Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring overnighter on skis

After the crust overnighter ten days ago, the weather changed rapidly. The temperature rose and we got a fair amount of rain. The spring began according to the thermic definition, which needs five consecutive days with a mean temperature between 0-10ºC. The snow started to disappear rapidly, but since this happened mostly through rainfall, the water went nowhere. Earlier I had some plans to make a very late winter ski overnighter to the bogs in the Kuhankuono area, but it did not seem possible anymore. However, the weather forecast changed and promised a little colder weather for Friday-Saturday. I mentioned this on the Finnish bike forum, fillarifoorumi, not really expecting anybody to want to join me. This time Juha Jokila was able to come, though. Some reports from the terrain promised very difficult conditions, with lots of water and soft wet snow.

We started from Rantapiha at 19:00. It only took us a few meters to realize the nature of the skiing. Going outside what was left of the groomed ski track was not an option. Even in the ski track, the snow was soft and the skis mostly sank down a lot. I took a wider pair of fjell skis this time, the Salomon X-Adventure 88 (with 88-60-78 mm width), since I don't own any really long and wide forest skis. Juha had a pair of shorter (2 m) forest skis. The bog was also wet...


Lots of water on the bog.

I've always thought that if I buy a pair of forest skis, I would still use my X-Adventure 7 ski boots (or something similar) instead of the traditional rubber boots. This was a situation when the rubber boots would have made sense, though. I had to take a different route that Juha.

Crane tracks. At this point I somehow managed to get the camera (a Canon S90) to use jpg files instead of RAW files, which means that the rest of the pictures have a slightly lower quality. The in-camera jpg processing is simply inferior to that of Canon Digital Photo Professional.

After having some problems with lots of water and deep ditches, we moved to the groomed track on a small forest road. I checked the depth of one ditch we crossed on a snow bridge and my pole went down 150 cm before it reached the bottom. The forest ski tracks were slightly dirty, though.

The sun set at 20:30 and one hour later we were nearing our destination. The snow was already a little harder since the temperature had dropped below freezing. We crossed Vajosuo on the groomed track, which really was the only possibility. It provided a harder and slightly elevated surface, instead of the wet and in places very deep bog.

After two and a half hour we arrived at the Vajosuo shelter. Juha immediately started a fire.

The evening passed rather quickly grilling sausage, drinking a little beer and analyzing all sorts of interesting topics. We went to sleep a little late, after 01.00. The forecasted temperature of the night was around -4ºC, so I had decided to test my ultralight summer sleeping bag (a North Face Beeline 900 weighing 600 g) reinforced with a down jacket. I put the down jacket between the sleeping bag and bivy bag and slept well. I only had a short Thermarest Prolite 4 sleeping pad with me.

Around 6:30, a little before sunrise, I got up and started a fire for the breakfast. Juha woke a little later. I melted snow for drinking water on the open fire again. Despite having a lid on the kettle, the water still tasted smoky. The morning had the sound of spring: In addition to the blackbirds and different kind of tits, cranes and black grouses (Tetrao Tetrix) could be heard.

Same principle, but two different systems for making the important morning coffee.

Around eight in the morning we started skiing back. The colder night (-4ºC in the morning) had hardened the surface of the snow. It was even possible to skate.

The route across Vajosuo, which was our only possibility yesterday.

We decided to take advantage of the hard surface and slightly frozen ice and took another route on our way back.

The cranberries tasted great. The winter had made them quite sweet and no fermentation had taken place yet.

The small island on Vajosuo.

Using the forest road again in the passage between Vajosuo and Kurjenrahka.

The wetter parts of the bog softened rather quickly.

The ice held a little better when spreading the weight over as large an area as possible.

A familiar rock. I've slept there twice this winter.

Juha takes advantage of the rubber boots.

Only a short bit left.

This was a rather interesting outing. It is quite rare to be able to ski like this in April here in the south of the country. Thanks to Juha for joining me on this one.

A slideshow with more pictures is here.

Here are Juha's pictures.


  1. So, did you see lots of other skiers eh?

  2. The cranberries look delicious!

    Looks like water skiing :) I'm planning an overnighter during Easter holidays (not skiing but walking), and I'm thinking that rubber boots might be a good alternative (although I don't like walking in them normally). Maybe I just need to wait and see what the weather conditions are like then here in southern Finland.

  3. Really wonderful photography and a great trip. I love those shelters - we stayed in them when we hiked around the Stora Gla in Glaskogen National Park in Sweden. We were treated to amazing views across the lake because of them. Great blog.

  4. Really nice again! This winter and early spring has offered all kind of great extremities!

  5. As always fantastic trip report and photos. Hard to tell that JPG is less quality based on those photos.

  6. Thanks for the comments.

    Martin, a detail that is easy to notice is the amount of blue around twigs against a white (cloudy) sky. I guess the Bayer demosaicing algorithm uses lots of heuristics, e.g. by identifying blue sky. The in-camera algorithm seems to think the small amount of blue colour around twigs (due to chromatic aberration of the camera optics) is sky and enhances it. The PC software handles this much better.

  7. Very nice! You guys were very adventurous and determined to be out skiing in those conditions!