27 October 2017

Changing season - Hossa

In Hossa National Park there is a 14 km walk called Kokalmuksen kierros. I made an overnight trip there with my husband last weekend.

We started from Hossalaislammit where we left our car. The weather was sunny, cold and calm. It made lake Pitkä-Hoilua look like mirror.

First part of the path is easy. You can even push a baby tram or a wheel chair to Muikkupuro laavu. It sits between two lakes by an extremely beautiful brook - No wonder it is a popular place! There was a family there with fatbikes. We went on.

All the time the path follows the shores  taking us around the lakes, which all seem to have sandy shores on this area. My favourite part was Hoiluansärkkä, where we walked on a very narrow cape, lakes on both side.

We spend the night on a laavu (an open hut) in Lipposensalmi. The lake shore was quiet and still. We cooked dinner on fire. We saw the stars come out and felt the air getting colder and colder.

It was just perfect - like the last night of autumn or first night of winter. And I was lucky enough to spend it outside!

In the morning the shores of the lakes were frozen and the sun was shining. Porridge, berrysoup, coffee, bread and tuna for breakfast and then it was an easy and happy 4-5 km walk back to the car, following the other side of the lakes.


16 July 2017

Ounastunturit - I walk alone

Reissun huippuhetki Vuontiskeron päällä 

I walked three days alone in Lapland. I started my walk in Hetta and ended it in Vuontisjärvi, making a total of 45 km on the Ounastunturi-hills.

SATURDAY 8.7.2017 From Hetta to Sioskuru

On saturday I first drove my family to Näkkälä. They started paddling down river Näkkälä with their canoe. I drove our car to Hetta, so that they can take it from there after their adventure on the river. It was easy to find the starting point of my trek: There was a sign from the village road to the small harbour. There you can phone a man, who comes and for a fee of 10 € takes you over the lake. There I stood then, on my own, the path ahead of me.
Venekyyti Hetasta Ounasjärven yli.

It took me one and half hours to walk to the first cabin, which stands on the foot of the first high hill. Just before the cabin the forest opens so that you can see the hills. I saw there was still snow on Pyhäkero. I took a small break on the cabin, during which I saw a couple of people coming  down from the hills. I had a snack and filled my water bottles - there was a well by the cabin. And then I started climbing.
Parin tunnin kävelyn jälkeen Pyhäkero tulee näkyviin. 

As soon as I reached the treeline, I knew this walk had been a very good idea. No mosquitoes, not any people - just the wind and and the scenery growing blue to the horizon. I felt I am at home.
Pyhäkeron rinteeltä avautuvat maisemat kohti Hetan kirkonkylää. 

Lake Pyhäjärvi between the two tops of the hill looked like a miracle, or like a man-made pool making you think how does the water stay up here. From the lake there is a short walk to the top of Pyhäkero, which is a very stony place. The snow and the cloudy skies added to the feeling and made it look rough.
Pyhäjärvi lähellä taivasta. 

Seuraava kohde: Pyhäkeron huippu. 

From the top I could see the path going slowly down and then, after about five kilometres, to disappear in to a small valley. There should be Sioskuru-cabin, where I was going to spend my first night. It  was almost six o'clock already, but it looked very possible to reach the cabin early enough. On the way there I felt relieved. If I had been nervous about my 'survival' here alone, now I knew there was nothing to worry about. My backpack was heavy but not too heavy for me to carry and the path was marked and easy to find. Other than that, I was not afraid of the weather or the mountains - my only concern was the people. I wished there would not bee too much of them. At least in autumn this is a popular route to hike.

Polku johtaa alas Pyhäkerolta, kohti Sioskurua

On Sioskuru cabin there was three other groups staying overnight: A couple, a family and two girls. Only the girls wanted to sleep in the cabin. Somebody had been warming the stove and it was really hot in the cabin. The others put up their tents. I did not have a tent with me, only a  simple waterproof fabric in case on emergency. So, after eating dinner, I decided to sleep on the porch. In the evening there was some mosquitoes, but then the wind started blowing a little, and it was perfect. It was magical to listen to the songs of a nearby brook and a bluethroat mixing together all night long. I slept like a baby.

Sioskurun kämppä. takana Pyhäkero. 

SUNDAY 9.7.2017 From Sioskuru to Hannukuru

In the morning the sun was shining. It was going to be a warm day. From the map I knew it should be quite an easy day. I would walk 15 km like every day, but it would all be on the plateau, before diving down to Pahakuru-canyon and Hannukuru-cabin.
Toinen päivä, onnellinen kävelijä tunturipaljakalla.

 I decided to spend as much of the day up in the hills as possible. And so I did. I enjoyed the treeless scenery, stopped often to take pictures, climbed on Tappuri-hill to eat lunch and watched the snowy Outtakka-top turn as I slowly passed it during the day.
Lounastauko Tappurin rinteellä. 

I came to Pahakuru-cabin at about one. I was alone, so I decided to stay a few hours there before going down the the valley. From this cabin there is one of the best views to the Pallastunturi-hills. I saw the three first of them in the horizon and and thought it will be a though day tomorrow walking over them.
Pallastunturit näkyvät Pahakurun tuvalta. 

I went to get water from a fountain in the bottom of the Pahakuru-canyon. The canyon is not deep, but it still is somehow scary place, because you can see how the earth has moved an collapsed when the canyon has been born thousands of years ago. It felt good to find the fountain. The water was crystal clear and ice-cold. I filled my pot and my two bottles and went to the cabin to cook some tea.

When I was ready, I started descenting to Hannukuru-valley. I was afraid there would be a lot of people and a lot of mosquitoes in the valley. But I was wrong! There was hardly any. In stead there was something I did not expect to see in Lapland Hills: a grove with flowers and all.
Kurun pohjalta löytyy lehto.

It was only one hours walk to the Hannukuru cabin. And what a cabin it is! There is a wilderness cabin, a rental cabin, a pond, a sauna, a well and many fireplaces on the area. And no-one else, except that one family in the other room. We warmed the sauna together and then took turns to bathe. It felt so good to wash my hair with warm water and to swim in the pond.
Kivipolku johtaa Hannukurun saunalta Haukkalammen rantaan.

Walking from to the sauna,  I saw a snake on the path. It was a big adder. I later read that Hannukuru is the northern-most place where adders can be seen in Finland.

So, it was peaceful and relaxing night alone in the cabin, and that was good for the last and the hardest day of my walk was still ahead of me.

MONDAY 10.7.2017 From Hannukuru to Vuontisjärvi

I had my alarm set on seven, but I woke up ten to. I cooked porridge and tea for breakfast. Like every morning, I emptied and packed my bag. I realized it was a bit easier to pack it, because there was not much food left. I started walking at eight. I thought it is best to start early, and to have time to rest after every hill, if needed.
Repun räjäytyskuvassa kaikki varusteeni. 

Climbing up from Hannukuru-canyon, I did not expect good views. I thought the first hill, Suastunturi, might even have trees on top of it. But it didn't. It was open and lovely, almost like a picnic field. I saw a family of raven and tried to talk with them. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and I was in a very good spirit.

Lumikero nähtynä Suastunturin päältä.

After the top the path dives down to the forest and to the very root of the hill. There is a small hut and a brook. You have to boil the water before drinking. I boiled and drank a lot of water. I was feeling thirsty, and that is not good. I filled my bottles with boiled water and cooled them in the brook, to take them with me to the next hills. I took my shoes of and checked my feet. I ate my last piece of bread with a little tin of tuna. It tasted good.

Second hill, Lumikero, was much bigger. The path just went up and up and up. Like often in these hills, when you think you see the top, it is not true - that is just the shoulder of the hill. Climbing a long time is not a bad thing. It made both my body and my brains work in different way. I had time to think about my life and to see it from a larger perspective. Let's just say, that when I finally reached the top, I felt grateful - in more ways than one.

Lumikeron huipulla otin yhden kiven kasasta pois. 

Lumikero-top is a special place. It is so narrow, that you really fell how high you are. One thing I don't understand is why do people make piles of stones on every top. I think they look like a bad joke in the beautiful nature. In stead of putting my stone in the pile, I always take one off. If others would follow my example, the mountaintops would slowly go back to their natural look.

I saw some willow grouses. It is fun to follow them. They let you come close, before they run away. I had a snack on the top and looked at the third top, Vuontiskero, ahead of me. The path did not go to the top of it, but because these other two tops had been so marvelous, I was tempted to make a trip there, too. On my left hand side I could also see the end point of my journey, lake Vuontiskero. It looked like a blue hole down on the earth.  Watching all this the sun was still shining, but the wind was so hard, that I almost felt cold. So I started walking again.

Vuontisjärvi nähtynä Lumikeron huipulta 

First down to Lumikuru-valley and then up Vuontiskero-hill. When I was on the highest point of the path, I left my bag behind a stone. In case of fog or cloud or rain I marked the place in my gps. Then I climbed up on my third top today, and it was the charm. There was a lonely reindeer on the top. Meeting and filming him up there felt like a final touch to this wonderful trip. I felt thankful.

Tapaaminen Vuontiskeron huipulla. 

Then it was just one downhill back to the world. In Montellin Maja -cabin I felt I am not in the wilderness anymore. There were many people coming and going, there was almost a road from Vuontisjärvi. Easy to reach, this little cabin surely gives many people their first glimpse to the mountains. For me it was the other way round. I walked down and out tried to adjust my head to meeting family and friends.

I feel the  mountains do take a part of my soul, leaving it there with the wind and the raven. But they also give me something back: An ability to see more clear. When I feel I lose it, it's time to go back up again.

Pallastunturit ja Pahakurun pihlaja. 

08 April 2017

My kind of date 2 x 50 km

Portinloman kalliorotko oli hienoin nähtävyys pitkällä retkelläni.

Last weekend I met my husband in a wilderness cabin 50 km from home.

My husband started his trip on Thursday. He skied with his dog four days and 150 km. He made a round trip. His route was Raappana-Taivalkoski-Harjajärvi-Kylmäluoma-Turpeinen-Tyräjärvi-Lehtovaara-Kurtti-Raappana.

I started my trip on Saturday. I drove my dogteam 100 km. My route was Raappana-Kurtti-Metsäkylä-Portinloma-Lehtovaara and back. I went on dog trails, snowmobile trails, old railroad, lakes and swamps. All the routes were really quiet and lonely. 

Lauantaina taivalsin valjakollani 50 km sumuisessa säässä.

On saturday the weather was not nice. It was raining and snowing and grey. On Sunday the weather was wonderfull: a little frost and a lot of sunshine. 

On Saturday I met my husband in Lehtovaara cabin. We have never been there before. If something is in the middle of nowhere, this cabin is. The nearest houses in  Metsäkylä are 20 km from this cabin. There is a wood heated stove, a bed and nothing else. You can find water from a spring nearby.
Tapasin mieheni Lehtovaaran kämpällä keskellä erämaata.

It took me 5 hours, including one hour lunch break, to reach the cabin. It was nice to see my husband was already there, cleaning the cabin. My first job was to give the dogs a drink, then take their harness and boots of, put on their coats and stake out.
Miilu ja Piitu nauttivat hemmottelusta niin kuin minäkin.

To my big surprise there was a bottle of sparkling wine waiting for me in the cabin. Can you believe he had carried it on skis for more than a hundred kilometres? I thought that was romantic. 

After a great meal we slept very well. And so did Miilu and Piitu. We took my lead dogs inside. They both like warm beds and human companion as well as each others.

Sunnuntaiaamuna kävimme hakemassa vettä läheisestä hetteestä.

On Sunday morning Markku started first. It took me some time to put on booties to all the dogs, but when I was ready, it was a flying start. The sun was shining and the conditions were far better than the day before.
Vaikka kuljimme eri reittejä, tapasimme silti lounastauolla Kurtissa.

After 2 hours I stopped my team in the old railway and waited for my husband. He came soon with Mora straight across a lake. We had lunch together and then went on our separate ways. All the way home I enjoyed sunshine and my dogs handling the long way so well.
Auringonpaiste ja hiljaisuus saattelivat sunnuntaina kulkijoita.

This trip taught me some new things:
- the importance of good booties for dogs
- great idea to travel separately at own speed and only meet for overnight gives new possibilities
- long journeys with dog team are relaxing in a meditative way
- with safety vests and reflectors driving on a snowmobile trail went very well

Tyytyväisenä kotona - koirat selvisivät hienosti 100 km:n reissusta. 

Video 2x50 km trip

23 March 2017

Kuusamo MD - Lost and found

Kuusamo MD toinen sija. Voittaja Pauliina Tirkkonen js kolmas Kaisu Jousjärvi. 

My team came second in Kuusamo MD! First day I (like many others) got lost from the track and lost a lot of time. Second day I found my way and my sport. 

Lauantaina kisaan valmistauduttiin lumisessa säässä. 

Saturday 18.3.2017

Weather: Cloudy, 0°C
Trail: Soft snow, hard track under it
Time: 3.12
Distance: 45 km (or something)
Speed: 14 km/h

Matkaan sännättiin innolla....

I started slowly, breaking quite a lot. I thought that would save the dogs, but I'm not sure if it did. First the trail was lovely, cruising around the trees in the forests, but after about 10 km there was a crossing that should not be there. I was in doubt. I thought the trail should go left, but all the three teams ahead of me went right. I decided they must know the way. 

Well they didn't. The trail went in to a farm. We had to turn back. And almost all the other teams had followed us. It took some time to turn every team around. When we were standing there waiting, all the time my dogs tried to pull the sledge and go. I had to jump on the brake and try to calm them down. That must have been really frustrating for my dogs. 
... Mutta 10 km:n ajon jälkeen hortoiltiin eksyksissä. Ja seistiin sumassa.

When we came back to the right track,  the fastest teams started overtaking all the others. Soon we saw them again, this time their faces, when they came back from the loop. We tried to stop and make way for their teams. It went well. All the mushers were friendly and helped each other. 

Near the airport the track made a loop and turned back. After many kilometers and big uphills there was a crossing to the left. I came there alone. I think at this point each team had already found its own speed. My team started galloping down the hill towards the lake.

Loppumatka sumuisella järvellä tuntui pitkältä. 

The lake was long and white. I saw Markku's 12-dog-team running ahead of me, but they almost vanished in the blue clouds. My dogs trotted quite slowly. They had no way of knowing that there will be the finish-line in the other end of the lake. We made it there, a little tired but in good health.
Kävelytimme ja verryttelimme koirat moneen kertaan illan aikana. 

I gave drinks to my dogs and walked and stretched them all. My husband helped me. The dogs seemed fine, even the nine-year-old Tete. She may look like a mole, but she is a though one!

After the race I found out, that two of the teams had got lost again later on the track. So they did not finish on the first day. It's a pity. I hope next year the crossings in this race have even better marks than this year.
Koirat söivät ja joivat hyvin. Jopa 9-vuotias Tete oli illalla iloinen ja pirteä.

We, like most of the people, stayed in a cabin in Ollila. In the evening there was a wonderful dinner for us: warm and cold dishes made from local fishes. It was nice to come together and talk with other mushers and handlers over a delicious meal. 
Ollilan lomamajat tarjosi kisoissa upeat puitteet ja mahtavan illallisen.

Lessons I learned from Saturday: 
- Never follow others. Trust yourself. 
- In crossings, stop and read the map.
- Don't be afraid of meeting other teams on the track. 
- Try to avoid stopping to have a smooth run.

Joustava startti toimi. Jokainen sai ajaa lähtöviivalle silloin kun oli valmis. 

Sunday 19.3.2017

Weather: Sunny, a few degrees minus
Track: Excellent condition
Time: 2:24
Distance: 42 km
Speed: 19 km/h

What a wonderful morning! I started driving faster than the day before - a risk worth taking on a very good track and weather. My dogs were galloping all the time. I had fun. Only two teams run ahead of me. They met me a little before I got to the airport loop. Coming back from there, I met all the other teams. I counted them to make sure, when I have passed everyone. Then I could relax.
Upea sää, upea ura, upea vauhti. Ja onnistumisen tunne. 

Krista catch me and passed me. I followed her up the hill, but when we turned left and down, I lost her. Her well rested team was so fast, I could only see the back of it on the lake. 

Sunday was filled with gladness and sunshine. My dogs were running so fast and doing it so well. Not even upset tummies they had. Just before lake, at about 35 km in the second day, when they were still galloping in the forest, I knew it was going to be a really good time.

Sunnuntaina valkkoni kulki keskivauhtia 19 km/h.

And it was. I am very happy about the speed on Sunday. And even more happy about the dogs. During and after the weekend they ate and drank and behaved well. They were not dehydrated or exhausted. I must have done something right. 

I can hardly believe I really I brought home a prize from a race. I know it's not Oscar but >In my scale this is a big success. That is why I want to say THANK YOU: 
- To my husband for being the best handler
- To Sari Ikonen for breeding the dogs
- To all the fellow mushers who were so helpful and friendly
- To Ollilla Lomamajat for a super nice track, cabin and dinner
- To race organization for a great concept: Race with flexible start and evening meal
- To the sprint mushers who have taught me a lot about preparing the dogs before races
- To the unknown woman who came to bless my dogs before the race
- To my sons and family and dear doggies for their love and support

Kiitos Miilu, Piitu, Tete, Igor, Diesel ja Mora ja kaikki meitä auttaneet!

11 March 2017

One trip, three countries - Winter trekking from Kilpisjärvi

Kolmen valtakunnan hiihtovaellus Kilpisjärveltä vei meidät Suomeen, Norjaan ja Ruotsiin. 

We arrived to Kilpisjärvi on Monday evening. We parked our car and started skiing across the lake. The sun was just going behind the hills and the weather felt a bit colder than we had expected.
When we came to Kolttalahti, we started to look for a place to camp. Near Swedish border we found it: a little hill with a magnificent view to all the three countries that meet here: Finland, Sweden and Norway.
Maanantai-ilta viileni, kun aloitimme matkan Kilpisjärven yli. 

Not a minute too soon we started putting up the tent and minding the dogs. With freezing fingers and toes we made it. The cooker made tent nice and warmish as we made dinner, but still I needed to wear down jacket and down skirt when we ate.
Pystytimme teltan lähelle kolmen valtakunnan rajaa. 

We saw northern lights red and green and yellow dancing in the sky like never before. It was going to be an extremely cold night. My two sleeping bags were not warm enough. I was feeling cold, especially my toes. My husband made hot water bottles for my feet. When that was not enough, he let me sleep in his sleeping bag. Then I was okay, but he was cold.
Yö oli niin kylmä, että emme saaneet juurikaan nukuttua. 

We didn't get much sleep that night. The temperature was -28°C. Somehow we made it through the night and faced very cold and very beautiful Tuesday morning. Happy to see the mountains and to hear the perfect silence, but worried about the cold feet we started skiing towards Norway. We agreed that if we don't feel warm soon, we have to turn back and seek shelter in a cabin.
Tiistai-aamuna toivoimme, että saisimme jäsenet lämpenemään hiihtäessä. 

After five minutes of skiing we knew we can make it. The blood started circulating and the warm feeling filled toes and fingers. To Gappohytta it is!
Aloitimme nousemisen kohti Gappoa alhaalla näkyvää rajalinjaa pitkin. 

And what a trail it was. Up and down and up and down. We really needed to sweat to get the pulkkas up those hills. Even one of them made me feel I used all the power I had. And then there was an other and an other one... I never knew I could do it so many times.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the snow was sparkling and the Barras montaintop was watching over  us all day as if we were the only people on Earth.
Barras katseli meitä kuin olisimme olleet ainoat ihmiset maailmassa. 

When reached Gappohytta in the afternoon, I was flat. The last bit of uphill was almost too much for me. It was such a relief to step inside a cozy hut and to know we would sleep safe and warm tonight.
Melkein perillä. Gappohytta näkyy kuvan oikeassa reunassa. 

In the evening we made short skiing trip around the cottage to see all the different shades of pink the setting sun painted on the mountains and hills. There was no-one else in Gappo hytta, just us two and our dogs. That night we went early to bed and slept well.
Illalla hiihtelimme katsomaan laskevan auringon värjäämää Barrasta. 

Wednesday morning there were some clouds in the sky. Maybe the weather was getting warmer. Eating breakfast we made plans. Tuesday had been exhausting. Should we turn back now? We were tempted to go to Pältsa stuga in Sweden, but was it too far? Can we make it back to Kilpisjärvi from there, if there weather changes? At home we had said to our boys that we will be back to Kilpisjärvi on Thursday or Friday, so we did have an extra day in reserve. 
Keskiviikkona päätimme jatkaa matkaa kohti Pältsaa

We decided to give it a try. We packed our pulkkas, put on the belt, connected the dog and started skiing to Pältsa. Boy I'm glad we did! It turned out to be an easy day.
Ohitimme Pältsan aurinkoisessa säässä.

In two hours we reached the cabin, where the hostess welcomed us to the pet room and promised to warm the sauna in the evening. We were her only guests - no-one else here so early in March.
Reitti Gappolta Pältsalle oli yllättävän helppo ja todella kaunis. 

To my relief there was a marked 20 km track straight from the cabin to Kilpisjärvi. And there had been two snow scooters driving it that same day. The track went over the hills with a huge amount of climbing. We knew we had a challenging day ahead of us, so it was nice to just read and relax on the afternoon.
Miilun ja Moran avulla oli helppo hakea vettä kämpälle ja saunalle. 

Also for the dogs it was good to have time to rest. Miilu had some snow cuts in her front pawns. I put medicine and boots on. She didn't touch them, so the cuts started healing really well, as the dogs enjoyed sleeping in the cabin.
Pältsalla lepäilyn jälkeen olimme valmiita seuraavan päivän koitoksiin. 

Thursday morning was cloudy. We started climbing up the highland well prepared, rested and packed so, that we can quickly make a camp up there, if necessary. It was difficult to tell from the weather if it is going to clear or turn in to a storm. We also had an extra days food with us, both for us and for the dogs.
Torstaina kapusimme Duoibalin tunturiylängölle elävien nousukarvojen avulla. 

Without the dogs this heavy trail would have taken us all day, but with them only 4-5 hours. So steep were the hills and so many of them there was. I could only admire my dear dog Miilu. I don't understand how does she have the strength to pull up the walls all day. Finding the track in the snow, she really is my Togo.
Miilu. Toivottavasti tulevana kesänä pentujen emo. 

But what a place, and what a weather it was up there! The sun started to shine, it was warm, no wind - just the white hills ending in white clouds - As hard as it was, we were in heaven.
Ylhäällä ei ollutkaan myrskyä, vaan tyyntä ja lämmintä ja taivaallista.  

We had lunch on a top, where we could see the place we camped on Monday ant the mountains we skied to on Tuesday. That moment had it all. The dogs resting behind a stone, us standing silent on the top. It was a farewell to the mountains before going down and back to normal life. This time it was more difficult than ever.
Kilpsijärvi näkyy. Miten täältä voi palata arkeen?