/ A word of warning: As has been the case with the previous OYIP posts, also this post includes a lot of photos. They are nice and varied outdoors photos but there are many. You have been warned. /
It’s again the time annual OYIP post. The time to wrap up the past year in outdoors with a collection of chosen photos and a few words in between. (Just like I did in 2011, 2012 and 2013. It’s becoming a tradition…)
My year started by guiding husky tours in the Taivalkoski region. This time I wasn’t working there for the whole winter but was happy to help with the busy weeks now and then. Winter wilderness, sled dogs, log cabins, great people… What’s not to like? And I even got help out a TV crew shooting dog sledding for the Erätulilla program.
I will probably remember the winter 2014 as “the worst winter ever” as we were trying to prepare and train for the big Greenland expedition in the spring but we didn’t have enough snow for skiing or cold weather for testing gear or getting used to it. The winter was excellent for nordic skating but for some reason I wasn’t doing it… Luckily we got enough ice and a dusting of snow on top of it for the Arctic Ski Expedition course I guided in January.
During the winter we did a lot of preparations for the upcoming Greenland expedition and after one of our training trips on icy lake Konnevesi I headed back to Taivalkoski for more husky tour guiding and then continued to Sweden to guide a ski tour in Sarek National Park. And also finally got some proper manhauling done before Greenland. This time the weather was pretty miserable: temps around and above 0°C, honest heavy rain, high winds and half a meter of snow in the end. But on the other hand it was also good training and I had again the privilege to be guiding a group of great people!
The main trip of the year was my biggest trip yet: a ski expedition across the Greenland icecap along the so-called “normal route” from Point 660 in the West to Isortoq in the East. With great imagination we named the expedition “Across Greenland 2014” (loads of photos in my gallery). The crossing took us 28 days and we skied around 560 kilometers unsupported and unassisted, on our own in the middle of the great white wilderness. It was my biggest trip yet and a great success in every way.To be honest, the expedition itself felt actually even too easy. But still, it was great. I hope to return to Greenland in 2016 and maybe one day I will do even bigger trip as this didn’t yet feel like “the big trip”. ;)
After returning from Greenland I was having quite a serious case of expedition hangover. I was mostly interested in sleeping, eating, reading, walking and biking on the trails in the lush greenery of early summer and of course relaxing at a sauna by the lake Saimaa. The early summer offered mostly pretty crappy weather being cold, rainy and windy. But it got better on the second half of the summer, even to a point that we had to cut our Hammastunturi-Ivalojoki packrafting trip, the main trip of the summer, little short because of the intense heat and bad bugs.
In the South I did a rowenighter, a rowboat overnighter, with a good old friend. An interesting way to travel in the land of thousand lakes but would be more enjoyable with faster boat with proper sliding seat and all that. But at least you can take all the kit you want to!
The outdoor life in late summer and autumn consisted mostly of biking local trails and packrafting. I guided a packrafting course at Kymijoki in August. In September me and N tried again packrafting with a single packraft , but this time with a raft build for the purpose, an Alpackaraft EX 42. It was a success.
In October I called for the First (Finnish) Packraft Gathering and met lots of great people at Kymijoki. I hope this will become an annual event and I see no reason why it wouldn’t. Packrafting is growing fast in Finland and the people involved are such a great and varied bunch it’s very inspiring to get together for some packrafting and good time outdoors.
The late autumn didn’t see much trips, save an occasional overnighter but I spent quite some time in the outdoors having decided to get back to hunting and thus being out hunting moose with the local hunting club. In addition I did the usual foraging for berries and mushrooms and we had maybe the best year ever for porcini (Boletus edulis) and the cupboards and now full of dried goodness for the winter(s) to come. This is a part of outdoors activities that I’m getting more and more interested in: hunting, fishing, foraging, etc. Not just being out in the wild but to actually live from the nature. I hope to have more time for this in the future as there is so much to learn, more than enough for a lifetime or two…
In early November I spent five days on excellent WMA first aid course upgrading my Wilderness Advanced First Aid certificate to WFR (Wilderness First Responder) which I feel to be better suited for guides. Great course again from WMA and Outwardbound Finland though I would’ve liked more and more challenging drills but with limited time… Despite not sleeping outdoors it was very useful way of spending the five days.
At the end of November me and N traveled to Helsinki for the annual Helsinki Adventure Night and Marko published an open invitation for people interested in an after party to come up with something outdoorsy and so the Helsinki Adventure Night Adventure Night was born. Hopefully this will become a tradition as well!
Me year will end indoors at my cousin’s wedding and the next year will beginning, once again, by moving house as me and N will be relocating to Riihimäki. Despite the hustle we managed to squeeze in one more overnighter before the year ended. This time with kick-sleds on the recently frozen lake Saimaa! It was my first kick-sled overnighter ever but probably not the last one. Nordic skates would’ve been even better but still lacking them the kick-sleds worked fine too, and enabled quite load hauling too. And with all that carrying capacity I did take my spoon (the classic item to forget) but I forgot the pot (a stupid thing to forget) so we missed all the hot beverages…
Just like in 2013 I spent some 50 nights under the nylon or stars. This year the great majority of those nights were in Greenland and rest mostly on packrafting trips. In addition I was out around 10 nights on the husky tours. Now that the year is closing to its end I’m happy for all the time I got to spent outdoors but also little sad I didn’t spend even more timeout there. I would’ve had the time and chances if I’d tried…
On other hand the next year looks excellent! I’m not making any resolutions here but… Now as I’m running my own guiding business and having lots of courses, tours and expedition planned I hope to hit the magical 100 nights out next year. But if I don’t I won’t be too sorry for that either. We will see, we will see…