– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Hike long, hike fast

The interest

One of my main outdoors related interests is covering long distances in spectacular settings. And as being able to cover long distances far away from the supporting structures of civilization often requires moving fast, it’s quite natural that I’m also interested in speed hiking and related things. And as moving fast is also often connected to travelling light, that is one more reason for me to be interested in those travelling far and fast.

I find long and fast wilderness travels like the epic Arctic 1000 very fascinating. And as I’m interested in arctic travelling, things like Alex Hibbert’s latest Greenland speed crossing attempt (which sadly ended to hell of crevasses but Alex made a nice video of the attempt) rarely miss my radar.

Even though I’m not much into multisport/adventure competitions the annual Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic always catches my eye. The willpower and the ingenuity of the contenders is quite something. And nowadays they make also great videos like this one by Luc Mehl (from the winning team in last summer’s Classic):

And even though I’m not into climbing and mountaineering it is also interesting to follow the whereabouts of speed climbers like Ueli Steck. Who could say that something like this wouldn’t be just beautiful?

The background

My own experiences in covering great distances in relatively short time are yet very limited. I’ve done my share of hasty marches in the army and after the army I’ve done a bunch of military reserves marches and taken part in other slightly competitive events and of course hiked occasional long day while hiking. The few longer and faster stretches worth of mentioning are the Kaukopartiohiihto in 2010 where I skied 75km in a bit over 13 hours and Etelä-Karjalan sotilasmarssi were we marched 43km in 7h 23min with packs weighting over 15 kilo in the start – blistering my feet very badly. (Psst! Here is a video from the march, filmed and edited by a friend of mine.) I also planned to do other stuff last year but as I wrote earlier, I had to skip that due to medical reasons.

I see myself as a regular outdoorsy dude with a weight a bit on the heavy side and some knee and foot problems which isn’t the best possible starting point for epic speed hikes. So I’ll be starting slowly. But starting never the less.

Self portrait after skiing 75 kilometers in a bit over 13 hours.

The plan

This autumn I’m planning to do some speedy walking, probably three different walks.

The first walk will take place next Wednesday as me and classmates thought that instead of a boring day of uninteresting lectures we would go walk the 42km Herajärven kierros trail at Koli National Park . The plan is to drive to the Southern starting point of the trail, the Kiviniemen tila, early in the morning and start to walk from there and return in the evening after about 42km of trail with total elevation gain of nearly 1700 meters. (This figure is uncertain, I heart it from a local guide at Koli but hasn’t checked it from a map). We estimated that the walk will take around 13 hours which isn’t especially fast but the elevation gain will probably slow us down a bit. I’ve previously walked the trail about two years ago. That time we had relatively big loads and spent about two full days and two nights on the trail with relaxed pace. From the previous trip I recall the hilly terrain, the great views and the beer at the hotel restaurant in the Northern starting point of the trail. This trip will be a bit different with a faster pace but it will also likely have a lot in common – at least the hills are still there and I’m going to have a pint at the halfway. I’m planning to Tweet along the way and now I can also read tweets on the go with my mobile so you can follow my progress and cheer me up if necessary. More about the gear choices and some pictures coming after the walk.

Stairs along the Herajärven kierros.

In a way the Herajärven kierros walk will be a training and testing trip for guide school’s 24 hour challenge. Each guide course has a 24 hour walking challenge held in the mid October near Patvinsuo National Park. Our “Kaksnelonen” will take place between October 13th and 14th. There will be two crossing circular trails, one being 15km and the other 30km and there will be food and water available at the crossing. The recommended minimum to walk is 30 kilometers but last year few of the students, including a good friend of mine, did an all time record running and walking 105 kilometers in well under 24 hours. We are thinking about beating their record but time will tell how things turn out… At the moment I’m trying to shed a bit weight and keep my legs and feet in shape to make the effort a bit more sane.

Walking the Herajärven kierros trail two years ago.

The third trip I’m planning would be a three-day trip covering about 135 kilometers (i.e. 45km per day) along a certain quiet trail in Northern Karelia at the end of this month but whether I’ll do it or not depends on  several things so I’ll return to this if I decide to pull the trigger.

The views from top of the Koli hill are not too bad.


One response to “Hike long, hike fast

  1. Pingback: Wanted: Lost motivation « Korpijaakko

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