Sunday, March 24, 2013

Skiing video

I did some filming during my ski outing two weeks ago. The result can be seen below:

I encountered some technical problems this time. The GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition let me down again with its poor battery life and I only got the clip from 0:22-0:33 in the video with it. I had some special angles for the GoPro planned, but didn't get the possibility to try them. It might be the best action camera currently available, but it doesn't work when it's cold. It seems the battery is drained even when the camera is turned off and the old trick of having the batteries in a warm place and inserting them only when needed isn't really an alternative with the weatherproof housing and all. To be honest, I had a third party battery (still can't get a spare original battery here in Turku), which seems even worse than the original GoPro one. On the other hand, my Panasonic GH2 handles cold very well and only used up the capacity of about one and a half battery.

The other problem has to do with the cold and moisture condensation on the lenses. You have to be very careful not to breath out near the camera, but still the front lens often get some amount of condensation freezing to ice from the surrounding air when it is cold. It is fairly simple to get rid of simply by warming it and wiping it off with a finger, though. This time, and actually a week later as well, I encountered condensation on other lens surfaces as well, which is more difficult to handle. I'm not sure how or why this happens, but it occurred when the temperature rose rapidly from a temperature colder than -20C. Presumably the lenses had not warmed at all being inside the camera bag, and when I took them out in a temperature of -10C the humidity level was already higher causing condensation on the lens surfaces when the lens caps were removed. This has not occurred when the temperatures stay cold all day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ski and fatbike overnighter

Well, sort of at least. I was on skis and Toni on a fatbike. March has been a really good winter month, something which doesn't happen every year. We've had night temperature of -20C and day temperatures just below freezing, and were it not for the snowfalls, we would surely have a crust strong enough to ride on. But skiing is very nice as well and especially with a pulk that eliminates the usual need to save weight.

I started skiing in Marttila at 18:00 and with only a half an hour before sunset it was clear that I would not make the mires in time. The sun had already disappeared below the trees when I arrived. The temperature was now about -7C and decreasing rapidly.

Suprised when checking the snow depth. 90 cm was a lot more than expected, but I tried another place and came up with the expected 40-50 cm.

The mire was nice. I had only visited a small part of it before, on duckboards with a bike.

Looks like a small rodent has fallen prey to a bird.

Me and myself.

More mire pictures.


After maybe one and a half hour I arrived at Hirvikallio, a rock that provided a good view over the mire. I erected the tent and took a few pictures while the dusk turned to darkness.

By now I was getting hungry and had the most noble of outdoor foods planned for the evening: Pancakes with strawberry jam.

While I made and ate pancakes, Toni arrived pushing his fatbike through the snow, after having some problems finding the place.

Poor Toni had to save weight and thus had to make do with a freeze-dried meal.

The air temperature was now -17C and the forecast for the night -25C. Eventually we entered the tents. Inside the sleeping bag the warmth soon returned to the body and especially to the poor toes. It was probably around eleven in the evening when we actually went to sleep.

Again the night was very silent, with only the occasional cracking noise from trees in the cold. Around five in the morning it started to get light and we got up a little before seven. It was a beautiful and cold morning.

Toni in the morning.

We decided to do a quick photography session before having breakfast. The early morning light lasts only for a short while.

My track from yesterday was firm enough for Toni to be able to ride on it.

The making of a "Fatbike in the morning sun" picture.

The rock with the tent.

A ski track made with a snowmobile.

When we got back from the photography session, the sun was closing in on the tent.

Toni's bike and some stuff.

Coffee in the making. The temperature was still -24C.

Eventually we were done with the breakfast and packed our stuff. I went a little ahead, since my toes were feeling rather cold and a little skiing would bring back the warmth to them.

The plan was for Toni to ride in my ski and pulk tracks from yesterday. A glorious plan, but the tracks were not firm enough and Toni had to ride in the machine made ski track instead, taking care not to ride in the actual ski track and thus destroy it. I waited were my own track crossed the machine track. The temperature rose quickly now.

And there he comes.

We consulted the map and found that the best route for Toni was to continue on the machine track, while I took another route.

I took a slightly different route back to the car through a forest and over bare cliffs.

Going downhill the pulk has a will of its own, but it works fine if there is enough room.

When I returned to the car the temperature was only -6C and arriving home after a forty minute drive it was barely below freezing. Classical great March weather!

Thanks to Toni for the company again! Toni's report is here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Out skiing

Still no crust strong enough for riding on, but there are of course other ways to move on snow. I wanted to go out on a little trip to enjoy the March winter, which can be the best part of the winter, and chose to do it on skis. When the weather forecast also showed cold and clear weather, I took Friday off from work to. The plan was to do some 40-45 km of skiing through forests and on mires.

I started skiing a little before four in the afternoon, after my wife drove me to the south end of Rehtsuo. After a short while I arrived at the mire. Somewhat surprising, I had to ski a little uphill to get to the mire. Usually mires are lower than the surroundings.

The weather was sunny and nice.

It was very easy skiing with the pulk (a Paris Expedition pulk) and a lot nicer than having a backpack.

Continuing across the frozen Rehtsuo mire. This kind of skiing is pure enjoyment.

Somewhere here the boardwalks of the summer trail should be.

Sunset at 18:15 was getting closer, but there would still be good light for onen hour after that. I thought I felt a little weaker than I should, which probably was due to my donating blood the day before. In my experience, donating blood affects you for several days afterwards and a bicycle trip with its higher intensity would probably have been a poor idea.

I soon ran out of mire and continued through a short forest section before crossing the fields near Vahto. At Myllysuo I again came to the forest. I looked for a place to stay, but recent logging made the area less desireable and I continued towards. It was now quite dark and at one point I thought I saw a flashlight in the middle of the forest for a second. Quite spooky. I later checked the map and there was a cabin about one hundred meter from where I was and my own light was probably reflected in a window of the cabin.

I continued and succesfully orienteered to a nice spot next to the Kangenmiekka mire and put up my tent a little before nine in the evening, drank two cups of hot chocolate and ate a few sandwhiches before going to sleep. It was now noticeably colder.

I slept fairly well through the night. It was a silent night, and the only thing heard was the cracking sound from trees in the cold. No owls (a slight disappointment), no wolves (I have yet to hear wolf howling) and still too early for the Black Grouse.

It started to get lighter before six in the morning. I took my bag of remaining sandwhiches into the sleeping bag to make them softer and slept for another hour. At seven I got up and had breakfast.

A eight o'clock I continued skiing. It was now a crisp -17C, but the sun would soon make it warmer.

My track from yesterday.

I explored the open mire of Kangemiekka. The pulk and the new skis made for very good skiing. I think this is the ultimate ski setup for the terrain I traversed.

The next section was through a forest. At one point I went through the ice crossing a ditch, getting my skis wet.

The water immediately froze to the skis preventing any glide and I had to scrape it off with a knife.

I continued though the forest and checked out some places that looked interesting on the map.

I mainly preferred to find my own way, giving more interesting orienteering, rather than follow the marked (summer) route.

The history of snowfall and thaws during the winter is visible on this fallen tree.

More snow art.

Just when I arrived at the Vajosuo mire and started thinking about lunch it started to snow and the wind picked up.

I had looked forward to a sunny, warm and long lunch break and even brought a book for the occasion. That didn't happen, but otherwise the lunch break was nice with a traditional Finnish liver casserole instead of the usual freeze-dried food. The advantage of having a pulk and not having to save weight...

After the lunch the cloud cover became thinner, but there was still some dramatic clouds.

Entering the Laidassuo mire.

Dinner for one.

Soon the clouds blew away and the sun came out. The wind kept the perceived temperature chilly, though.

Animal trail.

The Lammenrahka mire.
Nearing the lake Lakjärvi.

Still some open places on the Lakjärvenrahka mire.

The Lakjärvi shelter looked very inviting, but I still continued.

Finding a good tent spot at Lyyttärinkallio.

Pyttipannu for dinner.

It was to be a nice cold night.

I woke at half past five in the morning and decided to nap for a short while, but I overslept and it was almost half past seven before I got up. It was again a crisp morning with a temperature of -17C.

Mystery tracks near the tent. A largish animal had followed my pulk track and turned away only six meters from the tent. It went through the crust several times, meaning it was quite heavy. Unfortunately I took only this picture and thought the animal could be identified from it, but it is far from clear. The filter box is 90x72 mm, making the tracks quite large. Anyone know for sure?

Packing up and starting to ski at 8:30.

The Kurjenrahka mire.

A familiar rock. I've slept there twice.

I still had time for some skiing before catching the bus that would take me back to Turku.

I arrived at the bus stop with 20 minutes to spare. This had been an excellent trip in fantastic weather. It doesn't get much better than this, unless travelling a good distance to the big wilderness areas in the north.

And finally a video I made from the trip: