New book Suomen autiotuvat

New book: Suomen autiotuvat
Jouni Laaksonen 9.7.2018

As I told in an earlier post, I’ve been writing The Hiker’s Guide to Finland all winter and until now. However, that has not been my only project. Together with my colleague Joel Ahola we’ve been working on a book about wilderness huts in Finland since last summer. This book is called Suomen autiotuvat, and it is in Finnish only.

There was some delay with the wilderness hut book, but finally I can now tell that the book is in press, and it should arrive in shops at the end of this week. Or at the latest next week.

As Suomen autiotuvat is in Finnish only, it’s not much of news to you from abroad. Still, every time a book is published, it is a cause for a little celebration. A long period of work is behind, and soon I can hold the fruit of that work in my hand. 🙂

In fact this is my third book on this subject. The first, Autiotuvat in 2002, presented 270 wilderness huts. The second, Retkeilijän autiotuvat in 2012 presented over 400 huts. This third one presents over 520 huts. The first book concentrated mostly on Northern Lapland, the second one covered about half of Finland, and this new one covers all of Finland.

At the same time our understanding about the history of wilderness hut system, about different reasons to erect shelters to wilderness, about the history of building styles etc. has deepened, and also thus the books have got more and more pages.

‘Our’ means me and Joel. We are both as enthusiastic about exploring new huts, finding new tidbits about the history of individual huts and the system overall, bumping across interesting tales in the hut guestbooks and so on. We have written both Retkeilijän autiotuvat and Suomen autiotuvat very much half and half. Also the photos in these books are approximately half mine and half Joel’s. If one of us has not visited some hut, then the other has, but most often we both have. There are only a couple of huts in the book neither of us have (yet) visited.

I will not boast the book contains every wilderness hut in Finland, but I’d say it covers the huts in Northern Finland very well, and in Southern Finland we got a good selection of open huts into the book.

Below there are some pages from the new book. For my Finnish readers, there’s more information here.

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Back and front cover of the new book. On back cover there is Nammalakuru hut in winter fell landscape, and on front cover that is Tasku hut in the western archipelago in full summer.

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Table of contents. Translates very roughly this way: 30 pages of general information on wilderness huts, their history, how to behave in them. Then 175 pages full of information about those 520 usable huts. (Also over 200 ex-wilderness huts, or otherwise interesting huts are mentioned more shortly.) Then some pondering about the wilderness huts in the rest of the world, and our thoughts about the future of Finnish hut system. Then 32 pages of maps, and finally 11 pages of alphabetical hut index, with coordinates.

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Part of How to behave in wilderness hut section.

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This is how we divided Finland to twelve parts.

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Most of the huts in Northern Lapland are same as in Retkeilijän autiotuvat (2012). However, some huts have unfortunately burned down after that book, and on the other hand some new huts have been built (like Artta above there), and some huts we have only found out after 2012 (like Lauttajärvi above there). All the info has naturally been updated.

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The biggest addition to older books is the inclusion of Southern Finland. Most of Finnish population lives in Southern Finland, so it is no wonder there are not so many wilderness areas or wilderness huts in south. Still there is a surprisingly large amount of them! We selected over one hundred open huts from all over Southern Finland. Some examples from Eastern Finland above.

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On left page examples of Western Finland. That page tells also how both our families, Laaksonen family and Ahola family are eager hikers. In the upper my older daughter is sitting in the yard of Särkinen hut, and on the lower pic Joel smiles with two of his daughters in Orrdals klint hut. On right page starts the section Wilderness huts around the world. There we mention huts in Sweden and Norway, ponder that the hostels along Himalayan trails are not much different from reservable wilderness huts, and on the next page we continue to huts of New Zealand and so on.

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I believe this is an area with densest wilderness hut network in the whole world. There are over 60 wilderness huts in or very near Urho Kekkonen National Park.

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This map shows how the huts in Southern Finland are situated. Black rectangle means there is a more detailed map (same scale as in the Urho Kekkonen NP map pic, above) about that area, including many huts. Reddish circle means there is one hut there.

* * *

July is the holiday month in Finland. Most of Finns are on vacation, which means bureaucracy and business may be a bit slower, and on the other hand all tourist attractions are surely open.

July is our holiday month, too, in my family. I’ll reserve this month to my family, and hiking, and I’ll not write more blog entries in July. I’ll be back in August. Happy hikes until then!

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