30 December 2011

Summing Up My Outdoor Year 2011

The year 2011 started with loads of snow in the Southern Finland. Actually temperature had stayed under zero since mid Nov 2010. Heavy snowfalls followed soon after.  Therefore, it was a perfect winter for me.

Experienced snowshoeing a lot, what a fantastic way of staying outdoors!

36" Tubbs

Lower backside problems kept me out from cross country ski tracks most of the season. That was a big blow.

Central Park, Helsinki

I have usually exercised running throughout a year. No exception this year. During winter months one need to have good grip on ground (on snowy and icy roads). I've got Icebugs (Sisu model) with spikes and been really pleased with them.

One disappointment of winter was the lack of skating opportunities on frozen lakes and sea. Early snowfalls brought thick cover of snow which isolated lakes and they never got frozen enough to carry human weight (though some exceptions again).

On Sea, East Helsinki

In April I started to commute to work by bicycle. Also the first day-hikes took place then, as well as a kick-off of the sea kayaking season.

Trip to Northern California cut the Spring. Cycling on Golden Gate Park and hiking on Mt Tamalpais were really nice. It was time to get more serious for barefoot running, soon FiveFingers got introduced to my toes.

In Muir Woods

Hiking, sea kayaking, bicycling, running fulfilled Spring time, including Helsinki City Run, a half distance marathon.

White Water Lily

Summer months were mostly filled by sea kayaking. Absolute highlight was the 10-day sea kayaking trip to Archipelago National Park.

Bengtskär Lighthouse

During Autumn continued sea kayaking by doing two-day trips to archipelagos near by.

Basecamp, Skorvö Island

Had really fun one weekend doing wild water kayaking.

Pernoonkoski Rapids

Participated on a half distance marathon, this time by Inov-8's barefoot shoes.

BareGrip 200's

Also a new experience was a bicycle event, Tour de Helsinki, 140km of pure fun.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

After them hit by a strong flu, a sticky one. Actually it was a chain of them, one after another. They took more than two months. A real pity since Autumn this year was very nice.

Villa Elfvik

After recovering from these flu, outdoor activities were quite lightweight, no overnights, just day walks.

Visited several Nature Reserve, Recreation Areas and National Parks in Southern Finland. Would have been nice to stay overnight in most of them.

Komio Nature Reserve

Spent the first week of December in the Swiss Alps, in Ticino Canton. There was no snow (except on 2800m level). Did some daily hikes in several valleys. Mountains looked naked without leaves in trees.


Just before Christmas we got some snow, which of course vanished soon due to a persistent rain. However, saw a glimpse of what nature might look if all is white.

Rudolph The Red Nose Coming?

All in all: " 'Two Thousand And Eleven', You Were A Bloody Good Year".

As a summary, did various outdoor activities altogether nearly 4000km (3500km in 2010), some highlights were
  • 1500km of cycling (500km in 2010)
  • 1000km of sea kayaking (1000km)
  •   500km of running/orienteering (850km)
  •   500km hiking/snowshoeing/walking (300km)
  •   200km of cross country skiing (650km)

My best photo(s) taken during 2011? Too difficult to judge, perhaps these ones:

I've recorded many of these activities into my outdoor blog. Some of my photos can be seen in Picasa Web Albums.

Prospects for the year 2012?  More outdoors, please.

28 December 2011

Searching for a Christmas spirit

December 2011

Southern Finland had been, more or less, without snow this winter. There had been few exceptions though. At the same time, terrain had not been frozen neither so any snow would have quickly melted away had there been any raise in temperature. An there has, yesterday in Helsinki we got +10C. Very different than last two winters so far.

Spent a Christmas time on the (south) west coast of Finland. Arrived when all looked white, at least a bit, bringing some right spirit for a Christmas time.

Wanted to see how nature and life in forest would be at this time of the year. What nature would look like when there's some snow.  How forest had scoped with long periods of rain during Autumn.

Forests seemed to be full of tracks from different species of animals. At least they continued their life as usual. Water level seemed to be quite high in almost everywhere. Deer, Moose, Wood Grouse, Mice etc. tracks were here and there. Even some Swans still floated on open waters. There had been some sights of  Gray Wolfs but thanks not in my sight.

The first day I entered to a local forest, everything was covered by snow. Thin ice blocked open waters almost on every creek. The length of the day was short, day light ended already around 4PM, bringing darkness. After the day I felt ready for Christmas.

Then came rain, heavy and continuous rain. All white disappeared. Even ice from creeks vanished. Entered  again to a forest. It looked quite different, all was so green, light green. Lost a bit of the Christmas spirit. It was snow and minus temperatures which seemed to raise the spirit. Both days were cloudy most of the time. Darkness was more obvious then.

With a little snow or without, it was easy climate to animals and all nature, too. There's food, more easy to find.

If this is going to be our winter at this season, one has to get winter spirit from somewhere else, or adopt to current status as such.

Green nature at winter time looks nice, too, but to me Christmas period requires a little bit of snow, to raise the spirit.

On the second Christmas Day (aka Boxing Day), a very strong storm arrived from west (from Norway and Sweden), hitting the west coast of Finland at night and progressing towards east. Wind speed was measured even up to 30m/s, staying on 25m/s level for long periods. It brought lots of damage, cutting trees etc. Electricity was cut from thousands of households.

Went to the coast to see a power of the sea. Exceptional to me. Some photos here.

We had 12hrs cut of electricity. Visibility was brought by candle light and cooking was done on gas/fire. Sauna in a candlelight, nice experience, too. As it all was just temporary it didn't feel too bad. However, it has not been so easy for many, many others.

This Christmas was quite different compared to previous ones. Memorable indeed. About Christmas spirit? Not totally lost, but not fully recovered neither.

Photos from a snowy forest

Welcome to a snow forest!

Almost Identical Twins

Hanging on

High water level in the forest

Ice cracked


Earth not frozen yet 

A piece of a pine tree

A perfect spot for Moose hunting

Becoming pine tree


A snowy alley



A frozen branch

A shimmer of the sun

Snow forms like a cotton

On the same level with Rabbits

Light frost



Covered by snow

Ice formation

A branch


A tree

A forest after heavy rain

Getting wet

A mire

Dropping soon

As green as it can get

A flow

'Tapani' storm

Wind hit constantly at speed of 25 meters per second

18 December 2011

Trekking on Störsvik & Kopparnäs Recreation Areas, Finland

November 2011

Continued series of walks in outdoors. Some weeks ago went to a coast on Siuntio and Inkoo municipals, about 50km west from Helsinki (Sjundeå and Ingå in Swedish, as they both are old, traditionally Swedish spoken municipals).

There were two Recreation areas and small Nature Reserves within them. The place in Siuntio was called Störsvik and the place in Inkoo was called Kopparnäs (see this map of the region).  Both areas belong to official Recreation Areas, owned by Uudenmaan Virkistysalueyhdistys Ry, a Society which owns many areas in Uusimaa Province (see this PDF brochure for all the places).

The area contained high rocks, old meadows, ruins of old buildings, beaches, small mires, different type of forest and a great scenery all the time to archipelago. There's one path which followed the coast line.

Didn't have much luck with weather, cloudy with relatively strong wind and about +5C temperature.

Started the hike from a new parking lot at Kola village. A new information poster welcomed visitors. Path was marked with white painted dots on trees. There hadn't been many hikers at Siuntio side as the path was grown closed in many places. Terrain was quite wet as water flowed many places towards the sea.

View from top of rocks on many places offered gorgeous scenery towards the archipelago. The path was nice to walk, just few meters from the water line.

Decided to continue until Rävberget, a high hill along the coast. All Kopparnäs places one can reach by car. You noticed that.  Hill had some bird watchers. Down from the hill on the water line had lots of people fishing, all hoping to catch some trout. Swans floated peacefully in some distance on the sea.

Hot tea from a thermo bottle, some sandwich, peanuts and stuff. Returned almost the same route, except at Störsvik crossed the forest to visit Kvarnträsk, a small lake within a Nature Reserve.

After leaving the lake I put my camera to bag, thinking there's nothing to shoot anymore. In the next minute, a great size of White Tail Deer jumped in front of me, about two meters, stared at me a while and then slowly and proudly walk off.  I struggled taking the camera from the bag which no luck, grrrr.

The place is worth visiting during Spring and especially in summer time.

Here's the hiked route:

With the following photos I try to explain what I saw there:

A starting point at Störsvik


Along the path in Störsvik

Along the path in Störsvik

A fisherman rushes to work

Captured a water line in long shutter speed


Some old noble trees

Many of them

Old ruins at Kurubackudden


A beach at Sandviken


Towards the sea

Ying Yang

Along the path in Kopparnäs


Getting colour


Lake Kvarnträsk

New fern, in November