Lapland – July, 2011 – Part 2

You can find Part 1 of this trip report here.

On Monday morning, I bathed and broke camp. This was followed by a 7.5 km/4.7 mi hike to Rautulampi, a shelter at a beautiful lake in an area of higher elevation and fewer trees. I ate lunch and rested here. I think I’ll let the pictures of this area speak for themselves. I felt like I was in a different country, as it was very different from the Finland I knew.

Sometimes the trail disappeared in a field of rocks:

After hiking 7.5 km/4.7 mi from Rautulampi, I had reached my next destination, which had new and old reindeer corrals, a shelter and a campsite. I was lucky to get there when I did, because shortly afterward the clouds started rolling in.

I met an old Finnish gentleman there who spoke Finnish and Russian, but no English, so I had to stumble my way through with broken Finnish to communicate. I think he understood most of what I was saying, as he didn’t seem to look at me at any point as if I had said something like “I just hiked up the rubber ducky and now I’m going to stop and shave my armpits.” He told me about how he was on an extended trip and had covered about 200 km/124 mi up to that point. Kudos to him! I can only hope to be in that kind of condition when I reach his age. He went back to the closed shelter which was a little ways away and I made some bannock in a pan at a fire ring. Looking at my food supply, I realized that I was eating a lot less than I thought I would. I felt strong and healthy, so I figured it wasn’t a big deal. Shortly after eating, a thunderstorm rolled in, so I quickly set up my tent and moved in. It was getting late by this time, and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I zipped up the tent, slipped into my sleeping bag, and listened to the rain and thunder. It turned out to be very windy and rainy overnight, but I managed to stay warm and dry.

Tuesday morning was different from the other mornings, as it was cool, misty and foggy, with much more limited visibility. I hiked 4.5 km/2.8 mi to the small Kiilopää tourist area, where I cooked lunch at a fire ring and saw a big bull reindeer. There was also a Saami earthen shelter there (rented out to tourists).

The weather didn’t change much over the course of the day, and I then realized how lucky I was to have the clear, sunny skies and 28*C/83*F temperatures most days. Yeah, it was pretty warm for most of my trip to Lapland. Didn’t expect that either, did you? Anyway, I hiked 5.5 km/3.4 mi back to “old ugly gorge” and put my stuff in the cabin there. That’s when it started.

My eyes started itching, especially the right one. I tried not to rub it, but I couldn’t help myself. I also started sneezing, so obviously I was having some kind of allergic reaction. Great. The trip managed to be incident-free up to that point except for one blister at the beginning, but that was about to change. My eyeball (yes, the eyeball itself) started getting very red and swelling up, along with the eyelid. This was not good. I had never suffered from “swollen eyeball syndrome” before, so I was starting to get a bit worried and wondering how this would affect the rest of my trip. I stayed calm, took a pain killer containing an anti-histamine and made myself a cup of coffee. It was raining continuously, so it’s not like I was missing anything outside. I chillaxed in the shelter and decided to stay there overnight, rather than to go outside and set up my tent in the rain to sleep there. You could say I wasn’t quite in the mood to do that. Luckily, my eyes had returned almost to normal by the morning, except for some redness and a little swelling. You can’t imagine how happy I was about this.

Though my eyes were back in good shape that morning, the weather was not. It was 5*C/41*F, raining and very windy. I packed up my stuff and headed out. I would have rather waited to see if the rain and wind would let up, but it was the last day of my trip, and I didn’t want to have any problems catching the bus back to the airport. I hiked 7 km/4.3 mi back to the village of Saariselkä and by the time I got there, the temperature and constant rain and wind had taken their toll. I was soaked from the waist down and my hands were cold and stiff and clamped shut around the piece-of-junk plastic poncho I was trying to hold down around me (“I’ll lighten my load by bringing this lightweight, small plastic poncho with me instead of the large, 900 g/2 pound German military surplus poncho I usually use,” said The Weekend Woodsman foolishly, as he was making his gear selections in his warm, dry house a week prior). Luckily, I had a second pair of clothes in my pack, so I dried myself off, changed into the other clothes and got my stuff sorted and ready for the trip home.

Having made it back to the village with way too much extra time and a growling stomach, I ate some smoked reindeer casserole, Saami-style flat bread and a doughnut and drank coffee at a small restaurant in the village. I checked out the junk in the souvenir shops and then finally made my way to the bus stop. I took a final look at the village and the treeless hills in the distance and thought about how fast the trip went. On the other hand, I missed my family a lot and felt like I was away from them for too long. Luckily, the trip home was uneventful. When I finally got there at about 11 p.m., it seemed bizarre that that morning I had woken up with red eyes in a sleeping bag in a cabin in a rainy national forest in Lapland, but that I was going to sleep in my warm comfy bed at home. These kinds of trips really put things in perspective.

This trip to Lapland was certainly the beginning of a new chapter in my “outdoor life”. I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, what I need and don’t need, how much I eat, how much I sleep, how much I feel like hiking each day and what it’s like to do a trip like this on my own. I didn’t explore unknown territory or do anything amazing, but it was a significant step for me. I’m already itching to go on the next big trip next summer for a full 2 weeks. My “dilemma” now is deciding whether I should go back to the same park and explore a lot more of it (off the marked trails and away from the shelters) or to go to a different wilderness area altogether. Why must life’s decisions be so difficult? 😉


P.S. – In case you’re wondering, my backpack and shoulder bag together weighed 19 kg/42 lbs. That’s total weight, including food, water and all gear (including a bunch of stuff I didn’t use). The weight without food and water was 13 kg/28.5 lbs. The food I brought with me weighed 5 kg/11 lbs, and I ate 3 kg/6.5 lbs of it (well, it would have been 3 kg if I didn’t eat the fries at the hotel and the last meal in the village). So for a trip of this length, my total weight could have been 17 kg/37.5 lbs. Remember, I said in my first blog post that I am not an ultralight backpacker. I brought a 2 lb wood-burning stove, a large knife, a small metal grill and other such items with me. Personally, I don’t mind the weight. I like having the items with me.


20 comments on “Lapland – July, 2011 – Part 2

  1. James says:

    I’d like to know the items that you didn’t need and perhaps the reason, like maybe you made other gear do double duty.

  2. Thanks for visiting, James, and thanks for the comment!

    There weren’t too many “unnecessary” things that I brought, because I have whittled down my gear over the past 3 years or so to get it down to a comfortable minimum, but for the trip I took, and the time of year, I could have left a few things out:

    Head lamp (It’s light out 24 hours, so….)

    Fire grill (I used fire rings for most of my cooking, so I didn’t need it. Even if i used my wood-burning stove, I wouldn’t have needed the fire grill. It is part of my regular gear, though, so I included it)

    Wood-burning stove (As I said, I used fire rings, so I didn’t need this stove. I will, however, need it next year when I am in more remote wilderness)

    Second pot (Since I could drink straight from streams and rivers, I never needed to boil water. I usually have multiple pots so I can cook and boil water at the same time)

    Honestly, that’s really about it. Of course, there were things like a backup knife, first-aid kit and survival items which I didn’t use, but those things are always good to have with you.

    Soon I will do a post covering my regular gear selection, so you can see what I take with me.

  3. Perkunas says:

    Hey, super nice to finally read this, im chewing on the comments, ill be throwing something im sure 🙂

    But…this made me smile immediately : “…but no English, so I had to stumble my way through with broken Finnish to communicate. “….WE are in Finland and especially the elder folk, does not speak english easily even though they could, so you better start the Finnish speaking,since youre bragging that youre 50/50 Finnish already :).

    One thing i Like already in this story , is the lack of Gear freakism.

    Whats a “fire grill”, a portable something ?

    Good to see, you mentioning already, that you will be going to more remote scenery next year !

  4. Joo, mun pitää puhua suomeksi sitten, koska se vanha mies ei ymmärrä englantia. Minä en sanoa, että se on paha vai tyhmä, että hän ei puhua englantia. Suomessa me puhumme suomeksi. 😉 Nyt että mulla on enemmän aika, ma voin opea vielä.

    My fire grill (or at least that’s what I call it), is a small steel grill that folds up flat and can be slipped into a backpack. It’s useful when you’re cooking over a fire on the ground, because you can just put your pots and pans (or bacon, steaks etc.) on it. I think this is the same one that I have:

    Yes, next year will be different. Much more of a wilderness adventure. My trip this year was to get a feel for how it is. I don’t think it would have been wise to go for 4 weeks, off trail, by myself, this year. I probably would have been OK, but I’m glad I have this trip under my belt. Now I know a bit more of what to expect for the future.

    In any case, you’ll be going with me next year, so I’ll just let you carry me, cook the food and get us out of trouble. 😉

  5. Perkunas says:

    🙂 Hey, thsi aint picking to you,but i did NOT know that you can type s-it like that in Finnish as well ” GREAT,Perkele!

    Oh, i didnt know, that. I thought that the grill was like…you know a soe tiny, “pallogrilli”-like huge thing. So the grill, in this case, is more like the “net” or similar, a surface for grillaaminen :). Well, now i am a bit viser,sorry 🙂 Ive seen the grill,in some pics, from your alreay i think. My bussy has a similar in his boat, its good for cooking at small islands while fishing etc.

    Well, if i have funds, ill go just about anywhere,its about the only limiting factor to me, the frigging money. I am free to go anytime anywhere,but the cost of gas and tickets,aint a small issue. Even if i have funds to buy tickets,i feel like i am paying for nothing actually.

    Hey, i bet that old gent was paha or tyhmä,as he spoke russian, he might have been a spy,after all,and spy people speak russian,hahaha.

  6. Perkunas says:

    bussy :)…as BuDDY,sorry. My typing ait good,ill blame it for these tiny buttons and big fingers.

  7. Perkunas says:

    I bet, you might be Finn in one case. We say that when you go for a hike in lapland for the first time, we get this lapland fever that cant be healed.

  8. Well, the cheapest way to get up to Lapland would probably be to drive. So if you can make your way up here to Saimaa somehow, we can drive up together and split the cost of gas. If we can get somebody else to go, too, we can split it three ways.

    Have you been to Lemmenjoki?

  9. Perkunas says:

    Yep,i can say that ive been just about every place in lapland, seriously. In 20 years of my life ive done many goodandlong hikes there, and i must say the best trips are done where there are no marked parks & trails and in lemmenjoki….if something, you must pack a fishing gear with you.
    Theres also loads of historical sites there, if you like em, atleast i do love to see old ruins of cabins, the campsites ofgold washers etc. In fall of 2012, there wil also be a “ruska vaellus”, to Muotkatunturit, that i will most likely attend. 5 to 7 nights in the wild, in unpredictable weathers, it will me maybe….60 to 120 kilometers long. We´ll rent a 53 person bus,and split the costs.

  10. Of course the best stuff is off the marked trails. Next year’s Lapland trip will be very different from this year’s. In addition to having a great wilderness experience, the purpose of my 2011 trip was to see what it’s like there and learn as much as I can for future trips. I improved my orienteering skills by using a map and compass the whole time, experienced the different terrain types, looked around to see what kind of firewood is available for cooking with wood-burning stoves, paid attention to how much food I ate and LOTS more. This trip was an easy “beginner’s trip”. Now I have a much better idea of what to expect in the future, so I can go for a longer time and away from the marked trails. Before the trip, I didn’t have a good idea of what it would be like. Yes, I’ve taken trips to other places, but everyplace is different.

    That ruska vaellus looks interesting. I’m not sure it’s for me, but I’d consider it. I’m more interested in spending 2 weeks and going where I want, when I want and how far I want. I might want to spend a whole day or two in one place if I feel like it. I’m not too crazy about the “race” aspect of ruska vaellus or the biking etc. But never say never. I might feel differently next year. 🙂

  11. OZme says:

    Good to read about that trip!! Wonderful Lapland you have seen!
    I can’t remember when was the last time I was up there. Reading and seeing these pictures make me miss the smell of the Lapland wildness… (no,, I am not talking about poron papanoita.)

    Thanks for sharing this!

  12. Perkunas says:

    No sir, its not race against anyone/thing. Its idea, is just to collect a busful of people, who can, then split/divide, and wonder anywhere, and then return and travel to home with the same bus. Its all the same, who goes where, and how long they travel etc. Its all the same, if you put up your tent next to the bus and stay there for the next week :). Its all about making the transportation cheap and easy, for those who dont own cars,and such.

    I am interest to go far, from any trail and other people,and when i find a nice deserted place, i can,if i want to,just hang out in the camp for rest of the trip before hiking back to bus. Or, keep moving every day, its all the same to me as long as theres much signs of humankindmunless its historical stuff. By the way, bicycle, a decent MTB allows you to travel economically,still in a good pace, in lapland as well. Bicycles are one of the last good ideas man has done,before getting insane.

  13. Hmmm, OK. I guess I understood it wrong, then. I found something on the Internet about it…but maybe that was something different.

    Anyway, getting a bunch of people together to go by bus would be great. How could we get in contact with other people who want to go the same way?

  14. Finnman says:

    And now you have well padded backpack and shoulder bag 😀

    Great thing that you got there and thanks for the story & pics.

    – Finnman

  15. Hog says:

    What are all the stone piles ?

  16. It is common in northern regions for the native people to make stone piles, stacks and structures like this. The Inuit of North America also did this. The formations can have all kinds of meanings, e.g. identifying good hunting areas, direction, sacred spots, food caches etc. They are like the road signs of the north. They can last for many, many years if undisturbed.

  17. Perkunas says:

    I noticed the stuff about the rock piles.

    Original piles were used on places of worshipping, as a borderline marks, and also as guides, but the ones in UK park, might have still few original piles left, but most are RUINED by tourists, who have this annoying habit of making the plies, to all possible places, without any meaning given o the pile. Its stupid and i´d rather see the tourist built piles kicked to the ground, so that the originals would have a meaning again.

    Please dont stack the rocks there,guys.

    • If tourists really do mess with the rock piles or make new ones, it would be a shame. 😦 I think the original piles are great, even though I don’t understand their meanings as the locals would in the old days.

  18. […] …The Weekend Woodsman… HomeAbout TWW & Disclaimers RSS ← My take on bushcraft Lapland – July, 2011 – Part 2 → […]

  19. HenLan says:

    Again astonishing pictures.Thanks for a great report of a great trip.

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