Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lemmenjoki pt 1

Finally the time had come for the Wilderness Guide School to start. I had looked forward to it since I cut my summer vacation short when I was accepted into the education. The first course would be Hiking 1 in the Lemmenjoki National Park in Finnish Lapland. Four weeks before the Lemmenjoki trip I had a small setback when something happened to my back and I had trouble even walking for a few days. The back slowly got better, though the left leg was a lot weaker. Hence I had a good reason to lighten my backpack as much as reasonable.

I got on the "school bus" on Saturday morning and met most of the other participants. It was soon revealed that we had a very heterogenous group when it came to age, occupation and outdoor skills. The bus drove to Merilä near Jakobstad/Pietarsaari where we would spend the first night in rooms. We started to learn each others names (with twenty persons it takes a while) and were divided into groups sharing tents and food and were assigned food and common gear. Our group of three persons first erected a Hilleberg Nammath GT tent, only to find it a tad short for my 192 cm. Another alternative would have been a Hilleberg Keron 4 weighing 4.5 kg. At this point we decided to take my Golite Shangri-La 5, which provided plenty of room for three persons for a weight of 2.6 kg. After taking a third of the food my backpack weighed a reasonable 13.2 kg. The rest of the evening went eating, swimming with sauna and generally getting to know each other.

The following morning we got up early to start the 860 km bus ride to Lemmenjoki, where we arrived at half past six in the evening. After some final packing, making my backpack weigh 15.5 kg, we started walking...

... only to make camp a short while later, while there was still light.

My pyramid tent.

A Hilleberg Rogen

The instructors had their own kind of shelter.

And then there was Simo with his hammock system.

The surroundings.

Eating and generally having a good time around the camp fire.

The night was quite warm, maybe around 7°C. The following morning started with nice weather and porridge, which is nice if you happen to like porridge.

And then it was time to pack up and start walking.

We walked in one twenty person group, with separate leaders and navigators. This showed in a very pedagogic way how difficult it is to lead such a big group.

Fall colors.

One group got the task of finding ten new plants, a recurring theme during the trip. There are still a good number of plants to find and identify this late in the season. Our group merely picked some Yellow Foot to complement the dinner.

A short break. I walked in the Salomon Speedcross trail runners, which made for very easy going in the dry environment.

Great weather. The day temperature was probably around 15°C.

And on we went.

The lunch break provided an opportunity to reinforce some weak parts of the human body.

Some more walking. At least the creek crossings were easy.

After arriving at the camp site of the night, we made dinner. Take one part tjälknöl (translates as roughly as  frost bump)...

... some Yellow Foot...

... and add mashed potatoes mix made with extra milk powder and you get something very tasty.

The rest of the evening went by the fire. The plants of the day were studied and everybody got some insights into the extremely fascinating Lycopods. It turned out that some people actually had lived their lives totally unaware of the existence of Lycopods. Shocking, isn't it?

Good night!

The following morning was grey and a slight drizzle soon started.

There were still berries to eat. Lingonberry...

... and blueberry.

Some final preparations...

... before starting to walk again.

Grey weather can also be beautiful.

I mostly walked in a short-sleeved shirt, using a Buff to regulate my temperature.

Danni, one of the instructors.

Crowberries are perfectly edible...

... as are Bog Billberries.

My group served as leaders during the first part of the day, after which we switched to navigation.

It was very dry in the northern part of Lemmenjoki. Several small lakes were completely dried up, creeks were dry, as were some mires.

The lunch was complemented by coffee (we had real coffee) and a cookie.

Orienteering duties.

I really should sell this pattern to Meindl. Emma's shoes look a lot better this way.

The camp site of the following two nights.

A few of the girls slept by the fire during the night and used so much firewood that they had their work cut the following day.

We had this day off. Six of us decided to do a longer day trip to explore the surroundings and the nearby peaks (if you can call the tops of the relatively flat fjells that).

Getting above the treeline.

Cristo Redendor? Or is it just Henkka?

A reindeer killed by a wolverine (indicated by crushed bones).

Up there.

Niklas doing some bouldering. Niklas is a snowboard freeride champion, check out his web page.

The weather cleared up a little.

I had a Real Turmat Chicked Sweet and Sour.The military version of the Real food contains bigger servings.

Some more pictures from a nice day.

Looking down towards the area near our camp.

Going down again.

Suddenly interrupted by an incredible amount of blueberries.

The blueberry break took at least ten minutes, but then we continued.


Danni had caught a trout for dinner.

Couscous with Yellow Foot was also quite good.

Henka, our other instructor is an expert in plants and happily shares his information on Lycopods.

Something particularly tricky, when both our instructors have to consult the field guide.

Cake time.

One day from full moon.

This had been pretty much a perfect day. And it got even better.

Even the best day has to end. This time with moon light.

Go on to part 2.

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