Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tour de Pöyrisjärvi part 2

The first part of the write-up is here.

Around 4:30 in the morning I was woken by the sun shining right on my face. With the side panel open there was nothing but the bug netting in between. I took a photo of the beautiful sky and then shifted my position in the tent to get some shadow and slept for another three hours.

I now noticed that the bugs had bitten me quite a bit on the legs the previous evening. During the whole trip there were very few mosquitoes, but on this place and that of the following night there were midges around. Not enough to be really irritating, but this was the kind that bite without you noticing it before it's much too late, like the following morning.

I made my usual breakfast and started riding a little before nine in the morning.

The route first took me up to Palolaki.


And then down again.

It was fun going down, but I went a little too fast and didn't have time to avoid a very sharp rock in my way. I heard the stone hit the rim and immediately braked to confirm the snake bite puncture.

Pumping up the a fat tire takes its time.

The route continued soutwards towards Vuontisjärvi and was occasionally very rocky. When crossing a creek I found this nice flower:

I filled my water bottles in the creek and went up the following hill for lunch.

After lunch the landscape closed in and the trees became taller and taller. Near Vuontisjärvi I saw two guys fly fishing and two paddlers dragging their canoe past a rough part of the river Pöyrisjoki.

I arrived at Vuontisjärvi for a 45 km road section to Kalmakaltio. My map showed a store in Peltovuoma, but it was fortunately closed. Otherwise I might not have been able to resist the temptation to buy a Coke, something I don't drink otherwise. In theory it would have destroyed the self-supported nature of the trip, though in practice it would not have mattered much.

It started to rain quite a bit and thunderstorm closed in. The thunderstorm went towards southeast while I rode more in the northeast direction, so I managed to avoid most of it. The temperature quickly went down to about 10ºC (50ºF), but I had no problem keeping the warmth in shorts and the very thin Haglöfs OZO rain jacket.

Again I pushed on for a few hours more than would have been really comfortable (notice a pattern here?) and came upon a suitable camping spot around 19:30. Still, I wasn't as tired as the previous days and it actually felt like from now on the body had adapted to the insufficient energy content of the food and really turned up the fat burning mechanism of the body.

The dinner, a Real Turmat Chicken in Herb Sauce, tasted very well and was complemented with a Ridderheims Red Devil beer sausage afterwards. Delicious. During the evening and night the weather changed between sun and rain showers, but the amount of rain was still quite small.

I got up in the morning and made my usual porridge and coffee. By now I was pretty fed up with the porridge, but had no other option than to eat it. Maybe rice porridge from some sort of rice flakes and milk powder would be a good variation.

The riding started with fairly dull weather, but no real rain. The goal for today was to arrive at Maaterlommol, which would mean a long day. The trail was more like a road in the beginning, so I made good speed.

At this time of the year, the heather brings a lot of color to the landscape.

I still took the time to enjoy the landscape.

Soon the sun came out and brightened up the landscape.

Beach riding.

There was even sand without a beach.

Some (for me) unknown toad species.

I soon met a backpacker who had been walking a week on mostly the same route I was going today and tomorrow. I was the first person he met in a week. He confirmed my assumption that the south part of Maaterlommol would offer a very good camping spot. He also recommended a camping spot between Pöyrisjärvi and Näkkälä for my final night in the field, one which I later would find very nice.

Nearing the Norwegian border the landscape again opens up.

I took lunch here. For lunch I had a British Fuizion rice pudding provided by Korpijaakko. Bad timing, I should have taken a Norwegian Real Turmat now that I was in Norway again.

It felt like it took longer to boil the water now. The wind was probably the main reason for this, but the thick layer of soot on the pot might have contributed.

The blueberrys were ripening, three weeks later than in the south part of the country.

The trail continued along the border between Finland and Norway. The fence visible on the picture is not the border, it is a fence meant to keep the reindeer on one side of it.

A fairly flat open landscape.

A view into Øvre Anarjohka National Park in Norway.

The trail continued along the reindeer fence for a few hours until it turned towards Kalkkujärvi.

This section had some good parts, like the one below, but was in places also very rocky and hard to ride.

And then there was mud.

Bog water is good for the skin.

In the evening I entered a sandy region again.

A slight detour up to Dihkkecohkka.

The view south with Pöyrisjärvi far back.

The ordinary place to cross Maaterlommol.

I continued to the south part of Maaterlommol to find the nice camping spot. Again it was getting a little late and I came to have another twelve hour day.

It was nice indeed. I put the tent some 30 m from the beach.

I took a refreshing bath in the lake before dinner. The water was actually not very cold. After dinner I ate the last of my beef jerkeys, something I will bring more of the next time.

The night saw some rain and hard wind, forcing me to close down the tent fully until the morning. At this point I had mostly run out of trails to ride and had no hurry anywhere. Kare Eskola had told me about a possibility to continue westwards and at some point turn south to Kaaresuvanto, but I concluded that it would have been a little too tight. Hence I had a lot of time and decided to enjoy it slowly. After the morning coffee I went out for a walk in the surroundings.

My tent spot from another direction.


Checking out the route for today. The map showed no trails, but I found a good route starting with the sandridge going inwards from the right in the picture.

Máderjohka would be no problem to cross.

My tent is in the middle of the picture.

I decided to eat lunch before leaving. For lunch I had very special plans: A Real Turmat Pasta Vegetariana, which have an excellent tomato sauce taste, spiced up with pieces of a Ridderheims beer sausage with chili grade explosive. I was actually warned in the supermarket about this one, but it turned out to be great. In addition to the normal stuff it contained habanero, ginseng, taurine and guarana. Just what a mountain biker needs!

This turned out to be the best lunch of the entire trip.

Around noon I started riding. After the crossing the creek I soon came to the sand ridge.

Clearly I was not the first one here.

The fatbike worked well without a trail.

A pair of long-tailed skuas in their natural environment...

... an environment I was clearly not a part of according to them.

An interesting looking creek. There are obviously a lot of rocks under the bog.

Easy terrain.

After a while I came to a trail again and turned south. Pöyrisjärvi seen from west.

More and more trees crept into the landscape as I continued.

After I little over three hours I arrived at the camping spot recommended by the backpacker. I put up the tent, made coffee, studied the map and finally spent almost two hours listening to the fantastic melodies and orchestrations of Luca Turilli from my smartphone, not asleep but not quite awake either.

After resting I went out for a walk, going up a hill to get reception for calling home to my family. The evening and surroundings were nice.

Dinner time. Until now I had eaten only Real Turmat meals, with the exception of the Fuizion rice pudding, but I had one Travellunch Chili Con Carne with me and decided to try it. It was a true disappointment after the Real Turmat meals: It tasted artificial, the bag did not keep the warmth and it did not even seem to reconstitute properly.

My last night went without problems. Friday was here and I was to return to the civilization. But not before breakfast.

The "road" between Pöyrisjärvi and Näkkälä.

Arriving at Näkkälä.

I decided to take the road to Hetta, which was about 40 km of asphalt, instead of riding the trail I had ridden last Saturday. I wanted my impressions from the trip to end with the landscapes of the last two days, instead of that of the Hetta-Näkkälä trail.

I arrived in Hetta early in the afternoon and rented a room at Paavontalo. After a shower I went for a pizza. A plate of fresh vegetables tasted fantastic, as did the beer, but the pizza was a slight anti-climax. While it tasted great with lots of garlic and blue cheese, I found it hard to eat the entire pizza. Though I had fantasized about eating lots of food, my body had adapted to the smaller portions of the trip. Before going back to the room I bought some food for the evening and later managed to eat a delicious large piece of smoked Atlantic halibut.

My bus left for Rovaniemi at 7:30 on Saturday morning, took some four hours and then I had a long wait for the night train to the south in Rovaniemi. I got on the train, slept and got up around five in the morning to change train in Tampere, but was told to go back to sleep since the train was four hours late. I got back home just before noon on Sunday.

Here is a slideshow with a lot of pictures.

How do you sum up a trip like this? In one word, just fantastic!

I will discuss the gear I used in a final installment.

A late addition, the video:


  1. Excellent stuff, Peter. Superb photos (that Kossu bottle in the sand made me laugh =) of some very fine scenery; those sand ridges look beautiful, a relic from the ice age, though still unexpected, I imagine.

    "snake bite puncture" and I learned something again, thanks!

  2. Peter, I have officially run out of superlatives! What an amazing adventure! Epic!

    Awesome landscapes and excellent photographing. You still even managed some self-documenting without the tripod head!

  3. Helt otroligt! Fast jag måste erkänna, att jag får lust att vandra där istället...

  4. Great write up(s)! I guess you might be leaving this for you 'gear' blog, but were there many places where the Pugs was a great help over a normal bike? Wondering about a trip up there next summer...

    (OurManInTheNorth from Bikepacking.net!)

  5. Great pics and story! Looks like you had the perfect bike for the varied conditions you encountered.

  6. Great stuff! I think you have nailed the atmosphere up there spot on.

  7. Thanks for the comments.

    Ian, the usual choice for the area would be an FS bike with a (heavy) backpack. The fatbike offers two advantages: Good floatation in the soft sand and on bogs, as well as the option to load the bike instead of the backpack. The latter is more important IMO. Don't let the bike hold you back, though, any terrain capable bike should work.

    Petra, jag tycker nog att en cykel passar bättre där pga de långa avstånden.

  8. Such beautiful scenery, with amazing wide open vistas. I am sure it is a trick of the eye, maybe due to all those rocks, or the perspective, but at first glance that "interesting looking creek" looked higher than the surrounding landscape.

  9. Absolutely beautiful landscape you have to ride upon! The photos, as always, are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    Two questions I have for you are...
    What type of camera and lenses have you been using?
    Second, what racks do you have on the Pugs?

  10. Fantastic is a very descriptive term for the Pöyrisjärvi wilderness area!

    About beef jerky, I Strongly recommend to try the dried reindeer meat, especially in Lapland

  11. Epic indeed! Would you do it again?

    For Ian I would say that with a full suspension bike you'll manage ok. You have to walk some short distances in wet or soft places of course. A Fatbike is not necessary while it would be nice, though.

    I did a 5-day trip there with a FS bike and also met Yeti there on some occasions. Yeti's fatbike seemed to roll smoooothly :)

    I had a 15kg backpack in the start and it was 14kg after the trip. It felt a lot nicer in the end. I decided to start the next trip there with a 14kg maximum backpack.

  12. Vito, about half of the pictures are taken with a Canon S90 pocket camera (one of the best ones) and the other half with a Canon EOS 60D with a 15-85 mm lens. I'm currently looking into replacing the 60D with a m43 system, since I'm growing a little tired of its size and weight.

    Jukka, of course I will return there. This was just the first time, getting acquainted with the area. Maybe next year during the ruska period. I'm also looking for a more linear route. Kalmakaltio-Kaaresuvanto is one possibility, but it does not seem long enough.

  13. Really nice, enjoyed both parts at one read. Although I prefer walking, but like you said in the comments, you can cover much longer distances by bike. Maybe one day.

    How disappointing there was no message in the bottle. But it was not by a lake/a stream either?

    The Double Rainbow looks good. Happy with it?

  14. No, the bottle was in the middle of the sand, not any place near water.

    I'm very satisfied with the Double Rainbow, though I would possibly choose the similar Six Moon Design Lunar Duo if I was mainly walking and had walking poles.

  15. Peter, great post with excellent photos. Would be really good if you could post up a map of the trip,so I could relate the trip to my basic knowledge of the area. How are those fat tyres like to ride tarmac roads on?

  16. Peter, sorry, checking on your first post,I found that you put up a map.

  17. Great trip, great pictures!

    I really hope my advice about the route section (Rautuoivi) did not lead you to too difficult track. Tapio Huttunen said later that he prefers the southern (Lenkihaka) version in that part.

    About the bikes: In our MTB-Seikkailu trip in the same kind of terrain with lighter backpacks two full suspension bikes broke down. The linkage bearings and axles are not easy to repair. I strongly recommend bulletproof full-sus (is there any?) or hardtail.

    Trail-less riding and a few bogs may be a bit easier with a fatbike, but there is not very much of them.

  18. Mark, the fat tires are a little slower than narrow tires on hard surfaces like asphalt, but the difference is quite small if you put a little more air in the tires.

    Kare, the northern route was fine, probably better than the southern one since it went on higher ground.

  19. Wonderful pictures. I've come back looking for the gear discussion, as promised! Have I missed that part?

  20. billy, I'll try to do the gear post next weekend. Sorry to keep you waiting.

  21. Thank you. I'll look forward to it :0)

  22. This great post makes me want to fatbike more than ever before – pure magic.

    I'm considering getting a Pugsley and are curious about what sort of hubs you are using and what your experience with them are (I know the complete bike ships with Deore hubs).

    Mikkel Bølstad

  23. Mikkel, I'm using the Alfine 8 internal gear hub in the back and a Surly fixed hub in the front. The Alfine hub mostly since I wanted to try one, and it works great. I built the bike mainly to be "expedition" capable for summer and winter tours, and it is rather heavy. If I would have gotten a fatbike mostly for ordinary mtb trail use, I would probably have built a lighter bike (other frame than Pugsley and ordinary gears).

    I had Deore hubs on my first FS bike (bought 2007) and they did not work that well. I killed the freewheel body every four months, for some reason. The Shimano XT hubs, on the other hand, have worked without problems for me, but nowadays I would probably just get a Hope Pro II for a normal cassette hub (I have two of them).

    At least here in Finland the complete build does not have a competitive price, so it might be worth building one yourself. Depending on what you want, you might also check out whether the new Big Fat Larry fits or not. At least the aluminium 907 (pre 2012) is to narrow in the rear for this.

  24. Thanks for your thorough answer – really appreciated! I had doubts about the Deore hubs and your experience confirms it. I've yet to build my own wheels – did you build yours yourself?


  25. I had actually planned to build them myself, but ultimately let my friendly LBS do it.