Saturday, February 19, 2011

Full moon overnighter on skis

Finally there was snow, clear weather and full moon, all at the same time. I attempted a similar overnighter one month ago, but had to do without seeing the full moon, since it was so cloudy. This time the weather forecast inspired more confidence. The only downside was the temperature, with a forecast low of -27°C (-17°F), a tad chilly for my gear.

I arrived at the Kuhankuono parking place at 20:00 in the evening after a 35 minute car ride. The temperature was -21°C. I took my backpack and put on my skis and went off. The slightly unsettling feeling of leaving the comfort zone soon gave way to satisfaction as the full moon lit up the surrounding.

The moon came out from the clouds as I started to ski.

No need for extra lights this time.

The ski tracks are in very good shape currently.

I soon went my own way, though.

I arrived at my selected tent spot around 21:30. My goal was not to cover a lot of distance, but rather to enjoy the situation and take pictures.

Packing down the tent spot. I selected the place on the map and it turned out to be just like I had imagined.

The tent is set up.

I went to sleep around 23:00. The temperature was -24°C (-11°F) Initially my feet were very cold, due to the ski boots being inadequate for the temperature during this outing.

At some point near the morning, the moon light disappeared behind clouds. I got up around seven and made instant coffee with water from a thermos bottle. Though I brought a stove and cooking set I did not use them this time.

The thermometer showed -28°C, but I'm not sure how accurate it is. I was still quite warm until I put my feet in the cold ski boots. Fortunately I have a very warm Himalaya-grade down jacket for occasions like this, so I quickly regained the warmth after getting out of the sleeping bag. I packed most of my gear, but left the tent standing for the moment and went out to take some pictures. The clouds meant that there would be no spectacular sunrise this time.

I put my tent on a place 1.5 m higher than the surrounding bog, giving better views and it is also possible that the place was slightly warmer. When there is no wind there can be surprisingly strong temperature gradients in some places.

And there it is.

Time to take down the tent and get going.

The snow pegs worked well and kept the tent up.

On the move again. For a moment I actually wondered if it was Saturday or Sunday today, which just illustrates how effective even a short trip is for getting away from the daily routines.

This was my coldest overnighter so far. Apart from the cold ski boots, I had no problems at all.

The car thermometer showed -24°C, so I guess it actually was quite chilly. My sleeping bag has a lower temperature limit of -18°C according to EN 13537, not really enough for the night. By putting the down jacket on top it was warm and cozy, though. This time I also took the tent instead of a bivi bag because of the temperature, since a tent should win you another few degrees of warmth. The Tarptent Double Rainbow with an extra liner is far from a winter tent, but worked well enough in these circumstances. My ski boots are definitely not warm enough for this temperature. A multi day trip with them when it is this cold weather would surely mean risk for frostbites. The rest of the gear worked fine.

I actually nourished some hopes for hearing wolves during this trip, but I guess not even the wolves waste any extra energy when it is this cold. This area should be good for wolves, though. The statistics shows 450 wolf observations for the year 2009 in the area.

A slideshow with more pictures and resolution.

Edit: I just realized that I unintentionally broke the rules of the national part this time. Camping with a tent (the actual word is "telttailu", tenting) is only allowed in a few designated places. I knew this, but since my intention originally was use a bivy bag, which technically is not forbidden, I did not think of it when I took a tent instead. Well, at least there won't be any trace of my visit once the snow melts or it snows more.


  1. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! Althought the next night there is no full moon, I gotta try my own cold overnighter.

  2. That was a fantastic read. Lots of stunning photos there. Thanks for that.

  3. Fint! Vackra bilder!
    Var lockad då jag läste på forumet att du är på väg... men visste sen senaste vinter att mina tår och händer inte klarar den temperaturen... Eller alltså, jag har inte tillräckligt varma skidskor eller handskar.

  4. Fantastiska bilder! Grymt inspirerande blog..

  5. Thanks for the trip report and the beautiful pictures! I'm starting to feel that sooner or later my eagerness to go outdoors overweight my dislike for snow and coldness and I need to acquire some decent winter gear to be able to make trips like this one.

  6. great post!
    is so great to have places to go around like that!

  7. Great photies! It doesn't have to be too complicated to be enjoyable. =)

    For a longer cold trip overboots for the ski boots and maybe down socks or other warm camp shoes might be a good idea. My toes were also freezing in my Alpina ski boots last weekend...

  8. Thanks everyone for the comments.

    korpijaakko: Down socks are actually on my wish list, but my feet were warm in the sleeping bag. The ski boots are simply too cold for this weather. Overboots would perhaps be enough.

    Petra: Det blir kanske en repris vid nästa fullmåne.

  9. Hi Peter, Greetings from North of Poland... Really fantastic pictures and great blog. Could you please give me some feedback? I was looking for your e-mail to write you through but was unsuccessful. My web page dedicated to bicycles:, and my e-mail: Cheers, mslonik.