Finland Backpacking

Hello again.

 

This time I want to tell you about Andreas and my backpacking trip to Finland. I am writing in english as I am going to send  this blog to some guys in England, the US and the Netherlands.

After I returned home from Santa Barbara I've had 4 days to organize my equipment and the rest that had to be done together with Andreas. So we spent most of those days either packing or shopping in trekking stores.

On Fr we flew from Frankfurt Hahn to Tampere, where we arrived at 9pm. So the first task was to find a place for the night and gas cartridges to power our camping gas burner. At 1am we had found a nice and comparatively cheap hotel, bought the gas and went off to some bars in Tampere to celebrate our last night in "civilization".

The next morning we went to Tampere bus station and took the bus to Kuru, which was close to Seitseminen National Park, where we wanted to start our trail. Getting to Kuru was no problem, but there we found that there wouldn't be a bus to Seitseminen till monday. But thanks to some very friendly finish locals we found a taxi that was affordable and took us to the visitors center, the only place where you could buy maps of the area. So, well equipped, at least that's what we thought, we started our trail at perfect weather and made the first 8 km. We had only the afternoon left and wanted to have some time to raise our first camp. As we arrived at the first campground consisting of a shack for firewood, a finish toilet and a fireplace we raised our tend and spend the first night with slight rain, after we had taken about one and a half hour to filter our water. The lakes where generally nearly black, as the water came from the swamps and contained a lot of earth and iron. Even after filtration it remained some kind of yellowish and tasted strange. But it was potable.

The next morning we started our first real hike. We packed our stuff and found after about 1km a farm with a freely accessible well with crystal clear water. Great. So we spilled the yellow swamp water and filled our bottles with fresh water before we started off again. On our way we met some finish people who where collecting mushrooms and who joined us for our first break. Very nice people and we learned a lot about Finland. Then we continued through the swamp and forest and at the end of the day we reached the next camping area at Liesijärvi, at the border of the park and, again, directly at a beautiful but black lake. And then came the cold. The temperature went down to about 3 °C and I noticed that this was beyond the comfortable range of my sleeping bag. Great! 

So I was pretty happy when we left the tent the next morning, lit a fire and finally started again, leaving Seitseminen on the long distance path Pirkan Taival. That path was well marked, at least at the beginning, and offered cottages and shacks once in a while.

But as soon as we left the national park we found vast numbers of animals we where not happy about. The Hirvikärpä (?) or in english the russian moose fly where happy with us. Those beasts land on you, loose their wings, crawl under clothes and into your hair and bite themselves into your skin, sucking blood. Real fun. A regular ceremony was catching those beasts in the evening and killing them.

After we had hiked all day through the swamps, partially on paths consisting of wet and slippery wooden boards, we spent the first night outside seitseminen at a camping area close to a river (black water, too). 

The next day we found a very luxurious cottage with a well, guess what we drank the evening before, a fireplace and even a stove after about 500m. Great, the campground at the river was on the map, the cottage not. So again we filled up us and our bottles with fresh water and continued the trail. The plan was to reach a sauna cottage at the border of the recreational area we reached meanwhile and spent the night there. Unfortunately we where too fast  and reached the cottage at 2 pm. So we decided to go back to the deluxe cottage and spent the night there. at 6pm we reached the cottage and made it wind proof and lit a fire. After more than 20 km we were pretty tired. But in the night came the frost. Andreas slept well in his better sleeping bag, but  I had serious problems. My bag was just too cool and the temperature in the cottage dropped immediately when the fire was out. So I had to get up at 5.30 am to move, as my feet where getting numb. And that is a major problem when hiking. So we started pretty early that day and wanted to continue on the Pirkan Taival, make a large loop around Kuru and get back there on Saturday, as my parents wanted to pick us up there.

But we got lost. The trail was not very well marked anymore and our map not very precise in that area. So we followed a road through all the recreational area, left that area, and followed a main road back all the way down again, as the trail had to cross that road. After a detour of about 10-12 km we found the trail again. Followed it about 1 km and followed the signs into the forest, leaving the forest road we followed so far. After another hour in the most difficult terrain so far we realized, the signs we followed were for forest workers! They stopped in the middle of nowhere. So our mood was pretty much down, as we had to walk all the way back again, just to find the right signs after another curve on the broad forrest road. But it became even worse. We followed the Pirkan Taival for another half an hour directly into the next swamp. The ground became more and more tricky. What seemed solid let you sink in as soon as you stepped on it. Stones where a gift from heaven, as it was only possible to catch some breath on rocks. Everywhere else you were sinking in slowly, pressed by the additional weight of our equipment in the backpacks.

And even worse, the trail signs where gone again. Lost in the swamps. So we followed the power lines we found after a while, hoping to find a village. After about an hour Andreas and me reached a small forest road and had a break. Swamps are strenous and we where really exhausted. But where were we? We scouted the area and found that we had reached Pyydysjärvi, the lake we wanted to go to. But unfortunately on the wrong side and going around was impossible due to the swamps. So we had no place to spent the night. Camping somewhere in the swamps would be extremely cold and with my sleeping bag....

So we decided to go back to Kuru, following the village road. At least we new where we were, when we found the village near the lake, but nobody was there to ask for water. The swamp was totally muddy and the lake meanwhile too far, so water was a reall problem. But we went on, nothing else was a use. After a while we found another house, knocked at the door, and a friendly finish man opened. He saw, that we were pretty exhausted and before we could say anything we where sitting in his  kittchen, everybody with a cold beer in front of us (the best beer ever!). He told us our exact position, gave us water for our supplys and left us only the choice to stay in his sauna cottage at the lake or to bring us back to Kuru by car. And when we heard the word sauna.... so we had the first warm night since days, relaxed in the sauna and Finland loved us again. Thanks a lot, Risto.

The next morning we where even invited for breakfast, and Risto, who happened to be a magigian (no lie!) entertained us with his art. After we thanked him a lot and promised him to sent a present (he wouldn't accept anything else for all his help) we continued to Kuru, where we spent the night close in the forest at another shack and spent the last day hiking around Kuru.

The last night was an adventure again. We wanted to spent the night at Kuru campground, but found it closed and replaced by a residential area. So we asked for a hostel, hotel, camping area, anything. But there wasn't anything availlable. Finally a nice girl at a supermarket asked us to wait an hour, till she could go home from work and brought us to a former cottage of Pirkan Taival, that was not maintained anymore. So we could spent the night there and got picked up by my parents as planned.

 

The next week we spent close to Savonnlinna in Carelia, eastern Finland. We enjoied the Sauna and comfort of our cottage there and did nothing except for relaxing and some sightseeing.

 

A great vacation, to sum it up

 

Pictures will be published in another album, will post the address soon.

 

Best.

Michael

21.9.08 17:49

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