21 January 2012

Snowshoeing - A Season Opener

This is what I'd been waiting for since last winter; about 30cm of new, powder snow, enough of it, to allow snowshoeing. Now we got it, just great! Let it please stay for the next two months.

A week ago did my cross country skiing opener at Oittaa Recreation Center, circling 1.3km loop with 1000 of other skiers. Wasn't too fun due to heavy traffic but acted as a medicin to cure for an immediate pain of not being able to do real winter outdoor activities before.

As it was still snowing in the morning, decided to try snowshoeing instead of cross country skiing (time to swap on tomorrow). Last winter I got really hooked on this. It felt so fantastic to walk on woods, on places which were difficult to reach even at summer time. Steep stones up and down.

Didn't go too far but to the northern part of the Central Park of Helsinki (a forest, you know). There was a strong storm just after Christmas. It cut lots of trees. You did notice the end result of the storm in forest, lots of fallen trees, forcing you to change the walking route. It didn't matter too much as I didn't have any particular route to follow.

Circled here and there. After some km's legs started to feel heavy to lift. Walking near trees dropped snow on to you all the time. Felt like being a snowman, on snowshoes though. After all, all it did was make you wet. Legs became heavier and heavier, followed by even heavier breathing. High BPM indeed.

After being four hours in the woods, arrived at a parking lot. Exhausted, but extremely happy.

My snowshoes are 36" Tubbs Mountaineers. In powder, you walk in steep snow but they are large enough to carry you quite nice. Too big ones if the snow really carries you. You need good poles, too, to support your walk. All in all, tough sports I'd say.

Took some photos during the walk. However, didn't bring my DSLR due to snowing conditions. Snowy and cloudy conditions were difficult to catch proper photos (plus constant heavy breathing and hand trembling by the photographer). 

My Garmin had stopped finding any satellites, so used Sports Tracker in iPhone to record the event. Here's a recorded route, 10km (show larger map):

New, old fashioned fence

Vantaankoski rapids

Dead End



Ladies first

Almost there

Somebody's been here

Covered by snow

Run for you life!

06 January 2012

Hiking New Year's Weekend in Nuuksio National Park

Spent New Year's weekend in Nuuksio National Park (in southern Finland) by hiking there in two areas.

Southern Finland was still lack of proper snow, which make ordinary hiking pretty easy. Lakes and ponds were not frozen fully yet so walking on them wasn't possible.

On New Year's Eve, weather was cloudy, dry and temperature near zero degrees. Wanted to see a fairly new new trail, Klassarinkierros, some 4km long trail that was made a couple of years ago to the west part of the National Park. It's mainly created to introduce other areas of the National Park and to mitigate high usage of trails in Nuuksionpää, where trails really have shown some erosion.

Klassarinkierros starts near Kurjolampi pond. There's a parking lot, some information signs, maps etc. The trail started to rise towards Klassarinkallio, a hill on west side of Kurjolampi pond. The trail is a small path which mostly circles in a deep forest. One cannot see long distances, not even from the top of Klassarinvuori as trees cut the view.

The trail then heads northern part of the Kurjolampi pond. There's some duckboards near the pond. Instead of returning back, I headed towards north, to Ruuhilampi pond.

A storm which hit Finland at Christmas time, had done some real damage for nature, mainly cutting trees. Most of the forest here was survived well from the storm but areas near Ruuhilampi pond had some real damage, i.e. lots of trees either cut (by wind) or were tore down. Sad to see results.

Ruuhilampi pond had a cottage,  which anyone can rent for a day, weekend or a week usage. It's in a really great place.

Water level was still very high. All small creeks were full of water. Water also laid in some places in the forest, a good reason to wear Gore-Tex socks in hiking boots.

From Ruuhilampi pond headed towards Kaitlampi pond, near Kattila (that's where you can reach by local Espoo bus).

From Kaitlampi, near Kattila, took a small narrow path to Saarilampi pond. A really great small and narrow trail which circled through rocks, small mires and more open forest, a bit more wilderness look. Saarilampi pond had another rented cottage. This one, as the one at Ruuhilampi, were occupied so I didn't visit them due to privacy.

Here'a the hiked route on New Year's Eve, about 13km (show larger map):

The New Year's Day, the 1st of January 2012, was a gorgeous day. Clear blue sky and temperature showed -7C, the first glimpses of what the real winter days could be (for which I missed very much!).

Wanted to spend the day on trails which were not so much consumed. The area is roughly on the east side of Lake Pitkäjärvi. That's the area actually in the middle of the National Park. A good starting point is near Solvalla Sports Institute. The area consists of some large mires and several small lakes/ponds, the whole region is really beautiful to walk. Terrain in there has many high rocks so prepare to ascend and descend almost all the time.

My first target was to hike to Lake Ruuhijärvi, a beautiful lake with many high rocks on its shore. Trail passed by a large mire, Punjonsuo, which is a beauty itself.

Visited shores on a couple of places before continued towards the next target through couple of small mires, even more beautiful lake, jugded by me :), Lake Orajärvi.  The sun hit straight to my face from the south, felt so great!

Near by it was a small pond, Pikku Orajärvi. On one side it had a large rock but it was mostly surrounded by a mire. Just a nice place.

Continued more south. Area is called Karjakaivo Recreation Area. There's a pond called Karjakaivo. On it there is a cottage, with a sauna of course.  A place for setting up a tent was near by on Lake Urja. There are some funny names within the area like 'Lehmänämpäri' (too difficult for me to translate). The area contains some really steep rocks, small mires, all mostly covered by a forest. There are numerous, small trails, which are easy and confortable hike.

The sun didn't stay long out there. Already after 2PM it started to hide behind trees.  However, I have to admit that sunrise and sunset, the colour of the light were really nice, such golden and warm yellow. Unfortunately I couldn't catch the spirit of them fully on photos, although I desperately tried!

A sandy road, called Route 2000, which starts from Helsinki (near Olympic Stadium) and continues to Salmi Recreation Area, crosses this region. Several years back I remember when it was a small, tiny trail, which was really nice to ride with a mountain bike. Well, things change.

Here'a the hiked route on New Year's Day, about 16km (show larger map):

Some photos from New Year's Eve

Duckboards got dirty

Stripes on the water

Hat's got lost

Partly frozen


Slow motion

Fragile ice

Water's escaping


A typical trail

Damage by Christmas storm


Some photos from New Year's Day

It was -7C in the morning

Morning sun was just brilliant to watch

Branch x 3

A view over Lake Ruuhijärvi

Lake Orajärvi

A typical trail

Frozen fern

Ice split into two

I understand the one, but the other one ...

Frozen pond

Ice gets thicker

Lake Pikku Orajärvi

Whoopsie daisy

Tall pine trees

Gorgeous sunset