Saturday, April 25, 2015

The State of the Spring

The spring is an excellent time of the year and after this year's very short winter it is especially welcome. Even though the winter had ended by the end of February, the spring is no earlier than normal. Last weekend's overnighter showed that the taiga forest didn't have any spring flowers yet, but a lot can happen in a week, even though it hasn't actually been particularly warm.

This time I decided between a bike and the kayak, but finally decided to go for the bike. The kayak has helped me keep my sanity during the miserable winter, and I only had a six week break between the kayaking seasons. Conversely, the poor winter has seriously eaten into my biking motivation, since I think a really good winter is the best riding season for a mountain bike, be it fat, semifat or skinny. Now the riding is again quite nice and the bike turned out to be a good choice.

I started riding around six in the evening and started with bigger roads.




The coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) has been visible for over a month now.

There was finally also wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) here and there.


Continuing on smaller roads.


After a little over 20 km it was finally time for the final trail section.



About to be get leafs soon.

Parts of the Rehtsuo trail are really nice, but as a whole logging activities has diminished its value for mountain bikes for the last six years.



At the camping spot after 26 km. This is the first time I tried the new tarp, a 2.9x3 m DD Superlight tarp. I sold the Alpkit one, since it was a bit short for me. I'm not really into tarps for camping, since I find them good only during the season when there are no bugs and also find them less flexible than my Tarptent Double Rainbow, which I still like a lot. The wind was fairly hard, so I pitched it to get some shelter from the wind, which incidentally stopped completely after sunset.



I forgot the matches, but they are not necessary anyway. I had my fire steel and birch bark is an excellent tinder. You sometime see living birches lacking bark, because some idiot has used it for starting a fire. It is mainly illegal, completely stupid and entirely unnecessary to use bark from living birches. A dead birch, in which the actualy tree is long decomposed, still has bark working perfectly for lighting a fire.



Heating water in the Bushcooker.

A sandwhich and a cup of hot chocolate.

I made dinner for the family at the same time I packed, which wasn't a total success. The dinner was great, but in addition to the matches I also forgot the NeoAir mattress, leaving me with only a 5 mm foam pad to sleep on. The sleeping spot was still comfortable enough, but it was a bit cold from beneath. I still slept fairly well in my 600 g summer sleeping bag, though.

The birds had mainly stopped singing less than an hour before the sunset, but start in good time before the sunrise at 5.50. I got up at 6:40 to the sound of the ordinary small songbirds of the forest, in addition to cranes, whooper swans and black grouses. The night temperature had been around freezing, judging be the frost on some items.


I had coffee and sandwhiches...



... before leaving.

The mire section was partly rideable, but I walked a big part of it to avoid unnecessary tire marks.


A chilly morning indeed.


The first 4 km section took one hour, including some photography. Now 32 km on roads was left.



The liverworth (Anemone hepatica) is of course a sure spring flower, which needs a little richer soil than what is found in the taiga forest.

That's it. Now I'm only hoping it will get warmer a little bit at a time. About every three years we get a week of really hot weather in the beginning of May, which means that the vegetation just explodes in green and there is no chance to keep up with it.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Overnighter

The 11 year old was away for a night, so I used the opportunity to go on a short backpacking overnighter with the 10-year old. We decided to follow one of the trails in the Kurjenrahka National Park.

We started walking at six in the evening. The first part was a mire.
We soon left the mire and followed the national park border for a while.





A tree used by woodpeckers for handling spruce cones.

Going off trail for a while.


Back on the trail.

No reason not to have a little snack.

The signs of spring in the taiga forest are few, but at least there are the willow catkins.

A capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) was a nice surprise. It wasn't shy, but didn't challenge us either, so we soon let it go on with its display.

Closing in on the goal, a cliff that is a bit higher than the surroundings.


The first business was to erect the tent, A Fjällräven Akka Dome 3 bought used a month ago. A very nice tent that is much too heavy for backpacking, though it doesn't matter much on a short overnighter. I bought it for use when the weight doesn't matter much, like the kayak, canoe and pulk.

We even got a little sun for a while.


Time for the noblest of outdoor foods.


The sunset was a little obscured by clouds, but the evening was nice and I tried to identify the bird sound around me, with success despite not doing that well in my bird sound exam a week earlier. There were mostly the ordinary taiga forest birds, with the most interesting being a Eurasian woodcock repeatedly flying over us. A suprise was a Golden Plover, which could be heard at some distance.

Good night.

The night was surprisingly cold, with a temperature just over freezing. I wasn't particularly warm, but the boy had no problems despite having a summer sleeping bag only. We slept quite well and got up at eight in the morning. We had sandwiches and coffee and hot chocolate.


There was no possibility to get the ground stakes in the ground, but with a freestanding tent that is not necessary. It was probably not necessary to tie the guy lines, but we still had them tied to trees and other objects.

Before leaving.

On the move.

At least some lichens give a little color, but you have to look at the small details.


These willow catkins have come a little further.

Easy walking.

Just when we were done, we saw a real sign of spring.

That's it.