What is Scricfinia?


Crown snow on spruces makes forests in Syöte National Park look like from fairy tale.

The banner of this blog is part of Olaus Magnus’ Carta Marina, dated 1539. Scricfinia means the area we nowadays call Finland.

Scricfinia (or Skrithiphini, as Prokopios called our people in 6th century) has had many translations through the centuries, but the bottom line is approximately: Finns with skis. In our land winter lasts half a year, and if you wanted to stay alive here you had to have a means to move about also when there is a thick layer of soft snow.

Well, in Southern Finland snowy winter is considerably shorter, but in Northern Finland skiing season lasts from five to seven months. And with word ‘skiing’ I’m not referring to alpine downhill skiing, and not even to cross-country skiing on ski tracks. The old way of skiing was to have long and wide skis and ski just where you wanted. Were you a hunter thousands of years ago and your prey turned left, off any human-made tracks, well, you turned naturally left also.

The same applies nowadays. There are good downhill ski centers in Finland. There are thousands of kilometers of nice ski tracks, which I do recommend. But still in my personal opinion skiing is best outside tracks. You need special extra long skis (metsäsukset) for that, and venturing to deep wilderness in winter requires quite an amount of backcountry skills, but if you have these, the experience to navigate in snowy landscape to wherever you want, is unique.

You can use snowshoes, too, if you like them more. Note however that long and wide skis are the traditional Finnish, and North European, and Eurasian way of travelling over snow. In our normal snow conditions skis are almost always quicker and easier. In Northern America the opposite applies: snowshoes are the normal method and skis just a newcomer.

But no, this is not only about snow and winter and skiing, not nearly. Finnish summer and autumn are fantastic time for hiking, and walking will be the most discussed method of transportation here. Some paddling and biking will appear, too.

My intention in this blog is to tell about the Finnish way of hiking, admire Finnish nature, ponder such Finnish culture and history that you can see while trekking in Finland.