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Spending a night in a hammock in every season

For few years, I had been sleeping many nights in my hammock in the woods of Finland. “Wait, you said sleeping in a hammock?” you might ask at this point.

Yes, in a hammock!

People know tents, but what comes for a good option for solo travelers and hikers, hammocks are slowly becoming an option.

People know what hammocks are, since many might have had some sort of hammock in their garden or backyard. But how many have been thinking to use it in the woods?

Few years ago i started looking for a tent for myself. I had been doing small day hikes in the local forests,  and I wanted to spend a night there too. While I was looking for reviews about certain tents, I found an article, A tent or a hammock?

This really got me interested about hammocks, and I wanted to find more information. I found sites like The Ultimate Hang and Hammock Forums. Also a well-known hammock guy Shug, has a great Youtube channel for information and how-to’s.

Basically a hammock is easy to set up: all you need is two trees. Depending on the length of your hammock, you have to find trees that are 4–5 meters apart.

At the Repovesi National Park in Southern Finland

I love hammocks because they are so versatile. It’s also great being able to see the weather outside. When I wake up, I just open the zipper and sit like I would sit in my bed. I can reach out and turn on the stove, and a bit later I can enjoy coffee in my bed.

It’s not hard to find two trees where I can set my hammock – it’s even easier than finding a good spot for a tent. No spiders, ants or other insects or snakes bother me while I sleep.

A bit later I bought my first hammock, Ticket To The Moon double. I have used it quite many times already. After getting some more experience I have bought a few other models as well, like DD Hammocks Frontline, Warbonnet XLC and Amok Draumr.

Hammock

Amok, DD Frontline, Ticket To The Moon and Warbonnet

There are many hammock manufacturers like Warbonnet, Amok, Ticket To The Moon, ENO, DD Hammocks etc. However, very few of them are sold here in Finland.

A simple hammock is a single big fabric, which are tied from the ends. These are called gathered end hammocks. Some manufacturers use parachute fabric such as silk, and some use different kinds of nylon. Fabric also gives the strength to the hammock, and there are certain user weight limits.

Most hammocks are one or two layer modes. A double layer allows you to put an insulation pad between the layers. Double layers might have the weight limit up to 300 kg.

Amok and Exped have models that require airpads to build a frame. Without the pad, the hammock is quite useless. In these hammocks you lay sideways, which has benefits such as a very comfortable lay. Amok has designed this model to be more adjustable, so you can also comfortably sit on it by pulling the adjustment straps.

Comfort lay

In the standard hammocks, you have to lay in the same diagonal direction (e.g., head on the left, feet on the right or vice versa). This way you will have the best possible lay in the hammock. It also helps to avoid possible knee or calf pressure that could make you uncomfortable. The foot end has to be a bit higher than the head end, so you won’t feel any sliding.

It is possible to sleep on your side, but stomach sleepers will have problems.

If the hammock is too tight, you feel shoulders squeezed. If it’s too loose, it has a calf ridge in the middle of the foot end, which causes pain to the feets. The longer the hammock is, the more comfortable you get. The hammock should be at least 1 meter longer that the user.

When the hammock is in banana shape and the suspensions are in a 30 degree angle down from the tree attachment points, that’s when you get the most comfortable sleeping position.

Suspension

Suspension is one the most important parts of the hammock. This will hold you between the trees. The best thing is to use so-called tree huggers, which are usually 2,5 cm wide straps. These straps are important, because they will also protect the tree bark. Some use a thick cords such as paracord, but they leave very bad pressure markings to the bark. The tree might be badly damaged from those ropes.

If the suspension is pulled too tight, it might break. This is because the forces are very high, bigger than in the 30 degree setup. A 30 degree angle has only the same weight as the user. Straight line might have 10 times of user weight.

There is many ways to hang a hammock. Some use hooks, carabiners, buckles, whoopie slings (dyneema cord) or just plain wide rope. Buckles and whoopie suspension are also adjustable, so it will be much easier to set.

Tarps

Hex, square, Hex modification from square tarp and hex with doors

Tarpaulins are usually known as tarps. A tarp will cover you from the sun, rain and wind. Most of them are made of nylon, some lightweight solutions are made of cuben fiber fabric.

Usual tarps are 3 meters by 3 meters, but also larger ones like 4 m x 4m are available. There are also so-called hex shape tarps, and some of them have doors. This allows you to cover yourself from the wind or rain much better. You can also set the regular square tarp as a hex with doors by using the loops sewed to the sides.

Insulation

To be able to sleep warm and comfortably, you need to have good insultation around you. To cover your back, a sleeping bag simply isn’t enough, since it will compress under you and loose its insulation.

One way is to use pads, such as foam or air pads. Both are good options, and depending on the weather and the pads R-value, it will insulate your back. Down sides are that air pads can not inflate fully, because the shape will affect to the lay. Other one is that it might slide under you, when you are turning or moving.

Underquilts are a great option, since they don’t affect to the lay. A quilt is around you, under the hammock, and will cover your back and also your sides. An underquilt has its own suspension, that usually is shock cord. They are attached to the hammock ends. An underquilt has to be set tidily under the hammock, so that it will seal well. Even small air gaps let the warm air escape, and you will have a cold back or cold feet.

Topquilts are basically sleeping bags without a zipper and a hood, and they are used the same way as a blanket. This allows you to move more freely and getting up is much easier. I use sleeping bags too, but they are sometimes very annoying to use, because you have to get in and wiggle like a worm to get in it well. I am a restless sleeper so I use sleeping bags in colder seasons.

Are hammock systems light? Yes and no.

There are many ultralight options like DD Hammocks superlight series. They need very little space and their total weights are less than a kilo. They have limitations too, for example the maximum user weight is a 100 kg.

Choosing light material will save weight, but it will also increase the price.

These are just the basics for the hammock. To find out more, I recommend these websites: Ultimate Hang, Shug’s youtube and Hammock Forums.

Warbonnet with super fly tarp. Both in porch mode.

Today I am mostly using the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC. It is quite a long hammock, 335 cm, and it offers many great features. Such as removable bugnet, designed footbox for better lay and comfort, and a great view outside. Really long straps with buckles are great, they protect the bark in the trees. Buckle suspension is easy to use and it holds well. Bugnet is removable, which changes it to a Traveler hammock. With the bugnet, you also have a storage shelf, which is very useful. I usually put my eyeglasses and my phone there. The total weight is 1,1 kg, and it has double layers with 180 kg weight limit. I have slept well many nights in the Warbonnet.

Warbonnet hammock and tarp review can be read in Finnish from HERE.

Super Fly’s

The tarp is a Warbonnet Super Fly, which has 2000 mm water barrier. It is 335 cm long and 305 cm wide.  Both ends have doors, which can be closed to get more cover from the wind and rain. This tarp is designed to be used in the winter as well. It has pull outs on both sides to make more space inside. This tarp is very light, weighing around 500 grams. With the stakes and cords the total weight is 700 grams. This tarp is well made using good materials, but the pull outs need to be sealed with silicon etc, so that any water won’t drip inside.

Cumulus Selva 600 underquilt

To cover my back from the cold temperatures of the Finnish winter, I bought new down underquilt, the Cumulus Selva 600. Its Pertex fabrics are a great protect from moisture. The outer fabric is also water-resistant. The hydrophobic down is also said to be less sensitive to moisture, although not everyone agrees. The loft is amazing and this is truly a quality work. This is size L, which means that it’s 235 cm long. The size M is available too, with 215 cm lenght, and in my opinion it’s better for regular hammocks. The size L works well with Warbonnet, because it is 45 cm longer than Ticket to the moon.

A draft collar helps to seal the air leaks from the ends.

Selva 600 is comfortable to use in -14°C. The limit is -22°C. I slept warm and cozy in -10°C.

Cumulus is well known for their down clothes and sleeping bags. You can read the full review from my site HERE.

As a top insulation, I use my Haglöfs Cornus +2 bag, mostly from late spring to later fall. In the summer I just use it as a blanket. In winter time I have my Savotta Military bag, which has comfort around -15°C.

A -10°C night behind, snug as a bug, warm and toasty

I have slept over a hundred nights in my hammock. To me it is a cozy bed, where I can read, sleep and even eat! Because I love to be near water, I have found great places where I can wake up and see the lake. We have our own Finnish hammock group where I have met great people who share the same interests. We have had a few meetings with lots people.

To me, hammocks are the perfect solution for sleeping in the woods. With a hammock I am able to choose my place better that with a tent. Surely, using a hammock requires more attention so that I won’t hurt myself. It’s more complex in some cases and needs more things to know, like knots for example. A backpack needs to be under the hammock or tied down to a tree.

It took some time to find myself a good hammock, and I have been enjoying the Finnish nature in many ways, all seasons, all weather, with friends, or alone.

 

Spend a night outside – Riuttaskorpi recreational forest

Autumn had arrived to Finland with it’s colorful touch. It was time to get together and spend a night outside.

Suomen Latu Ry (a Finnish outdoor association) has decided a date for Finns to spend a night outside. The 17th of September is the day that thousands of Finns will be heading to the forests every year for an overnighter, or they will camp on their own backyard etc.

So I asked if someone from our Finnish hammock group wished to get together and go hanging somewhere. Soon we had decided our destination: the Riuttaskorpi recreational forest.

Haukijärvi

Haukijärvi

Riuttaskorpi is a 16 sq km area in the north side of Ylöjärvi, near Kuru. It locates between 2 big national parks, Seitseminen and Helvetinjärvi.

This area hasn’t had much of population during it’s history. Mostly it is known for log floating and some of it’s white waters have been used for mills.

Some of Finland’s long trails go through this area, like Pirkan Taival for example. There is a lean-to and a few fireplaces, and also a sightseeing tower, which is closed now because of it’s poor rotten condition. One rented sauna can be found by the lake Haukijärvi,  and next to the sauna there’s a kitchen building which is open for everybody.

Parts of Riuttaskorpi log trails are also in poor condition, I hope the rotten logs will be replaced soon. There is a total of 15 km of trails to walk.

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The day started from my home, where 3 of us met at 10 am. Unfortunately, one had to cancel, because his child got really sick and they had had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night.

It took about an hour to drive to the Myllykoski parking lot, where there were two more hammock hikers waiting for us.

Our first destination was only 500 meters away. It was the Suutarilankoski lean-to with it’s white waters.

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Remains of an old mill

Suutarilankoski is a beautiful place. One can still see some remains of the old mills from the 1920’s, or possibly even earlier. There wasn’t as much of water running as usual, I think, since this small river is sometimes also used for canoeing and kayaking.

There was a small trail on the right bank, where we could access easier to the small flowing river. I jumped from rock to rock in the middle of the purling waters. Yellow leaves gave extra colors to the beautiful green moss around. I enjoyed the sound of purling water by closing my eyes.

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It was a bit of a disappointment that we couldn’t use the sightseeing tower because of it’s poor condition. Parts of the stairs had been removed so that people wouldn’t go up and possibly get hurt.

But there was quite a nice view from the rocks to the lake as well, even if we couldn’t go up in the tower.

We also got a few deer keds on our way… I hate those. Hard to kill because they have such a strong armor, and they are really small insects. Crawling under the shirt and in the hair… nasty little… well, you know. They appear usually in the August and their season lasts around the end of September.

Haukikalliot

Haukikalliot

It didn’t take long before we arrived to Haukikalliot (the Pike Rocks) and had a conversation whether this could be our place for the night or not.

We had some snacks and soon we decided to check out the last place by the lake Haukijärvi (Pike lake). If it wasn’t a good place for us, we would come back here. We had lot’s of time, since it was only 12.30 pm.

Table was collapsed due it's poor condition

A table had collapsed due to it’s poor condition

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Most of the logs in the trail were in bad shape as I mentioned earlier. Also the table up on the hill had collapsed because the wood was too soft and rotten. But the trails were mostly in good condition, luckily.

Kitchen building

Kitchen building

Mancave, 3 x knock

Man cave, 3 x knock

Salinkalliot has an kitchen building with a fireplace and two big tables. It is a really nice cottage, but I forgot to take photos inside!

There was only a sauna down on the shore and no camping possibilities for all of us, so we decided to head back to Haukikalliot.

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We set our hammocks and made a fire. We also made enough firewood for the whole night and for the next morning too.

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Me and Jani decided to not use the tarps, since it was obvious that it wouldn’t be raining at all. The weather forecast told us that the night would be clear, but the temperature would be around 0 celcius (32F).

There wasn't any grid available so this worked out well too...

There wasn’t any grid available so this worked out well too…

We had a great evening! We chatted and made something to eat. Also some other people joined us and since they didn’t have much of experience with hammocks, we showed them some of our own solutions with our hammocks and tarps. Hammock camping is a relatively new thing here in Finland.

The gear we had was this: 1 DD Frontline, 2 Ticket To The Moon’s, 1 Amazonas and 2 Warbonnet Blackbird XLC’s. Mostly DD Underquilts, since we don’t have other options here available…

A friend of mine has a Warbonnet Wooki down underquilt, which he ordered for over a month ago. It cost around 85$ more in Finland because of the taxes and duty. Wish to get mine someday too.

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Around 8 pm the sun was starting to set.  The weather was really calm, no wind at all. The lake reflected the sky and it’s clouds perfectly. It was also very quiet, only sometimes I could hear some distant traffic noises from the roads far away.

I was really waiting for the night to fall, since I wanted to take some long exposure shots.

Colors changed to dark blue and purple

Colors changed to dark blue and purple

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It started to get more cold slowly, but fire kept us warm

It slowly started to get colder, but the fire kept us warm.

Big moon raised in yellow but got really bright fast. Fog started to appear soon.

Big moon raised behind the trees in yellow but got really bright really fast. Fog started to appear soon.

We finns don’t talk much, even in the campfire. Some small chat but enjoyed the warm feeling of fire and relaxing quiet moments

We Finns don’t talk much, even by the campfire. Just a bit of smalltalk, but mostly we just enjoyed the warm feeling of the fire and relaxing quiet moments.

Finally some stars started to show up and only a glimpse of daylight was left in the West. I took my tripod and camera from my backpack and started to shoot.

I really love the night time when the sky is clear with all of it’s billions of stars. This was the time I had been waiting for.

Big dipper was easy to see

I played with my new headlamp and long exposures

I played with my new headlamp and long exposures

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Big dipper in the middle. A plane passed us from the left (Moscow-Seattle flight)

Warmth of fire and night sky makes a perfect match

Warmth of the fire and a clear night sky make a perfect match

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We went to sleep soon. I didn’t sleep well because I mostly just looked at the stars and listened to the sounds of the night.

Above me there were Polaris, Capella and Pollux. I could see the bright Vega on the left side. I was hoping to see a shooting star. Eventually I fell asleep.

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We had quite a cold night after all. The temperature went down to -4C (25F) so we had some ice on our hammocks and underquilt protectors (2QZQ).

One of us had only had a spaceblanket under him. He got a so called cold butt syndrome.

I used a Haglöfs +2C bag, but I also had a fleece blanket that I had wrapped around myself for the night. I felt warm and toasty all night round.

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Got up after 7 am and wow… The fog gave a really nice light around us with the sunrise!

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Morning coffee with Bialetti and Kupilka

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We left quite early, around 10 am. There was some sort of a hunting season going on, since we heard dogs barking and some shots being fired.

The car windows were a bit frozen so we let them be on idle to warm up. Meanwhile we talked about some ideas for our next meeting. Maybe we could book a sauna?

We will be having a big hammock meeting on the 2nd of October in the Nuuksio National Park, so that will be our next trip.

Over all, a splendid trip again! Enjoy your time in the woods on all of the seasons.

For more information about the Riuttaskorpi recreational forest, click here.

To see all my photos from this trip, click here.

Haukikalliot (pike rocks) area on a map.

Repovesi National Park

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Repovesi is one of the most beautiful and visited national parks in Finland. High hills and sightseening towers offers beautiful views to the lakes and over 50 km trails calling hikers . Last year Repovesi had 104.300 visitors.

1910 Kymi-Yhtiöt took the Repovesi area under the forestry use. The is still lots of  history left from timber floating with floating channels. 2003 UPM-Kymmene gave most of the area to the future national park and also suggested area for griffin preserve.

15 sqkm Repovesi got national park status in 2003. It has many lean-to’s, huts (also rented), camping areas and fire places. Most of the trails been used so much that tree roots makes trails a bit difficult to walk. Also terrain has steep trails, but when you get top of the hill, you will see awesome views.

Welcoming gate has lot's of information about the park

Welcoming gate has lot’s of information about the park

My friend Niko asked me to go there with him for 2 days and since i don’t have nothing to do, we made a plan. I drove to Lahti on Friday morning and first i went to see my old friend. Around 3.30pm i parked my car to company’s yard where Niko works. My car isn’t in good shape and it would be stupid to drive there with 2 cars since we would drive the same road to get there….

We had dinner first on our way and finally arrived to the Lapinsalmi (Lapland strait) parking. Seems there was already quite a few people, lot’s of cars parked. There is also a small kiosk, where you can buy snacks. Also some warm food is available.

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Lapinsalmi bridge

Lapinsalmi bridge

Took only few minutes to walk 600m to the Repovesi’s well known Lapinsalmi suspension bridge which have been build in 1987. It is 50 meters long and hangs at 10 meter hight.

It has great views to the lake and felt really sturdy too. Sign said to keep 10m distance to each other in the bridge.

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DSCF8186We took some photos and were just about continue….my friend remembered that he forgot to lock his car’s doors… so i waited him 15 mins. And were they lock? Yes they were haha! Oh well, 15 mins is nothing. I took some photos while waiting. Saw some canoeing and wave hello to them.

Seems there was lot’s of foreigners here too, some spoke french, some Russians….we met later one guy who came from Australia.

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Repovesi trails were mainly easy to walk. We saw wide worn out trails, so that tells how popular this place is. First we were heading to the Katajavuori (Juniper mountain). Unfortunately, to get in top of the hill, we have to climb really steep and long stairs. Not easy for 130 kg (275 lb) guy with 15 kg backpack….

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DSCF8202My goodness, they were steeper than i expected. Well, up there waits great views so here we go then….! On our way up i stopped in the middle and those big rocky hills looked so beautiful in the sunlight. Long trees looked like they were trying to reach in the clouds!

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DSCF8206It was a beautiful view from the top! And stairs weren’t so bad after all, maybe i have got some stamina from my daily walk haha!
We were thinking that maybe we should stay here this night, since there was many perfect places for our hammocks…but one other friend was waiting us at the Katajajärvi campfire, so we took some photos and found the trail nearby to get going on.

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DSCF8219Rest of the trail for today was quite easy to walk and took around 20 mins to walk Katajajärvi’s campfire place. Our friend Arto was waiting us there since 6 pm. Now it was 8.30pm.

After chatting, we started to look places for our hammocks. It was quite rocky place, so let’s see what we will find.

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We didn’t want to hang ourselves (i just love to say that…) far away from the fireplace, so this was the place for us…as you can see, it wasn’t so easy to set these up hahah! Took over an hour to get all done. We both have Warbonnet XLC with Super Fly’s.

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DSCF8231Rest of the evening we took some photos, had a chat and made some good food. We were pretty beat up, it’s been long day. Specially for Niko, since he was working today. Moon was shining quite bright and some stars in the sky made me happy.  We went to sleep around midnight.

Waking up 7am, so we could have quick breakfast and walk to the Määkijä camp, before it will start to rain heavily.

Coffee wakes up soon

Coffee wakes up soon

In the morning Arto complain that he feelt cold during the night. He seems haven’t use hammocks for long time and since summer have been quite warm, only the sleeping bag seems to be enough for him. But it went low as +10°C during the night so we found out that he isn’t so experienced hammock user and didn’t have any protection under him.

So that meant that he didn’t want to risk to get sick and decided to leave today. So our trails separated soon. Sad thing, but understandable.

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DSCF8267We had only 2 km to the Määkijä camp. On our way we saw great rocky hills and beautiful forests. We heard that there might be Viper snakes on the rocky trail, so we needed to be careful. But didn’t saw nothing. Better that way.

Määkijä camping was a beautiful place. It has toilets, fireplace, woodshed, small pier and also rented hut.

We wanted to make a camp with our hammocks. Both hammocks towards each outher and tarps tied together. There was a perfect place, but…..also really heavy wind which got stronger later. So after we trying to get tarps set up, we gave up because of wind.

We came back same trail to the Kapiavesi (narrow water) which had some cover for the wind. We decided to check the Lapinsalmi camp too, where we had lunch.

Unfortunately here was too windy too and because it was near the suspension bridge, place was really crowded. So back to he Kapiavesi, where we gave up the idea to make a camp with our hammocks.

It started to rain a bit, but we had only 500 meters to walk. So we set our hammocks fast to the porch mode and had some rest. Wind wasn’t heavy here so we could relax.

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It was only 1 pm, when we got all set up. And rain continued until 9 pm, when the wind also died. So we just listen music, had a chat, tried to kill one damn annoying bee (manage to do it next morning) and made some dinner. I had Chili Con Carne ( i took the spicy instead of mild…huh) and Niko had some Blå Band pasta.

The worker bees are homeless this time of year, so they tried to get any food. They are really aggressive now and trying to fly in the face too. Stings easily…

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After 9 pm we finally got chance to build a fire. Had some cheese sausages with us. Later i heard sudden noise from the woodshed and there was one guy collecting firewood. They had a tent about 100 meters away. Guy was really drunk and it was dark already… he dropped some wood immediately because he could walk straight….

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Night wasn’t bad at all, it was quite warm actually! I woke up around 7 am because some Wagtails (fin Västäräkki) made lot’s of noise and they flew around the hammocks. Also the red-throat divers (fin Kaakkuri) were noisy in the morning. Flying around the lake with recognizable Kaa-Kaa-Kaa sound. Sometimes it sounded like laughing.

Later when we were having breakfast, Woodpecker (fin Palokärki) paid a visit nearby. Black bird with small red hat!

Happy hikers

Happy hikers

Took some time to pack our stuff, because i took lot’s of photos from my Warbonnet. Going to write a review to the Finnish outdoor site Retkipaikka.fi.

As you can see, also Niko’s Super Fly seems to be happy to our trip!:)

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Since it won’t be raining until 1 pm, we wanted to try the Fox Ferry! Cable ferry so we need to pull ourselves to the other side of the lake. 2 km hike to there and only 600 meters to Nikos’s car then. I ate lot’s of blueberries in this weekend, but now it is time for the cranberries! Blueberries weren’t so sweet anymore, but quite good. Sings that autumn is arriving are visible too.

Here the forest ministry have made some forest fires for fire ecology (not sure what is the correct word, but to burn forest to build new life)

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Arriving to ferry

Arriving to ferry

Forgot to take photos from the ferry….but check the video 🙂

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Surely it was a nice weekend trip at the Repovesi! There is still lot’s to see, so someday we will go there again! Maybe even in the winter:)

We rewarded ourselves with good pizzas….

All photos under the blog or check them from my site : http://pixabilly.1g.fi/kuvat/Hiking/Repovesi/

And video can be found from Youtube : https://youtu.be/tIZ_6HDAUdk

 

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed!:)