Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: lake inari

All sorts of winter weekends

The blog has been quiet as I’ve been busy with my work as a husky tour guide and with my own winter guiding projects (meaning 10-14 hours per day, sometimes over-night, seven days a week). And again I don’t have too much time to write but I’ve been taking photos and here are some from the last three weekends. Very different but very interesting weekends occupied with work.

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In mid-January I was in the North-East Finland near the Russian border on lake Inari practising winter skills with two ultra runners who are planning to participate on the Siberian Black Ice Race on lake Baikal in 2014. (The race was supposed to be held in 2013 but was postponed due the lack of participants.) The conditions were quite easy: cloudy the whole weekend, temps starting with -5C and dropping below -10C on Sunday morning and varying wind – which was good for the training. The customers were moving on foot but still did steady 5km/h despite  the occasional soft snow. Ultra runners are tough! A great weekend all together. Thanks Dave and Diana!

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And as a bonus few photos from the way back to Taivalkoski as there happened to be some sunshine at Saariselkä region…

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On the last weekend of January I was running The Basic Course on Arctic Ski Expeditions in South-East Finland. The first half of the weekend was filled with lectures and familiarizing with expedition gear and the later half was spent on an over-night trip practising the new skills in real life conditions. The conditions were quite similar to those at lake Inari: -6C, quite windy, some drifting snow and super-good surface conditions for skiing. Another good weekend that will be later followed by the one-week tour to Sarek in Northern Sweden. A tour I’m really looking forward to!

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During the last weekend I was guiding a 3-day husky tour in Taivalkoski area. The conditions were unbelievably similar to those of the previous weekends: mostly cloudy, temps around -5C and some wind with drifting snow. Early February should be damn cold up here (sub -30C) but it hasn’t been the case lately and I kinda miss the cold… Anyway, we had good time covering some 80km with dog teams (Well, I was driving a snowscooter opening the trail, or sometimes getting stuck in a slush…)  We spent the still quite long nights in private wilderness huts. (Though I tried to build a quinzee the second night but the temps were too mild for the snow to settle properly in the short time I gave for it and the structure cracked while carving it…) Good travel, good food and great company – even though this job is occasionally hard, I really love it most of the time. 🙂

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While working in the woods I don’t really have a possibility to write real blog posts but I try to tweet regularly so if you’re interested in the life of a guide / seasonal worker in Northern Finland, you might want to follow @Korpijaakko on Twitter.

PS. With the knee-deep snow we have here it took only 15 minutes to shovel the pile of snow for the quinzee and another five minutes or so to gather twigs for marking the proper wall thickness. The carving would have taken only some 15-20 minutes but was brought to halt because of the structure collapsing when about 90% done. If you happen to live on an area with enough of snow, I highly recommend building a quinzee and spending a night in it. It’s nice activity, teaches important skills related to winter backcountry safety and is great experience that you can do even on your backyard! Just remember: let the snow settle long enough, make a hole for ventilation and have a candle burning inside (if the candle goes out, there’s not enough oxygen!). I’ve also written a post about building quenzees. The post would benefit from some proofreading and I’d have also some new experiences to share but it’s still helpful as it is.

PPS. I also try to find some time to write first imperssion on a high-quality expedition sled I’ve been testing: The huge Isohitti which is 100% made in Finland by Hiking Travel Hit. I also have some new Kar 147 gliding snowshoes, not Altai Hok Skis but a similar (and dare I say upgraded?) model by a Finnish company OAC. Oh, and also some original Altai Hok 145s for comparison. Impressions coming when I have the time to write more, now to sleep as I have an overnighter to guide tomorrow…

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Stuffed with six sets of insulated overalls, six pair of Sorel boots and a chair. And still room to spare…

Outdoor year 2011 in pictures

As the year is ending soon, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite outdoors moments along the year and I thought that photos would make nice variation to the thousands-of-words posts that I’ve been writing lately. But I couldn’t help adding few words in between… And there are way too many pics but try to tolerate and stop to stare only the ones that interest you – or grab a cup of coffee and go through all of them.

The year began with a nice five-day skiing trip on Lake Inari during the polar night. Great Northern Lights on several nights, easy-going and good company.

The beginning of the 2011 was mostly spend on preparations for the Ultima Thule 2011 a three-week ski expedition to Svalbard. As a part of the preparations I did few weekend trips and skiing but on the other hand, didn’t have time for longer trips because of work and preparations. But, the weekends were nice and I had some time to continue experimenting with snow shelters and I had a chance to try kite skiing which was great fun!

The Ultima Thule 2011 expedition in Svalbard was the main trip of the year, my biggest trip yet. We had good luck with the weather (though more challenging weather would have been welcome), the scenery was incredible and the expedition was a success on personal level and in general.

In the beginning of the summer I did few short trips with friends but mostly I was working after three weeks of work to catch up.

I had tried packrafting in the end of 2010 and in 2011 I pulled the trigger and bought myself a packraft. My friend rented one from a guy living in Rovaniemi and after a day of training we headed to the possibly “most wild and distant river in Finland” the Valtijoki-Poroeno-Lätäseno river system. We hiked in about 45km packrafting a bit on the way and then paddled down some 140 km doing even class 4-5 white water as the water level was low. In the end we were accompanied by friend paddling the river with a big traditional white water raft.

The packrafting trip was immediately followed by a hiking trip (with a bit of packrafting in the end) to the Western side of Kilpisjärvi with my girlfriend. A nice relaxed trip and in the end of the trip I packrafted down most of the Kummaeno river. The water level was too low and the raft too cramped for two to effectively travel the river but we tried also that for some kilometers.

In August I quitted my job at the university and started a one-year wilderness guide course. We did several trips on the guide course during the autumn but unfortunately I didn’t find any time for longer trips of my own. Couple of weekends had to suffice.

In December I started a four-week internship period working at a small husky company in Taivalkoski. For the first two weeks I’ve been mostly taking care of the 60 dogs, done some dog sledding and now that I know the dogs I’ll be hopefully doing some real guiding during the next two weeks. I also managed to do a short overnighter with my girlfriend to the Syöte National Park nearby and I’m hoping that we’ll get couple of days of in January for a longer skiing trip.

The year 2011 was very good outdoor year in general. I learned a lot of new skill and did many things for the first time in my life. I also slept more nights outside than on any other year. The number of night spent outside is somewhere over 60, I haven’t been really counting, but it still doesn’t feel like too much or even enough. So there will be more coming in 2012.

In the beginning of the year we will have a four-day winter trip with the school and I will be doing some extra work practise periods for Vaiska KY working as a junior instructor and assistant guide (or something) on weekend courses about expedition style winter trips. In the beginning of March I’ll be again working as an assistant guide for Vaiska but this time on a one-week skiing trip to Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland. And at the end of the winter I’d hope to do a two-week skiing trip to some cool place…

My spring will be spent mostly kayaking, canoeing and rafting with the guide course and on June 8th I should qualify as a wilderness guide. What happens after it is a mystery at them moment. But I hope it would involve lots of outdoors and wild places: packrafting, hiking, canoeing, guiding, skiing – anything goes! 🙂