Why are you leaving so early again, dear winter?
It seems that it’s time to say farewell to the winter who is leaving the Southern Finland too early again. Way too early. The winter here was short but not as bad as the previous one either: We had a decent amount of snow and the lakes did freeze but the temperatures zig-zagged around zero… But it was still pretty good winter. Most of my time outdoors was spent on guiding and instructing the Ankarat avotunturit courses. The time in between was spent mostly doing administrative work and preparing for what is to come.
My outdoor year started with some hunting in early January and included spending a night in open (though not public, but still free to use if you find it!) wilderness hut. My friend got the fox and an hour later I shot the manged raccoon dog. Traditional sit and wait hunt with not-so-traditional tools. No luck with hare the following day but a great start for the year anyway!
The first Ankarat avotunturit introduction course was held at the Syöte National Park. It’s a great location with open marsh plains and deep spruce forests framed by rolling hills. And with a guarantee of snow!
This time too, the snow was plenty but unfortunately the temps were around zero. I started with a solo overnighter to scout the conditions skiing with my OAC Kar 147s first from the visitor center to Ahmatupa hut (Great hut! Rent the key for the reservation hut to use the sauna if you visit it!). The next day I continued scouting the trails to and from Toraslampi doing a bit of bad orienteering as I forgot to take my map from the car the previous evening and thus missed the coffee and donuts at visitor center…
On the course we skied from the visitor center to Toraslampi and back spending a rather wet night in tents. Thanks to Hotel Iso-Syöte for the course venue!
The next weekend we had the training trip of the Svalbard expedition crew (Huippuvuoret 2015). This was held at Padasjoki at Päijänne National Park which offered awesome surface for skiing, mild temps and a cooling breeze that helped to keep our tents dry. The crew did really well and I’m sure we will have a great expedition in Svalbard! The Kelvene area also inspired me to plan some packrafting adventures for the closing summer…
Then I had two more introduction courses. First at Taipalsaari skiing on the frozen Lake Saimaa. Again mild temps, wet snow and a fair wind in the evening which added a bit of challenge to pitching the camp on the ice. Good training.
The second course was again at lake Päijänne but this time at Jämsä. Conditions were very familiar: overcast, mild temps and a bit of wet snow. The kind of winter we’ve had. Luckily I had a nice group of wilderness guides, students and teachers to add a bit of colour to the otherwise grey conditions.
I was also instructing on the Ankarat avotunturit special courses related to safety training and first aid and expedition medicine. You can read more about them and see a few photos in the Avotunturit blog.
At the end of February I had time for an overnighter with N. We decided to explore the surroundings of our new home at Riihimäki. We had visited the groomed ski tracks and slopes of Riutta before for training and had noticed a map which showed a groomed ski track to some nearby shelters and fire places. We didn’t know anything but what was on the map. But that’s enough for a little adventure! Especially when you go without a map or compass only checking the map at the beginning of the trail and trusting that your phone will save you in case you get lost…
So, late on Saturday afternoon we packed the gear and headed to the ski track walking trough the dark slushy streets and drizzle. The winter seemed to be about to leave. The groomed track to Riutta was easy going but from Riutta there was no groomed ski track marked on the map. Just the signs of summer trail “Ilvesreitti” (click “Kesäretkeily”, “Retkeilyreitit” and “Riihimäen reitti”), but we assumed it would take us to the right place and after some open streams, road walking, forest walking and even a bit of skiing we found ourselves at the first shelter and called it a day.
Nice dinner by the camp fire followed but the night was slightly uncomfortable as I had to sleep on me side because the benches at the shelter were too narrow for me to sleep on my back… Clearly ment for day visitors only. The morning welcomed us back on the trail with more rain and occasional shower of snow. In the daylight route finding was easier and we could ski a bit more but still had to walk every now and then to spare our skis. The snow was melting fast and the next week the only places to ski in would be the prepared tracks and open fields.
We were back home wet and with new scratches in our skis but happy none the less. The most important thing is to get out!
So, I managed to fulfill the first two months of the #twonights challenge! Six nights in January (counting the 31.1.-1.2.) and two in February. And even though the challenge is “closed”, you are still free to join for peer support and pressure to make sure you get a healthy dose of nights outdoors every month!
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So it seems like it would be time to say farewell to winter.
But I don’t want to.
Hear this winter, I’m not finished with you yet! There is no mountain so high, cave so deep or wilderness so cold that I wouldn’t find you!
I’ll start from the fjells of Sarek in early March. And should you try to escape, I’ll be searching you from the cold shores and jagged peaks of Spitsbergen in April. And I’m pretty sure that in May I’ll find you from the glaciers of Iceland.
I’m not finished with you yet, winter!