A winter day in Valkmusa National Park

Valkmusa National Park is less than two hours from Helsinki by car. One of the borders of the park is Kymijoki, the most popular whitewater kayaking river in Southern Finland. I’ve been kayaking there for years and we also run our whitewater courses there. But for some reason I’ve never visited this place before.

Well that changed on a beautiful winter Saturday. After getting lost once we managed to find the parking place with the entrance to the park. There were just a few parking places and they were full of snow. Of course we got our car stuck. We got some help from other visitors of the park, but decided to reverse the car to a place, where we could turn around and not get stuck. That turned out to be a couple of kilometers away. So we walked a bit more, but luckily the days are getting longer so we managed the whole trip in daylight!

Valkmusa National Park

 

We started along the path, which was also a cross-country skiing track. We didn’t bring skis, but we had our snowshoes with us. Soon we decided to put the snowshoes on and climbed up the hill. The view was really nice and the weather just perfect!

Snowshoeing in Valkmusa National Park

There was still more than enough of snow to enjoy snowshoeing. A lot of beautiful places to see a bit outside of the normal paths.

A small jump with snowshoes.

With enough of soft snow, it is nice to jump down from small rocks. You just need to watch, that you don’t hit yourself in the face with a camera as almost happened here.

Snowshoeing in Valkmusa National Park

Most of the land area of the park is swamp. It is only accessible in the winter time. There were people skiing and I think that would be the best way to explore the flat swamp area. Especially now when the snow is getting hard enough to carry your weight.  I also think I need to come here in the summer. I’ll be several weekends at Kymijoki anyway, so it is not a long detour!

Winter evening in Porvoo

On the way back we made a short stop at Porvoo. It is a very popular place for people to visit in the summer. But it is also beautiful in the winter!

 

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First kayak trip this spring

We made plans with Joni a couple of weeks agoto go kayaking,if the weather is good. We wanted to open the kayaking season and stay overnight on one of the many islands of Eastern Helsinki. On Saturday the weather was perfect. Sunshine, calm winds and a good forecast. So there was no excuse.

The temperature had been below freezing the night before, so some of the inner bays were frozen again. Luckily we found a spot in Uutela, where there wasn’t too much ice. We had to carry and drag the kayaks for a few hundred meters to get to our starting place. The water is still very cold, so you have to be really careful if you plan to head out. A drysuit is essential and even that isn’t enough if you do something stupid. So be well prepared or wait for a few months before the water is warmer. 🙂

Pulling our kayaks to the starting place

The path was still icy and it was easy to pull our kayaks to the shore.

Breaking ice with our kayaks

There was about 200 meters of ice to break before we got to the open water. Luckily it wasn’t too thick.

Ice on the sea

It was great to kayak through the ice and get really close to the ice.

Sunset at Pihlajaluoto, Helsinki

We decided to spend the night at Pihlajaluoto, one of my favorite islands in Eastern Helsinki. The sunset was beautiful.

Sun setting behind the trees in Pihlajaluoto, Helsinki.

Pihlajaluoto isn’t too far from where we started, so we had a lot of time to enjoy the island and take pictures. The islands are so quiet in the winter time. It is a special feeling being out there.

Fire and the moon at Pihlajaluoto, Helsinki.

We brought some firewood and made a fire. The sky was clear and we were waiting to see the stars as it was getting darker. The forecast was cloudy, but it was completely clear.

Sky full of stars in Pihlajaluoto, Helsinki.

It was great to see the sky full of stars!

Frozen kayak gear

The night was pretty cold and I accidentally took a wrong sleeping bag, so I didn’t sleep to well. And all the kayaking gear was also frozen in the morning. But it didn’t take too long to warm up. It was a great trip and I hope can get out soon again.

 

Weekend at Riisitunturi National Park

For me last winter weekend in Lapland this spring we headed to Riisitunturi National Park. It is one of the most popular National Parks in Lapland because of easy access and beautiful nature. There were a lot of people around during the day, but we were the only ones staying overnight in the open hut.

The weather was nice and warm, but cloudy. So not the best conditions for photography.

Skiing in Riisitunturi National Park

There is a crosscountry ski track to the hut. It is just 2 kilometres and it is also easy to reach with snowshoes.

Riisitunturi Open Hut

We skied to the hut, but we also took our snowshoes with us. After a short break we did a short tour with the snowshoes around the park.

Grey day in Riisitunturi National Park

The trees were all covered in snow and it was really beautiful although the sun wasn’t shining.

The lights of Ruka from Riisitunturi National Park

We spent the evening at the hut and you could see the lights of Ruka Ski Resort very clearly. It was still cloudy and very soon after this picture it began to snow.

Skiing in Riisitunturi National Park

The next morning we headed back to our car and the weather was still cloudy and grey. But I certainly recommend the place as an easy option for your first winter adventures. And it is an amazing place for photography. I really want to get back there when the sky is clear and try to capture some Northern Lights.