– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: national park

Icescapes of lake Konnevesi

As February turned into March it was time for the AcrossGreenland2014 expedition to gather for a meeting. This time we had agreed to meet outdoors to test gear and get some kilometers on skis. Even though the lousy winter conditions in Southern Finland were against us, we didn’t let it slow us down and thus headed to Etelä-Konnevesi i.e. the Southern parts of Lake Konnevesi, a future national park.

We arrived at a quiet little fishing harbour after midnight and as the lake was covered with bare black ice we opted to pitch our tents on the snow patches on the parking area. The morning saw us packing our pulkas and local pensioner driving back and forth on the ice road starting from the harbour. Clearly he was curious of what we were doing but not daring enough to stop, come out from the relative safety of his car and speak to five strangers in bright coloured clothing…

The skiing was, well, interesting. There wasn’t any snow on the ice and on every push I felt stupid for not having ice skates. But as it was supposed to be a ski expedition training, skis we had. Going was fast and friction minimal so one could easily tow five pulkas and three skiers taking a break on top the pulkas…

We got to our destination the Pieni Navettasaari, an island with a lean-to shelter, in few hours. We had good company at the lean-to (in addition to the friendly dog who started following us on the way…) but despite the company decided to go for a quick spin on the skis also in the afternoon. Skate skiing on the steel edges of the skis was the most efficient way to travel as we had partial skins fixed to the bases of our skis. The little loop offered nice views and most of all very interesting miniature icescapes.

We spent the early evening chatting by the fire and once it got darker we retired to our tents to go through the endless lists of planning and preparations related to big expeditions. Heini also wrote a little blog post from the tent, though we had to send it over 3G network as our satellite hotspot refused to work. That’s why you go for training trip in the first place.

There was a slight dusting of snow overnight which made the ice even more slippery. Taking down the tents pitched on the ice was a slow process and required all concentration and balance available. And as the temperature was below zero the surface was too hard even for the steel edges of our skis so we changed into plan C – crampons – and walked back to our cars. Sub-optimal, but we are expecting to walk our fair share on crampons also in Greenland so why not at the lake ice as well…

The Etelä-Konnevesi area was very nice: countless little island with rocky shores, bits of old-grown forest, wind fallen trees et cetera. It’s not a big wilderness with all the summer houses and locals driving cars on the ice but it’s definitely worth a visit and it’s great to know it’ll be protected also for the future generations as a national park. I assume the best ways to visit would be skating (conditions permitting), skiing (assuming a normal winter) or paddling the summer, preferably not during the holiday seasons.

More photos of the ice in my gallery. All photos taken with Canon EOS 6D and EF 24-105 4 L IS. Still a lot of learning to do with the full-frame…


On the Wide Trails of Repovesi

As I mentioned in the previous post I’ve been doing more overnight trips than usually. About a week ago a good friend of mine, lets call him P, asked if I’d have time for a weekend overnighter to Repovesi National Park. Even though I’ve been living only about an hour’s drive away from the park I’d been there only in winter so I thought it would be about the time to pay a visit in summer as well.

The Repovesi is a small 15 sq km national park located in South-East Finland near Kouvola. (Detailed information is available from the always useful Outdoors.fi pages.) It offers varying terrain, great scenery and good infrastructure: well established trails with good markings, plenty of established camp fire sites, wells for drinking water and some rental shelters. This of course makes the park very popular and often even crowded, something I don’t enjoy much. Our overnighter happened to be on weekend with awesome weather which meant a lot of people but it was also the graduation weekend in Finland which should hold down the hoards of backpackers hitting the park.

After sleeping in way too long on Saturday, doing some last minute shopping and driving to Repovesi me, N and P started the trip in the afternoon from Lapinsalmi parking area. There were quite a lot of cars but no queue to the hanging bridge which was a good sign. We didn’t have a detailed plan, nor a detailed map, for the trip. The general idea was to do a round-trip following the trails towards North and visit all the scenic places on the way, camp somewhere at the end the day and then return to the car the next day.

On the first half of the day we got to enjoy plenty of cumulative height gain as there happens to be quite a lot of rocky hills on the area. Hilltops offered great views on the small lakes and the seemingly endless forests. All hill tops are basically worth a visit when weather is good. At Kuutinkanava (a wooden conduit built for floating logs back in the days when there were logins on the area) we had a nice coffee break (with cake!) utilizing my Bushbuddy stove as open fires were prohibited. After the coffee break we walked some more on trails and occasionally off-trails visiting the tower at Mustalamminvuori hill for some more views before continuing to last major sight on our route, the Olhavanvuori.

Mustalamminvuori tower on the right, Olhavanvuori hill in the middle.

At Olhava we met several groups of topless men with shiny stuff dangling below the waist…  And with that, I mean climbers. The 50 meter high vertical walls of Olhavanvuori offer probably some of the best rock climbing in Finland and thus the area is often populated with climbers, especially on a good weekend like this. Rock climbing is only allowed at the Olhavanvuori though the whole park is littered with nice rock faces… We let the climbers keep the vertical stuff and took a detour on top of the hill for some more scenery and a nice break on the top. For most of the day a slight breeze kept the bugs away and made going pleasant. Olhavanvuori is worth a visit even if you’re not a climber. It’s an impressive piece of rock with good views.

Did I mention w-i-d-e trails in the title? This one is actually a road.

Climber populated camping area at the base of Olhavanvuori.

Continuing to North-East from Olhavanvuori we found a scenic camp spot at a small headland called Sukeltajaniemi and as it was already around 8.00 pm we decided to camp there. N stayed at the camp pitching the tent to shelter us from the bugs while me and P walked some 900 meters (one way) to a well at Saarijärvi parking area to refill our water bottles. It was quite obvious we hadn’t drunk enough during the day: nearly +30C and lots of ups and downs calls for a lot of water and I was till in the “winter mode”. Luckily this was easily solved by drinking more.

Back in the camp we prepared a hearty three-course dinners. One of the advantages of light kit is that you can carry quality food – and some wine to go with it. Bruschettas with Spanish style antipasti and read wine turned out to be a great starters also in the woods. I’ll be definitely packing more of that over the summer. For the main course we had some nice slowly cooked soup and to make up the lighter main course we had pancakes with cloudberries and whipped cream. Unfortunately the cream hadn’t liked the heat of the day and immediately turned quite butterish, but was still totally edible. Next time I’ll have to pack it inside the sleeping bag with something cold…The Bushbuddy stove provided an atmospheric little camp fire and also helped to fend of some of the bugs that returned as the wind died.

It doesn’t get darker than this. No need for headlamp.

After staying up late we didn’t set alarms for the morning. And just as expected, the sun woke us up in the morning and the body yearned for a morning swim! (Even with the both ends of the Anjan 3 tent were rolled up, it’s still quite warm in direct sunshine with three people inside.) After a relaxed morning of swims and breakfast it was time to continue.

We followed the trail at the Eastern edge of the National Park South towards Tervajärvi visiting the cool rocky ravine at Kirnukangas. Worth a visit as well. The trails on the Eastern parts are little smaller and less populated but still clear and easy to follow. At Tervajärvi we had one more swim and noticed that N’s Suunto watch had dropped on the way. It was hanging from the shoulder strap of her pack and had probably snagged against a tree and dropped. We backtracked a while trying to look for it but didn’t have luck and returned back to Lapinsalmi crossing the Kapiavesi with a ferry.

All in all, it was yet another great little overnighter with good company, great weather and delicious food. The Repovesi was a positive surprise: it doesn’t have the feel of a real wilderness in it, but the scenery is beautiful and the ups and down offer also some challenge for walking. You can still find peaceful and quiet spots even on the trail side and going off-trail is also allowed and would definitely get you away from the crowds, but also away from the major sights which are all worth visiting. Maybe next time…

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Psst! If you’re confident with your navigation skills and intend to only or mostly follow the trails at Repovesi you can probably get away with just the pdf trail map available for free from here.

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And for those interested, more photos available (for free!) from here!

Season’s Greetings from Taivalkoski!

For me it doesn’t quite feel like it, but it’s the time to wish you all dear readers: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Glogg on an overnight pre-Christmas retreat. Merry Christmas!

And to add some content into this post here’s a quick update about what’s going on…

Preparing the cafeteria for the Christmas dinner.

As regular readers allready know I’m doing my wilderness guide school internship period at the moment at Husky Center Kolmiloukko at Taivalkoski. Usually I’ve spent the Christmas with family at my parent’s place but this year it’s very different: I’ll be working. For Christmas Eve I didn’t have much to do, only to take care and feed the dogs, which takes few hours as there are 60 dogs. Next we’ll have a Christmas dinner with the owners and then sauna. And tomorrow, on Christmas Day, we’ll wake up before 06:00 and head to the Syöte skiing center with the dogs for a full day of work. So, happy holidays for those who have a holiday! 😉

A Christmas dinner for the 60 huskies.

It’s nice and winterish here in Taivalkoski: There’s over 30cm of snow and more is coming slowly but steadily. It’s been quite warm for the whole week with the temps hovering between +1C and -3C but the weather forecast promises colder temps and more snow.

Hopefully the weather forecast is correct...

N skiing ahead in the dark.

At the end of the week I had two days off with my girlfriend N who is also working here (and is actually working i.e. gets paid for it) so we went for a little overnighter in Syöte National Park. This time of the year the Sun rises around 10:30 and sets at 13:40. So headlamps see a lot of use, specially as it’s been mostly cloudy and snowing for the whole week. We decided to spent the night in Ahmatupa rental hut as there was also a sauna. A bed in the hut costs only 10 euros per person per night so it’s not too expensive. After checking that the hut was vacant for the night we went to get the key from the Visitor center just before it closed at 16:00. We skied some 8km along ready made skiing track to the hut. We warmed up the hut and sauna, bathed and rolled in the snow, had some Christmas food for supper and enjoyed the silence and the fire while surrounded with tall thinny spruces covered with snow.

The Ahmatupa. The hut has two sides: open side and rentable side.

After sleeping in long the next morning, we decided to continue along the snowmobile tracks of the park maintenance. We planned to ski to Toralampi widlerness hut but the tracks didn’t go there and it was getting dark so after a lunch on a fire place weturned around and ventured back to the main track and back to the Visitor center, again, few minutes before it closed for Christmas at 16:00. It was a nice trip and a good start for the winter season. Hopefully there are more trips to come but now I’m feeling ready for dinner…

Skiing back in typical Northern spruce forest.

So, Merry Christmas to you all!