Saturday, August 3, 2013

A short Kurjenrahka overnighter

It occurred to me that I should go on a few backpacking overnighters to see if the gear and techniques work as expected before the Wilderness Guide school starts with a week in the Lemmenjoki National Park in Lapland. Hiking is a low intensity activity compared to the bikepacking outings I'm used to, but there is more to it than just aerobic fitness. The feet might need some conditioning in order to avoid blisters and the muscles carrying the backpack could also possibly benefit from some conditioning, even though I nowadays keep the backpack quite light. I also had some new gear, an excellent Gossamer Gear Kumo backpack that I won, and new trail running shoes, the Salomon Speedcross 3, to replace my old Lundhags boots, since everyone* says that it would be wrong and stupid to use traditional boots.

I chose the Kurjenrahka National Park for this outing, since it is only a half hour drive away and it is a nice area. With an approximate goal in mind, I started walking at 18:30.

With the trail runners my stride was very light and with my long legs it looked almost ridiculous on the video clips I took. They weighed 320 g each, which is 600 g lighter than my old Lundhags boots. Per foot!

For once, the mire has some colors with the blooming heather.

Cloudberry leaves turned red.

The duckboard walking demanded some care, in order not to step on caterpillars, this one I think is a Small Emperor Moth.

And on I went, through forests and over mires on duckboards. The backpack, which probably weighed around five kilos, excluding 2 liters of water, felt great.

The bumblebees were buzzy. They had a lot of work to do with the heather.

In some places in the forest it already looked like fall. The draught of July had caused leaves to become yellow and fall from the trees and the blueberry leaves were in some places very red.

Arriving at Lakjärvi a little before nine in the evening. There are two shelters there, and I had contemplated staying there for the night, but the shelters were in the middle of very high spruces and it was too dark and depressing there. By the lake it was nice, though. To my surprise, there were other people out. A mother and daughter (I think) and their dog were already at Lakjärvi for the night, enjoying the excellent weather.

I walked a little bit back where I came from and went up to a small hill, Paltanvuori. With fifteen minutes or so to the sunset a little over ten, I started looking for a suitable tent place. I was less happy to discover that the deer flys are now out. Without a comb, they were hard to remove from the hair.

Nice colors.

Found the tent place after a total of 10 km of walking. With some stones on the tent stakes, this would be a nice tent spot.

The tent spot was nice, but I discovered a disadvantage of the Salomon Speedcross. The coarse pattern underfoot which ensures an excellent grip everywhere was not very kind to the thin layer of mosses and lichens on the rock, and I therefore had to tread very carefully.

The sun was about to set and I went to the highest point near the tent to enjoy the evening and make a hot drink. It was a nice and warm evening and not too many mosquitoes.

I did hear voices, two girls talking, which seemed to move around the entire hill. I wondered if they were lost. A while after the sunset, the two girls came to my spot and wondered where Lakjärvi was. I showed them the location on the map and adviced them how to get there and on they went. It seems to be crowded here during the summer. I already had met four persons.

Around half past eleven it started to get dark and I decided to go to the tent. The night was fairly silent, but there were some bird contact calls I couldn't recognize and surprisingly also a nightjar singing (if that is what you call it). Cranes could also be heard through the night.

I slept fairly well, but at one point during the darkest hours I was woken up by a barking sound quite close to the tent. Three times it barked and I'm fairly sure it was a roe deer. At some point I could also hear distant thunder. I just hoped it wouldn't come closer, since I was on the highest point in the area, and I would have no other choice than to move my camp in case of thunder.

When the morning got closer I woke and noticed that it was very humid in the tent. The tent was half open, so there should not have been any condensation issues. When I got out I noticed that everything outside was wet from dew and a little further down the hill the mist was thick.

I packed my stuff quickly without breakfast and started to walk again a little before seven in the morning.

A quick breakfast from the nature.

I took the trail on the north side of the Savojärvi lake. The weather was now a little cloudy and the temperature a very pleasant 16°C (60°F).

Even more people out. There are a few nice tent spot north of the lake as well, but I don't use them since the National Park rules do not allow it.

More heather color.

After two hour it was time for the real breakfast. I boiled water with the BushCooker and made coffee. Despite the rather brown water of the lake, the coffee tasted great.

I continued on the duckboards.

The duckboards were again used by others. This looks a little like a fox moth, but I'm not entirely sure.

Common Lizard.

I should get a better butterfly guide. I couldn't find this one in it, but some googling came up with a strong candidate, Ruby Tiger.

A short bit left.


The total of today was 8 km. Not much, but I did get home in time to make lunch for the family. The gear worked great. The Gossamer Gear Kumo backpack is nice and light and is big enough for a few days out, except during the winter. The details and solutions are well thought out and the workmanshop good. In fact, I liked it so much that I ordered its bigger sibling, the Gossamer Gear Mariposa, for use when I need more gear, like going out with the kids or on a longer outing.

The Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes are light and stable, but I did get a small blister on my left little toe. It has a tendency to fold under the following toe and I usually make sure that there is absolutely no hard skin on it that can cause problems, but I forgot it this time. Anyway, a nice outing it was.

* I got good advice from the following gentlemen:
Mark at BackpackingNorth
Roger at Nielsen Brown Outdoors
Hendrik at Hiking in Finland
Martin at Summit And Valley

I'll blame them later for any possible failures :-)

A later addition, the video from the outing:

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