Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Day Five- Cross Country Skiing and Pieni Karhunkierros Trail

Another free day but this time spent at Basecamp. There was an optional full day husky ride, but at £250 each we had to decide to forgo that one L

Instead, 5 of us headed out on skis aiming rather ambitiously for a village 8km away along the lake and to the second lake me and Ben skied to a few days previous and into the forest we had looked at wanting to go further but not having time to before.

We skied out in blue skies and sunshine, with me struggling to keep up at the back, especially when I kept getting distracted by animal spoor and wondering what animal had made them. The rest of the group would ski off a little into the distance then wait for me to catch up, but with the track twisting and turning often I felt I was the only person around for miles. It felt like Narnia and soon whilst by myself I started to imagine bears hiding in the woods watching as I skied past, so when a lump of ice fell off a tree and landed behind me, I suddenly found pace I didn’t know I had! There were quite a lot of up hill sections that involved the ‘little jog’ steps or walking up in a back to front snowplough, but most of it was flat.  

After an hour and 45 minutes we stopped in an open space surrounded by small fir trees and watched snowmobiles fly along on the horizon. After a quick drink and a snack it was time to head back for lunch. Suddenly, the uphills we had ‘jogged’ up became down hills and what ensued was something similar to a comedy sketch with legs, skis and poles ending in most directions other than the tracks. While the men continued to fly, slide and fall down hills, the girls had the sense to take off the skis- it was a lot easier on foot!

The afternoon saw me and Ben don our snowshoes and head out on the 10km Little Bears Trail or ‘Pieni Karhunkierros’ in Finnish. A beautiful walk through the Oulanka National Park, following a well marked path. Most of the trail followed the Kitka River whilst other parts went through the forest. After an hours walk we came to a frozen waterfall, with one of the many overnight huts that are scattered throughout the Finnish National Parks looking out onto it. They are well stocked huts with bunks to sleep on, a fire place or gas stove to cook, a wood stove inside to keep warm and a stack of firewood and cooking pans and utensils- I would have looked to have stayed in one, especially this one at Siilastupa…

During the entire 3 ½ hour walk we saw one group of people at the start and one group at the finish. The silence was magnificent and with the wind picking up all we could hear was it rustling though the tree tops, the crunch of snow under our boots and the occasional creak and groan of one of the for trees bending in the wind.

The walk was great, but after the ski and the 252 steps (or ice chute as it had become!) we climbed at one point on the walk, a hot chocolate and a bar of very good Finnish chocolate was a fitting reward- apparently we had done the longest day of activity ever known at Basecamp.

No Northern Lights watching tonight as whilst walking the clouds had come over and by the end of the walk light flakes of snow started drifting down.

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