Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: revontulet

Microadventure with Northern Lights

I’ve heard that routine is deadly so this time, I didn’t go for an overnighter. I went for one these very fashionable microadventures as this time my trip meet the five-to-nine and other criteria. Or it could’ve been a Browernighter as well… But it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is just to get out!

A friend of mine, visited me on Sunday evening to borrow an electronic blinking and beeping super high-tech torque wrench for attaching some accessories to my bike and we decided to go for an overnighter. And soon a plan emerged: leave Monday evening, cycle to nearby lean-to shelter for fire, food, beer and so on and get back home to catch work on Tuesday morning.

I managed to pack everything on the bike and could ride without a backpack! Maybe not big news for established bikepackers with special kit but I only had straps and roll-top bags (and a 9,90 euros beam rack to help). And maybe not big news for UL enthusiasts but I had my winter sleeping bag, three beers, bag of buns, a family size bottle of bbq sauce and so on… I thought all of it was very essential, unlike the Gorillapod I left at home.

Riding was quite chilly but good on the dirt roads in the moon light, and with little help from my new improvised bikelight (Fenix HP10 headlamp strapped to the bike with some p-cord). The ride took only about an hour so I should really do this more often…

At the lean-to we chopped the one-meter logs to smaller pieces, hard work which warmed us a lot more than the fire meters away from the lean-to, as it often is on established shelters…

Sausages were grilled, beers were enjoyed and muffins (this time from a local bakery) with minttu-kaakao followed. The beer of the trip was Founders’ All Day IPA which I saw Mark, the father of Browernighters, mentioning in one of his tweets so I had to give it a try. It comes in lightweight bikepacking-friendly glass bottles (pack inside woollen socks and stuff bottles in the middle of you sleeping bag and fear for the worst…) I also had to drink the beer straight from the bottle as I saved some weight by leaving my cup at home… But it was still very good: crisp and light with hoppy and bitter (in a good way) aftertaste. Recommended, but maybe not for bikepacking on bumpy trails.

Later in the evening I was on the platform trying some moonlit long-exposure shots with the little Canon S90 I had for this trip when I noticed something weird in the horizon…

And yes! Sometimes you don’t have to go all the way to the North to get lucky. Auroras on the sky in South-East Finland!

The light show was quite short, maybe 10-15 minutes but quite intense and lively for one this fas South. It was mostly grey and green but the lights moved vividly and occasionally pillars rose all the way to the zenith. I was, once gain, quite sorry for not bringing a tripod. And also little sorry for not having my EOS 550D. But happy that I had something more appropriate than the camera-mimicking function of my phone.

After the light show it was time to hit the sack. My bag was very warm which was welcome after the long and quite chilly evening. It also helped to balance the lack of full length sleeping pad, although the cushioning on biking shorts also works as a micro-pad under your heels during the night…

In the morning the friend of mine had to bolt to the work and I enjoyed the grey morning with more relaxed pace having breakfast and coffee before heading back home. I checked a couple of pieces of local history (a re-built wooden chute used back in the days to float logs from lake to another, and piece of anti-tank obstacle of the Salpa Line). It was a grey morning but riding was nice as I could choose the smaller and more bumpy trails now that I didn’t have to fear for my beers and sleeping bag.

The autumn is coming to the end again. It’s still lingering there in the form of thick carpets of dry leaves on the trail and in the silhouettes of bright yellow maples but winter… Winter is coming. But I hope to squeeze in few more of these little overnighter before I get on the skis again.

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Auroras, snow shelters and husky tours

The blog has been little quiet, as has unfortunately been the way this winter. So, what have I been up to?

Mostly I’ve been busy guiding husky tours ranging from full-day safaris to over-night tours but there have also been other things…

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On the tours we spend the nights at huts but being out in the wild gives a good excuse to sleep outside and this week I decided to sleep in a quinzee as the night was expected to be a cold one. (The record low for this winter was recorded at Taivalkoski at the same week, -38,2C.) I was a little hasty building the quinzee and made the pile little too small and decided to go without the sticks to mark the wall thickness. The end product was livable but little too short with too big doorway and I had to patch one hole in a wall. But it still added apparently quite a lot of warmth as I managed to sleep most of the night comfortably in my sleeping bag rated to -18C (Tlim) and only woke up chilled a few times after 6.00 a.m. The cabin doesn’t have a thermometer but it’s in a cold place on low-lands next to big marsh so the temperature was likely colder than at the village of Taivalkoski… Snow shelters make sense! And there is still time to make some so don’t miss the chance!

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The little free time I’ve had, I’ve used for arranging the guided ski tours. The last week I was guiding a group in Sarek (along the route mapped on Social Hiking, though the distance listed there is little optimistic). We also made snow shelters in Sarek as a training and they were not bad choise as the night was cold. Snow caves are especially nice shelters if you happen to find pile enough pile of hard snow. It was an awesome tour with good group and well worth sitting in the car for 21 hours – each way.

Sarek. There’s a feeling of real wilderness. And beatiful mountains as well!

I’ll write a separate post about the tour in Sarek later as this post is about northern lights! As the winter has been unusually cloudy there hasn’t been much auroras to be seen at Taivalkoski. I saw a good show here on early December, little faint lights every now and then here and at lake Inari and nice but little grey light show at Sarek. But this evening was different. After several cold and cold nights without a trace of the northern lights the lights at the sky were on a big time! Here are some photos of the showon Sunday evening. Hope you enjoy the photos in case you missed the show!

For those interested in the techy stuff all photos taken with my trusty Canon 550D (with a battery grip with dual battery for the cold), the cheap but stellar Samyang 14mm 2,8 lens and of course utilizing a tripod (a heavy Manfrotto 055). The only problem with this setup is the Samyang lens being fully manual, which shouldn’t be much of a problem but the markings on the focus ring are all totally wrong andgetting it focused in the dark is not too easy. I think I should make some new marking on it…

On the weekend we also had the pre-expedition meeting with the Vantajökull 2013 expedition and I can’t wait to get on the ice for with the group as it’s likely to be a great little expedition… But before that I still have some weeks of husky safari guiding to be done, including two nice longer tours. I’ll try to get some nice photos to share from the tours.

Photos from the winter wonderland

The regular readers probably know that for most of this winter season I’m working at Husky Center Kolmiloukko at Taivalkoski (a small town in North-East Finland) guiding husky safaris.

I’ve been lately quite busy with the huskies and guiding because I’m also putting together my own ski expedition courses and tours and actually spent the last weekend at lake Inari training winter skills with two ultra-runners. It turned out to be a superb trip but more of it later… Despite being busy I’ve had some time to take photos on the way and here are some shots from the winter wonderland here at Taivalkoski. Photos from the Inari are to follow later…

Here are some photos from a full-day husky safari in early January. The customers were great (as they usually are) and we saw the sun for the first time for over a week or so.

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The guide’s job here includes also quite a lot of driving with snowmobile – and waiting as N is doing in the photo…

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In addition to the 60 adult dogs, we have also some of these cute fellows as well. The big one, named “Nuoska” (meaning wet sticky snow), is probably the biggest husky puppy of her age I’ve ever seen and if she’ll continue to grow like that she’ll be around the size of a horse in the end… 😀

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As mentioned the work involves also waiting but luckily our dogs are masters in the waiting game. Here the dogs are waiting for customers to arrive for a full-day safari in mid January on a particularly cold day with temps below -30C. The upside with the cold weather is that here it goes hand in hand with clear skies and sunny weather.

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And this is how the cold here looks like…

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On my free time I try to go out skiing as often as possible. The views are often nice, like the dusk in the photo below taken while on a skiing trip at the close-by swamp plains.

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As we haven’t seen much auroras here lately, here’s one of the nice northern lights we saw in early December. The skies are clear tonight so I keep my fingers crossed for more fresh photos of the fire on the sky…

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For those interested: All photos are taken with Canon EOS 550D and most of them with the magnificent EF 24-105 4 L IS. Equipped with an external battery grip it works just fine below -30C temps and can be used also with thick mitts. Just remember not the breath towards the viewfinder or lens. 😉