Jouni Laaksonen 19.3.2018
More on the subject of summer holiday. What about coming to Finland to do some extraordinarily good hiking?
Last week I wrote about day hiking, which is is great activity! But you get even more when you head out for a multi-day hike.
(Addition in summer 2019: Note that my guidebook Hiking in Finland – Day Trips and Backpacking Expeditions has finally been published. The 304 pages contain everything you need for hiking in Finland! See more on the Books-page.)
First day in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area. There’s food for a week in our backpacks. And naturally stove, kettles, tent, sleeping bags and pads, spare clothes etc., all that we need during that week.
Yes, you need to carry a lot more in your backpack, including sleeping gear, kitchen, more food and clothes. Weather will change more than during a few hours’ trip. If you hike outside marked trails, you may also need to wade across some rivers.
Wading across river Kielajoki in Muotkatunturi Wilderness area. We are hiking outside marked trails, enjoying ourselves on our own – and seeing only one person during the whole week.
But this way you
- get deeper into the wilderness (you can get into the heart of a largish wilderness area during a week long hike, far from roads, habitation and beaten up trails)
- get a stronger connection with nature (imagine you are wild camping, you wake up in your tent to the sounds of reindeer walking beside your tent, then a woodpecker starts to knock on a nearby dead pine, and now that you are awake you hear also the rush of the rapids you are camping beside)
- make a powerful bond with your hiking companions (you endure together the smallish hardships like heavy rain, getting temporarily lost and so on)
- feel you are in charge of your life: all that you need for living you either carry on your back or get from the nature (like drinking water, firewood, maybe fish, berries, mushrooms)
- you concentrate fully on this moment, to navigating, making a fire, preparing food, drying your boots… and totally forget about all the stressful elements your everyday life may have
1. So, I strongly recommend heading out for a week (or two weeks, even better!) long hike in Finnish Lapland. There are good marked trails, but even stronger experience you get outside trails. Of course you need wilderness skills, like navigating with map and compass, choosing the right clothing and gear, and keeping your packweight light enough, selecting good spot to camp and so on. You better practice these in your home country first before setting out to a week long expedition abroad. (And I will try to tell everything you need to know about Finnish nature, seasons, needed skills and so on in my book. It will be published spring 2019.)
2. If you come to Finland for the first time and want to walk on a marked trail, choose one of these:
Hiking on a marked trail in Pallas-Yllästunturi NP. Pallas fells on the horizon.
- Karhunkierros trail in Oulanka National Park, 72/82 km
- Hetta-Pallas trail in Pallas-Yllästunturi NP, 55 km
- Gold trail in Lemmenjoki NP, for example 50 km
- Kevo trail in Kevo Strict Nature Reserve, 63 km
- Halti trail (part of Kalottireitti, Nordkalottleden) in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, 110 km
3. If you want to hike outside marked trails, choose for example:
Stuorraäytsi canyon in Muotkatunturi WIlderness Area. No marked trails. Upper pic: We are walking on the bottom of the canyon and now having a lunch break by open fire. Lower pic: We left our backpacks to Stuorraäytsi wilderness hut and climbed to a nearby fell, where we could see the canyon in it’s all glory.
- Urho Kekkonen NP (unmarked but clear paths from hut to hut, the most extensive wilderness hut system in the world; old forest, beautiful fells, gorges, rivers, bogs = taiga)
- Muotkatunturi Wilderness Area (not many paths, not many huts, but beautiful and varied fell terrain)
- Käsivarsi Wilderness Area outside the Halti trail (not many paths, but quite many huts; treeless fell area, rivers)
- Lemmenjoki NP outside the Gold trail (not many paths, some huts; old forest, fells, bogs, rivers = taiga)
4. Imagine again you are wild camping. You selected a spot where a small stream runs to a lake. You fetch some drinking water from the stream. Also it feels good to breathe so clean air! You see fish popping the surface of the lake and decide to fetch your spinning rod! See how to obtain fishing permit.
Fishing in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area.
5. Or imagine you are walking in fell area. You come to small wetland rich in plant life. You recognize Mountain Avens and Yellow Mountain Saxifrage, but there are many beauties you don’t know. You take pictures and decide to find out at home. Or you see colorful butterflies, or northern birds you have never seen before. A good source of information on all of these is http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/
Do not plan too long day marches so that you have time to stop to admire the beauty of nature, to enjoy the evenings by campfire or in the wilderness hut, or to fish, or to pick berries, or to hike to the top of nearby hill or fell…
Yellow Mountain Saxifrage, near Saana fell in Käsivarsi.
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Next week, hmm, I don’t know yet. A trip report probably!