Saturday, March 26, 2011

Snow crust riding

Last Sunday I was skiing in the Kuhankuono area and also checked out the possibility for doing an overnighter there on my fatbike. I found a few snowshoe trails and some old snowmobile trails which appeared to be (barely) rideable. The snow crust was much too soft for that to be an alternative, since there was some fairly fresh snow on top as well. The week continued a bit warmer with 7ºC (45ºF) on Tuesday. After that the temperature sank again and by Friday it was clearly below freezing and we even got some 5 cm of snowfall. Hence Friday evening seemed a good time for going out for an overnighter. The forecast promised clear weather with a night temperature of about -12ºC (10ºF). Originally I had toyed with the idea of riding to Kuhankuono on roads, maybe 2.5 h, but a strange stomach sickness and fever on Wednesday and Thursday left me weak enough to take the car there instead.

I arrived at the starting place a little over six in the evening. There was about
half an hour until sunset when I started riding. To my surprise, the crust actually was strong enough to ride on, something which certainly does not happen every year.

(Playing with the new wireless remote)

Underneath that crust is still about 50 cm of snow.

My camp site from five weeks ago. This was my first alternative for this trip as well, since I thought this was as far as I could get with two hours of hard work. There was some amount of wind, though, so I went to look for a more sheltered place.

A snowshoe trail through the Iso Välisaari island. I think it is safe to assume that I am the first one to ride a bike here. It was dark in the dense forest.

Almost one hour after sunset and still light enough too see without problems.

My other campsite alternative did not offer both protection from the wind and a view to the east for the sunrise, so I returned to the first one through a different route. By digging a hole in the snow for sleeping on the east size of the largish rock, I had a place fullfilling the two requirements. I made pancakes before going to sleep. For the first time I actually had some problems getting the stove, a Primus Gravity MF, to work with a gas canister due to the cold. By keeping the canister close to the flame it warmed up and started to work correctly. The reason for this was probably that the canister was less than half full. At least the temperature was not too cold, -12ºC (10ºF).

Good night!

I usually sleep very well outside, but not this time. My feet were quite cold and only when I removed the inner socks and had only thick ragg wool sock on I got the warmth back. The inner sock, which also were made of wool had obviously shrunk so much that they constricted my feet too much.

It started to get light before five o'clock in the morning, with the sunrise being at 6:15. My breakfast consisted of porridge and coffee, as usual. The quest for good coffee outdoors has yielded a French coffee press by GSI as the best solution when it comes to taste. It is not the lightest, though, and takes a bit of space. A coffee press made of unobtainium would be lighter and a lot more expensive, but still bulky. Now I tried the GSI Ultralight Java Drip, which weighs almost nothing and takes almost no space. The first impression is very promising.

Packed and ready to go by 6:30. It was about -10ºC (14ºF) in the air.

My plan was to explore every corner of the Kuhankuono bog, now that it was possible by riding. During the summer a large part is a wet peat bog, with some places totally impossible to traverse and except for a few trails with boardwalks a forbidden place.

I met a snowshoe walker and chatted with him for a while. The snowshoes were not really needed in this case, though.

The exploring continues.

I found lots of dead trees, and I guess a forest fire is the cause for this, probably a long time ago.

Double track.


Some melting already occurs.

When taking the previous picture I stepped through 30 cm of snow, followed by 30 cm of air and then some water. I did not check how deep the water was, but under the water is probably several meters of peat mud.

Lake Savojärvi.

I also chatted a while with a guy making ski tracks.

The inner of the Mustasaari island.

A final view before I returned to the car after riding for a little under three hours.

This was a worthy finale for the winter fatbiking season. The Pugsley has been exactly the kind of expedition capable winter bike I was looking for. I've practiced with it enough this winter to have the capability to do some more demanding trips next winter.

A slideshow with more pictures is found here.


  1. Really nice! It seems that winter fatbiking season can continue here for a couple of weeks. It would be perfectly fine with me even if we have snow in the end of April. :)

  2. Hej Peter, jag hittade din blogg via HappyMTB. Jag tänkte skriva kort om fatbikes på min blogg och senare eventuellt på Får jag ta en av dina bilder att illustrera med? hälsningar Erik Sandblom

  3. Erik, det får du gärna göra.