Friday, February 5, 2021

Another winter weekend

The winter conditions favor skiing currently, and the snow is too soft for fatbiking elsewhere than on the urban trails. Hence another weekend trip on skis.

I had the possibility to get out of (home) work a little earlier on Friday, so we could plan for a good two night trip. Juha had a plan that was quite ambitious.

We started from Elij√§rvenkulma at 14:30, two hours before sunset. The weather was cloudy, so the expectation was to ski in darkness for at least two hours. A clear sky would give almost one hour more of usable light. 

The first part was in the Vaskijärvi Strict Nature Reserve, where you are allowed to be outside the few marked routes only during winter time on snow.

Outside the nature reserve and looking for a way through. Picture by Juha Jokila.

It became dark.

There was lots of water everywhere, and the streams and ditches were not reliably frozen, so there were some harder crossings. Photo by Juha Jokila.

We arrived at the planner shelter after a little over 16 km and a little over 5 hours. The average speed was thus a little over 3 km/h, and this with fairly hard skiing and less than 5 minutes of breaks. By now it was certain that the next day was to be hard.

A fire, food and one beer per person was the next program.

The night wasn't particularly cold and we got up around seven.

It snowed a bit and it would snow the entire day, with varying intensity.

Having a fire isn't really helpful for getting going in time and we started skiing a bit late, around 9:30. Too late, since it was clear that we would have a long day ahead of us. We decided to ski on the lake, since we deemed the ice to be safe at least on the south part of the lake. The same part of the lake had a little ice already in November, when I was there kayaking.

Picture of yours truly by Juha Jokila.

And on we went, tying together a route of larger open mires through some forest roads as well as bushwacking sections.

The skis iced up after crossing a wet ditch.

Picture by Juha Jokila.

We skied quite hard, with only a few short drinking breaks and a lunch break of less than 30 minutes. Probably around 45 minutes of breaks in the entire day.

A forest road section.

A forest section that wasn't bad the entire time.

The sun set, but we continued and got out on the last mire crossing before it became totally dark. The mire was even enough that we could ski without using any lights despite the darkness. Some section of the mire were quite wet, and the ski poles went through several times. Without skis those sections would have been impossible, you would just sink into the bog.

I opened the track for most of the part and while I did use quite a bit of energy it still felt pretty easy for me. Dragging a pulk after the skis feels like something I am particularly good at. Maybe there are times when my long legs do give me an advantage.

We arrived at the planned shelter after 9,5 hours and 24 km of quite hard skiing. Not much to say about the evening, I ate and went to sleep probably around ten. Before that Toni arrived on a fatbike after having ridden for six hours or so.

The next morning was colder and the sky was clear. Finally something other that the greyness.

Toni melted snow with the routine of someone having finished several ITI races in Alaska.

Juha dries clothes while drinking coffee.

Now we had around three hours of skiing back to the cars in a fantastic winter weather.

Yesterday's route across Kaukosuo in the darkness. A (fairly) straight line for a bit over one hour.

A few more pictures.

In good light I had no problem reading the paper map, but with lower light I relied on the map in the smartphone. I would unfortunately need reading glasses to read the paper map in poor light nowadays. Picture by Juha Jokila.

The last picture before the end of the trip.

That's it. Back at the cars after a little over three hours and 8 km. All in all a very nice, but demanding trip. The route was a bit too ambitious considering the conditions, though.

A short video from the trip by Juha.

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