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. 

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