Jouni Laaksonen 14.1.2019
We had a long Christmas holiday. That meant lots of reading, playing board games with our elder daughter, eating lots of chocolate, and many other things, and also skating on a lake, and skiing both on ski tracks and outside any tracks.
Skiing on tracks, or skating in ice hall is fun sports. However, when you head outside the tracks and halls you find the spirit of hiking, and that’s what I like even more!
Skating on a lake
One day during our Christmas holiday we skated on a nearby lake. Now, skating on lakes, or on sea, is naturally as its best when there is a thick layer of ice but no snow. This does not happen very often in Northern Finland, but sometimes it does.
We only had the first part right now, but we wanted to go and see if it would be possible to skate despite the ten or fifteen centimeter layer of snow.
As the very first thing I checked the thickness of ice. I had an axe and I made a ten cm deep hole. This 10 cm did not penetrate the ice, and thus we deemed it is perfectly safe to skate on this lake. (A rule of thumb says 5 cm of hard ice is enough to walk or skate on lake, but as we had children with us, we added a hefty safety margin.)
Snow was fluffy and light, and it indeed was possible to skate on the ice. On some years we have happened to meet more perfect conditions and my wife has made longer skating tours on nearby lakes. But today we were content to be on the lake for an hour or so, skating around on one end of the lake.
Our younger daughter is four years old and she is just learning how to skate. I showeled snow away from a small area, and this ring was all she needed to be happy on her skates.
As skating on lakes is quite a special way of hiking, and possible only during some early winter days, skiing is THE way of hiking during winter in Northern Finland. The ground is covered with snow usually from November to April, and during that time you cannot hike without skis or snowshoes except on some very popular day hiking trails that keep trodden.
Most of our Christmas holiday the weather was like in the pics above: cloudy, and often with snowfall. When the first sunny day came, we immediately headed to a ski tour. We packed lunch, extra layers of warm clothing, matches and so on, and took a pulka, or sledge (ahkio in Finnish) with us.
The temperatures haven’t plummeted far down yet this winter. –15°C feels rather cold when you meet it for the first time or so. On the other hand, later in winter when you have met colder temperatures, –15°C does not feel cold any more. Today’s temperature naturally was no problem for us adults, but it isn’t always easy to make your children wear enough layers.
The younger one would have needed one fleece layer below her thick overall, and this skiing trip made it clear we have to buy a new thick pair of mittens for the older one.
We skied across a thinly forested bog and made a small campfire near the shore of a lake, in the middle of snowy pine forest. On our way there the younger daughter skied herself most of the way, whereas on the way back she chose to sit on the pulka, well insulated with a sleeping pad and sleeping bag.
Our older daughter is twelve, so her pulka days are long past. 🙂 She is an experienced skier by now.
The three pics above: On our way there, first through a thinly forested bog, and then a short bit over a lake. On the last pic you see the track left by the pulka I was pulling.
Campfire prepares food and warms everyone up.
On the way back our younger daughter sat comfortably in the pulka I pulled.
Day hiking is much more popular during summer and autumn, but it sure is enjoyable also during winter!
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I think next week I’ll show the cover of my book! It’s going to be published in March, and, well, I’ll tell more next week.