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How does it feel when the temperature is below -30C?

There is only one way to describe it: it feels cold, at first, but then after you’re getting warmer you realize it becomes the thing you’ve been missing your whole life.

After ten hour drive we finally reach our destination at the edge of the Pallas-Yllästunturi national park. The latter hours of driving were battling against the freezing windshield, because when the temperature drops below -25C heaters can’t keep up with the cold any longer. After getting out of the vehicle the freezing windshield was the least of our worries.

We had selected our cabin carefully so we knew that after a long day we didn’t have to hike for too long. Our cabin was only about half a mile away from the closest road. We were happily surprised when we noticed that the path leading to the cabin was clear and we didn’t have to walk across the snow. There was already half a meter of snow on the ground even it was only a December. It was full moon so we decided to save batteries of our headlights for later and started our walk at the moonlight.

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The walk to the cabin made us warm and even to sweat a bit so it was crucial to get the fire going as quickly as possible after getting over the cabin. We got lucky again since there had been somebody at the cabin few days earlier. We got nearly 20 degrees advantage comparing to the air outside as the cabin thermometer showed only -10 degrees of celsius. Even though it was only -10C inside it felt immediately warm after being outside. 

Third time we got lucky happened just when we were about to go back outside to make some firewood. The unwritten rule of these deserted cabins says that leave some firewood ready for the next one: Next to the fireplace were laying two stacks of nicely chopped firewood with some smaller ones on the top piles ready to get the fire going. We sure appreciated that this time. 

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After few hours of working hard we finally got some time to rest. There was enough firewood to support the fire over night, candles were setting the mood just right and we got our bellies full of warm soup. Outside the cabin you were able to enjoy some subtle hints of auroras and watch how the moon light the fells around us. The only sound was cold which got the trees cracking. Inside it was getting warm enough to sleep in our sleeping bags as the fireplace next to us gently hummed us to sleep.

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Tonight we had cut our firewood to heat up the cabin, we had made a hole in the ice from where we got water, we had heated the water over the fire and made some soup to eat. We did it all ourselves and after all that work in the cold when you’re feeling warm and cozy you can really feel what you have done. And you realize that those are all the things that matter: being warm and full and surrounded by your friends. 

A Rock like no other

In this little Finnish village called Ruokolahti, by the greatest lake of the country lies one of the most spectacular remains of the last ice age. Yes, yes we have all seen the ridges and kettle holes but this is quite something you would not expect.

There is about a kilometer long walk from the nearest point where you can leave your car. We walk through some wet areas so rubber boots or something waterproof for you feet is recommended. After crossing a clumsy looking bridge made out some branches the path finally takes some higher ground and your feet will be safe or dry at least.

We are arriving into a regular looking forest with absolutely no hints of anything special. After a while of walking it hits us by a surprise even though we had already seen the pictures beforehand.

And there it is, a massive rock standing on its own pedestal. It is not even that common to come across to a rock this size not to talk about it balancing on another rock. It seems that you’ll be able to flip it over anytime, but not even 10 000 years have done it.

Another interesting thing is that the rock beneath the other one is almost perfectly smoothened out. It looks like something you would expect to see by the sea or somewhere in the middle of great rapids, but here in the middle of the forest it just looks like it doesnt belong in here.

I’m pretty confident this is something quite unique even in larger scale. It is something you won’t come across in any other place in Finland and I doubt to find something like this anywhere. This such a peculiar rock, and that’s exactly what it’s called here in Finland: Kummakivi.

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Exploring the harsh beauty of Kaldoaivi

This time we took Ulla, our alaskan malamute puppy to Kaldoaivi. Kaldoaivi is the largest wilderness area in Finland. It is not only the largest, but it is one of the northernmost wilderness areas as well.

During the winter the northernmost parts of Finland fall under the complete polar night, meaning that the Sun won’t rise neither set for months.

We wanted to experience the complete lack of light and did a 10 day ski trip to the desert of Kaldoaivi.

Our cabin was located by the beautiful lake Riekkojärvi, 20 kilometers from the nearest road. The cabin was modest, but it had everything a man needs – stoves for heating and cooking and the most comfortable mattresses one could imagine, or at least that’s how they felt after all that skiing.

Camping in such latitudes means you must be prepared for everything. The risks you take might as well be the last ones you are ever going to take, but make no mistake, it is worth the trouble.

During these 10 days we experienced arctic storms with wind speed over 30m/s and temperatures as low as -40 degrees celsius. We sure were a little worried about Ulla at first, but soon we learned that these arctic dogs feel right at home here.  Even though Ulla didn’t mind the weather, the rest of us had nothing to worry about in the warmness of our cabin.

We were surprised of the amount of light we still had even though the sun never climbed over the horizon. During these light hours we skiied and explored the fells close by, and when we didn’t feel like skiing we tried our luck with ice fishing. These little lakes in such remote locations may hold fish a fisherman can only dream of.

After the light hours the darkness took over. Or so we thought. The darkness isn’t quite the same here in the north. At first it seemed like it was going to get dark, but then the stars lit up and with the stars the nothern lights started dancing. The Auroras were amazing. I think snow was invented just to reflect the beuaty of auroras and moonlight back to universe, and just when you thought the lights were gone they came back and did they dance again and again.

Under these lights we slept and we wouldn’t care less for the rest of the world for these 10 days. Every once in a while someone woke up and threw another piece of firewood into the stove to keep the cabin warm during the endless night of the Arctic.

The Best Puukkos Are Made of This Mythical Steel – And Only One Man Knows Its Secrets

A puukko is a traditional Finnish belt knife. It is an old friend of every hiker, hunter or a fisherman. You can’t have a more personal tool, which makes it difficult to find the right puukko. When I was young, I made something foolish using my puukko as a hitting tool. As a result, the handle of my puukko broke. Puukko is not an axe! So, I had to find a new puukko. I tried, but couldn’t find the right one in any store. Therefore, I had no choice but to go to meet the puukko maker himself.

I step inside Roselli’s workshop. Heimo hasn’t come yet, so I start looking around the walls of the workshop’s hall. There are several types of puukkos and knives hanging on the wall. After a while, I notice an older gentleman standing behind me with a grin on his face. Holding an axe in his hand, he starts telling the story of a blade.

40 years ago a young man was worried about his future. He wasn’t sure if there would be work left in the local factory. However, he didn’t want to go back to school and start reading books again. He realized that perhaps it was a good time to test his own wings. He had been developing his own puukko model in his workshop for some time already. Now he was ready to take the next step on his road to a puukko master. This is how the story of Roselli’s hunting knife started.

Heimo introduces his workshop. First, we start from the old part of the workshop, where the carbon steel puukkos are still forged. A three-meter-deep concrete cast in the floor shows that in this workshop the forging is done with a heavy hammer. Forging is essential to get the best qualities out of the steel.

Annealing, which is the next phase in the process, is also very important to do properly. Annealing means balancing between heating and cooling in order to get the atoms of steel to the correct order. This order is important when it comes to the firmness and hardness of a blade. A quality puukko requires a perfect mix of heating and cooling.

We go around the workshop talking about annealing, steel qualities, sharpening the blade and many other aspects of puukko. We take a look at the room full of leather rags. This is where the most sheaths of Roselli’s puukkos are sewn. Another room is covered in dust. The handles of the puukkos are carved in there. Then we start talking about the UHC-steel of Roselli, and I can see a little smile on Heimo’s face.

Heimo tells that some 15 years ago when he was reading university analyses of ancient steels, he got interested in a two-thousand-year old steel called Wootz. This was a starting point for something that the owners of Roselli UHC-steel puukkos can still enjoy.
Heimo’s laughter is catching when he tells about the qualities of steel. A two-thousand-year-old Indian recipe was copied and turned into a better one. Heimo tells that the final result was even better than the original, thanks to modern techniques and his own twist on the old recipe.

Compared to the steels forged in the traditional way, the Roselli’s puukkos are so hard that you need diamond to sharpen them.  Also flexible fillet puukkos can be made of this steel. The rumours say that you can design the blade so thin that somebody careful enough can make it float on the water.

The tour at the puukko factory has been quite an experience. Talking with the puukko master is more like listening to a chemistry lecture than a craftsman’s story about his work. It shows how far a pure passion for something can take you despite the starting point. During the tour I started see an ordinary looking tool in a different light. Puukko is a top quality product of design and technique. Moreover, it has been made with 40 years’ experience. It’s something that you have to respect.

At the end of the tour, we talk about the sharpening of a puukko. It takes no time as the blade gets sharpened in Heimo’s hands. But its another story to be shared next time. I found my puukko.