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!

 

Iceland in January

I am just packing my things here in Sodankylä and ready to get back to Helsinki for the rest of the spring. Even here it’s raining now and the temperature is above zero. So it’s a good time to think about our trip to Iceland.

Solfar in Reykjavik

There are straight flights from Helsinki to Reykjavik and the flight time is only a bit over 3 hours. So it was easy to get there. This is Solfar in Reykjavik, in my opinion one of the coolest pieces of art in the city. Northern Lights in Reykjavik

On the first night in Reykjavik we could see the Northern Lights even in the city. THe next morning we picked up our rental car and headed along the south coast.

Strokkur in Geysir

First we drove along the famous Golden Circle. This is Strokkur in the Geysir area!

Gulfoss in Iceland

Gullfoss is one of the most impressive waterfalls I have ever seen!

Seljandsfoss in Iceland

Another great waterfall was Seljandsfoss. There is a path behind the waterfall, but eventhough we had spiked shoes, it was too slippery to go completely around.

Northern Lights at Skyrhusid Guest House

We drove along the south coast and stayed in small guesthouses. This picture is from a gueshouse called Skyrhusid close to the Vatnajökull Glacier.

I have so many good pictures from the trip, that I need to write a few more post from the trip. Here is the last picture from Reykjavik. You can take a lift to the top of Halgrimskirkja church. The views are really good!

View of Reykjavik from Halgrimskirkja

New Year skiing in Saariselkä

We decided to go skiing for 4 days around New Year’s. It’s still very dark and the days are short, but we were sure it would be all right to ski in the dark. So we drove from Sodankylä to Saariselkä and Urho Kekkonen National Park. There are open huts and you can also reserve a spot for a small charge. We didn’t know, if it was a popular time to be out there and we wanted to sleep inside. So we reserved the sleeping places in advance and picked up the key from Kiilopää.

Skiing in to the unknown, Urho Kekkonen National Park

On the first day we skied for 14 kilometres to Suomunruoktu hut. We were the only ones there so we could have stayed at the open hut too.
Skiing in Urho Kekkonen Nationalpark

The next day we started climbing up towards Tuiskukuru hut, where we had lunch. This pictures is close to Vintilä fjell. It was beautiful up there with the trees covered in snow.

Skiing in the dark in Urho Kekkonen National Park

Shortly after our lunch break it was already time to get the head torches out. We followed an old snowmobile track, which was still visible. It wasn’t too difficult to find our way in the dark. But it was a long day to Luirojärvi hut, about 23 kilometres. The open sauna for anyone to use was waiting for us thre and it was already warm as we arrived. A great way to relax and wash yourself after a long day of skiing.

Skiing in Saariselkä

The weather was cloudy all the time, so we didn’t see any Northern Lights. But otherwise it was really nice, around -10 degrees Celsius.

Blue moment in Finnish Lapland in January

I like the light at this time of the year a lot. It is a special feeling being outside!

Skiing after dark in January

The short days meant skiing in the dark every day. Going down hill is a bit more interesting especially, if it is a steeper and longer hill. A few times we just had to ski into the deep snow to stop our speed.

Snow covered trees

We spent the third night back at Suomunruoktu hut. So 23 kilometres also on the third skiing day.

 

A glimpse of the sun close to Niilanpää hut

On the last day it was just 14 kilometres back to the car. As you can see it was almost sunny. 🙂 This was the first time during the trip, when the sky was not completely covered.
We saw some other people along the way, but it wasn’t crowded at all. About 75 kilometres of skiing in 4 days. The second day felt pretty tough, but the same route back on the third day felt much easier. Just more skiing, so the muscles get used to working again. It was a great trip and a great way to spend New Year’s.

 

 

Cross-Country skiing in Sodankylä

I spend a lot of time in Lapland during the winter months. Now I’ve been in Sodankylä for 3 weeks. I have been mostly working and updating the Natura Viva homepage and getting all the kayaking programs organized for next summer. Although I haven’t had time to be outside too much, it is still nice to be here in the north, where there is plenty of snow.

Cross-country skiing

Tha days are very short this time of the year. That’s also a reason why I haven’t been out too much. It’s just a couple hours of daylight each day. Now I have managed to go out to cross-country skiing a couple of times. Just 14 kilometres each time , but it is enough at the moment. My muscles are sore enough!

The start of the ski track in Sodankylä

This is where the ski track starts. – 6 degress Celsius is the perfect temperature for skiing. Especially when it is not windy at all. The sky is complete clear and it is just past 11 am. Not a lot of light!

Ski track through the pine forest

The track is very well maintained and it is very peacuful and quiet here.

Sunshine in Lapland in December

Even as the sun is shining, it is not really a lot of light. But the colors are just spectacular!

Reindeer on the ski track

There are a lot of reindeer around the area. And you can get pretty close to them.

December at River Jeesiö

The route goes close to River Jeesiö at some point. This was a great place to take small break and just enjoy the scenery.

All the pictures were taken between 11 am and 1 pm. And by the time I walked back home from the ski track, it was already starting to get dark. I still enjoy this time of the year a lot.

First snow in Helsinki

I like snow a lot! Within the last couple of days we have had the first snow in most of Finland. But where I live here in Eastern Helsinki, we haven’t seen snow. Until last night. There isn’t a lot of snow and it is going to melt really soon, but I still had to get out to take some pictures of the sea and snow during sunrise.

The first snow and a star

I walked to the tip of the Kallahti peninsula (Kallahdenniemi). It was still dark as I got there, so I even saw a few stars in the sky.

A frozen pond

The sun started to rise slowly. I like the light in the end of November. The colors are very blue.

Sunrise in Vuosaari

The sea is still completely open. And it propably won’t freeze for a while.

The sauna of Villa Kuhlefelt

Not a lot of snow yet. Especially here at the tip of the peninsula. And it is supposed to get warmer again.

Snow and the sea

The morning was beautiful and it was really worth it to get out. It usually is!

I am actually just packing my things and heading to Lapland today. So in a few hours I get to see a lot more snow. I am looking forward to starting my skiing season.
I still have a lot of photos from Tenerife, so I’ll get back to the warmer pictures in a few days.