Sunday, March 7, 2021

Tour de Kurjenrahka 2021

The snow is mostly gone, but some colder weather again made the mires frozen. Time to do the Tour de Kurjenrahka route on fatbike.

Ten years ago I came up with a route that would tie together the biggest mires of the Kurjenrahka National Park to a circular route with a minimum of transport sections between the mires. The first time I did this route was ten years ago on a fatbike, after the longest and best winter for the last 20 years or so.

During the years since I've done it a number of times on fatbike and skis in different conditions. It is a rare treat to have much snow and a strong enough crust to ride on, you get maybe a week long window every three years or so for that.

This time there was almost no snow, but the few parts with snow did have a strong crust. There was however enough ice and snowpatches to make the route rideable, without causing damage from the tires. Some remnants of the snowmobile made ski route also provided a hard surface to ride on. I got started one hour before sunset and first traversed the Kurjenrahka mire, not going in a straight line but rather covering all the interesting open parts.

I used ice and snow patches to ride on and the route line was far from straight,

Having tried several different alternatives since studded fatbike tires arrived on the market, I now have the Terrene Johnny 5 tires on 100 mm wide rimes, which for my preferred purposes (difficult snow and hard ice) is the best alternative. Going without studded tires now would have been quite unwise.

The evening light was magical. It was a bit exciting in places on the mire, since the ice was a bit weak, but I didn't get wet even though the rear tire went through a couple of times.

This time the route directly to the short field section between the Kurjenrahka and Vajosuo mires wasn't feasible, so I took the trail/road from Raakanokka.

A short section on the old ski route, in the picture arriving to Vajosuo.

It started to become dark, but the twilight mire was beautiful.

I didn't take the shortest route through the Vajosuo mire, instead opting to ride via the Vajosuo shelter since the remnants of the ski track were rideable . The Vajosuo shelter was occupied for the night and after a short chat I turned west and rode for a final hour to a place outside the national park next to the Laidassuo mire. The total of the day was three hours and around 18 km. Two hours or so were spent making dinner and eating before going to sleep in time.

I got up a little before seven to see a potentially colorful sunrise give in to the clouds. Melting snow for water, coffee and breakfast followed.

I packed my stuff to get going around 8:30.

A short trail section led to the south east corner of Laidassuo.

There is always more snow around the Laidassuo mire than on the Kurjenrahka and Vajosuo mires just a few kilometers away, but the beginning was a bit hard here. One just have to look for lines of snow and ice to get something to ride on, presumable at least to some extent in the right direction.

Where there were trees, there was snow that one could ride on.

The lagg zones of the mires as well as sections with more trees had snow and it was easy riding, and I therefore rode a slightly different route that usually.

Occasionally the crust broke, though, but I didn't get wet.

A little powder snow on the ice is difficult. The fat tires float enough not to give the studs a good grip, and I took a few falls.

Coffee break at the (for me) traditional place a bit north of Pikku Pietisaari.

The northest part of Laidassuo had less snow and I rode the lagg zone next to Huhtasaari,

The final part, Lakjärvenrahka and Lakjärvi, after which I rode on the hiking trail back to the starting point.

Back at yesterday's starting point after three hours and 16 km. A nice little trip with the best part being the beautiful evening.

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