Sapmi (Lapponian) Diary 2014
The dream of running with my dogs “into” Polar lights is nearly as old as I am accompanied by Huskies. With Kalinka and Elchak it did not came true and last year I even wanted to take part in the sleddog races „Kalevala“ and "North Hope" in Russia for the possibility to see „my“ Aurora borealis, but a virus defeated the journey.
This year it finally worked, I could join Vladimir („Stezkou-vlka-Lada“ = “Path-of-Wolf-Dogtrekking” Organizer Lada, a dogtrekker since the beginning) and Michal Paral to a trip into the far North, to Finnish Lapland. With an experienced sleddogman and dogtrekker in expedition style from cabin to cabin, what rookies like Michal and me could want more!
... “Sapmi diary”? With the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula in Russia also Finnish Lapland belongs to “Sapmi”, how Sámi call their land (but without an own state) in their own languages. The Sámi people is the only indigenous people living in Europe, they decent of the people who lived in Fennoscandia right after the ice age and are well-known for their reindeer herding.
With our dogs Bandit, Buba, Chasey and Forrest pulling a sled, youngster William running with Michal or necklined to the team and Sheyenne with Sannerk in front of a pulka we travelled to the most northern village of the European Union in the fennoscandinavian Tundra and a little bit southwards over a lake to a cabin surrounded by Taiga.
Beside my own outdoor experiences and the events ŠediváčkůvLong (Czechlongtrail) and 24-H-Burgenland-Extrem-Tour 2014 (120 km walking/running around Neusiedler lake) after a good training season a letter from Lada and the lecture of some books like “Outdoor in winter” by Lars Fält and “Cross-country Skiing” by Ronald Crawford-Currie let me feel well prepared for our expedition into the North. Extra warm cloths not to forget, also coats for the dogs and … ten days before we started Lapland was ruled by - 37 °C!
Let me invite you to follow my impressions now:
08 02, Saturday: Last shopping including a widenecked 1,5 l thermosbottle (for practising a book´s advice of soup on he trail) before driving from Mödling, Austria, to Drnovice in the Czech Republic. After 190 km a warm welcome of Lada´s family with coffee and cakes interrupted my journey till about 18:00 h, when we left Drnovice driving northwards in one car with a trailer together.
09 02, Sunday: Soon after the borderline between Czech Republic and Poland the scenery changed to flat, open land. North of Warszawa till Estonia we could see man-made basics of breeding-places for White Storks everywhere (not high in numbers, but everywhere). Often they were built on the top of old utility poles and the nests were still there, although the electrical power supply is managed in another way nowadays. In Poland we saw the first snow, but we still had over 0 °C. Thanks permanent clockwise driving of us three drives and Lada´s full snackbox only dogstops interrupted our movement in a northerly direction, we reached after Poland and Lithuania (where the first raven said hello and the many alders of Poland were replaced with birches) the beach in Latvia close to the borderline to Estonia, where Lada wanted to stay overnight. A wonderful place but we were good in time and so we reached Tallinn (after having been 25 hours on the road) to take the last ferryboat to Helsinki.
Apropos full snackbox, let me share a dialog after we had talked about typical Czech and Austrian dishes: “This filled thing is a little bit smashed but tastes good, how do you name it?” “Toast” J
Once the dogs were fed and moved we had some time to have a stroll through the old harbour quarter. The buildings were restored and modernized ideally with the result of a tempting area full of flair and life! We should take time for Tallinn when we will come back, we thought impressed. From 22:30 to 00:30 o´clock we spent our obligate rest on the ferryboat.
10 02, Monday: Landed in Suomi/Finland nearly no traffic made driving through Helsinki´s night very comfortable – and the navigation system too, of course! In further 2,5 hours we came over Lahti to Huttola, where we slept in our sleeping bags under the roof of an old sauna beside a small lake. Could our first sleeping place in Finland be more typically? J
Lada performed magic a fine breakfast and our coffee we took after we had refueled our car. Snowmobiles at a petrol station were a funny view in our eyes. During drinking our coffee two typically Finnish hunters left their snowmobiles and came in slowly, just like in a movie of Aki Kaurismäki (you will know his creations like „Leningrad Cowboys Go America“). Warm rubberboots, checked patterned shirts, fleecejackets, overall, lopsided worn caps … Then I looked at all the other persons and at last at us. We did not look like resident hunters but here we also did not attract attention and I felt to be in the right place of earth.
This day we continued our journey through the dark Taiga over Viitasaari, Oulu and Kemi (since Drnovice 48 hours on the road) to reach Motelli Rovaniemi just before 22:00 o´clock (about 52 hours after our start), the last part over a street with blank ice. There we checked in, enjoyed our pre-polar-circle-beer and fresh showered we all slept well in beds for € 64,-. And yes, how we and our dogs were pleased about the knee-deep snow cover!
Dark Taiga? Yes, this name I created for Taiga with spruce, because this tree makes the forest close and dark, not the translucid pines and not the white logs of birches. The more you come into the north, the forests become lower and lower and the brighter the Taiga appears. The branches of spruces grow shorter step by step and they become in this way narrower and narrower (like the Serbian spruce/Picea omorika) and still following that direction less spruce are to see (there their branches often reach closely down to the ground) till they disappear. Somewhere also the pines and last but not least also the little birches disappear, then you are in the open Tundra.
11 02, Thuesday: An exciting and funny start for the dogs (wild boars behind a fence and free running rabbits) into this new day was followed by a very short driving, because on the other end of Rovaniemi Michal and me had to jump over Napapiiri = Polar circle. Lada baptized us there with snow as new polar men and even the northern spirits welcomed us, during that ceremony it starts to snow … The postal office there is used by Santa Claus and you can buy souvenirs in all qualities (up to Duodji, the traditional Sámi handcraft) as well as take a ride with reindeers, huskies and snowscooters. It was a special atmosphere with Christmas songs and a Christmas tree surrounded by tourists from all over the world (but not crowded) in February and sending our wish of enough snow for the season 2014-2015 to Santa Claus. We already had a closed snow cover, 0 °C and it was snowing, alltogether we enjoyed this entrance into the Arctic. In a little while on the road again the first two reindeers crossed our way, we had been immerged – “Kiitos” (= Thanks)! J
Pisa is in Italy, isn´t it? Sure, but now I know that you can find a locality with this name also in Finland. Suddenly there was snow on the trees, what makes us feel like having done one more step into this wonderland. On the way Lada told us about a shaman grandmother,but we did not visit her this time.
Saariselka (where we stayed much more like the planned 10 minutes and I left with a map for our expedition and a guksi/Finnish: kuksa/Swedish: kåsa, a drinking cup traditionally crafted by the Sámi people from carved birch burl, - 1 °C), Ivalo (0 °C) and Inari (-1 °C) were with alltogether 18 watched reindeers (1 to 4 at once) and an area with -2 °C the next stations to Sevettijärvi (- 1 °C), where our car should get a longer rest period. Partly we drove very slowly (down to 50 km/h) because the snow-covered road appeared more and more with an icy surface. We reached “Sevetin Baari restaurant” in Sevettijärvi at about 21:00 o´clock, where also apartments are to rent. Lada knew it from a previous stay here, but it was closed since 19:00 o´clock this day! First we looked about a camping place, but in the end I phoned the number we found on the door of “Sevetin Baari restaurant” at 21:30 o´clock. We agreed the price of € 150,- and five minutes later Marjo was here to give us the keys to an apartment but in spite of it this day faded out in snow, because we had to cool down after sauna … But first Lada cooked again to make us strong enough for the next week´s briefing: The 20 to 30 kilometers per day from Lada´s letter were grown up to 50 km per day in optimum conditions and because of his young leaddog he wanted me to make the pathfinder. With an agreement about “kikeriki” (= wakeup) at 07:00 we finally went to bed with anticipated joy at 20 past one o´clock and 0 °C with light snowfall.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and me:
Sevettijärvi (Northern Sámi [my note: their traditional area]: Čeavetjávri and Skolt Sámi [my note: their village]: Čeˊvetjäuˊrr) is a village in the municipality of Inari, Finland approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of downtown Inari.
How long I needed to be able to memorize that name correctly! But this was not the only challenge of the totally strange Finnish language – and we don´t talk about Sámi languages! ;) “Napkin lake” was my fist crib because of Sevettijärvi´s similarity to the in my mother´s language used French word “Serviette” and Finnish “Järvi” means lake ...
Sevettijärvi and its surrounding areas are one of the main areas where the Skolt-Sámi live. The village was founded when a total of 51 Skolt families were evacuated there from Petsamo in Russia after the wars in 1949. Before that, a few Sámi families had been living in the area, e.g., the Aikios, Kittis, Sarris, Holmbergs, Högmans and Kaarrettis. Nowadays the majority of Sevettijärvi’s 350 residents, approximately 90%, are Skolt, although there are a few Finns who have moved north living in the village. A few Inari Sámi and Mountain Sámi and some foreigners (French, Dutch) also live in the area.
The village is built on what used to be the sea floor during the Ice Age. The rocky shores of the lakes between Sevettijärvi and Näätämö draw the attention of passers-by. These shores are referred to as the “devil’s fields” by locals.
Sevettijärvi is not a closed village, the houses are lined up beside the road with some space over not less than 60 kilometers. You will find there a school, a health centre, a merchant´s shop, a rendeer butchery and the “Sevetin Baari restaurant” (additionally it offers apartments and acts also as a post office and a bus terminal). An old Skolt cottage, which was moved to Sevettijärvi from Kirakkajärvi and currently serves as a museum, is dedicated to the traditions of the Skolts. In addition, it has an Orthodox church that was built 1951 and consecrated to Saint Trifon of Petsamo. The first road passable by car to Sevettijärvi was built at the end of the 1960s. Prior to that, people used Bombardier snowmobiles, reindeer and skis to get around in winter and walked, biked or went by boat in the summertime.
12 02, Wednesday, day one: Tour from Sevettijärvi to Skiehtsaras taukokotha (“Skinhead” sheltered fireplace/Lapp hut), 33 km, 7 hours (12 km in 2 hours, 30 minutes rest, 21 km in 4:25), 0 to -3 °C.
During a little morning walk at -2 °C with Sheyenne and Sannerk I saw the first and only big group with 16 snowmobiles on the lake but also four reindeers, three dark colored and a white one. Finally having all the gear for THE tour in sled, pulka and backpack (Lada and Michal were ready at 09:00 o´clock but not me) we went for paying the apartment to multifunctional “Sevetin Baari restaurant” (also a post office, a grocery store with merchandise trade and a bus terminal). Surrounded by a very cultivated Klondike-Saloon-flair we enjoyed our good bye beer and asked for informations about weather and trail. The payment by card did not want to work at the first efforts, so we should pay when we are back again from our tour, Marjo (the landlord, barkeeper, post officer, merchandiser …) said. What a relaxed world, nearly only the Olympic games of Sochi in the TV made us sure to be in 2014. Having said good bye to Marjo indoors, in the end he and an unknown Sámi (the scooterdriver with typically two knives hanging from his Sámi-belt, one smaller to mark ears of reindeers and a bigger one for all other work) came out to observe and photograph the core trip´s start of our
“Czech-Austrian Expedition to the most northern coffee of the European Union”
We followed the snowmobile track attending the Sevettijärvi - Pulmanki trail and kept the direction North a little bit further to Njuorggán/Nuorgam:
Through the vast Kaldoaivin erämaa (Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area, with 2924 km2 (1129 sq mi)the largest Wilderness Area in Finland) there is a winter trail and a snowmobile track between Sevettijärvi and Pulmanki, they are approximately 70 km long. At its southern end the trails lead through pine forest, but when moving northward the terrain becomes more rugged fjell upland and there are only birch trees growing along the trail. The landscape of this roadless fjell area varies surprisingly from deep, steep river valleys to gentle fjell slopes. It is suitable for day trips as well as treks lasting for several days. For an experienced hiker, the area is a rewarding destination. A beginner should explore the area together with a more experienced hiker.
The winter trail (Sevettijärvi – Pulmanki Trail) intended for skiers. Not even those with snowmobile permits are allowed to drive along it. There is a separate snowmobile track from Sevettijärvi to Nuorgam. The track is marked with signs baring red Xs. The route of the winter trail differs from that of the summer trail; the winter trail travels at a lower altitude across mires and frozen lakes. The winter trail is not maintained, but it is travelled regularly on snowmobile by Metsähallitus maintenance workers, the Finnish Border Guard and local reindeer herders. Skiers must be prepared to open the trail themselves during early winter and after snowfall. Winter-time trekking though is always challenging due to the varying weather and snow conditions.
It really came true, we were on the trail! Yessss J And once being sure to be on the right trail in a sense of delight we vanished towards the north into the beginning snowfall …
“How should I ever drive again somewhere else like here?” I thought after I had made the first meters … gliding in a special treat with a tear of joy.
0 to -3 °C did not make necessary warm cloths. Additionally our dogs were also very enthusiastic because the start and later also with the help of 3 escaping reindeers. On skiers in easy terrain, best snowmobile trail over frozen lakes and rivers at -2 °C, I soon was soaked in sweat in such a manner that it dropped from my cap and at our rest after the first two hours in Opukasjärvi autiotupa (open wilderness hut) I had to squeeze out my new yellow “extreme-cap” (from 24-Hour-Burgenland-Extreme-Tour-2014). After about 10 reindeers I stopped to count them, because we could see a bigger group at the end of the second lake, fortunately behind a little island when passing them (fortunately for the dogs - or our cooling down pace - after the excitement of the 3 escaping ones). Reindeers were very special for our dogs, in some way they act anxiously and nervous like sheep in my eyes. Sannerk, usually no hunter, reacts similar thrilled like meeting chamois what he doesn´t show at roe deer, red deer, hare and beaver … and wild boar he even avoids (what´s good J).
After Opukasjärvi autiotupa we passed a reindeer curtain and a reindeer gate and till a second curtain just before Skiehtsarastaukokotha, our overnight stay, we traversed an area without reindeer but partly more hilly ground. One “Mustikkavaara” (Blueberryhill) after another … “Snowscooter´ s funpark”, how I called a “hillybilly” trail section (area full of up and downs over little hills) with the sudden opportunity to follow uncountable different scooter tracks but no trail marks, needs extra time to pass.Later not one fresh snowmobile track and 5 to 10 cm new snow made the trail more difficult like at the beginning and during the elongated dawn I expected our night quarter hill range after hill range. So I met the subjectivity of distance-perception in flat terrain after 24-Hour-Burgenland-Extreme-Tour-2014 soon again. The last but not least 500 meters Michal led us by his mobilphone-GPS, because it was nearly dark and no more trail marks were to see on a small lake. That day “yksi” we left the Taiga with its pines and the birches became very small and less in numbers over this 33 km to Skiehtsaras taukokotha (for strangers popularly “Skinhead”). Yksi means one – that only to let you take part at the Finnish language ;)
Our plan was to stay over night in Tsuomasjärvi autiotupa, a better equipped open wilderness hut, but that would have meant 17 more kilometres and three more hours on the trail. By the way in mind I had promised my dogs to make me strong for this place, but that was not necessary J
Our dogs had done a really good job and of course we routinely served them at first: snacks, hugging them, harness off, hugging them, to ensure wind protected resting places, little massages ... Indoors we celebrated the next day´s routine the first time: Soup out of my new 1,5-litre-thermosbottle, making fire, melting snow for cooking and dog´s food, having tea and a snack, short interruptions because of feeding the dogs and bringing in some more snow to melt, a slug of Czech medicine (plum brandy) not to forget. Lada prepared noodles with sauce and thanks his mp3-player our fireside chat and diary-time were accompanied by Sámi music that evening. This hut (“wooden tent” in a sense), only equipped with a stove surrounded by elevated plains for sitting and sleeping, was all we needed to be satisfied. Pleased with much depth, happy to be together on this day and in this place of earth (also because of the downgraded trail conditions like not being used by snowmobiles since days, more and more drift snow, slowdown characteristic of snow around 0 °C, necessities of searching the trail because of sometimes non visible trail marks and tracks – Sannerk mostly was a great leader and learned how to find a trail totally covered with snow with his paws and his nose!) … blessedness, no sorrow because not sitting in the “good” cabin (at least from my side). Two times we also have seen a ptarmigan = snow grouse today.
SMS conversation with Alexandra at home … and outside the wind was soughing:
“Moved to tears, so beautiful! Now veeeeery satisfied inside a dwarf-hut – better: a wooden tent J”
“Sounds like you arrived at home. That´s really fine, I am pleased for you! Kisses to my furred angels and further wonderful days to all of you.”
“Yes, feeling like at home since middle Finland – but also how we could undergo something like this together. Missing you!”
“Furred angels”, I like this term! Last little dogwalk at 22:00 o´ clock and -3 °C, Lada and Michal already slept while I prepared dog´s water for tomorrow and filled my diary with my last entries at 22:30 o´clock: “Hope that my bloody bladder on the left heel will be better tomorrow.” and “Super, here´s a long piece of foamed plastic useable as a sleeping mat J – mine lies in the car since our first night here in Finland …”
22:45 o´ clock: Dobro noz, Hyvää yötä (Good night)!
13 02, Thursday, kaksi päivä (day two): Tour Skiehtsaras – Tsuomasjärvi autiotupa (open wilderness hut), from 10:45 to 14:05 o´ clock 17 (18?) km snow mobile trail, -2 to -4 °C.
Huts (we used):
Lapp Pole Tents
Lapp pole tents are meant as stopping places for hikers passing by. Lapp pole tents are usually located nearby marked trails or snow mobile tracks. In emergency, it is possible to stay overnight in a Lapp pole tent but there the hiker has to sleep on the ground or on the floor because there are usually no bunks for sleeping.
There is a fireplace in the middle, and benches around it. There is usually no floor but sometimes Lapp pole tents have wooden plank floor (Skiehtsaras has J). In addition, there are firewood, an axe and a saw.
Open Wilderness Huts
Open wilderness huts are simple buildings meant for hikers, skiers, canoeists or row boaters to use. These unlocked huts are suitable places to stop and rest, or stay overnight. It is possible to stay for one or two nights without making a reservation. It is good to bear in mind that during peak seasons, there is not always enough room in the huts.
The facilities in open wilderness huts include bunks for sleeping, a table, benches, cookware, a stove and a dry toilet. Sometimes there is also a gas cooker. In addition, there are firewood, an axe and a saw.
Smoking is not allowed in the huts. Pets are not allowed into some huts.
Between three and four o´ clock in the morning the first mellow pastel-coloured stripe of red sky appeared (with increased lifespan urinary bladders of men have to be drained more often), but we comfortably got up not until half past eight. Also really comfortably was the typical (in Finland´s cabins, it costs about € 20,-) toilet seat made of Styrofoam J
Tracks and scat of reindeer like some intensely sniffing of our dogs made us sure to be in their territory again. In the daylight the blown over trail was easier to find but often only to feel and smell, for my eyes again and again short tracks of snowmobiles were to see. Already Sannerk became a good scout, if no smell of reindeer crossed the trail J
It was magnificent, more than words can say! More and more of the scenery was totally free even of the last species of trees, birches. They mostly stood in loose groups or separate with up to very much interspace but sometimes they still built loose and low forests. Wind arised. During the short half distance break tee and student´s food (mixture of different nuts and raisins) did very good. How diverting 7 kilometres could be and how long 2 kilometres could seem!
The last 2 kilometres to our day´s destination we had to leave the snowmobile trail and to follow the skier´s trail which was much more difficult to find and nearly impossible to follow. Only two small stripes of compact snow were totally covered with snow, so deep snow sections before and after the lake were to pass. Or how you can read in the official description: “In the snowy wilderness, you can ski wherever you like. The only marked trail, Sevettijärvi-Pulmanki, is marked with cross signs in red. The trail is wilderness-like: it is not maintained regularly. Therefore you will most likely be skiing in unbroken snow.“
Tsuomasjärvi autiotupa (hut) was built 1968 as a border patrol hut and is an open wilderness hut for 6 persons now. Additionally to a common stove and place to sleep it is equipped with a table to sit around and even a gas cooker, and inside the same building you will find a toilet, firewood and refuse collecting too (but all visitors are asked to take their litter out the wilderness area itself).
Having finished our routine in and outside the cabin as well as several light meals Michal and me walked a while looking for reindeer antlers. We have registered fresh wounds of dropped antlers on a reindeer´ s head in Rovaniemi, so maybe we could find a nice souvenir? We found only berries that coloured the snow red and reindeer´ s scat and one track of a reindeer led me just behind the cabin till I lost it under snowdrift. Going a bigger circle I could find the track again for some meters before it disappeared again and it was dark.
This evening I prepared mashed potatoes with roasted bacon bits before we had “expedition meeting”, our briefing. We dropped the very ambitious version of our tour (to go after Nuorgam southwestwards and then in a bigger circle back to Sevettijärvi) but kept the idea of having at least “coffee in Nuorgam”. Fancy staying one day alone here in this “terribly” wonderful scenery and looking on the top behind this cabin in the end I decided to go on the trail with Lada and Michal. So we agreed to go with lighter luggage to Nuorgam and back the following day, what means some 50 kilometres. For a while it was so hot inside that we all sat there with naked upper part of the body only dressed in long johns J Lada celebrated his bathing day and finishing this ceremony he jumped into the snow J I am sure Sámi music and the soundtrack of „Into the wild“ (out of a mp3-player) will ever remind me the easygoing time in this cabin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-0vIXx01PE
A last view to the full moon illuminated tundra and at about half past twenty we fell asleep … Oh yes, I payed the entrance fee to see a polar light by smoking one Russian cigarette under Lada´s instruction. Now I know why they have a longer part without tobacco, it´s the Russian filter! You have to press the paperboardkind tobaccoless part once and in a little distance a second time, but in a 90 ° turned position. If it will have worked?
14 02, Friday, kolme päivä (day three; Saint Valenine´s day): Tour Tsuomasjärvi – Nuorgam – Tsuomasjärvi, 62 km snow mobile trail, 10,75 hours on trail, - 3 °C
“Kikeriki” at about eight and Finnish music to our breakfast, a funny criss-cross of coffee, soup, hot chocolate, muesli with rice, dried figs … because of our uncoordinated sharing of cereals. It was common the whole time to offer every food to each other but this time we estimated a little bit J
“This service is not available” was the answer on an attempted Saint Valentine´s greeting by SMS, so I brought home a picture of the bouquet of dried flowers with a white feather of a snow grouse we found on the hut´s table. Then we enjoyed our trip over free tundra and birch woods (only more protected areas) to Nuorgam for five hours.
After an hour shopping (spare batteries, smoked reindeer meat, liquid Finlandia medicine) and having coffee with cake we went back into the beginning dark. Some meters on the right trail to the Nuorgam sheltered fireplace/Lapp hut (and further the primarily planned trail), but it was the wrong trail back to our cabin, were enough to be passed by Lada and Michal. Before we drove down Pulmankijärvi me and my dogs acted again as leading team. Head wind and slowing down snow. Having arrived Nuorgam I fed the dogs with a part of their day´s portion what I supplemeted with too much of my mild green tea. On 31 kilometres back I registered that there only one cup remained to me … At the end of Pulmankijärviwe wanted to make a rest but decided to go on to find a place more protected from the wind. So we went on and on and after all we found such a place in the valley with the second bridge (Sannerk and Sheyenne went over going up to Nuorgam). There half a cup of tea and cookies with sesam and honey from Lada and student´s food (mixture of different nuts and raisins) invigorated me for the last third of the distance. More and more it became a matter of will-power, I would say up from kilometre 50 or 55 we felt no easygoing, no more pleasure and holidays. But the dogs were phantastically, they ran and ran and ran like I had bought the Duracell-batteries for them. Later Lada and Michal told me that I moved also in this manner, constantly like a roboter or a machine. But it still was, like sayed above, only will-power.There was always more distance than expected between the trail´s points I could remember, but at the sighnpost we left thesnowmobile trail for the last kilometre to our hut I hardly could believe that we nearly were at home. So close to the cabin I started to meltsnow in my mouth to have something to drink! Against all odds it helps. Even if the announced kilometre was one and a half we still had only two small pieces of a lake and one and a half soft ridges (up and down, then only up to Tsuomasjärvi autiotupa) to go in deeper snow! We had gone 62 km that day and we were really happy to be “at home” again J
At first I gulped down the dog´s water I melted in the morning and left in the cabin, then I served the dogs with an extra sized food and more water than usually. Further fresh prepared water was a pleasure, a real elixir, like to stretch out on the sleeping bag. My bloody bladderns were open, the blood was away without having colored my socks. Most challenging to me was Pulmankijärvi! Smooth ice, ripped ice, black and yellow and white ice, overfrozen snow (spiteful because of looking rather like you can act on snow …), extremely slowing down snowdrifts … a real challenge if you want to avoid your dogs´ constant pace from interruptions! And coming back we also had to go against the wind. Our common dress was well for wind at -1 to -2 °C, my cold finger got finally warm uphill part after THE lake ;) and the snowcovered gloves dried up. Beside this part of the trail I was quite without sweat – weren´t this circumstances merciful to arctic rookies? Sometimes the full moon shines our way and once he was strong enough to throw sharp shadows of the dogs and the pulka in front of me – so beautiful! Leaving Nuorgam uphill I have seen three times a snow grouse.
Michal invited me to a soup and Lada cooked noodles for all. The next meal was at me, I prepared “Schinkenhörndli” (swiss noodles with bacon),but unfortunately Michal already sleptwhen it was ready. So full of gratitude for being here together Lada and me spent more of this nice evening with Schinkenhörndli, 2 pin-glassesFinlandia and a tastingof dried reindeer. And yes, over the days our conversation in English step by step were enriched by Czech and German terms. Tired enough to sleep well without a mat under my sleeping back … ;)
15 02, Saturday, neljä päivä (day four): Tour Tsuomasjärvi – Opukasjärvi autiotupa (open wilderness hut), 38 km snow mobile trail in 7,75 hours (17 km in 3 hours + 21 km in 4:45), -1 to -2°C,
My open bloody bladderns were not so painful like they looked like and I have slept well for lying on timber. I even could remember adream, but it was an odd one.
Again on the trail with all thermos bottles (with dogwater, tea, soup) filled up J Greentea tastes perfect if made only of one tea-bag in the big blue thermos bottle,not four like at the first day ;) This one is also fine for the dogs, that one from the first day was only good blended with Lada´s fruit tea …Every evening it fell a little bit of snow, today also before our start (like at the begin of this tour). Against the wind three hours to Skinhead´s break inside Skiehtsaras kotha with soup and snacks, Sheyenne and Sannerk enjojed to stay the first time inside with us. How nice the two wooden tents were to see from the far! Lada and Michal restarted as first. Following them a little bit later I lost additionally a little bit of time sitting laughing in the snow. Why that? The reindeer curtain was supplemented by a construction like an oriental bridge (e. g. in Sarajevo) with an upwards and downwards section. The difference between the highest point of this bridge and the cross-beam was high enough for me but not for me with my backpack J
Soon we acted as trailfinder again and Sannerk had learned his lessons pretty good. He feeled the trail with his feet or found it by nose but he also followed my directions, if I wanted him onto a better scootertrack (sometimes there were more scootertracks side by side) or he had lost the solid trail. Then he always got a positive feedback – a perfect situation for learning (and also to consolidate confidence)!
That day nearly the whole trail was to search, fresh snow and snowdrift covered the tracks including our own. From time to time Sannerk wanted to follow a smell off the trail, obviously from reindeer or snow grouse. The best way to stay or come back on the trail was to stop and restart. That interruption, sometimes also with a command for a new direction, always brought back his attention directly.
And then in a serpent line we came down a ridge to a lake and Sannerk purposefullyran about 40 meters too much right from the trail sign. It was dark in the meantime and in the light of the headlamp no more trail sign was to locate. Following the direction of the last sign we had to turn left. No restart with any command to the new direction worked, he ignored them and wanted to go on his direction stubborned. I wondered and without a word I leashed him and we went back to the last trail sign. Still no more trail sign was to see, no reflecting material. Michal came to me and we went left into the new direction about up to 200 meters till the end of the lake. There were birches standing densely but still no trail signs and no trail. I unpacked the map and Michal his mobile phone for its GPS. “Sannerk must have been right!” was my first notion, no, I was sure and then attested by Michal´s GPS… with the result of a warm feeling raising up and intense caress to Sannerk. So we went back and tooked his previous direction, I unleashed him and we restarted with a cheering up “Okay!”. No hundred meters later we ran on a scooter track soon followed by passing the next trail sign. I really was happy that I had not put more pressure on him to go into the wrong direction and I did not became angry! In the sense of loving my dogs (and the life with them) I deeply grateful was nearly moved to tears. Since that I leaved it to him, otherwise like before he followed my directions out of snowdrifts onto the solid trail or better snowmobile tracks. Do you remember “Snowscooter´s funpark”? The “hillybilly” trail section of up and downs over little hills with the opportunity to follow uncountable different scooter tracks? I am sure you know what comes next! Of course Sannerk wanted to go exactly the way we came up days before. Because it was a wrong way even when we came northwards I leashed him the last time and we tooked an easier way out there (in the dark we registered too late that we had entered “Snowscooter´s funpark”). Trusting each other we once more were a fine team together and that day I have learned a lot about Sannerk, my trailfinder, polar dog, furred angel!
Finally there was less slowing down snow and we even could enjoy two downhill sections before arriving Opukasjärvi autiotupa (= hut), an open wilderness hut for 8 persons even with a gas stove. We needed 4:45 hours at more difficult trail conditions and Michal and me were happy that we have waxed our skiers (and pulka) that morning. How we would have had to fight without that help! I have payed my price, my second bloody bladder was bigger and open. With warm toes and fingers but without sweathing I always was within comfortable limits. At the end of Skinhead´s break I had forgotten to undress the thin fleece pullover, but my body was only warm and not pleasant coolish like before. Once more I was amazed at the perception of distances, how far they appear inmind, and as a whole I was sort of glad about the "bad" conditions (head wind, no visible trail, slowing down snow, again and again rapidly slowing down snow) I even apprechiated them. Pure euphoria had made some room for respectfulness. Minus 40 °C and snowstorm (or rainy! storm like at this year´s Finnmarkslopet two weeks later) would have been quite another lection than "Polar tour for beginners, outfit and equipment for middle Europe sufficient! :) Thank you, Sápmi, for that gentle introduction!
Medicine and some more medicine with dried reindeer meat, game sausages, crispy pumpkin seeds in the warm hut - we were find again. Not to forget a warm meal and "Lapin culta", "Lapponian gold! in English, Lada performed magically out of his luggage! The whole second half of the day I was looking forward a beer in Sevettijärvi after next day´s finish. I don´t drink beer regularly, but this circumstances supplied it with great demand.
One more catchy song ("earworm"):
LONG NIGHTS by Eddie Vedder, Soundtrack "Into the Wild"
Have no fear
16 02, Sunday, viisi päivä (day five): Tour Opukasjärvi – Sevettijärvi; 12 km snow mobile trail, 2,x h, -3°C, -> by car to Inari
Remaining 12 kilometres finally led us out of the Tundra and birch woods into the Taiga. Yesterday suddenly the first pines appeared and that day they dominated the wood land in the end. Two Sámi on snowscooters were the first people since the small group of skiers between Pulmakijärvi and Nuorgam. Making the trail free for us by leaving it they waved back friendly. A little bit later, just before the reindeer gate, we met Paulina and Marjo from „Sevetin baari“ riding on a snowmobile. They went out for hunting snow grouse and we chatted a while. Missing a gun I asked how they will catch them. Marjo answered „with traps“ (what is allowed only to Sámi, I think). He assured to have a homepage where I can contact him when I will come back and then we shaked our hands. Across the reindeer-lake Sannerk enforced our pace, but no reindeer were there that time. Snow grouse we could see instead in a group of 5 to 6 that day. With a little bit wistfulness crepping in we glided - „gliding snow“ J - across the last lake and the low hills towards the Sevettijärvi (lake) with Sevetin baari in Sevettijärvi (village).
With a good bye from two white reindeers and two Siberian jays (Perisoreus infausus) on the last meters our trip faded out in increasing snowfall. Our expedition between Sevettijärvi to Nuorgam (and back) into the Tundra was really over and past definitely, what is an equivalent to Krems – Heidenreichstein, or Vienna – Bratislava, or Brno – Olomouc, or for all friends of Šediváčkův Long the distance from Svitavy to Deštné v Orlických horách, or Krakow – Katowice, or also Munich – Ingolstadt (and back).
Leaving Sevettijärvi in blowing snow the next adventure was waiting on the road. „Will there be enough petrol in the tank to reach the next petrol station in Inari or not?“ was the question. Lada did now want to drive more then 60 km in an opposite direction to refuel the car, he preferred to make 97 km to Inari with petrol for 80 km, like the fuel indicator adviced … Two raven and more than eight reindeers later we were very happy that this coup worked … till 4,6 km before Inari! Despite we had hazard warning lights and warning triangle in action not one other driver stopped but Michal had to go only 300 metres before he was picked up. He even was brought back with a full canister of petrol. Our rescue was Satu Natunen. Like she told us later she has been helped so much in life that she saw her chance to give a little bit back J Beside her ridenorth.fi-adventures with horses and huskies she is running a guest house in Inari, where we moved into an appartment for that night (for a special price). Quite different door locks made it necessary of beeing „rescued“ again, because we could not get into our appartment and the key was in … The happy end of this day was celebrated with roasted poronkäristys (sliced reindeer meat) and mashed potatoes with jam of red currant! Lada prepared a wonderful meal (again) I later could find in a lapponian cooking book. I hurried to get hold of Lapin culta (you know: the lapponian gold = beer) for adding it to this culinary surprise and thanks to the opening hours from 9 to 21 hour I could be successful. A comfortable evening with an excellent meal, a shower, refilled recharchable batteries for mobil phone and camera, sms to my sweetheart, caring about and a little walk with the dogs we were looking forward smoke sauna and Siida (Sámi museum & Nature centre) we wanted to visit tomorrow. A last little walk led us to the Sámi bibliothek and the Siida building with its open air museum and snow theatre, Michal even could find one more geocache.
17 02, Monday: Inari – Kakslauttanen – Kiilopää (National Park Urho Kekkosen)
The programm for our “civilisation-day” with museums and smoke sauna we had to change, because on mondays many institutions are closed in winter. So we could not visit the Sámi museum “Siida” physically, we only could visit it later like you can do now in the internet: www.siida.fi/contents
Reindeer-herding is only one but the well known traditional livelihood of Europe's only indigenous people, the Sámi - who prefer not to be known as Lapps, since this name was originally an insult. There are about 75,000 Sámi in all, spread across arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and NW Russia. The indigenous status of Finland's 7,000 Sámi, who mostly live in northernmost Finnish Lapland, is recognised in Finland’s Constitution.
Having asked our landlady for an alternative we were not only in a souvenir shop, in the Finnish Sámi Parliament (located in “Sajos”, the Sámi Cultural Centre in Inari – yesterday night we thought it to be the Sámi library only) we fortunately could seeat leastsome best Duodji,traditional Sámi handicraft. Dating back to a time when the Sámi were far more isolated from the outside world than they are today Duodji tools and clothing accoutrements are functional and useful, but this does not mean that the Sámi handicraft is unartistic. Sámi doudji artists are able to bring function and art together in a delicate way so as to create beautiful works of art in their own right. These functional items include knives, cases, ladies' bags, wooden cups, certain articles of clothing, etc. Duodji items were made and meant to be used in an everyday work environment. And not only for a friend who´s granny was a Sámi they are the best souvenirs you can imagine – not cheap, you may think “should I or should I not (buy)”, but every € worth of it. Feel free to google! Jewelleries made of gold and silver are also unique and surely welcomed to bring home for a left back lonesome lady … “Old lapponian fox” Lada at my side I could find really a nice silver one …J
About the smoke sauna I can´t tell you something, because on Monday they were closed too. During the next trip to Lapland at least one visit of a savusauna has to be done!
Savusauna (smoke sauna) is a special type of sauna without a chimney. Wood is burned in a particularly large stove and the smoke fills the room. When the sauna is hot enough, the fire is allowed to die and the smoke is ventilated out. The residual heat of the stove is enough for the duration of the sauna. This represents the ancestral type of sauna, since chimneys are a later addition. Smoke saunas have experienced great revival in recent years since they are considered superior by the connoisseurs. They are not, however, likely to replace all or even most of the regular saunas because more skill, effort and time (usually most of the day) are needed for the heating process. Smoke saunas are still extant not only in Finland but also in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They are considered to be cheap, simple to build and durable (if measures of fire prevention are taken while building the sauna). The longevity is warranted by disinfectant features of smoke.
Moving southwards to a common (electric) sauna we reached Kakslauttanen with its hotel area of loghouses, rooms in ice and snow and also igloos made of glass. After visiting a while we changed eight kilometres eastwards to Kiilopää, an entrance centre to National Park Urho Kekkosen with its … SAUNA J What a pleasure (of easy life)! Between the “expeditions” into the heat, where we were nearly alone, we celebrated our foodsharing (finnish flat bread, reindeer meat, radler …) again and followed by coffee, sweets and diarys in the restaurant we enjoyed our new born feeling and we used the free internet to contact our homebases … A good night Lapin culta each finished our making plans for the next day. We all were tired and so it takes longer than usually to make decisions. When we will reach Anna Catarina near Kuusamo? After midday or in the evening? The question was: “Do you want to visit the Polar museum?” “Why not, good idea, do you want?” “Only if you want to …” … ;)
After closing time at 22:00 o´clock we walked to our dogs. In the northeastern sky a small bend of greenish flare appeared, a green cloud slowly varying its form. After a while we saw some people watching this mellow tinted light and we could not believe that we really got the present of Aurora borealis that night! We asked ourselfes if that could be one or not. Our present was so unobtrusive and static, that we had to watch it for a longer time to see the small differences in intensity and its position … our polar light J
Sleeping with Sheyenne and Sannerk a little bit distanced from the parking place (but under the same firmament full of stars like Lada and Michal) several times I could watch the polar light becoming a little bit more intensity and also changing the position and form. Not tired any more, the bright light of the full moon behind me, I watched the baby-Aurora-borealis out of my sleeping bag. Oh, I should have read the instructions of my camera! The switched on camera flashed the first photo and the second one not. So I took the first pictures from the moon and the following ones I tried to take from the polar light. That plan I followed. But imagine: wrapped in your sleeping bag you have to get free to switch on your camera, waiting till it is ready, making a flashed photo and then … the polar light was nearly faded away … That happened repeatedly every time! At about – 8 °C I always liked to slip back into my sleeping bag after a while and suddenly the green light got more intensity again … but none of the photos satisfied me, none could reproduce the Aurora borealis evidentiary. When I had my camera in position the intensity was nearly extincted (in every case too less light for the camera). Michal and Lada couldn´t share my monitoring, couldn´t I fell asleep for such a long time?
18 02, Thuesday: Kiilopää - Kuusamo
“Hey!” and a funny undiscribable tone sequence sounds to us as we walked back to the parkingplace after the telephone bell at 07:00 o´clock. I turned around, but no one was there! “Hey!” and a funny undiscribalbe tone sequence sounds again. Once more and that time I could see a snow grouse fly away. Hey, have a nice day! J My old down sleeping bag kept me comfortable that night without the inner sleeping bag. At cold conditions I can put the holofill sleeping bag into the bigger down sleeping bag, together this module system works very well down to 26 °C - comfort zone. Now, in its old days, maybe this system may work down to – 20 °C. At 08:00 o´clock we were on the road again, at 6 °C and full of deep impressions, especially of the last hours. In the middle of a scenery covered in white frost we took breakfast in something like a coffee house with a little grocery, some souvenirs and a place to remember great days ... The brother of the owner was a well known sports man in the seventies of the last century and we could see photos everywhere. As we asked the owner, if he could be the man on the pictures (there was a similarity), he told us about his brother in his northern unobtrusiveness. 60 km in the north of Napapiiri we had – 4 °C, an icy road and I made exercises with my feet because they felt icy too. Do you still remember Napapiiri? Napapiiri = Polar circle J Birches were trees again for a long time and spruces appeared in the forests, we were back in the Taiga. We laughed with a little elation about some words of Satu (our landlady in Inari) we suddenly remembered, as she introduced us to her other guests from Spain as the ”young men out of the forest”. Lada and me smiled about “young” and we all felt approved also beeing seen from a native like we felt: Men of the forest. We had a wonderful trip with unforgettable experiences into the polar region, the Tundra, but I think Michal and me don´t feel like proved polar men after our premiere with the comfortable conditions we had. But with the best feeling we can name us as “Men of the forest”.
We passed Rovaniemi a second time and we used our time not only for hunting the last souvenirs in the Arctic Circle Area and a last portion of roasted poronkäristys (sliced reindeer meat), no, we also visited the Arctic museum “Arcticum”: In Nuorgam and also in Inari we have seen wooden bears to buy. It looks like people place this bears in their gardens instead of garden-dwarfs … ;) A revival of the ancient totemistic tradition with bear myths and bear cults of East Sámi, especially Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi, as a marketplace equivalent? A text from Juha Pentikäinen, University of Helsinki, in the Arctic museum of Rovaniemi led back to one of the ancient roots:
Animal-shaped spirits have an ability to cross the boundaries between the different layers of the universe. For example, an owl combines the darkness of night and the light of day, and a water bird combines the height of sky and the deepness of water. Maria Petrovna had a collection of animal-shaped spirits of couples, one of whom is female and the other is male.
“There was only one little bear. When I asked, where the other one is, Maria answered: Don´ t you understand, that the other one is a human? The lesson was the same I got as a young student from Maria Takala: Bear is a human being, believe it or not.”
The next destination was Kuusamo. A petrol station beside a supermarket was the meeting point with Anna Catarina where she picked us up. Having fed our dogs and a little unleashed time in the fenced dogzone of Kuusamo we searched something for our own stomach and to celebrate our „international Dogtrekker-meeting“. At half past nine p.m. that was a little challenge, because Anna Catarina´s preferred pizzeria was already closed and at ten o´clock all would be closed like she guessed. So we took the first lighted restaurant, a pizzeria too. There no alcohol was allowed, even no beer (to a pizza!), but we got a good story to excellent pizze. „Pizza Berlusconi“ laughed from a poster and Anna Catarina translated „the worst pizza of the world“ … What´s that? A pizza with poronkäristys (sliced reindeer meat), mushrooms and red onions cannot be bad! The pizza man told us that Berlusconi had called finnish pizza as shit, only italian pizza can be fine. In the end we had to agree the patriotic finnish pizza man who was confident about the best quality of his pizze. In bella Italia pizza with reindeer meat won´t be available and also from the aspect of quality we had to say Berlusconi free adapted from Kennedy´s „Ich bin ein Berliner!“: „I am a Finnish!“ J
We spent that night a little bit outside of Kuusamo in and in front of Anna Catarina´s cabin, Lada and Michal put up their tent and I fell asleep after half past one on the sofa – not before sitting together with a last coffee and looking forward our next expedition-style tour …
19 02, Wednesday, kuusi päivä (day six on trail): Tour Kuusamo – open wilderness hut Näätalammin tupa (Näätalampi), 24 km
After “Kikeriki” at 09:00 o´clock we spent a very unhurried breakfast with a nearly endless chat in Anna Catarina´s cabin. She seemed to be happy about our visit and the opportunity to talk with fellows. By the way she showed us her “safariboots”, impressive leightweight boots made of thin plastic material with an insulating inner boot protect against wet conditions and temperatures down to – 50 °C (best ones down to – 70 °C!). She bought them at K-market for € 39,- or 49,- instead of about 80,- during the spring sale … Never cold feet again? Promptly I wanted them too! And spring sale was started … My Sorels are generally okay, but heavy and I bought them not big enough (not enough space for inlays, thick socks and air). Moisty from sweat I have to dry the inner boot and change my socks, keep on in motion or I get cold feet. Modern times with a computer in a cabin made it possible that we could check our following good bye tour in the internet. To the open wilderness hut Näätalampi(Näätalammin tupa) at the foot of Iivaara (Ii-Mountain) it would be 24 kilometres with about 20 km across the frozen Iijärvi (Lake Ii) right after the start (the rest of that trail was a little “Hilly-Billy-Rock”).
Sunshine before high noon we started again in light snowfall, exactly four hours later we arrived there. It was such a good feeling being on the trail again! Although we were back in the forest zone we still enjoyed a free view because our trail continued mainly on lakes. It was soooo beautiful … All in all it was an easy day, a diversified trail because of different snow conditions and more or less tracks of scooter traffic were the only “challenges” (NO slowing down snow J) – beside of searching the right trail sometimes. A raven, then a pair of eagles followed by Lada coming through the snowfall with Michal and the dogteam were very impressive pictures to me.
A small, rustic log cabin welcomed us in a forest of narrow branched spruces. Only a place to sleep, a table with two benches, a stove with firewood and some cookware in a shelf … but once more enough to stay happy together in this place! Okay, some more things we brought with us were nice too - like the mp3-player gave us the right words and a good sound, but that really was a bonus “only”! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHcZ1wPsJYY Listening this song all of us filled our diaries enjoying to stay dry, warm, with satisfied stomachs, without thirst, with the knowing of satisfied dogs too, full of impressions, together and in our own worlds simultaneously. Farewell melancholy was only a short abstract thought without any corresponding feeling, we simply were in harmony with us and our lives. Peace. In the meantime we were well-rehearsed, but we felt no routine, we celebrated this way of life. Moving on our own legs (with a help from our furry friends) but staying together, sharing impressions, thoughts and goods, living an easy life and celebrating friendship … Lapin culta and liquid medicine tasted well but we were only nature-drunken that days. Without that liquid stuff our journey would not have been less … whatever, it was a ceremonial symbol of our lifestyle in Finnish Tundra and Taiga. Writing this I am astonished about in the same time. There´s nothing to apologize, I neither glorify nor damn alcohol in my life. Maybe I cannot express it in the right way … whatever J
Lada was happy that his young leader in education had Sheyenne, Sannerk and me as trailfinder in front of his nose and I was happy that I could join him and Michal for this adventure! A notice during long talks: “Moonvalley” and “Tramp of the stars” (or “Steps of lost lives”?) from Jack London – Lada suggests me to read it, what I will do!
During the whole day from time to time I felt a piercingly pain in my left heel I could not explain. I was very happy as I could extract two tiny pieces of glass out of the skin instead of facing a serious problem. No idea how … maybe they were in the new socks I took that morning? In any case we had yesterday evening POLAR LIGHTS again! First Anna Catarina abnegated, but then we believed what we could watch and we all were very happy about a small aurora borealis. Later Lada and me smoked one Russian cigarette each for the second time surrounded by our dogs at – 10 °C (for me this cigarettes were the first for months and the last since today). This time it was a final “thank you” to the polar lights we were allowed to see.
20 02, Thursday, seitsemän päivä (day seven [on trail]): Tour Näätalammin tupa – Kuusamon portti, 24 km; south direction to Helsinki by car
At half past seven I started making fire in the stove. In an unfamiliar manner it took a while and some restarts. Lada´s methylated spirit was very helpful but without technique and blowing also that help would not have been enough but once a certain temperature was reached nearly all starts to burn … A snowmobile driver came up from Iivaara preparing the skitrail, also around the cabin he did his job. Like used I walked out barefood to bring in some snow to melt and to empty my bladder (it is adviced to declare “strictly white snow area” and “yellow snow area” quite afterr arriving). I have to say that – 10 °C is much more colder than – 6 °C! I don´t know if that was the reason why Lada and Michal had to wait for me at the start …
On our way back we met Anna Catarina with six dogs in the middle of the “Hilly-Billy-Section” and we went “home” together. At about the first little lake my fingertips became warm and the further trip was an untroubled pleasure. At the same place where I could see two eagles yesterday, I could watch two ravens this time. After the trail crossing on the lake Sannerk, Sheyenne and me had to change back on the right trail through deep snow and a little bit later Anna Catarina and me waited a pretty while on Lada and Michal. My fingers became cold like ice again. Just when I wanted to go back they appeared around a wooden corner. A felt second little eternity later they reached us and told what happened. Forrest, the leader, suddenly limped and so they went on slowly after having examined him. He looked well again, “Okay, let´s go on”! When my fingertips and with them my whole body was comfortably warm again I started to glide in other spheres and got carried away with the joy of gliding snow More and more sunrays came through and in the end blue sky and sunshine made the scenery ready for perfect holiday pictures.
A little bit later we had – 12 °C in Kuusamon portti and a concealed sun again, without moving on the trail I soon felt quite frozen. Having packed all our stuff into the car and on the trailer we accompanied Anna Catarina to the youngsters a little bit away. Because of the hours you need to warm up a smoke sauna (and the resulting much higher price) we went finally into a common electric sauna for € 10,- each. But also there it was a really high pleasure to warm up the bones as much as we wanted! “Old” habits are hard to break (like the fat cat Garfield said) and so we smuggled Lapin culta to celebrate the last sauna in Finland like we were used … Eating and talking we sat together in Anna Catarina´s cabin after that rebirth. Online we booked our ferry transfer back to Tallinn (the most economic offer from Viking Line) and just in time we left this hospitable place at 20:15 o´clock to reach Kuusamo´s K-market early enough for shopping (they close at 21:00 o´clock). I really wanted that thermoboots down to – 40 °C, 2 hearts of reinders for my furred frieds and the ingenious telescope barbeque spits I have seen everywhere in Finland! Also chips, fine finnish cheese and famous bread for our journey back landed in my bag and on my bill.
Changing as drivers we drove towards Helsinki through the night. Only one dead white snow-hare I could see on the road.
About the last two days you can read in Anna Catarina´s digital newspaper “Revontulet uutiset” (in finnish and german language), 3. maaliskuuta 2014 on puoli/Seite/page 3:
Celebrational flying the flags at Kuusamon portti for a high visit from Central Europe: The both wilderness- and wolfexperts Udo Trummer from Mödling in Lower Austria and Lada Paral from Drnovice in Moravia made a stop after a five days longing expedition around Nuorgam, the most northern village of the European Union, and a visit of the Scientific Centre “Arktikum” in Rovaniemi, the capitol of Sápmi.
The Three from Mödling
Sheyenne, Sannerk und Udo, well known Dogtrekker from Lower Austria to me, in late autumn had announced a visit for February ... and kept his word! With Pulka, the four years old, but very experienced male as Leader (funny Anna Catharina, Sannerk is the name of this male leader and he is seven ) and two furless, but under adequate textile coverage propably hairy legs (lately toughened in a 120 km-race) on narrow skiers, the team from Mödling was on the way to reach Iivaara (469 m above sea level).
The Seven from Drnovice
Lada, organisator of the legendary “Path of the Wolf” in the mountains of northern Moravia (a Dogtrekking over up to 105,5 km, which took place ten times between 2003 and 2012), his son Michal and five dogs, that is to say three Malamutes and two Alaskan Huskies, supplied the czech part of the party arrived in Kuusamo on tuesday evening after a visit of the Arktikum in Rovaniemi to make their attendance to the Siberians ^..^.
On Wednesday the Seven started with a full packed sled towards the east to reach at least a cabin at the foot of Iivaara.
The traverse of Iijärvi
17,4 km straight ahead and flat like a plank, beside the swell: the Iijärvi.
„Miller´s wife“ (comment: Anna Catharina Miller) is infamous for her trips (therefore she has not to wonder if her „boarding pupils“ act it in the same matter and roam on their own paws ...) and so it was no surprise, that the presence of two experienced wilderness- and wolfexperts fomented her enthusiasm for expeditions.
Because the gentlemen decided for Wednesday to stay over night in Näätälammin tupa beside the foot of Iivaara, that Thuesday morning the two legged drove as a pick-up service with six furred noses in front of the sled towards the driving back visitors. Thereby she traversed the Iijärvi comletely in ist west-east-dimension and met the party at Kylmäsentie, from where they started back together after sorting the huskyteams.
21 02, Friday: Helsinki – ferryboat to Tallinn – Bay of Riga
Just before Helsinki we stopped for breakfast and dropping the dogs. Refreshed it was my part to drive our car through the capital city. Five dead animals (martens, cats) told us about the much more traffic here. After having checked in for the ferryboat we walked to the old fish market of Helsinki, but unfortunately it was closed for restoring. On the ferryboat we wallowed in our impressions and slept away a little bit, sent sms at home and I noticed ideas about the spirit and future of dogtrekking, like I would prefer.
Tallinn is an amazing city and we walked nearly through the whole old town. We still could find pretty handcrafts made of wool, leather, wood and blacksmithery alife with elements of Scandinavia and Central Europe in modern, medieval, hanseatic and also art nouveau everywhere. This destination is really worth a longer stay! Surrounded by a rapidly growing modern part of the town the well conserved historic hanseatic city is connected to the sea with its harbour quarter, where actually the old storage buildings too will be adapted for new purposes by ideal preservation of the old substance.
We finshed our time in Tallinn with the same things like the beginning: food. The first cake bought at a petrol station and even something like a finnish-bread-burger at “Hesburger” really tasted good and after Lada´s big shopping of food we left Estonia to reach the sleeping place in Latvia. Thank you, Lada, for this shopping – I could not pass the shop without taking some excellent smoked salmon along J
A wonderful place at the seashore of the Bay of Riga with dunes and pines was our bivouac area that night. It was really warm, 4 °C, but sitting around the table in the wind after a while we felt cooled. That evening the Scandinavian adventure faded out for Sheyenne and Sannerk too - with a special feed: reindeer heart. Moving to warm up and to contact my dogs closely I could chat a little bit with three Latvians,two women and one man. They seemed a little bit shy facing us “wild men sleeping in the forests with their wolfes” … but being allowed to pet them they warmed up at least. When the campfire was burnt down at midnight full of food and impressions we tired moved into our sleeping bags. For me and my dogs a little bit southwards I found a pretty perfect place between some pines in the dunes with a free fiew over the beach to the sea.
At still 4 °C I only took my shortened jellow foam mattress (that was on all my scout camps, my first holidays in Suomi/Finland and motorcycle travellings with me too – so, let me count a little bit … this mattress is at least 34 years old …) and my old down sleeping bag with me. My feet placed on the sleeping bag coverage filled with undressed clothes it worked well. That night I dreamed a funny combination of driving motorbikes, dogtrekking and organizing expeditions J …
22 02, Saturday: Bay of Riga – Poland
First impressions out of my sleeping bag at 05:30 and Kikeriki at 06:30 o´clock I stood up a quarter of an hour later and started the day with a walk along the seashore watching my happy dogs running free. Later we shared coffee, marmelde on crisp bread, warm muesli and mashed potatoes with roasted bacon bits for breakfast and alltogether we walked on the beach to say good bye physically. There we even found a dead seal in the sand, at 09:00 o´clock we were on the road again. I am loving the Balticum only by viewing! Wonderful and the beginning or the end of the Taiga … A last Nordic raven came close to say … whatever …
On our way southwards through rain at 5 °C a SMS from Anna Catharina reached us. On Saturdays everyone can phone for free in Finland and so she could dial the number from Satu I gave her. That because the amount on her prepaid card for her mobile phone was very low. Satu had offered a job as dogdriver in Inari to me and Anna Catharina needed one – and she got it!
At high noon the rain stopped and at 6 °C we took a break with dropping the dogs, fill up the car´s tank and enjoying our second wholemealburger in a Hesburger with a “Moses taps”-graffiti around (like near our last sleeping place too). Two swans shared our journey southwards and the very last Baltic ravens appeared in the much more agricultural Lithuania with the forests far away. Also many small gardens around houses were totally ploughed for farming. I slept a while, the temperature reached 7 °C and it rained again. At a quarter past three we entered Poland. There again and again we noticed free running dogs but also two dead sheperd dogs along the road. Then it was my part again to drive the car. During “my” 5,5 hours we decided to orbit Warszawa again and passing in the east we suddenly faced two moose on the road in the middle of the night (maybe 20 km in the north of Minsk Mazowiecki)! Neither in Sweden nor in Finland, in Poland the present to meet the first moose was given (At least to me. I don´t know, if it was the first time for Lada and Michal too.) They did not wear antlers but they appeared really huge! Wide awaked we all went on for a while. Finally at about 04:30 o´clock Lada stopped the car in Drnovice. We were back and very tired, but it took an hour to be welcomed and we were cooled down enough to fell into the beds.
23 02, Sunday: Poland – Drnovice. Drnovice - Mödling
A short night and a long warm good bye with breakfast, dinner and talkings were my last steps before driving home from Drnovice to Mödling to be again with my sweetheart.
We had a great impressive time and time will show what this journey have changed more than we can say to have crossed the polar circle and even the 70th latitude, more than we can say to have been (short-time or basic levelled) arctic men with polar dogs and we´ve made a very little step “Into the Wild” … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUWGCWJc_FQ ;) Christopher Johnson McCandless (“Happyness only real when shared”), we - Lada, Michal and me, Sheyenne, Bandit, Buba (best friend of Forrest Gump), Chaisy, Forrest (Gump), Sannerk, William (Voice) = 6 feet + 28 paws = 34 legs - we did it :) Thank you very much, my friends!
Answering Liljana´s posting („On the base of your diary we will write news on our website and facebook – to let others see that they can make drams true and get close to wildlife.“) it would be an additional pleasure if our Polish dogtrekking friends and every other searching soul will be inspired to find the way to their deep connection to themselfes and nature with the little help of this diary!
Good luck, keep on the trail :)
The star rover, by Jack London
Doudji Institute: http://www.duodji.info/english/index.php?sladja=46 Retrieved Jan/29/2008
Sameslöjdstiftelsen (Sami Duodji Association): http://www.sameslojdstiftelsen.com/?p=42 Retrieved Jan/29/2008
NO CEILING by Eddie Vedder, Soundtrack „Into the Wild“
Comes the morning
When I can feel
That there's nothing left to be concealed
Moving on a scene surreal
No, my heart will never
Will never be far from here
Sure as I am breathing
Sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom in my flesh
I leave here believing more than I had
And there's a reason I'll be
A reason I'll be back
As I walk
*I've got* my wish
To up and disappear
*I've been* wounded
*I've been* healed
Now for landing *I've been*
Landing *I've been* cleared
Sure as I'm breathing
Sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom
In my flesh
I leave here believing
More than I had
This Love has got
LONG NIGHTS by Eddie Vedder, Soundtrack „Into the Wild“
Have no fear
For when I'm alone
I'll be better off than I was before
I've got this light
I'll be around to grow
Who I was before
I cannot recall
Long nights allow me to feel...
I'm falling...I am falling
The lights go out
Let me feel
I am falling safely to the ground
I'll take this soul that's inside me now
Like a brand new friend
I'll forever know
I've got this light
And the will to show
I will always be better than before
Long nights allow me to feel...
I'm falling...I am falling
The lights go out
Let me feel
I am falling safely to the ground
SOCIETY written, guitars and background vocal by Jerry Hannan, performed by Eddie Vedder, Soundtrack „Into the Wild“
hmmm ooh hooo hooo
It's a mistery to me
we have a greed
with which we have agreed
You think you have to want
more than you need
until you have it all you won't be free
society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
When you want more than you have
you think you need
and when you think more than you want
your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
'cos when you have more than you think
you need more space
society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
there's those thinking more or less less is more
but if less is more how you're keeping score?
Means for every point you make
your level drops
kinda like its starting from the top
you can't do that...
society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
GUARANTEED by Eddie Vedder, Soundtrack „Into the Wild“
On bended knee is no way to be free
Lifting up an empty cup, I ask silently
All my destinations will accept the one that's me
So I can breathe...
Circles they grow and they swallow people whole
Half their lives they say goodnight to wives they'll never know
A mind full of questions, and a teacher in my soul
And so it goes...
Don't come closer or I'll have to go
Holding me like gravity are places that pull
If ever there was someone to keep me at home
It would be you...
Everyone I come across, in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering, but I'm never what they thought
I've got my indignation, but I'm pure in all my thoughts
Wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere
Underneath my being is a road that disappeared
Late at night I hear the trees, they're singing with the dead
Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite, forever orbiting
I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me