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.

 

 

October hiking in Nuortti, part 2

If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

We had a good nights sleep at the open hut. Our day started slowly and it was already way after 10 am before we got going. The first day’s hike was only 19 kilometres and the second day was going to be about 23 kilometres. With our pace this meant hiking the last kilometres in the dark again. And also crossing River Nuortti in the dark.

Forest on the Nuortti Hiking Trail

The start of the second day was through a beautiful forest. We didn’t see any other hikers during the weekend, but we did see both Willow Grouses and Capercaillies along the trail.

River Nuortti flowing slowly

Later in the afternoon we also came closer to the river again. There were a lot of beautiful places.

Walking the trail as the sun is getting lower

It was supposed to be cloudy on Sunday, but most of the day the sun was shining. It was pure joy walking on a trail like this.

A break at river Nuortti

There are a lot of fireplaces, open shelters and open huts along the route. This was a beautiful place to enjoy a break. As you can see the sun is getting pretty low again.

Hiking in the dark

Soon we had to take out our head torches again, but the trail was clear and easy to follow. By this time we were really feeling it on our legs. And looking forward to the refreshing crossing of the cold river.

wet hiking boots and pants

When we came to the wading place, we decided to just keep our hiking boots on. It looked a bit sketchy and deep, so we thought it was the best option. The crossing was about 25 metres and it felt really cold. It wasn’t much deeper than the knees, so in the end it wasn’t so bad after all.  After the crossing it was just 500 meters back to our car, where we changed our shoes and clothes.

I really recommend the hiking route. The scenery was beautiful and very versatile. We hiked a total of 42 kilometres in two days. This was a bit too much especially as the days in Finland are relatively short in October. You could easily spend three or four days on the trail and there would still be enough to see and do. Maybe next time we will have more than just a weekend.

October hiking in Nuortti, part 1

Back from the canoe trip in Norway, we had a free weekend in Finland. Staying in Sodankylä, we decided to head to the southern parts of Urho Kekkonen National Park. There is a 40 kilometer circular route called Nuortti Hiking Trail. It follows the River Nuortti almost all the way to the Russian border, where you cross the bridge to the other side of the river. You walk back on the other side and at the end you need to cross the river without a bridge. This was something we were really looking forward to, since the water is starting to get close to freezing here in the north. But it was only at the very end of the trip.

A small frozen pond

The river was still flowing free of ice, but the small lakes and ponds start to be frozen.

We started a bit late on Saturday. By the time we had our lunch break, we were pretty sure we would have to walk the last kilometres in the dark. Already at this point the sun was going behind the hills.

River Nuortti

The trail was very nice. Sometimes it went down to the river and st times it continued higher up on the banks. A bit of snow on the ground, but it didn’t really bother us.

River Nuortti as the sun is goimg down

There are two lookout spots on the trail. We managed to get to the second one during the last rays of daylight. After the stop we need to take out our head torches and hike the last 3,5 kilometres in the dark.

Northern Lights at Saiho open hut

It was cloudy most of the day and the weather forecast promised clouds and rain during the night. As we reached the open hut, the sky started to clear and we could see the stars. The hut is called Saiho and it is just 800 metres from the Russian border. As you can see we also enjoyed some northern lights in the evening.

You can read about the second in the next post.