– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: wilderness guide

Packrafting with Autumn Colors and Auroras

Less words, more photos.

Packrafting the Reisaelva in Reisadalen. The last day of the one-week tour.

The last week I was guiding a one-week packrafting tour from Kilpisjärvi (Finland) to Reisadalen (Norway). Unlike the last time I was there, we had good luck with really good weather, nice autumnal colours (ruska) and auroras almost every night.

The trip started from Kilpisjärvi where we followed the Nordkalottleden near the Kuonjarjohka hut for our first night. There were some footwear problems that lead two of the clients do most of the tour in more or less improvised footwear. But apparently neoprene diving booties with double socks are good enough for hiking with heavy rucksack over the mountains to Norway… I had some though clients with great moral.

After a cold night we continued with perfect weather to Meekonjärvi where we inflated the packrafts and got on the waters. This is the most packrafts in one place in Finland that I’ve ever seen. Scenery was beautiful and water level very low.

The little clouds we had the previous evening quickly made way the sunrise and a cloud inversion over the lakes. We continued with rafting going down the Poroeno river which had very, very low water level. After enough of the rocky rapids we decided to switch to walking and headed towards North-East off-trail. Still perfect weather all day.

The fourth day started with thick pea-soup mist that quickly changed to blue skies and just as quickly turned into cold drizzle with wind and thick cloud cover. Luckily the clouds broke and the sun returned in the afternoon once little further on the Norwegian side of the border. Even though I say it myself, the navigation on this off-trail sections went very smoothly. We decided to push little longer than planned and ended up camping in the tree line on the slopes of Jierta fjell.

The fifth day was short: traverse the slopes of Jierta, descent down into the Reisadalen canyon/valley/ravine and follow a trail to Nedrefosshytta hut. A luxurious hut on Finnish standards with sauna and everything. Long afternoon and evening to relax after the initial longer days: good food, a bit of reading, sauna and swim in the river with auroras later in the night.

The next day we did a day-hike up the Reisaelva river to Imofossen waterfall. The trail up to the waterfall was interesting but easy enough without backpacks. The river looks great further up from the hut except for the narrow canyon closer to the (definitely not boatable) waterfall. I think the canyon might be packraftable… I would just need skilled company, some climbing gear to descent in and then a big commitment to run it down… After the day trip we tidied the cabin, lashed rucksacks on the packrafts and headed down stream in search of a perfect gravel bar camp site. And we found one.

Later in the evening it turned into even more of a perfect spot with good company, camp fire and auroras dancing above the canyon walls.

The last day was an enjoyable, lazy rafting down the river with good flow and enough water despite the almost record-low water level. We visited Mollifossen on the way, admired eagles flying above us and finally arrived to our pick-up point just to find out the road was closed due a damaged bridge. But luckily, packrafts are easy to carry that extra mile…

It was simply a splendid tour. On tours like this it’s easy to love my job.

This was the last guided packraft tour I’ll be doing this year but if you’re interested, I will be offering more the next year!

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And if you would like to see more photos, there are plenty more in my gallery.

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Packrafts for the tour were from Backpacking North. If you need a packraft, support a local business and rent one from here.

And if you need a guide or just good company, you know who to ask from. 😉


Winter wonderland and working dogs

In addition to guiding during the last four weekends I’ve also work during the weekdays as well. Unfortunately this means very little time for blogging but here’s (again) a set of photos to make up the lack of words. The photos are from overnight and one-day husky tours at Taivalkoski region in North-East Finland. All dogs are hard-working (well, except a few lazy ones) huskies from Kolmiloukko.

For those interested in (camera) gear the photos are taken with Canon EOS 550D with Canon EF 24-105 4 L IS or Samyang 14 2,8 lens. Mostly it’s just fast’n’dirty point’n’shoot, often from moving snowscooter but when you shoot enough, you also get some hits. Especially the Samyang 14mm wide-angle has proven to be a very nice piece of glass and it’s also cheap for the quality. Downside is that it’s all manual lens and the markings on the focus ring are far from reality but when you learn that the infinity is around 0,7m focus it works like a charm.
















I have to say that even though I love my job, I’m really looking forward to having a day off on Sunday as I’ve now worked for 33 straight days! I need some time to wash clothing, repair gear and do some more preparations for the one-week ski tour to Sarek in early March. And maybe I also have time to write some more words for the blog as well…

Outdoor year 2012 in pictures

/ A word of warning: This post includes a lot of photos. They are nice and varied outdoors photos but there are many. You have been warned. /


As the year is about to end (as it didn’t end in 21.12.12), it’s again time to share some of my favourite outdoors moments from the past year with you. And just like last year, I thought photos would  be a nice way to do it. I’ve been quite lazy writing trip reports the whole year so this also kinda fits the theme. But I’ve added a few words in between the photos to give some context…

And there are again way too many pics and 1200+ words but try to tolerate and stop to stare only the interesting ones – or grab a cup of coffee or tea and go through all of them.

The year began while I was doing my wilderness guide internship at Husky Center Kolmiloukko at Taivalkoski. In addition to taking care of the dogs and guiding safaris I had time for an overnighter at Syöte National Park and a skiing trip at Lake Inari with N. This time it wasn’t especially cold at Inari and instead of pulkas and tents we had backpacks and we stayed in huts. There’s even a trip report available.






After the internship period it was time to return back to the guide school where we did some hunting, winter fishing and generally enjoyed the winter. Something worth of a special mention is the trip to Patvinsuo National Park as it happens to be my coldest trip yet. I wasn’t cold and it was actually very nice, but the temps were low – down to -38,5C at coldest. There is also a trip report of this.





On my coldest trip yet and trough out the whole winter I was also testing Altai Hok 125 skis which proved to be very handy tools as I told in my first impressions. I have high expectations for the Altai Skis Kar 147 I’ll be testing later this winter!



In addition to the internship period with huskies I decided to do some more and helped Vaiska on his Arctic ski expedition courses to get some extra experience to arrange my own in 2013. I worked as an instructor on two weekend courses in Southern Finland and as a guide on a one-week ski tour to Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland. The weekends were damn cold (below -30C) and the trip to Sarek damn stormy but it all provided good outdoors experience, especially on guiding a big group in challenging conditions in challenging environment.






After Sarek I started the last preparations for Vatnajökull 2012 expedition and at the end of March me, N and two of our friends headed to Iceland and spend 16 days skiing across the largest glacier in Europe (Vatnajökull) and climbed the highest peak of Iceland (Havannadahlsnjukur, 2109,6m) on the way. It was miserably wet and cold at times, very windy (up to or over 30m/s at worst) on few occasions but generally an awesome little expedition and great success!





The spring at the guide school was filled with tests on nature lore but also with a lot of water sports: kayaking, canoeing and rafting. And as we were on the waters I naturally had to do some packrafting as well. On June 8th the school ended and later in the summer after getting the last assignments done I graduated as a qualified guide (Erä- ja Luonto-opas). During the guide course I wrote a “Monthly highlights” series of monthly posts on the school but it’s still missing the last few posts and I’ll try to do something about it.






I celebrated the end of the course by going for a hike in Lapland. On the map me and N had planned anice  12 days 200-250km hike through the wilderness areas of Muotkatunturit and Paistunturit but due an embarassing scale mistake we had only 165km to walk in real life and did it in 10 days. Still very nice walk in the early summer with days of nice weather and days of bad weather.




Due several reasons I was quite lazy doing overnight outdoors stuff in the summer even though I would’ve had time for it. I have to say that I regret it a bit. Instead I spend quite lot of time in the woods around the house foraging and enjoying the free delicacies fresh from the nature. The foraging madness continued later in the autumn topped with the best apple year for, ehm, years.The main reason for the lack of trips was that I was preparing to spend the academic year 2012-2013 in Svalbard on Arctic Nature Guide program. I had applied there earlier the year and got approved but financial reasons (five-figure sums of euros required) crushed my plans and I ended up doing quite a lot of useless work and not being out in the wild experiencing and learning.







After the Svalbard related plans went busted I decided it was time for some comfort hiking and put together the Social Hiking in North plan with speed hiking and peak-bagging trip (and some packrafting) West of Kilpisjärvi (trip report), a six-day hiking oriented packrafting trip from Kilpisjärvi to Reisadalen in Norway (trip report) and a nine-day hiking trip in Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland (sorry, no trip report).










A few weeks after returning from Lapland me and N headed back to meer friends and to do a little three-day trip as Pyhä-Luosto National Park. Nice trails and cozy wilderness huts and very silent national park.




I also managed to do one more packrafting trip as we still had full-on flood in October after very rainy summer and autumn. Me, Xavier and Alpo (on an airmatress instead of an Alpacka packraft!) headed to Kymijoki to enjoy the big river white water and little exploration in the tiny Valkmusa National Park.



As the winter season was setting in it was time to head again back North for seasonal work as guide. Instead of guiding snowscooter tours at Luosto I ended up guiding husky tours at the good old Husky Center Kolmiloukko at Taivalkoski. Before I started the work I had time for a quick but relaxed overnighter with an old friend. When closing to Christmas the season really kicked off and I had to scratch the plans of little overngiht trips to Syöte National Park and concentrate solely on the work but luckily I like my work so can’t complain. In addition I launched my own ski expedition courses, tours and expeditions that are turning out to be very popular. Interesting work to come in winter 2013.




Again I can say that the passing year was a good year outdoorswise. I’m a bit sorry that the Svalbard plan went bust but that opened new possibilities instead. Again I learnt a lot new things and got more experience in other things. I didn’t end up spending more nights outdoors than in 2011 but hit again the 60 nights out or so. (I don’t still really do counting.) On the latter half of the year I was a bit lazy spending nights outdoors as I found it hard to be inspired by little trips close to home. Partially this was due the big uncertainties with the Svalbard related plans and later getting work for the winter season. But it was good year none the less. As a closing remark I’d like to thank the teachers and fellow students of SELO11, people involved in the Vatnajökull 2012 expedition and especially N.


The winter of 2013 is pretty much set involving guiding husky safaris at Taivalkoski and also running ski expedition courses and tours in Finland, Sweden and Iceland. What happens in May and thereafter is somewhat a mystery but once again I try to include a lot of outdoors to the upcoming year.

Guided trips available! / Opastettuja vaelluksia tarjolla!

This is a bilingual blog post about guiding services I am offering. / Tämä on kaksikielinen tiedote tarjoamistani opaspalveluista.

This post is also to serve as a “commenting area” as the comments on pages are disabled. / Tämä tiedote palvelee myös kommentointi- ja keskustelualueena, sillä info-sivuilla ei voi kommentoida.

Templet, Svalbard. Would you like to go there? I can help!
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Templet, Huippuvuoret. Haluaisitko sinne? Minä voin auttaa!

Guiding, in English

Since I have graduated and qualified as a Wilderness Guide and it is my big dream to help people achieving their own outdoor dreams, it is time to get started!

I have added a page about Guiding including general information on my guiding services on and also detailed information about guided courses and expeditions for the winter 2013.

For the winter 2013 I will be offering:

– The Basics of Nordic and Arctic Winter Travel; on request; Southern Finland or Finnish Lapland
– The Basic Course on Arctic Ski Expeditions; 25.-27.1.2013 and 6.-8.2.2013; Lappeenranta, Southern-Finland
– Advanced Course on Arctic Ski Expeditions; 1.-9.3.2013; Sarek, Northern Sweden
– Vatnajökull 2013 – Expedition Across the Largest Glacier in Europe; May 2013; Vatnajökull, Iceland

For more information on the aforementioned courses and expedition see Winter 2013 page. For other guiding services please inquire availability and prices via e-mail!.

Opaspalvelut, suomeksi

Koska olen valmistunut erä- ja luonto-oppaaksi ja eräs suuri unelmani on auttaa ihmisiä toteuttamaan heidän omia ulkoilmaunelmiaan, on korkea aika aloittaa!

Olen lisännyt blogiini sivun Opaspalveluista, jossa kerron taustatietoja tarjoamistani opaspaveluista ja myös yksityiskohtaista tietoa opastetuista kursseista ja retkikunnista talvelle 2013.

Talvelle 2013 tarjoan:

– Arktisen hiihtovaeltamisen perusteet; 25.-27.1.2013 ja 6.-8.2.2013; Lappeenranta, Etelä-Suomi
– Arktisen hiihtovaeltamisen jatkokurssi; 1.-9.3.2013; Sarek, Pohjois-Ruotsi
– Vatnajökull 2013 – Retkikunta halki Euroopan suurimman jäätikön; toukokuu 2013; Vatnajökull, Islanti

Tarkempia tietoja edellä mainituista kursseista ja retkikunnista saatavilla Talvi 2013 -sivulta. Muiden opaspalveluiden saatavuutta ja hintoja voit kysyä sähköpostilla!!

Monthly highlights of January: -38,5C!

Monthly highlights” is a series of post concentrating on a 10-month wilderness guide course I am taking this year at Niittylahden opisto near Joensuu in Eastern Finland. These posts try to summarize the best parts of each month and are naturally published at the end of each month (or few weeks after…) Hopefully you enjoy it!

The lesser highlights of January: snowmobile course and hare hunting

The school started in the mid January after a six-week internship period (of which I spent four weeks at a small husky farm at Taivalkoski). The first week was filled with entrepreneurship lectures and exercises in the classroom that didn’t get especially good participation. On the second week we had two days snowmobile course in Nurmes but as I see snowmobiles as tools and don’t support leisure driving and the course wasn’t especially good either, it didn’t make it to the highlights of the month. The course was more like a short snowmobile safari followed with a longer safari with no special emphasis on teaching how to use the snowmobile as an efficient tool in different situations. But after the snowmobile course things got better…

Early start for the longer snowmobile safari.

The snowmobile course was followed with a hunting course that gave enough the information to participate to a Finnish hunting license test on the following week. But as I already had a hunting license I was just hanging on the lectures and learning some new things and recalling a lot of things I had already forgotten as I haven’t been actively hunting. The information about animals and legislation was very useful even if one is not intending to get the hunting licence. On Friday, at the end of the course, we went for a hunting trip to hunt some hares. Our teacher, few local hunters and one of the students were equipped with shotguns while the rest of us skied through forested areas driving the hares out of their hideouts. We didn’t get any hares from the first three drives but from the fourth one we got two big European hares. We disemboweled the hares on spot, skinned them on the following week, put the meat into freezer and prepared a tasty dinner later.

Our teacher returning with the first European hare.

Preparing dinner...

The highest highlight of January: My coldest trip yet

On the last week of January we were to have a four-day hike in the woods. The hike or course is known as “Talvierätaidot” meaning winter wilderness skills and concentrates on hiking in forested areas in winter. I was very excited when the meteorologists were forecasting temps below -30 C. Then it changed to much milder but luckily it changed back to even colder just before the trip. And cold weather was what we got!

The hike took place near Patvinsuo National Park near the Eastern border of Finland. To be able to build fires (which are big and important part of the Finnish hiking and wilderness tradition) we didn’t camp in the national park but did a round trip from the North-Western edge of the national park. The plan was to ski a little bit every day and spend most of the time in camp concentrating on surviving in the cold and having good time. We skied about 2-3 hours every day covering about 3-5 km in the soft snow and occasionally dense woods. Everyone was hauling a sled and everyone else was skiing with traditional Finnish “metsäsukset” (I was using the Altai Hok 125 fastshoes).

We started the trip with sun shine, blue skies and relatively mild temperature of -24 C or so. After few hours of easy skiing we got to our planned camp spot on a small lake. The first night was to be spent in tents. Most of the people pitched their tents on the ridge as the air up there is slightly warmer because of inversion. Me and my buddy T pitched our tent on the lake ice to get most out of the cold weather as the first night was forecasted to be the coldest night. Most of the people spend their time sitting and cooking by fires while me and T spent most of our time in my Hilleberg Keron 3 GT warmed with white gas stoves in the expedition style. We had hearty dinner followed with some Ben&Jerrys icecream and generally had good time. Surviving in the cold is easy with the right kind of equipment. We also participated in fire wood gathering and hanged out with the other people before retiring to our sleeping bags. While going to sleep the temperature was already below -36 C on the lake ice and -32 C up on the ridge. To make most out of the cold we opened all the tent doors making it effectively only a tarp. During the night I woke up being uncomfortably warm and sweaty and decided to check the thermometer which was showing -38,5 C! I removed two pairs of woollen socks and went back to sleep.

We woke up at 07:00 and started the stoves to get the tent warm. I had a little problem with the pump of a MSR XGK as it was too cold for the standard O-rings (they fail around -40 C) but I got the other stove (MSR Dragonfly) running without pumping and when the tent warmed up the other pump stopped leaking and we got on with our morning chores. It also became obvious that in temperatures near -40 C you can’t work for long periods in thin fleece gloves. Morning chores outside were executed in 30 second intervals of working nad then warming fingers on the neck or groin. After breakfast we got news that two students were to be evacuated because of the cold (no cold damage  and we would stay in the camp untill noon. After the two students were evacuated from the road side we continued with a short skiing with sun and -25 C or so. The second night was to be spent under tarps by a fire so we pitched our 3×3 m Erätoveri tarp and found a good place for fire with plenty of firewood available nearby. During the evening the thermometer crawled back towards -30 C and below. We made a big pot of popcorn to share with the group and went to sleep after some chatting by the fire.

In the morning we got the fire going ans started to prepare breakfast in -32 C. Me and T were acting as the day’s guides with me orienteering in the front and T skiing last checking that everyone stays with us. We departed from the camp a bit after 09:00 and saw fresh wolverine tracks just after few hundred meters of skiing. It’s a wild place! Maybe it was bad navigation or just simply bad terrain but the terrain was occasionally challenging until we arrived to snow-covered gravel road and as the hares and moose were also using the road, so did we. We continued along the road to a sunny lake ice were we had lunch break in relative warmth of about -24 C before crossing the little lake to our next camp.

In the camp we piled snow for quenzees and while the snow settled we learned to make a fire from fresh birch. This was new to me and though I knew the technique in theory it was nice to see that it worked also in real life. it’s good to know that usually when you make fire you’ll get warm: you walk around in snow gathering and chopping fire wood and then you get a big nice fire. You stay warm during the whole process. When making a fire from fresh birch you sit on your butt snapping and sorting little twigs and in the end you have a smoking and hissing pile of twigs that can boil water… But it works!

After the fire making exercise we gathered some first class fire wood for a proper fire, carved the quenzees, had dinner and made some improvised brownies on frying pan. I walked to the lake ice to admire maybe one of the best full moons I’ve ever seen. Standing there alone in the bright moonlight breathing crisp cold air under the starry sky was quite an experience! Then it was time to retire to the quenzee for the night. Inside me and T had cups of tea and ate the rest of the ice cream. Outside the temperature was once again plummeting  below -30 C but the inside temperature was around – 10 C meaning that it was nice and warm.

We had decided that we’d make the breakfast inside the quenzee instead of getting out and making a fire. After good nights sleep we punched a hole to the side wall and placed the roaring MSR stoves under it and prepared breakfast. Not very smart if you’re going to use the quenzee for several nights but in this case with cold outside temperatures it was a good move in my opinion. After packing all gear we tested the durability of our quenzees. The roof hold over 100 kg weighting T easily. He went through the roof on his first jump but only made a whole to the roof and was not able to collapse the thing.

After playing destruction derby on our shelters we started the last short skiing session back towards the road and the cars. We ended up in some pretty fucked terrain with dense woods and little rocky cliffs, generally a bad place to be with a pulka. The progress was so slow that my toes got cold despite wearing Sorel Caribou boots and I didn’t get them warm until we got on easier ground and I got to ski in the point with good pace.

When we arrived to the cars everyone was probably very warm but the cars were not. It took some time to charge the car batteries and warm the cars with a generator we had with us but after an hour or so we got both cars running and headed back to civilization. It was my coldest trip yet but very enjoyable none the less. I would have liked a bit more skiing but who cares when you have great weather and beauty of nature surrounding you.

Few words on gear

For this trip I had mostly my typical tried and true winter kit. It was mostly the same stuff that I had for the Ultima Thule 2011 expedition. Few things were different or performed differently so here are couple word about them:

For the whole trip I wore military surplus synthetic fill puffy bib pants instead of the typical Goretex. They worked very well: warm enough for the camp and not too warm for the short daily transitions because of good ventilation options. And I started to think if a synthetic buffy overall with good venting options, good hood and a drop seat would actually be near the optimal shell clothing for this type of trips…

I was using the Altai Hok 125 short skis, or fast shoes, instead of the 2,5 meter long traditional Finnish “eräsukset”. The Hoks were a lot more maneuverable and doubled also as snowshoes in camp but they were slower on easy ground. More of my initial impression here.

Because of the X-Trace universal binding I could use my Sorel Caribous, the warmest footwear I own but even they were not warm enough towards the end of the trip when energy levels were low and progress was slow. They also caused small blisters to my heels. The good thing is that they doubled also as camp shoes. Maybe I should have tested vapour barrier socks with them.

The 168 cm long Fjellpulken pulka was a bit of a trouble in the dense woods just as I had expected. Probably the optimal system for long trips in dense woods would be the Altai Hoks (145cm long ones for soft snow), a small pulka with crossing shafts (or an incredible rulk?) and a small backpack if more capacity is needed.

Just before the trip I had changed my incredibly warm Cumulus Alaska 1300 based down bag to lighter Marmot Couloir bag. I wasn’t sure if it would be enough when combined with my Carinthia Explorer Top MF XL synthetic topbag but the combination was easily warm enough down to the -39 C we had. But because of changing to thinner sleeping bag the 10 mm CCF and regular Ridgerest combination wasn’t warm enough anymore and I had to use my puffy pants as an extra insulation between the pads though that wasn’t a problem when recognized and fixed.

Even though sitting by a fire in the middle of a silent forest lighten up by the pale moonlight is an incredible experience, I prefer the expedition style warmed tent in harsh winter conditions. Nothing prevents you from sitting by the fire even when hauling the tent and stove with you but having them makes life a lot easier. And for prolonged trips and expeditions in challenging winter conditions I see it as the best way to go. Not ultralight but ultra-well-working.

Technique regarding snow shelters

I have few posts about building snow shelter from the last winter. They seem to have quite some typos and the series is still missing the posts about building a snow cave (the superior snow shelter if snow conditions are favourable) and an igloo. The posts seem to be full of typos and I’m planning to polish them at some point when completing the series. But as I consider snow shelter building as an essential winter skill (and training it to be a lot of fun!) I’d recommend checking them anyway before I get them polished for “re-blogging”.

For fun and safety
Simple emergency shelter

Please, share your experiences and ideas about snow shelters!  I’m very interested in the topic, especially about experiences about building an igloo (not the one with the box-tool but cutting the block from hard snow).

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There are no overnight trips or hikes for February but we already had a nice animal tracking trip in school and we will be doing some winter fishing on the next week which should be interesting… I’ve been quite busy with the preparations for the Vatnajökull expedition and by working hard you get results so things are looking quite good. But there might be some quiet time in the blog because of preparations and upcoming exams. Hopefully you’ll tolerate it and I can make it up later with nice photos from the Europe’s biggest glacier.