Sunday, February 19, 2012

Small overnighter on skis

I decided that my frostbite had healed enough to go on a small overnighter. The temperature was also suitable, just a few degrees below freezing. With the amount of snow we've had the last two weeks, skis made sense. I mentioned this on fillarifoorumi, the main Finnish bicycle forum, since JJ had also expressed some interest in going out. I packed my gear almost in record time and met JJ at Rantapiha at around four in the afternoon. We decided to ski to the Töykkälä shelter, where none of us had slept before.

And off we went. JJ uses some army style equipment with a large backpack. Quite a contrast to my own minimalistic gear.

Except for the wind, it was very quiet. I though I saw a White-throated Dipper when we crossed Järvijoki, but I didn't get a good enough glimpse to be sure. Otherwise the only sign of animal life was some crows and a raven.

Occasionally some old ski tracks were visible on the bog, which made skiing easy.

The map and compass are always right.

Some amount of care needs to be taken. There are occasional wet places on the bog which have not frozen, probably due to peat bog gases coming though the surface.

After a little under two hours, we arrived at the Töykkälä shelter, just before the fall of night. JJ immediately started a fire.

Show your frostbite! JJ has an amputated forefinger, but since it was not due to frostbite it doesn't count.

After some time, we got company at the shelter. A couple arrived, and while all got along well, they had probably hoped to be alone for a romantic night out.

The evening went on with more food and some small amounts of anti-freezing agent.

We all went to sleep around midnight. The temperature was just below freezing, so there was no problems keeping warm during the night. The night saw some hard wind and about 10 cm of new snow, which would come to make the skiing a lot harder.

At around eight in the morning we got up. JJ again starts a fire.

I remembered my dark French roast coffee, but forgot my coffee filter thingy. But, as long as you have a Buff (you should always bring a spare one), there is no need to despair. A Buff also works fine as a coffee filter.

Another view at the Töykkälä shelter.

Skiing again. In the beginning it was easy. The prepared ski track was visible in the more shelter area.


It soon started to snow more.

Out on the bog there was no trace of the ski tracks, and quite hard work to open your own.

Water under the snow.

We decided to take the hiking trail in the forest for the last section. It was a lot less snow and easier skiing in the forest, but there were some fallen trees from the Christmas storm.

Just a small bit left.

After two and a half hours of fairly hard skiing we arrived at the cars and ended this little outing. Thank to JJ for the company.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Just another winter Sunday

This weekend would have been great for an overnighter, but due to my slight frostbite I did not go anywhere. With these electric insoles I had no problems commuting during the week, even though we had -23C (-10F) one morning, but I am looking for new warmer boots. Still, the doctor told me to stay inside all weekend and keep the toes in a constant suitably warm temperature. I did follow his advice. Mostly. At least during the night.

The cold sunny weather we had for the last almost two weeks has given way to warmer cloudy weather with snowfall. With a temperature of just a few degrees below freezing the it was quite easy to be outside. I did some fatbike riding during the weekend and had a nice Sunday morning on my neighbourhood trails.

Lake Littoinen provided good fatbike training. There were some harder places on the ice where people had walked, but new snow made it hard to see exactly where to ride.

In the middle of the lake I lost the harder surface to ride on and had to ride on untouched snow. It was hard and occasionally harder.

Toni ordered a stem cap thermometer and got one for me too. A good idea, but with a tempereture range of -25C to +55C I feel this one is made for a slightly warmer climate.

A light snowfall. Maybe my next overnighter, hopefully next weekend, will be on skis.

Lots of people out skiing on the lake.

The forest trail are nice and hard.

Being a family man, I went out with the kids in the afternoon. The natural thing for kids to do outside at this time of the year is pulk riding. And skiing, of course, but we'll have to do that another day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February overnighter with filming

It took this long to get to do the first overnighter for the year. Sickness and some family events prevented me in January. This time there was something special planned, though. Peltsi from YLE, the Finnish national broadcasting company, contacted me and this resulted in me, Toni, Peltsi and the photographer Juha going out on an overnighter during a cold February weekend. I managed to take some photographs, though this was not a priority during this outing.

We arrived at the Vajosuo parking place about 9:30 on the Saturday morning. The thermometer showed -27C (-17F) when we started unpacking gear.

Filming packing the bikes.

On the move, starting with the Vajosuo trails, which were in hard and fast shape.

A really nice winter day. In open places there was about 25 cm of snow.

Still chilly.

Excellent fast trails.

Peltsi riding a...

... Moonlander!

Cold weather ninja outfit. The face mask with a simple heat exchanger works well.

The Pukkipalo trail was no option, since the forest road section had too much snow on it to be rideable. Instead we rode directly to the Savojärvi trail, which was in good condition.


Mounting a GoPro camera.

There were some snowmobile trails on Kurjenrahka, probably meant as a base for skiing tracks. It was possible to ride on them with a fatbike without leaving any mentionable tracks, as opposed to walking on them.

Don't forget the small details. The wild rosemary is not entirely covered with snow.

I'll have to do an overnighter on skis here soon.


Packed for a cold overnighter.

Big Fat Larry track.


From Kurjenrahka we continued back towards Vajosuo on the hiking trail. It was rideable with a fatbike, but it was very hard work and in many places technically demanding to stay on the very narrow and uneven trail. It took almost two hours to cover the 5 km leg. The weather was nice, though.


Still riding after the sunset.

The Zefal Arctic bottle keeps the water in liquid form suprisingly well, though it is no real thermos bottle. The weak part is the lid. It freezes much too easily and is very hard to open. Here I managed to get the entire inner bottle out when trying to open it.

We arrived at the Vajosuo shelter sometime around 18:30 and immediately started a fire. This time we had lots of food. Though the bikes were packed with everything needed for an overnighter, Juha had parked the car just 1.5 km away and brought a good amount of food. We ate with good appetite after a rather hard day.

Time to go to sleep. The temperature stayed around -22C (-8F) during the night. I was warm and comfy in my Marmot Never Summer sleeping bag with a Ridgerest and short NeoAir under, but tt took more than an hour for my feet to get warm again. My footwear was totally inadequate for the temperatures and I got a slight frostnip on three toes on my right foot. That same foot has seen some frostbite before and is hence more sensitive. I need to take care of it better and get some warmer footwear in the future (*).

At around six in the morning Juha got up and started a fire. His sleeping bag and ground pad were not warm enough for this temperature. It was nice to wake to a warm fire for the rest of us, though.

The short filming session in the morning took us out on the Vajosuo bog.

Peltsi rides the narrow uneven trail on top of boardwalks without problems.

The Sunday morning saw varying weather with both sun and snowfall.

Just a short bit left.

This was a really nice winter overnighter. Thanks a lot to Toni, Peltsi and Juha. Check out Toni's report here.

The film should be shown in the outdoor program Erätulilla, though it is not clear when.

(*) Update: The actual frostbite damage seems to be quite small, but it does mean that I have to be very careful with the toes for the rest of the winter. I went to my local Partiovaruste outdoor store and bought these electric insoles to make sure that I don't get the toes cold during the healing process. I will also have to look at some warmer boots. The current ones were warm enough in similar weather last winter, but is it possible they have shrunken? The don't seem to have as much space for socks anymore. Anyway, this was a very stupid error for me to make.