My winter 2021

21.4.2021 Jouni Laaksonen

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet here in my blog lately. I’ve been busy with my new book, and I’ve been winter hiking a lot. (The book is in Finnish, it’s called Vaellustarinoita – Askeleita luontoon, and it will be published in June. I’ll tell more about it when it’s been published.) Here’s a brief summary of my winter 2021:

In December we skied in Pyhä-Luosto National park with my family. We rented a cottage and skied mostly on the beautiful ski tracks of the National Park. However, we also slept one night in our kota tent, which can be warmed up by a wood oven.

Here we are skiing with my older daughter around Ukko-Luosto fell.
And this is where we slept one of our nights in Pyhä-Luosto area, in our kota tent.

The winter was mostly cloudy until one morning in January, when the sky was blue! We spent that day skiing in a nearby protected bog area, Mustinsuo, with my wife. South-side horizon was bright yellow due to the low hanging sun, there was some -25°C, and every needle of every branch of every tree was so covered with snow. Absolutely wonderful!

My wife skiing in Mustinsuo. With long and wide skis (metsäsukset) skiing was no problem, although the snow was soft.
Every needle of every branch of…

I was able to enjoy the same kind of beautiful (and cold) weather in Ylläs, Lapland, with my friend Markus later in January. See pics in this post.

In February we skied with my friends in Elimyssalo protected area and slept in my kota tent. There’s a post about this trip here.

Later in February we headed with two friends to Pulju Wilderness Area, in Lapland. This time the sky was heavily cloudy all the time, it was coldish, around -20°C, and there was 20 cm snowfall during our trek. It was quite heavy work to ski and pull your sledge, because the cold new snow had a lot of friction, not to mention that our skis and sledges naturally sank quite deep. I got many shadowless black and white photos out of that hike. 🙂

When the clouds are heavy, there are no shadows. All the colors drain away, and landscape is totally different from a sunny day. However, black-and-white can also be very beautiful.
Our sledges and out tent in Pulju.

In March in Finland there is a week long school holiday. We always spend that week skiing, as I tell here and here. This time we rented a cottage from Paljakka and skied along Paljakka and Ukkohalla ski tracks.

Paljakka ski tracks…
…and Ukkohalla ski tracks. These are two ski resorts near to each other.

At the end of March I headed again to Lapland. We skied with my two friends across Vätsäri Wilderness Area and Lake Inarijärvi. The temperature was exceptionally warm for March, it was above 0°C day and night. That meant the snow was totally wet and out skis sank all the way to the ground. We had to stick to snow mobile routes. Well, nature is big and human is small: you take what you get, and the trick is not to complain, but to enjoy in every kind of weather. And that we did, we had good time together.

Our expedition in Vätsäri and Lake Inarijärvi started in sunny views, but soon…
…it got really cloudy. Once again everything was black-and-white.
In the end I had to hurry home earlier than my friends. When I skied alone across the large open water areas in Lake Inarijärvi, Vasikkaselkä and Sammakkoselkä, there was rather a brisk wind. The temperature was warm, but still the wind was so hard that I didn’t want to stop. In the end I skied almost without resting. This is the only time I stopped and sat down to eat some sandwiches and drink some water from my pockets: I sat behind my backpack, which blocked some of the wind. The weather was not favorable, but enjoying your hike is most of all a matter of attitude. 🙂

After that warm spell the nightly frosts returned, which meant the snow cover got a hard crust. In April it has been super easy to ski wherever you want. Across the bogs and forests, up to fells, wherever. I’ve skied rather a lot here at home, Kuhmo. Sometimes alone, sometimes with my wife, sometimes with my wife and daughters. Sometimes with long and wide skis (metsäsukset, 270 cm long, 7 cm wide), sometimes with two meters long and 5 cm wide touring skis, sometimes with normal cross-country skis. It is such fun to ski on a hard crust (hankikanto)!

In Tulisuo protected bog area we skied with my wife. It was first cloudy, but…
…the we got also some blue sky. As you can see, our skis do not sink at all. Skiing is extremely easy and fun.
And here is my younger daughter. We are skiing with normal cross-country skis in a nearby bog, and the snow conditions are perfect.
We also happened to a spot where black grouses had had mating ceremony last night! There must have been dozens of black grouses wildly in heat.

Right now the snow cover is rather thin here in Kuhmo, but there’s plenty of snow in Lapland. I hope I can do one more winter hike this spring, in May in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, Lapland.

Happy skiing to anyone living so north or high there is still snow this winter! And happy walking, rambling, hiking, trekking, or canoeing, mountain biking, whatever, to anyone living where there isn’t snow! Let’s enjoy the great outdoors!

6 thoughts on “My winter 2021

  1. Hi! Yes, I have a gear list, but so far only in Finnish. I just returned from another winter hike and there’s plenty to do right now. But once I find time I’ll translate the list and make a new blog post about winter equipment. So, I’ll be back on this!

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  2. Hi,

    Thanks a lot. That’s very kind of you.

    I have a question aboiut the skis. I made a hike a few weeks ago in the UKK parc and my wife rented OAC skin based ski with their Sorel boots. She found it was very hard to ski with that gears on the iced packed snow in the tunturi hills. Do you think that the so called forest ski and ski boots could be better. https://rentle.store/rolloutdoors/l/rolloutdoorskiilopaa/product/sVhG6XTlNcj8Xq0o7muB https://rentle.store/rolloutdoors/l/rolloutdoorskiilopaa/product/ssN1nO347mEG3b0ddrir

    Best regards
    Fab

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  3. Hi Fab,
    I am a great fan of long and wide (like 280 cm long, 7 cm wide) forest skis, but they are not the best option for iced, hard-packed snow on treeless slopes. The best skis for those conditions are what we call tunturisukset in Finnish:
    https://rentle.store/rolloutdoors/l/rolloutdoorskiilopaa/product/Gq6X4Z0Wz3qnJVuC1s5F

    From now on this winter these tunturisukset (about 200 cm long, about 5 cm wide, with waist) are probably a good choice everywhere in Urho Kekkonen NP. In **forest** there may be some soft snow on top layer, and forest skis may be a little bit better than tunturisukset, but I believe there is a hard crust underneath as there have been warm periods already. So tunturisukset won’t sink too deep (as they do approximately from December to February). And in **treeless fells** tunturisukset with their steel edges are the best.

    OAC skin based skis are usually not my first choice, but in many conditions they are rather good and fun skis. But you are right: on iced, hard-packed slopes the combination of very wide skis and not very sturdy bindings is not very good.

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