre and they said the same: they don't know if there is enough water and it maybe would be better to go to an other river, Pärjänjoki.

I was not able to give away my original plan. So I found a place on Naamankajärvi, where we could leave our car, and arranged a pick up from Irnijärvi 30 km down the river.
I packed sleepingbags and clothes in a yellow water-thigth bag. I packed food and cooker in an aluminium box. I packed little things like water bottles, snacks, sunglasses and maps in a small blue water-tight bag. On top of these three items we would only need the canoe, its hand-pump, paddles and life-jackets.

First we had to cross a small lake. You could think it's easy to find where the river starts, but once you are on the lake, every shore looks the same and you really need to look at the map.
We found river Naamanka and it looked like fairytale. The bottom of the river was golden sand. There were lots of fish swimming beside us. There was a nice little flow and just enough water for the Baraka.

I looked at the time and map to estimate how long it will take us to paddle to the cabin. Four hours, give or take, and we would be in Taimenmutka. I was right. We reached the cabin at eight, but before that those four hours were lovely. As we went down the river, the nature around us was changing all the time from forest to bush, from grass to swamp. We saw reindeer, birds, ducks, golden eye divers, beaver-tracks and an happy otter.

At the cabin we swam, cooked pasta and tried to sleep. It was difficult, because of some wood eating ants, who clearly thought the cabin belonged to them...
At eight we were eating brekfast and packing the canoe. I was really exited, because in the map there were many white waters in the river down from here.

The first one made me scared. It came so suddenly and then just went on and on. I needed a break to collect myself. My fear made no sense. These waters are so shallow, I can often just step away from the canoe and stand on the bottom of the river. My husband is professional and I am a very good swimmer. What am I afraid off??

Maybe it is the noice and the speed, or the fact I don't know enough about canoeing, but I fear the canoe will get stuck sideways and the pressure of water will lock me agains a stone. The most terrifying thing for me is not to know what is behind the next curve. "I can do this, but what if it gets worse" is how my thoughts went.

It knew I had to get my nerves under control, or we would have a very long day ahead of us. Before the next white water I found a way to control my fear. I noticed that if I always look far, not to the whirling water around me, I almost feel I'm not here. Then it went fine. Actually, towards the end, the calm parts of the river started to feel boring and I hoped there would be more white waters to give us speed and challenge.

We arrived to Lake Iinattijärvi at half past one. We canoed 30 km, fifteen both days. And yes - I would do it again. I learned to trust myself and this Gumetex canoe, which, gliding over the rocks, made this 
trip possible.

Here is a small film. Music made by my son.