Tag Archive for: Lapland

In paid collaboration with the Sustainable Growth for Summer in Eastern Lapland project 

On the last day of our Eastern Lapland trip, we headed to Posio, where I would have the chance to see Riisitunturi National Park’s wild side! In the style of many other hikers, I have often marveled at the more popular sights of Riisitunturi such as the candle-like fir trees coated in crown snow-loads. Summertime in the area was a new experience for me – I had been anticipating this for some time!

The drive from Kemijärvi to Posio is around 1,5hrs in normal driving conditions. Along the way, between Morottaja and Tonkopuro, is a stunning stretch called Mooseksenkuru. Here, the road flows smoothly between magnificent sand ridges. 

From Maaninkavaara we headed south and marveled at a stretch of road that was striking in a different way – a straight line that continued for over 10 kilometres. After the scenic drive, we found our way to Kota-Husky, where the owner Sari welcomed us warmly. We discussed the schedule for the day as we made a round of the dog yard and greeted the excited pack of huskies. Kota-Husky organises dog sledding experiences in Posio during winter. Today, however, we would go hiking in the traditional way, with only two-legged companions. 

Before the hike, with instruction from Sari, we found our way to our accommodation at Kovajärvi. The spacious wilderness cabin is idyllic and robust. As an added bonus, the cabin stay includes a nearby private laavu with a fireplace and a lakeside sauna. As is custom with wilderness lodging, the cabin does not have running water. Drinking water has instead been brought to the spot in a milk can. The yard also sported an outhouse. After an active day spent exploring Riisitunturi, you couldn’t ask for much more! I would happily relax here for a few nights.

But first, our adventure in the fell.

Hiking in Riisitunturi National Park is allowed everywhere in the park, but because there is only one parking lot, most visitors’ day hikes are concentrated in the marked trails of the area surrounding the parking lot. These trails are already quite familiar to many Finns. Generally, it is better to stay on marked trails, as following them ensures good trail etiquette. Kota-Husky regularly offers a responsible and sustainable option to hike in areas further away without trails, other infrastructure, or passersby. 

Read more: Riisitunturi National Park instructions and rules

As a partner company of the national park, Sari has a specially granted parking spot at the edge of the park. We left the car there and got to it! I consider myself to be a fairly experienced traveller, so it was fascinating to take part in my first guided daytrip. I also took the opportunity to test my new hiking boots on the terrain. I would only go on a longer trip once I knew I could trust the quality of the new shoes. 

There certainly was no path – we followed Sari along the edges of swamps, ridges, riverbanks, and around thickets. Sari had warned us that the trip was challenging, and of course it was. The thickness of the brush varied, but in places it reached up to our knees, and the shrubbery covered the ground surface in a way that made our progress sluggish despite our steady pace. After the morning’s rain everything was wet, but the air was fresh to breathe and drops of condensation sparkled here and there. We found ourselves in the type of forest that many dream about finding and look for during their trips to Lapland: that is, untouched.

Walking in untouched nature is entirely different from a structured environment, somehow rawer. Even shorter distances are slightly strenuous and it’s impossible to walk on autopilot here, as the terrain demands your focus on the details. We examined orchids along our path, saw the body imprint of a reindeer or moose that had been resting on the ground, and snacked on ripe blueberries that covered the area. We conversed, we hiked, and most importantly, we were entirely in the present. 

The terrain had slowly risen upwards, and after circling around a larger swamp area it rose steeper. We climbed to the top of Lavavaara, which doesn’t look like much on the map. Yet, looking out at the landscape to the northwest, the valley was more breathtaking than I could ever have imagined, painted golden by the late summer sun. The lakes in the northern end of Posio mirrored the blue sky and marshes foreshadowed autumn “ruska”. Summer’s verdancy was clearly over, making way for the first signs of amber autumn. Lavavaara itself blushed red, and my search for the best shooting angles with my camera complicated made it near impossible to stop for a snack break. Luckily Sari had anticipated my love for chocolate, and her partner Lauri’s homemade redcurrant juice was so good that I was happily distracted by them for a moment. 

The trip is not timed to the minute and doesn’t require map-reading or even staying on a trail. This made it all the more relaxing. Though the physical strain is tougher than normal, the feeling of peace is enhanced by the knowledge that there are no time, kilometre, or route constraints.

On our way back, we followed a slightly steeper section down the slope of the fell. Discussion naturally flowed to the terrain that sled dogs run on in winter, and how guides plan the routes so that they are pleasant and safe. Today, the route we followed to Lavavaara was also deceivingly well planned despite passing through untouched wilderness. I would never have chosen to follow the marsh so closely if I had been on my own. With Sari’s reliable guiding, it was exciting walking in the morass that didn’t submerge us too much and was in fact a perfect test environment for my new shoes! To my delight, I can say that the shoes passed the test, and based on this trip I’m highly satisfied with the purchase.

The return journey is always shorter than the way there, though the downhill also played a part this time. I stalled the end by stopping at lush blueberry bushes as much as I dared, though at the same time I was already looking forward to the evening’s sauna by the lake. 

The sauna warmed up, dusk set and the nature of Posio was magical in its serenity. As I cooled off on the terrace, I looked out at the lake and thought about the endless opportunities of rich experiences to enjoy here. Hiking. Scenery. Freedom of movement. Fresh air. The sauna. Woollen socks. 

Our stay here in the heart of Lapland’s charm was a great way to end the week. This versatile trip had opened my eyes to the sights and experiences of Eastern Lapland in a unique way. I also had fond thoughts about the immediacy of human contact here.  Thank you, Eastern Lapland – I can’t wait to test my shoes here another time!

Translated by Karolina Salin

Check out all the posts from this series:

Part 1: Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

Part 2: The fog lifted and revealed the first colours of ’ruska’ – our hike to “Kivitunturi” in Savukoski with Alit the Husky

Part 3: Climbing up Pyhäkuru rock formations & cycling with e-fatbikes to the eternally beautiful Tunturiaapa mire in Pyhä

Part 4: Summer at Kemijärvi on horseback & SUP-boarding on the superb Kalkonniemi beach

Part 5: The outskirts of Riisitunturi National Park – a journey through Posio’s untouched wilderness

Read more:

Posio Lapland

Kota-Husky.com

Riisitunturi National Park

In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -project

The serene nature-filled experiences of our Eastern Lapland trip continued where the trip had begun – we were now headed to the abundant lakes and forests of Kemijärvi! A few days ago, we had arrived here by train from Helsinki. Now, we had the chance to relax properly in Kemijärvi. Our program for today was designed to ease us into the peaceful atmosphere, starting with a horse riding trip on a Finnhorse, continuing with SUP-boarding at sunset, and ending with a dip in Kemijärvi lake from the scenic pier behind our accommodation.

On our way from Pyhätunturi towards Kemijärvi centre, a large and visible sign guided us to the yard of Outinen riding centre. At the stable, a happy herd of horses and their equally happy caretaker greeted us. Our group’s four-legged leader, named Huttu-Ukko a.k.a. Huttis, was already set to go. Soon joining him from their stalls were Särkiä and Helmi, as well as Helmi’s four-month-old foal Rallipertti, who charmed us instantly.  

Our guide Riia told us about Finnhorses and the stable’s operations while we fitted helmets on and got to know our horses (and vice versa). After that it was time for everyone to move out into the sunlight and go for a few practice rounds in the stable’s outdoor arena. 

At Outinen riding centre, you can go horseback riding without any previous experience. I was glad since I’m an absolute beginner. Riia recommended always calling latest the day before you want to come riding, rather than showing up at the yard. This way, availability is much more likely to be guaranteed! 

I’ve probably gotten on a horse a total of five times in my life, and the only thing I clearly remembered was that getting off the horse felt much more intimidating than getting on. Even for a relatively short-legged person like myself, getting on felt relatively easy with the guide’s instructions after the initial apprehension about being able to jump so high up in the air. Easiest is to bravely take the guide’s advice and simply hop up there!

I was partnered with Helmi while Karo got Särkiä, and Riia led the group with Huttis. Rallipertti would roam free with us in nature on his own terms. We got on our horses, and with Riia’s help I reminded myself of the basics, such as moving forward, using the reins correctly, stopping, etc. – it’s all actually quite simple, and as you can expect, stable horses are gentle. Helmi was the perfect horse for me: extremely calm, without any rush to get anywhere. Personally, I don’t like speed at all, so Helmi and I got along wonderfully. 

Me & Helmi
Riia checking that Karo & Särkiä are set to go.

After doing a few practice rounds in the arena, it was time to head out into nature. We followed a grass-covered forest road into the depths of Kemijärvi’s summer-bathed nature. We got the best of Lapland’s late summer, enjoying the warmth and lack of bugs. 

The horses didn’t even stir when a dog barked from the yard of a nearby house, only exciting Rallipertti a little. He took to the safety of trustworthy old Huttu-Ukko, sticking to his side for a while. Otherwise Rallipertti was overjoyed with life and the summer air, frolicking here and there, stopping when he felt like it to snack for a moment, and then prancing around between us. Occasionally the foal would march ahead leading the herd, then get distracted by something for a bit before bolting forward enthusiastically to catch up to us again. I rode Helmi, Rallipertti’s mother, so I was honoured to have the foal follow me quite closely many times. As the trip progressed, he sniffed the back of my thigh, which felt like a warm tickle on my skin. 

We broke off the trail and crossed a ditch to a nearby meadow, where the horses had a proper chance to graze while we enjoyed Lapland’s summer and the warm day, listening to Riia’s stories about the horses. 

In the middle Riia & Huttu-Ukko, on the right Karo & Särkiä, in the foreground Rallipertti.

During the trip, Rallipertti wanted to stop for his own snack breaks, drinking his mother’s milk in peace for a moment. It felt moving to be able to follow the large animal’s care procedures so close up. 

The round in the forest took around one hour, including breaks. Horse-riding feels a bit daunting to me as an idea, but it’s a relief to see that the horse is a fairly reliable creature. It generally knows how to use its feet, look ahead, and analyse situations. For this reason, we didn’t have to worry too much about things like crossing the ditch, even though I felt it a little in the pit of my stomach. I remember vividly how much I used to worry about crossing a ditch with a snowmobile – with a horse the same situation feels completely different and alleviating, since I don’t have to have much skill myself. 

As we returned to the stable, we had the honour to meet one last furry friend – the wonderful Rölli cat, who came to ask for cuddles and scratches without hesitating. And of course we did!

After the horse-riding adventure, the rest of the evening’s schedule was on our own terms. Visit Suomu had SUP boards waiting for us to enjoy the evening in Kemijärvi. The company can transport rental SUP boards anywhere in the Kemijärvi area, but because we hadn’t decided where we wanted to go paddling, we asked for them to be delivered to our lodging at Hotel Uitonniemi. And that’s where they were waiting!

As evening set, we decided to head out to Kalkonniemi. It was only around a 15-minute drive from the hotel and is generally a popular spot that I had seen lots of photos of over the years. I often lamented not having gone to Kalkonniemi, and now I had the chance!

Kalkonniemi’s stunning beach

We drove past scenic landscapes to our destination, and the evening sun already streaked the western sky with red. Kemijärvi has an abundance of lakes and lakefront roads. Even the city centre is literally surrounded by a lake in an unreal location, so you can admire the blue landscapes in every direction. The vast lake reaches as far as the eye can see! Hills far in the distance surround the water. 

We took in the magnificent views along the road to Kalkonniemi, including many quaint buildings, blue-green hills, and lakes. On arrival, we found a parking lot and first-class facilities: a cooking shelter, changing rooms, outhouse, and woodshed. 

We weren’t sure if the noise coming from the electricity line next to us was continuous or normal – we tried to shut it out of our mind. Kalkonniemi Beach was such a sight that we instantly forgot it and any other distractions!

I can only imagine how much of a paradise this place is for swimmers throughout summer. Now the beach was empty, and the cleanliness of the area amazed us. There were enough human and canine tracks that I imagined it was probably a favoured outdoor recreation area among the locals. And why wouldn’t it be, in all its splendor! 

Kalkonniemi flows into the western side of Kemijärvi. The northern point of Kalkonniemi is delightfully calm, while strong gusts blew on the southern end. Karo, who is a skilled paddler, decided to try both worlds. The lake provided a complete SUP-boarding experience, from a smooth, slow ride on one end to battling with the wind in a test of skill on the other. A buoyancy vest was a crucial piece of equipment for this sport. 

View to the north
View to the South

Resting on the beach, we watched the sunset and looked out into the open space. Karo had snacks with her as always, and I couldn’t have been happier snacking while sitting on the SUP-board, admiring the scenery.

As night descended upon us, we drove back to Hotel Uitonniemi. The hotel is right in the centre of Kemijärvi and next to the train station, but is still in a peaceful spot that gives the impression of being in the countryside. The hotel’s beautiful red main building hosts the reception and breakfast spaces, while the rooms are located on the other side of the yard, in a two-story log building. Our cosy room included a kitchenette and private restroom with shower. 

Before going to bed, we wanted to check out the lakefront sauna behind the main building. A quick dip in the lake from the sauna’s dock was the perfect end to the day!

The last thing in the evening, we went over the experiences gained during the trip, realising that tomorrow would be the last day of our round of Eastern Lapland. Our last day would be spent in the nature of Riisitunturi national park, Posio – the story will be published next week!

Translation by Karolina Salin

Check out all the posts from this series:

Part 1: Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

Part 2: The fog lifted and revealed the first colours of ’ruska’ – our hike to “Kivitunturi” in Savukoski with Alit the Husky

Part 3: Climbing up Pyhäkuru rock formations & cycling with e-fatbikes to the eternally beautiful Tunturiaapa mire in Pyhä

Part 4: Summer at Kemijärvi on horseback & SUP-boarding on the superb Kalkonniemi beach

Part 5: The outskirts of Riisitunturi National Park – a journey through Posio’s untouched wilderness

See also

Outinen Riding Centre

Visit Suomu

Hotel Uitonniemi

In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -project

We woke up to a bright and beautiful morning in Pyhätunturi, the warm, soft touch of autumn blowing in the breeze. It gave a welcome contrast to the dark cavernous gorge on the side of the fell with grey, rugged edges spreading in different directions, exposing fascinating cracks and tunnels of various sizes. Wearing a sturdy harness and helmet, Karoliina set off to conquer these striking formations before our next very different type of adventure, namely a peaceful cycle on the charming bike paths of Tunturiaapa. 

The impressive rock walls of Pyhäkuru rise behind a spectator stand and U-shaped sitting area, built on a slope beside a small road. Climbing structures and wires are visible along the rock wall. Looking up towards the heights excitedly, I almost chuckle out loud when a gleefully shrieking adventurer attached to a zipline glides above me. I can’t wait for my turn! In front of the sensational action is a small hut with a guide waiting to assist us. The guide gives us climbing instructions and wishes us a wonderful journey.  Another employee waits on the slope ready to help if there are any difficulties. Extra help may be required if a glide falls short or there’s a problem with the safety locks.

We notice the diversity of the group waiting to start the adventure; people of all ages, even very small and brave children with their parents.  Despite its exhilarating nature, this adventure is suitable for most people, with no previous climbing experience required. As long as you don’t have a fear of heights, an open mind and basic fitness level are enough!

The guide assists me and the others in the group with harnesses and helmets,  and then we start a practice run. There are a wide selection of metal structures hanging from the wall, a wire going through them that encircles the hut.

You can study the route beforehand from the map on the hut wall.

At the starting point, each climber clicks the carabiner attached to their harness onto the wire in the test course, following the route around the hut with great concentration. The guide explains how to get past each point on the route, as these same obstacles will be encountered along the route around the gorge. The exciting sounds of metal clanking soon fill the hut surroundings as all the participants ensure that they can get through the obstacles. 

The course is designed to be extremely safe – it is practically not possible to get detached from the safety wire once you have attached yourself to it. As we get ready to begin the course, everyone is attached to the wire in a fool-proof way that will remain that way from start to end. 

Off we go! The first stretch of the course runs in close proximity to the road – including the first zipline, a pleasantly mellow first run – and everyone can see how the  climbers are doing. Soon after this, we ascend up and behind the rock wall. From below, the climbers get smaller and smaller until they disappear from view entirely for a while.

Pyhäkuru will leave you speechless as your mind fills with adrenaline. The actual size of the gorge is only apparent once you get here – it’s impossible to estimate just from pictures! Suspension bridges challenge your balance while the vertical steel steps attached to the cliff feel sturdy beneath you and lead straight up towards the sky from the grey depths of the gorge. The constant presence of the safety wire allows you to fearlessly throw yourself at the challenges knowing that there’s no real danger, even if it occasionally feels wild!

Passing other climbers has also been taught at the practice hut, in case anyone wants to stop somewhere for longer to mentally prepare, take pictures or pick blueberries. It’s handy when you can get your snacks straight from the cliff edge!

Visual instructions have been placed in necessary spots along the gorge in case anyone forgets what they learned during the practice run at the hut. The visual instruction is also useful for those who do not know how to read yet. 

The route provides a roller coaster of emotions. The rugged cliff is always nearby since the safety wire only allows around a metre of freedom. The route is a mix of trails, soft turf and shrub, sharp rock, wires, and – during the ziplines – nothing! Many trees and cliffs get hugged to during the climb.

Completing the route definitely doesn’t involve pure focused concentration, though some specific sections are particularly exciting and require focus. Though many groups traverse the gorge at the same time, there’s no need to rush – everyone focuses calmly at their own pace. There is time to appreciate the autumn colours and snack on blueberries in peace. The views from above are majestic, and worth taking the time to look at as well. The starting point of the Pyhäkuru route is already high up the fell’s slope, and the views only improve as you rise up the cliff walls. Those waiting at the bottom can’t even imagine the open scenery that those who braved the route get to enjoy!

After some time, the adventurers appeared in sight between the rocks, and their friends waiting at the bottom could see their progress. 

The starting point at the mouth of the gorge is covered with dangling rope courses and wires, where climbers either balance on top of the wires or move with them. A small child can be heard objecting to gliding down a slightly high zipline, but before the guide makes it to help the child is already bravely sliding down the long and high zipline without further thought.  

First by foot to the gorge’s southern wall…
…Then speedily ziplining back to the northern edge!

The longest zipline passes above the spectator stand to the other side of the road, acting as the grand finale of the route. The thrill of gliding such a long distance from the heights is only topped by the end, where part of the way passes between pinewood treetops.  The zipline ends on a platform built around a post, where the safety wire is detached, and stairs descend to a stony ground and into the arms of the elegant forest. The guide greets the adventurers once again and suggests a second round, but this time we still have more planned for the day, so we finish up and get going to the marshland. 

-Karo

Scenic trails of Tunturiaapa mire by e-fat

Once an exhilarated Karoliina was safely down from the zipline, we stopped by our accommodation at Pyhä Igloos briefly to change clothes and eat a quick snack before our next adventure. The distances between attractions at Pyhätunturi are conveniently short – if you’re not in a hurry, it’s easy to walk between places in the village. Our accommodation, Pyhäkuru, and our next destination, Bliss Adventure rental shop, are all a stone’s throw from each other.

At Bliss we were greeted by Artturi, who would be our e-fatbike expert and guide for the trip. This was my first time riding an electric fatbike, and admittedly during my adulthood I haven’t cycled much otherwise.

Though you should remember how to cycle forever once you’ve learned it once, the electric component of the bike made me nervous. I was scared that I would end up out of control and into a bush at the first rock or sharp bend. That’s why I was grateful that Artturi gave us a proper briefing on how to use the bike – he gives this briefing to all his customers. According to him, knowing the right way to cycle with an e-bike can be pivotal to the enjoyment of the sport. On the other hand, certain mistakes when using the bikes can deter the rider enough not to want to try it again. 

To me, the most important lesson was learning what to do with the different gears and electric assist modes. We set the bikes to Eco-mode as we left, which means light assistance. We were taught that if the cycling feels too strenuous, we should first adjust the gears rather than playing with the electric assist modes. The Tunturiaava route ahead of us is apparently possible to cycle without changing from Eco mode at all, but we could test the more powerful modes during the trip if we felt like it. This made me feel more at ease, since I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to shift between both the different gears and assist modes. Now, I could calmly concentrate on just the gears without thinking about the assist modes. Suddenly everything felt a lot simpler!

After the briefing we did a few rounds around the yard to be sure that the bike saddle was adjusted to the right height and helmets were firmly fitted on our heads. We also got silicon padding on the seat since I remembered that the few times I did cycle in my adulthood, I had a tendency to start feeling sore already while cycling. The padding turned out to be very effective – I wasn’t even sore during our horse-riding trip the next day.

We left for the trip directly from Bliss Adventures’ yard, the dirt path going directly into the forest. A few intersections and junctions, and we were on our way to the swamp. The narrow dirt trail twisted and turned in the beautiful pine forest, lined with a selection of potholes, rocks, puddles, and roots. The fatbike is a comfortably sturdy piece of equipment for this kind of terrain – even though I usually get nervous about anything that feels even slightly reckless, here I felt comfortable. Every once in a while, we passed by other hikers – a larger group of people, dog walkers, and to my delight even a person walking their cat!

Artturi told us that at Pyhä-Luosto national park there are a good amount of multi-purpose trails, meaning that you can both walk and cycle. According to him, this is a relatively new concept country-wide. In many areas in the past, cycling has been allowed only on separately marked bike trails, whereas nowadays he’s seen the trend shift towards allowing cycling on all routes where it isn’t specifically prohibited. If you’re planning a cycling trip to any national park, you can check route details on Nationalparks.fi

As we left the forest, we rode along a blissfully wide trail of wooden planks to a small island at the edge of the marsh. I could have cycled this kind of trail forever, the elevated edges making me feel safe. 

Waiting for us at the other end of the trail was a rest stop, Tiaislaavu, where we stopped to drink water and sit down for a moment. The clouds above gave us a sight to watch as they rolled up and revealed ever more sun from behind them. The sun shone down on the marsh and magnificently highlighted its deep, warm tones that already hinted at autumn. Some of the cloudberry leaves had turned their autumn “ruska” colour, wine red. You could already spot little bits of red here and there in the green cranberry bushes. 

There is a trail of narrow wooden planks that continues from Tiaislaavu straight to the marsh. I did a quick walk around here to photograph the area. When the time came to get back on our bikes, we continued shortly along the forest path until getting to a point where we could test how the marsh felt by bike. 

The trail of wooden planks ahead of us looked comfortably wide, but as I set off I noticed that with speed it actually felt fairly narrow – particularly when it narrowed even more after a short stretch. Artturi advised us to look further ahead rather than at what was directly in front of us. Though I believed his advice would help, my eyes didn’t want to cooperate. I cycled for some time in cautious concentration and could feel the beads of perspiration forming on my temples.

I soon decided to move on to the second activity, namely carrying the bike, which is a fundamental part of the sport according to Artturi. Even on routes that allow cycling, there are often sections that are unsuitable for beginners, some even for experienced cyclists. Carrying the bike is required for these sections, and I decided that now was the time. As I jumped off in a semi-controlled manner and felt the legs of the wooden planks under my feet instead of the marsh (huh!), I was able to take a proper look around at the landscapes. And how beautiful they were!

Karo, who is a lot bolder than I am, cycled over the wooden planks with a smile on her lips! But even she admitted to being slightly nervous. Either way it went well – no one fell into the marsh. Even if someone had, it would have been a soft, cooling, and probably unforgettable experience on a soft and warm summer day in Lapland.

At the marsh, we took a moment to admire the view. We were on our way to the bird-watching tower, which stands tall in the middle of the marsh. The marshy blue ponds shone colourfully among ochre tussocks, reflecting the blue sky and giving the landscape a painting-like appearance. The huge fells rising around the edges only added to the allure. 

We got the best of late summer in Lapland! No bugs and few other people, but still great weather and nature preparing for “ruska” autumn colours.
On this section I still cycled, but when three planks became two, I got off the bike. The bike was luckily light to carry on such an even stretch!

The wooden planks were narrow enough that even by foot I would have felt like sticking closely to the sides when passing others. With bikes, there was an even greater need for it. Luckily there were spots at suitable intervals where you could lift the bike and yourself to the side when needed so that oncoming hikers could easily pass. Passersby were mainly cheerful nature lovers walking alone or in pairs. As with any hiking trail, a cheerful greeting always creates a pleasant atmosphere. Those were definitely not lacking on this trip!

Artturi waiting for the hikers to pass by.

The forest of silver trees growing in the marshland was exceptionally beautiful and picturesque, especially in the glow of late summer’s warm light. Karo climbed up to the bird-watching tower to take a picture of me while I was still walking my bike towards the tower.

From the bird-watching tower, the official Tunturiaava route (total seven kilometres in length, more info at Nationalparks.fi) would have continued onwards. We unanimously decided to turn back and go the same way we had come. I walked the bike back to the edge of the forest while absorbing as much of the fell landscape as I could. After this trip, I knew it might be a short lifetime before I get the chance to return to Lapland’s nature. I was also thankful that Artturi had chosen precisely this beautiful route. Somehow, though I lived near Sodankylä for a good few years, I never chanced upon this trail. This is definitely among Pyhä-Luosto national park’s most stunning routes, boasting surprisingly striking landscapes with minimal elevation difference.

Even Karo carried her bike towards the end. The sun started to set as our trip shifted towards evening.

Our return to the rental shop went smoothly, following the old rule that the way back is always half as short as the way there. We thanked Artturi for the wonderful guiding and perfect choice of destination. After the trip I was left with the feeling that I would enjoy renting e-fats more often in the future. This particularly pleased my partner, who has his own e-bike and has so far had to cycle to places without me, since I haven’t had enough confidence with e-bikes, or more specifically my ability to use them properly. It would be fun to try other easy routes like the one we did now at Tunturiaapa. E-fat rentals are popping up these days in many areas such as national parks. I personally prefer renting, as I don’t have to worry about the maintenance and fixing of such expensive equipment. Renting is wonderfully worry-free.

After saying goodbye to Artturi, we stopped by the campsite and then went to eat. After comparing the vegetarian options, prices, and opening hours of the area’s restaurants on the internet, we ended up choosing restaurant Uula. The vegetarian burger there was fantastic!

After a long day, it felt wonderful to watch the sky darken from the comfort of Pyhä Igloos’ adjustable beds. We were hoping for Northern lights, but they didn’t appear this time – at least before we fell asleep. I did find a few familiar constellations from the star-filled sky though, which made me feel at home.

-Jonna

The following day’s plan involved a short transfer to Kemijärvi and activities included horseback riding and SUP-boarding. Story on that coming up next!

Translated by Karolina Salin

Check out all the posts from this series:

Part 1: Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

Part 2: The fog lifted and revealed the first colours of ’ruska’ – our hike to “Kivitunturi” in Savukoski with Alit the Husky

Part 3: Climbing up Pyhäkuru rock formations & cycling with e-fatbikes to the eternally beautiful Tunturiaapa mire in Pyhä

Part 4: Summer at Kemijärvi on horseback & SUP-boarding on the superb Kalkonniemi beach

Part 5: The outskirts of Riisitunturi National Park – a journey through Posio’s untouched wilderness

See also

Pyha.fi

Adventure Park Pyhäkuru Lapland

Bliss Adventure

Pyhä Igloos

In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -project

In the morning, the weather forecast for the day was looking grim, giving us reason to consider back-up options for our trip to the fell. Thankfully luck was on our side, as the worst rainfall cleared up in the early afternoon. When the time came for us to start heading towards Kivitunturi fell, the sky was left with nothing more than a dense fog. This suited us well, as a misty fog over the forest wetland adds to its magnificence! The plan was to do the Kivitunturi Nature Trail basic route, 5.9 kilometres in length. Our fell tour was not so basic, however, as we would be joined by an exceptionally energetic and furry companion to get to this exceptionally beautiful fell.

Led by our guide for the day, Reija, we drove along dirt roads to an empty parking lot. On arrival, the star of our hike hopped out of the back trunk of Reija’s car: Alit the husky. Reija’s company, Radnis Northern Venture, organises farm tours and other guided adventures such as the husky hike we were about to go on. 

Alit had different coloured eyes, one brown and one blue – in fact, the word ’alit’ means blue in Sami, and the dog is from the Sami land. We took in the fell’s silence for a moment while Alit took the chance to do some unfinished business after the exciting car ride, then we were on our way!

The forest of Kivitunturi resonated peacefulness. The kota, our trip’s first stop, was as silent as the trail we followed. You could almost wrap yourself in the magic and stillness of Lapland’s warm and misty forest. The first signs of autumn could be seen here and there in the yellowing of birch branches and red shades of bunchberries.

It was a short walk to the first lookout point. After a warming workout up a flight of steps, we looked out from the terrace-like platform at the misty evergreen forest. The candle-like fir trees gave off a fresh earthy scent with a hint of musty aromas.

As I took my raincoat off, I realized that the brisk air had warmed up. The warm feeling was not just from the step workout to the platform – the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. 

Kivitunturi hiking trail differs from other fell trail in that no expenses have been spared with the trail infrastructure. Flights of steps, boardwalks, and other wooden structures along the trail lighten your step and make the route feel shorter. This feeling is of course also influenced by the interesting sights to see at regular intervals along the way, the first of which is this lookout point.

“Luojanluomalaavu” is the first actual sight on the route, and it certainly is a memorable sight to see. The name literally means ”laavu created by God”, for a good reason. Karoliina posed for a photo in front of the lean-to with Alit, though in reality we didn’t stop here for long. A little further down the path is the official campfire site, so at Luojanluomalaavu we focused simply on admiring the scenic nature.

The trail was spotted with smaller and larger puddles, which Alit enjoyed cooling off in. It was fun to watch the husky greatly enjoying himself as he splashed around in the water. I wasn’t feeling particularly warm after taking off my raincoat, yet the thought of joining Alit in the forest pools was tempting. I contained myself this time. 

After our first sight-seeing warmup at Luojanluomalaavu, we were ready for the highlight of the trip, “Pirunkuru”. Here, a suspension bridge hangs over a magnificent gorge. Alit didn’t require any extra coaxing to cross the bridge, but after crossing we let him take a break with Reija while Karoliina and I went back to the bridge to get a better look at the gorge.  The steep and rugged drop is not done justice in pictures – this beauty must be experienced in-person!

While looking out from the bridge, I noticed for the first time that the blanket of clouds had started to give way to a small blotch of blue in the sky! For a moment the clouds still worked to patch up the sky, but the day was starting to brighten.

After Pirukuru, the trail continued with a fair share of paths, flights of steps, and boardwalks. The forest opened up to a bright sight of bushy pines with tufts of hanging moss and puddles and ponds shimmering on the shoulders of the fell. 

Our next break was at “Äitipetäjänlampi”, or mother pine’s pond. Awaiting us in front of the half-kota was a campfire, looking out to a calm, clear pond. Alit took a gulp from the pond and waded in for a bit before settling for a birch shrub root as his resting spot. After circling a few times, he was fast asleep. The dog lay in peaceful silence for the whole time that we snacked. We didn’t make a fire this time since we didn’t have the need for it. Reija had baked us blueberry pie, and boiling hot water was waiting in a thermos flask. Reija served us rose-hip tea, and everything was so delicious that it felt like nothing could have been better in that moment. 

At our rest stop, I examined the trail map and oops! I thought we were already almost at the peak, but according to the contour line the real ascent only started from here. The curve rose almost straight upwards. In reality, the trail sloped gently upwards with trees to push from on the way to the top. 

As we climbed higher and the weather brightened, the landscape started to appear. I am partial to the versatility of nature in Kivitunturi. The small bodies of water bring to life the already distinctive fell. I could spend forever admiring the view, the verdant nature nestled between water and stone creating a collection of miniature worlds. 

The autumn colours of “ruska” were already visible on the blueberry bushes, as could be expected in August. There were also still plenty of large ripe blueberries, which we took the time to pick along the way. The lingonberries were not ripe yet, cloudberry season was long gone, and cranberry season was still to come, but the blueberries were a perfect snack for the trip. 

I’m one of those people who finds water enchanting. As we reached a babbling stream running over jagged rock, it would have been impossible for me to pass by without stopping to examine it. I studied the water and how it smoothened the edges of rocks and formed a shiny, velvety surface over them. I broke the water’s surface and felt the rock with the entire palm of my hand, while the running water smoothened my hand as well. The water was clear, accentuated by the needles and leaves mixed within it. While I stopped to admire the water, Alit decided to take a drink as there was nothing more exciting to do.

The highest point of Kivitunturi is really quite humble. There is no showy pile of stones or sharp peak – in fact, as we examined the map, we realised that the fell seems to have at least two peaks. The path only traverses one of two gigantic bumps that sit side-by-side. The surface boasts a wide and beautiful landscape, low-growing pine trees and other forest, and the stunning scenery opens far out into the horizon. According to the old – or perhaps new? – wooden sign close to the peak, the Soviet Union is 71 kilometers away.

The peak was followed by a steep and narrow path downhill, through rocky and forest terrain. At this point, I wish I had something more supportive on my feet than rain boots. The slope led us to a beautifully colourful sunlit forest, the rays of light transforming blueberry shrubs into sparkling rubies. 

At the parking lot, we said goodbye to Reija and thanked her and Alit for a wonderful trip. Alit hopped in the car as if he had springs in his paws. Our journey continued onwards to “Samperin Savotta”, our place for the night. A short drive from Kivitunturi, it is located on the shore of Kemijoki river at the edge of Savukoski village. 

Waiting for us there was Ms. Santa Claus cottage’s cosy room and inviting beds as well as “Marski’s sauna”, already radiating heat. The heavy log sauna, originally built in Saunakangas for President Mannerheim, was later moved to this spot at Kemijoki’s beach cliffs. We studied the markings and numbers on the logs while keeping an eye on the spectacular sunset on the river. A thin layer of fog formed over the river as the sun set. The water of Kemijoki was clear, enabling the late evening light to shine beautifully on the riverbed plants. We stayed in the sauna until it got dark, and fell sound asleep as soon as we got into bed. Thank you Savukoski!

Translated by Karolina Salin

Check out all the posts from this series:

Part 1: Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

Part 2: The fog lifted and revealed the first colours of ’ruska’ – our hike to “Kivitunturi” in Savukoski with Alit the Husky

Part 3: Climbing up Pyhäkuru rock formations & cycling with e-fatbikes to the eternally beautiful Tunturiaapa mire in Pyhä

Part 4: Summer at Kemijärvi on horseback & SUP-boarding on the superb Kalkonniemi beach

Part 5: The outskirts of Riisitunturi National Park – a journey through Posio’s untouched wilderness

See also

Visit Savukoski-Korvatunturi – Korvatunturi.fi

Radnis Northern Venture

Samperin Savotta

In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -hanke

In the end of August, we spent a week discovering the best of Salla, Savukoski, Pyhätunturi, Kemijärvi and Posio in Eastern Lapland, Finland. The end of summer couldn’t be a more perfect time – no mosquitoes and few tourists, just the peace and calm of the wilderness. Our program for the week included cycling and climbing, hiking in the fells with and without huskies, as well as horse riding and stand up paddleboarding. Our very first stop on arrival, however, was a paddling trip on a serene lake in the wilderness.  

It’s a long way to Lapland from the south of Finland: it can be over 1000 kilometres depending on the destination, and easily 12 hours of driving. That’s why taking the night train is so handy, with the additional option of taking your car onboard. We loaded our car onto the train at Pasila railway station in Helsinki and travelled through the night across the whole of Finland, up to Kemijärvi!

Pasila railway station, Helsinki

The evening was well spent watching the sun set from our cabin window, and as dusk set in we saw the brightly lit Häme Castle reflected on the surface of Vanajavesi lake. The cabin was compact, with two comfortable bunk beds and a small private lavatory. Ear plugs effectively blocked out any rattling noises from the train during the night, permitting a good night’s rest.

Our train journey ended in Kemijärvi, at a modest railway station. The air was crisp – the previous afternoon in Helsinki went up to 30 degrees Celcius, here it was 14 degrees. The railway station slowly filled with people clearly lacking their first morning coffee.

Kemijärvi railway station

After around half an hour we got our car out from the train carriage. Our first stop was in fact for coffee in Kemijärvi centre, before heading towards Salla!

It took no more than an hour to get from Kemijärvi to the base of Sallatunturi fell. On the way we checked the weather forecast, which promised cloudy skies that should clear up by the evening. The cotton clouds blanketing the sky were a calming sight on our way to Sallatunturin Tuvat, where we made camp for the first night. My friend, whose journey had started a few days ago, was overjoyed to be able to do laundry, while more than anything my appreciation was focused on the calming silence around us and the hut’s ambient interior.  We had a short rest after the drive to recharge for the evening’s adventure. 

After our break we quickly dropped by Kaunisharju lookout point, located just a few kilometres from Sallatunturi, along the road towards Kuusamo. The lookout point opens out to a fantastic view of Finland’s newest national park!

Kaunisharju lookout point, Salla national park

Our first scheduled activity for the evening started at Salla nature centre, with Timo from Salla Wilderness Park. Soon we were joined by a Dutch family of four, and the evening’s program could begin. After getting into Timo’s car, we cruised down a dirt road to the edge of a serene lake.

The road continued up the Northeast side of Hangasjärvi to an elegant high ridge with a beautiful view of the fells. Looking out at the landscape, we wondered as a group what our chances might be of seeing the northern lights if the sky would stay clear through the evening. My friend, and especially the Dutch, were thrilled by the idea.

It was a steep descent from the back of the ridge to the shore of Hangasjärvi. Timo gave us brief safety instructions and handed out life vests and paddles. It wasn’t long before everyone sat merrily in their canoes. 

Hangasjärvi is around three kilometres in length, an oblong but narrow and practically untouched lake very close to Sallatunturi. The water’s surface was wonderfully smooth, perfectly reflecting the forest landscape throughout the evening. You could almost touch the silvered pine and gently rising mounds of fuzzy marshland. 

Paddling felt safe and pleasant, not at all difficult, even though I’ve truly only paddled before in my youth. The canoe was comfortingly stable and relaxing. The bow murmured soothingly as it broke the water’s surface ahead of us. It felt as if time stood still in the silent night air, only broken by the occasional hushed conversation between paddlers and the clopping hooves of reindeer in the nearby forest.

The setting sun painted the few clouds left in the sky gentle purple and orange hues. Aptly named the sunset paddle tour, it couldn’t have been timed better. We paddled toward the southeast end of the lake, passing through a narrow strait where we were briefly immersed in the dense forest. Taking a moment to stop and let the canoes glide along the lake’s surface, the silence and surrounding nature were breathtaking. I dipped my fingertips in the water to find that it was pleasantly warm, not the chilling cold that I was expecting. 

The setting sun is unique in its ability to paint many different moods on the landscape in the same moment. I sat at the bow of the canoe – the slave’s seat, according to the guide, though it didn’t feel like it – and my friend sat at the back, steering our direction. I got to admire the views ahead of us; the blue sky and chartreuse shores mixed with forest glowed beautifully against the towering sun-kissed backdrop of Ruuhitunturi fell. When I turned to look back, the first signs of dusk already showed in the reddening sky and forest darkened by the backlight.

Once we reached shore on the other side of the lake, our guide made a cosy campfire and served us coffee, tea, and a local delicacy: ‘kampanisu’, or a comb-shaped sweetbread. The peaceful moment was a perfect chance to exchange thoughts and ideas with the rest of the group. The Dutch told us about their journey here by ship and train, from the Netherlands via Germany to Finland, and finally Lapland. They were planning to continue to the North Cape and Lofoten islands before returning home. The family seemed delighted with their trip so far. 

Those who wanted also got to cook sausages over the fire, the traditional Finnish camping food! The crackling fire and buzz of the group’s discussions created a lulling backdrop for watching the different phases of the sunset and increasing stillness of the lake. There was even a rocking chair next to the kota to sit and marvel at the landscapes. 

After getting the canoes back in the water, we paddled back towards the starting point. The night sky was gradually cast with clouds of different sizes, colours, and shapes. Eating and gazing into the campfire left me feeling drowsy as we glided into the dusk that had descended on the lake. The tranquility calmed the mind, and even though conversation between the paddlers continued, my mind already started drifting towards sleep.  As we were leaving Hangasjärvi ridge, we saw a perfect halfmoon that shone brightly between the peaks of the Sallatunturi fells. 

Translated by Karolina Salin

Read more about things to do in Salla:

Visit Salla – in the middle of nowhere

Salla Wilderness Park

Sallatunturin tuvat: Sallatunturi.fi

Check out all the posts from this series:

Part 1: Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

Part 2: The fog lifted and revealed the first colours of ’ruska’ – our hike to “Kivitunturi” in Savukoski with Alit the Husky

Part 3: Climbing up Pyhäkuru rock formations & cycling with e-fatbikes to the eternally beautiful Tunturiaapa mire in Pyhä

Part 4: Summer at Kemijärvi on horseback & SUP-boarding on the superb Kalkonniemi beach

Part 5: The outskirts of Riisitunturi National Park – a journey through Posio’s untouched wilderness

The narrow road was hibernating beneath a white sheet of ice. As far as the ear could hear, the world was silent. I set off to see the sun for the first time in 2021.

The familiar landscape looked different. Frost and humidity had embraced the slopes and trees of the fell to such an extent that the trees were dressed in ice, snow and frost. They looked as if someone had glaced them with sugar.

The length of the day was 43 minutes. Before rising, the sun painted mind-boggling colors into the skyline.

My journey continued up the fell. Suddenly I noticed the moon hovering in the purple sky above the white forest. It was the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen in a long time, and quite unreal wonderful moment. The rest of the world ceased to exist for a while.

The fell hibernated so soundly that silence could be heard. A white willow ptarmigan set off from a short distance away, breaking the silence for a fleeting moment.

Suddenly, a peculiar light was reflected in the snowy trees ahead of me. Not bright, in fact so delicate that it was only barely visible. However, it somehow changed the landscape and atmosphere so that it caught my attention. I looked behind and there it was: the sun peeked behind the horizon.

Seeing the sun for the first time after the polar night is one of the greatest moments of the year. The message of this first sunrise is very powerful: Now let’s head towards spring – and fast!

Article by Onni Kojo

Usually SUP boards are used for short day trips at lakes, shores, or rivers. But there is a small number of people who choose a paddleboard over the kayak or canoe for multi-day trips, mostly descending along the river as far as you ever want to go. This style of exploring is not hard in Finnish Lapland. It is full of rivers, most of them eventually flowing into the gulf of Bothnia, a few flowing east to Russia and north to Norway and the Arctic Sea. In fact, the biggest river basin in Finland, Kemijoki, covers most of Lapland. It and other rivers of Lapland give adventurers endless possibilities to explore and see the beauty of the northern nature from a different point of view. Sitting in a rowing boat or a kayak gets you really close to the rich river nature, but SUP paddleboarding gives you a different aspect on all of this, as it gives you the freedom to change position while paddling down the stream. You can stand up or even lie down as you let the stream take you.

On river adventures, one must remember a few things. There is going to be some currents and maybe some obstacles on the way. It’s important to check if there are any dams or bigger streams along the way, or any big obstacles because of which you have to carry the boat of choice on the other side of the obstacle. A good thing in Lapland is that you’ll find plenty of water to paddle on without any major barriers.

Inflatable SUP boards are fairly easy to carry around and are super handy to pack in your car. This gives a lot of freedom in choosing where to go and how.  Also, with these, you can go in shallow water without worries. Just remember to take the fin off the board when going in shallow water or a current with rocks etc.

A no-brainer for all paddling trips is to pack all your gear in waterproof bags. This one is a must on multi-day trips. Don’t worry if you fall down, your sleeping bag is dry! A good tip for packing is to put everything in different colour bags to know where to find certain things.

If you’re afraid to stand up on the board whenever there is a stronger current, you can always be on your knees or sit down. Usually on small rivers the flow is not going to be that speedy. Standing up is also way more fun!

The Amazon of the North

One of the many river branches of the Kemi river is Kairijoki. This one starts near the wilderness of Kemihaara, one of the most isolated places in Lapland. Kairi river is a popular destination for fly fishing but paddling down this crystal clear river is possible too. 

One beautiful August weekend a group of paddle boarders set down to explore this area. Far away from the reach of mobile network at the end of a dirt road, we set our paddleboards into the river and started paddling down. The stream was moving slowly, but well enough to help the journey. We did not have fins on the boards at all because there was going to be a lot of tiny shallow rapids that we had had to paddle through. It wasn’t easy to paddle without the fin, but it gave the freedom to go through the shallow parts without stopping.

The water in this river is so clear that sometimes it feels like floating in the air! All the water plants swaying with the current, trout and grayling swimming under the board. The feeling of floating on the river can be a magical experience.

When hitting the first currents I didn’t stand up. I felt like I would fall if I’d hit a rock. But the current was never too strong that the small bumps would bring down the paddler. Of course, you have to have a little bit of stability with the board. All in all, it is very easy to learn though. A little bit of practice is enough. This is not like other board sports that would need a bit more practice.

Once I stood up and went through the small rapids I felt like the lumberjacks in the older days when they’d use these same rivers for log floating, sometimes standing on the logs in the river and trying to keep the balance. It is true, we were not the first ones to stand-up paddle down these rivers. You can still see signs of this as there are sometimes sunken logs on the bottom of the river.

Some parts of the river were not going so speedy so there was more paddling to do to get forward. This can be quite tiring on the long run. No worries though, you can always just chill out and lie down on your board and tie it on the riverbank. Or you can just let the slow current take you. I guess I found my favourite way of travelling: lying on a paddleboard on a sunny day just looking at the clouds and tree branches and birds going by. This can be almost too relaxing so you must watch out not to sleep when there are stronger rapids ahead!

Kairi river has an awesome wilderness lodge about midway of the river. This place has nice cottages and a sauna by the river: perfect place to rest for an exhausted wilderness adventurer after a long day of paddling. When we went swimming from the sauna, we had to keep ourselves in place, so we didn’t go with the flow. The water is cold here but there is nothing more refreshing than a dip into a clear and clean Lapland river from the steam of the sauna. 

I woke up before the sunrise and walked down the riverbank. I was trying to catch some fish but this time I had no luck. I didn’t really mind. There is something mysterious about early mornings. It’s so calm and quiet. Everything is still. Then, slowly the nature starts to wake up. Every bird singing. Fish jumping in the river. The sun rising behind the forest and shining through the mist was spectacular. Also, all the insects woke up at the same time. Unfortunately, the biting ones as well so I had to go back to the cabin and wait for the day to start.

The second day of this expedition was hot and sunny. The mosquito season was pretty much over and luckily there were no horse flies. Sometimes there might be annoying small biting midges. Usually a little bit of wind and hot sun keeps them away. Depending on the year or the season there might be a bit more insects. You just have to protect yourself from these biting devils and you’re good to go. Quite often there is a bit of wind in the open river, so it helps. Evenings and mornings, swamps and shady places are to avoid especially in the middle of the summer.

There are many lean-to shelters and fireplaces along the way so stopping for lunch was easy. Of course, you don’t have to stop and land for snacks: it’s possible to have your picnic on the board! Fireplaces usually have an outhouse toilet but in other places one must go a bit further from the shores for their needs.

We tried to find a wave in a rapid big enough to try a little surf. It was hard to paddle in a strong current and try to “catch the wave”. You have to have very good skills in paddling when going in the currents. River surfing is a thing, but with a SUP board it’s quite challenging. Especially if you have a lot of gear on the board. I did try to catch a wave, but I ended falling down as I was sideways in a bit of a stronger current. The river is not that deep so I could just hold myself and the board in the current. It still surprised me how strong it can be. A little dip and feeling the current was a good reminder to not get too comfortable with the stream. You always have to watch out for the rocks and stay on the main current!

After about 15 km I just laid down on the board and put my hat on my face. The hot and sunny day made it feel like I was in Asia. The board just went with the flow and I almost fell asleep. The lush green of the birches and aspens against the clear blue sky made it hard to believe that we were inside the Arctic Circle. 

The river nature is very rich. There are so much different kinds of fish, mussels and plants, sometimes even crayfish, under the surface and on the surface dragonflies and other insects, the birds often going after them. The water birds diving to the bottom to eat or catch a fish. We even saw some common goldeneyes diving under our boards! Ducks, cranes and terns are living here too. The river brings a lot of life around it. Everyone must drink of course. But moose, for example, also like to eat the aquatic plants. You can see a lot of life on your river journey. Especially if you stay quiet and just observe. 

Our journey was successful. Sometimes I went alone and just enjoyed, sometimes we would paddle next to each other and chat. We paddled 40 km in two days. Just as it was getting a bit exhausting, we reached the mighty Kemi river and paddled it a little bit more to reach our goal and our car. Some folk who have their houses and cottages along the river were looking, maybe a bit surprised, that someone would paddleboard over here. I just waved at them. This was fun!

I was eager to have a solo multi-day trip with the board. I also wanted to try how I can manage to get all my camping gear with me. So, the next weekend I set off to another branch of the Kemi river: Pyhäjoki. Pyhä river starts from the National park of Pyhä-Luosto. This would also be a 40 km long journey towards the Kemi river. 

As I was looking at the map of the whole river system, I realized how much is reachable by waterways. Certainly, this was the way that people would explore new lands in the older days. But now, how many people would travel long distances by rivers? The downside is that like a lot of other rivers in the world, this one was also dammed. Good thing was that with kayaks, canoes and paddleboards, it could be possible to do very long trips using this river system as you can carry them and go around the dam.

I set sail one cloudy afternoon from the lake Pyhäjärvi, which had a small tidal wave going on. I had taken the fin off the board as I knew that the river would be very shallow. The board was packed with gear and food, so it wasn’t easy to reach the river with this style. When I reached the mouth of the river, I had another obstacle. There was a few hundred meters of bush ahead of me. Of course! By August the shallow river lands would be grown over. It was already afternoon that I’d left for my solo adventure, so I felt like I was late. When I finally got through the bush and stood up on the board, the current took me into a place that looked like a jungle. The grass brought by the spring floods hung from the trees and the different shades of green everywhere made the scenery unreal. I have never seen nature from this perspective. 

Standing on the board, seeing over the banks. Fish and water plants under me. Common goldeneye flew over my shoulder and there were reindeer in the forest, munching on some moss and looking at me. I was just floating by and admiring.

The day turned into an evening before I was at my planned camping site. It wasn’t dark yet, but the sun was going down. I thought that it would actually be interesting to do this in the dark with a headlamp on. So I took my time, not rushing. Just silently paddling. A baby moose was eating water plants after a curve. It looked at me and didn’t really mind before it’s mother in the forest took fright and it realized that I might be a danger. I floated by and looked at the mama moose in the forest. We both stared at each other as I went by. I’m always amazed how big of an animal they are when I see them.

I reached a nice fireplace before the dark. The nighttime paddling would be another adventure. I could hear the nearby small rapids from the tent. This was a good wake-up call the next day when I continued, getting to go slightly faster first thing in the morning.

It was a very windy day. All the trees were wobbling and I almost stumbled as well. It was mainly tailwind so it made it easy to advance. I wish I’d had a sail on this boat! Some swans that flew by were struggling too because of the wind. The day was also a bit chillier. But clear. There were signs of the autumn coming slowly. 

The last few kilometres before reaching the main river it got deeper and there were less water plants. I had brought my fishing gear with me and it was finally possible to try fishing on this river while supping. Trolling is my favourite style of fishing because you’re on the move at the same time. It was a bit of a struggle at first but once I got a good stance and enough speed for the SUP it worked! A few perch and northern pike were the catch. There is a different kind of feeling when catching a northern pike when you are on a SUP board. This is definitely my new favourite hobby. SUP fishing!

Fishing has been especially important for all who live along the rivers of Lapland. The dams have made it harder follow on the traditional way of river life. But there still are free flowing rivers and clean ones, too. It is very important that we take care of the rich and vulnerable river nature. It’s everyone’s best interest that the waters stay clean, without fertilizers from forestry or the sewage of the mines. There is so much life along the many rivers of the North. I mean, most of the people live by them as well! Certainly, rivers are important for all life. One way of truly realizing this, is to see it close by. The Amazon of the North is full of rivers to experience all of this.

How to plan a multi-day SUP trip in Lapland

The best time to go is all summer. The early summer, in May and the beginning of June, is free from mosquitos, but there might be strong currents and floods to watch out for. Late summer is good as the water is usually low and the worst biting insect season is over. I don’t see any issues going during fall as well.

It is a good thing to have a wet suit or a dry suit on, or at least have dry clothes with you if you fall. The waters in Lapland are always cold so it’s good to prepare for that. 

Have a good map of the area. With more then one vehicle it is easy to plan the starting and ending points. If that is not possible, you can always ask local tour guides, wilderness lodges and generally just locals, for helping out on the transfer.

Be aware of everyman’s rights and duties. Keep a distance of private property on land and water. Have your wilderness toilet in a distance from the waterways. Respect the nature and take everything you bring into the nature back with you. 

For example the lake Pyhäjärvi in Pyhä region is a good place to try SUP boarding in Lapland. If you are not comfortable with the SUP board, kayaks and canoes are available too. If you have your own board, there are plenty of possible rivers to paddle down in all of Lapland. You can always ask for the possibility of renting a board from the local tour guides where ever you decide to go. An inexpensive way to do a multi-day trip along the rivers is to just buy waterproof bags (they can be low-priced) and rent a board for a few days. You don’t necessarily need a dry suit. Just don’t fool around too much and have dry clothes ready!

The Sun does not set in Lapland, and the nature is blooming. One might still see some snow here and there, but almost all of it is gone. Instead we have beautiful greenery all around us. Here are some photos to show you what the Midsummer looks like in Lapland.

Lapland has some beautiful clear waters so don’t forget your diving mask. This is lake Pallasjärvi.
Little fish enjoying the beautiful sunshine of Lappish summer.
Wild blueberries (or bilberries) are blooming.
It doesn’t get any darker than this for weeks.
Sunny Midnight in Kittilä.
Bunch berry (Cornus suecica) is one of the earliest flowers to blossom in the summer.
As the snow melts, rivers in Lapland tend to flood and it can sometimes get pretty serious. This is Ounasjoki river.

In this episode of the Take a Hike series, we’re exploring the fringe areas of Pyhä-Luosto National Park. The wonderfully well maintained routes offer easy access to the park, but sometimes it’s just as fun to jump off trail and go explore and wonder on your own. The wonderful Lappish nature is in it’s most glorious, bug-free, late autumn shape – and we’re enjoying it to the fullest.

Please note that in Pyhä-Luosto National Park, there are restricted areas where you cannot leave the marked trails – consult your maps or the customer service at Nature Center Naava before you head out! Enjoy the episode!

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Pyhä-Luosto National Park

Lapland. That mystical wonderland in far North. One of the most exciting places in Lapland is a fell named Pallas, or Pallastunturi. Today I’m telling you about my hike to the highest peak of Pallas during winter.

Christmas and new years time is well spent in Lapland. Polar night and Northern lights are the best reality TV for me. What could a photographer enjoy more? I started my journey from the parking lot of Hotel Pallas. The weather was nice and clear. Temperature -20 degrees (celsius) but I wasn’t worried about that. The climb would keep me warm. I was using snowshoes although some people were hiking in winter boots. Start was the easy part and the path was clear.

Wooden cabin

The first point was a small wooden cabin. After that path became steeper and I was glad to have my snowshoes.

One small step…

The view was so amazing that I just had to stop to photograph the landscape every now and then. Slowly rising Sun created colors so unreal.

The view is getting more and more magical

Higher I got, the colder the wind became. Landscape also transformed more arctic.

This way or that way

About 50 meters before the top something unexpected happened. The Sun rose. Just a little bit, but still visibly. During polar winter the Sun should not get up this far North. Later back in the Hotel they told me that the highest peak is high enough for the Sun to reveal itself during clear skies.

WOOW

Here I was, on top of the peak watching this light show. It took me about 2,5 hours to get up there. Then I spent 1 hour just photographing the view. Some people were skiing down the hill but I had my trusted snow shoes. So no fast track down.

“Candyland”

Suddenly I felt like a 7-year-old kid in a candy store. So much “stuff” I had to enjoy before it ends.

Something I will remember all my life

Slowly the Sun started to set. During polar winter the light in the sky is like a 4-hour sunrise/sunset. Then it gets dark again.

Coming down went a bit faster. I was back at the Hotel’s parking lot about 45 minutes later. Temperature was now -25 degrees, but I was still warm enough and my 32 gigabytes memory card full of “candy”.

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Snow creates some interesting shadows.