Day trip to Meiko wilderness

One day, while checking day trip destinations within a biking distance from my home, I came across with a name Meiko. I’ve had heard about the lake before, but the name still carried a veil of a mystery. A closer research revealed a perfect day trip destination; protected forests and rocky cliffs around a serene lake, that looked more typical to a Finnish lake district than being so far in the south. More about Meiko here (in Finnish).


I decided to go the next possible day that would feel even remotely summerish. (When the rest of Europe has enjoyed or suffered from hot weather, it has been more cold and rainy here in the north than usual)


The day came early July, and I hit the road eagerly. I hadn’t been in an adventure for a long time.

After 20km of easy biking in a nice summer sunshine, I arrived to the Meiko area, northwest from Kirkkonummi center. I left my bike at the parking lot near the waterworks building and walked directly to the lakeside. The very moment I reached the shore, I saw a family of black-throated loons nearby. After watching for a while what they were up to, I started walking around the lake counter-clockwise.


(map from


Time to times the trail headed deeper into a dense forest, but never very far. In the midst of the woods I had a staring competion with a hyper active squirrel, which I won easily. But other than that, the forest around the lake was quiet. The birds seemed to have a midday break and mosquitos had fortunately something else to do. I met only few other walkers.


After couple of hours of slow walking, I reached the western shore where a curious common sandpiper joined me. It kept me company for a long while and flew always in front of me to a next lakeside rock. I hope I wasn’t distracting its nest somewhere nearby.



After Duvarviken bay the trail climbed steeply up to the Meikobergen. From the southern cliffs opened up a great view over the serene Meiko lake and its most precious sight ; the nest of an osprey.


I sat down for a while, just staring the nest at the top of a tall pine on a small island. I was fortunate to see both of the ospreys circling majestically around. Black-throated loons were calling each other around the lake – a typical soundscape of a Finnish lake. The only distraction were few groups of sunbathers and their loud laughing coming from the rocks at the eastern end of the lake. Otherwise it felt like a real wilderness. I decided that Meiko deserves another visit one day.



This day walk was also the first walk with my new hiking shoes – Lowa Ferrox GTX Mid. I was tempted to purchase another pair of Lowa Zephyrs as in the end I was very satisfied with their performance, but then decided to try something new. Lowa defines Ferrox as a speed hiking shoe. They are slightly lighter than the Zephyrs, weighing 860 grams and having more flexible outer sole.

My feet got very sweaty when biking to Meiko and I got already bit worried, but while walking they cooled down to normal. The first impression of the shoes was good, but I’ll have to wait and see how they feel when walking a longer day with a proper backpack.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path done


The coast of Wales is now conquered, through rain, hail and stormy winds, from Amroth to Cardigan. But fortunately I had sunny days too and the coast showed its better side. Plenty of quiet trail to walk, birds to observe and I got to see even seals and porpoises!


I walked the 300km path basically in ten days (some days shorter, some maybe too hard) and camped every night at campsites.


As usual, the rest of the story, photos and video will follow later on, or much later. I’ll try to do my best!

Next destination: Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Wales it is then! I’m super excited as it has been too long since my last real hike and UK in spring is a great destination. Feeling also a bit nervous as I booked this trip with very short preparation time; only one week to get everything ready and sorted out. I have done sports but not much walking exercises lately so I can only hope my body still remembers how to carry a backpack! Another thing that worries me is the weather in Wales. Prior to my hike Pembroke has enjoyed two weeks of warm and sunny weather. Does it mean that when I get there, it’ll be time for stormy fronts to arrive from the Atlantic, bringing rain after rain?


I won’t buy any maps so having only this guidebook. Navigation should not be any big issue; just keeping the sea on the left hand side! Besides the national trails are usually well marked in UK. My flights are to London, and then with a combination of trains and buses to Wales and back.

Btw, does anyone know if one can get a resealable (Coleman for example) gas canister somewhere around Kilgetty and Amroth?


Trail: Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Length: 300 km (11 walking days)

Location: Amroth to Cardigan, Wales, UK

Time: Spring 2015


Update 26.4.2015


Everything ready to be packed! I’ll be resupplying along the way and eating few times in a pub, but I like to have some portions already with me as well. And nothing beats the finnish chokolate! Btw, the weather forecast doesn’t look that sunny anymore as expected:)

Overnighting at Kurjenrahka NP

I was able to avoid all the commitments for the Easter holidays and even got my brother’s car for loan; a perfect opportunity to visit some of the national parks here in southern Finland.

I left Sunday morning at ten when it was raining slush, but closer to Kurjenrahka NP the day began to clear. I left my car around twelve to the Kurjenrahka visitor center and headed south towards Töykkälä. The car park was half full and few other walkers left at the same time, but the overall feeling was quite peaceful.


Soon the Töykkälä trail departed from the main path and its condition got much worse. The duckboards were in bad shape and often under water. My boots are leaking nowadays but fortunately I didn’t wet my feet that badly. I kept my first break at the Koivusaari bird watching tower hoping to see something.

At first the mire looked dead; I could hear or see nothing moving. But after a while three black and white birds with big wings were bursting into the air flying around and diving fearlessly. I later learned they were Northern Lapwings (töyhtöhyyppä) but at that moment it bothered me a lot not being able to identify them as they were too far for my tiny binoculars.


I finally reached the Töykkälä shelter but the kilometers seemed to go slowly. Maybe it was because of the condition of the trail, maybe my lack of walking lately. I saw few people but the trail was mostly silent. At Töykkälä I needed to decide if hiking still the southern loop of Vajosuo or making a direct shortcut to the northwest. It looked like I was running out of time so when reaching the dirt road south of Töykkälä I headed towards Asonlammi.


After one hour and half I was back in the forest. I passed by some clearings and then a campfire place and rocky slopes of Takaniitunvuori. After that the trail descended into the Pukkipalo old-growth forest, where the forest had stayed as pristine as the nature had wanted. The green color of the moss and pine needles was deep and full of secrets. Chaffinches were singing but I could not spot anything else.



I reached the quiet Lakjärvi shelter a bit before 6 pm. I sat down and felt slightly anxious. For a while I thought walking the 7 km back to the car park and driving home and have a sauna. Tall pines stood still and the evening sun shone brightly between them. Slowly I began to feel peace of mind and decided to make a fire.


Not much later a middle-aged man came with his daughter and a cute little dog. As I was already placed myself comfortably they went to the second shelter. After chatting for a while all of us started cooking. I boiled some noodles with my burner and kept a small fire just for the joy of having it.

When the darkness began to lurk behind the corner and I was about to make myself ready for the night, two young couples arrived with big backpacks. I offered to move to the third, tiny two man shelter, and let them have the biggest one. It was good that I had kept the fire going. I let the guys to prepare their dinner and moved my stuff away. After reading for a while I closed the headlamp and the darkness of the night swallowed my small shelter. From further I could still hear low noise of a cracking firewood and people chatting around it.


It got -2 degrees during the night and I stayed just at the edge of feeling comfortably warm. I had my Halti summer sleeping bag over the RAB one and few layers of clothes. The wooden platform felt hard under my back.


In the morning I packed quickly and left at the first light, around 6:30. There was no movement in the other shelters yet. The ground was frosty but walking felt good, although a bit tiring.

After 3,5 km I reached the Savojärvi lake and saw a group of swans floating silently in front of the morning sun. After few photos I left Rantapiha behind and walked in the complite solitude the last 3 km along more duckboards back to the Kurjenpesä car park. I had had only a banana for a breakfast and for a second I got terrified of how little food I had taken with me. But then I remembered the choko muesli package that I had left in the car. Such a joy was the reunion with it.



I drove one hour and half to the Torronsuo National Park as I had not been either there before. After a couple of hour tour along the edges of this marshland, I headed back home. Torronsuo was busy of people, but for my disappointment I didn’t see much birdlife. Overall good overnight trip!

Here’s official info about Kurjenrahka NP.



Finally I can proudly present my first book, Yksin halki Alppien, although I’m of course nervous to hear how people like it. Anyway, this long but very rewarding project is now done! I hope the people who read it would feel the greatness of the magnificient hiking trail called GR5. The book tells the tale how my one month solo hike through the French Alps went in the summer 2013.

Kuinka tilata:

Helpointa ja edullisinta on suunnata verkkokirjakauppaan ja tilata painettu kirja sieltä: , tai Suomalainen , ovh 11,90 EUR.

How to order:

At the moment, the best way to order the printed book is from an online bookstore: , or Suomalainen , ovh 11,90 EUR.

Also, as I have some copies myself you could ask it directly from me. Just send an email to a.rantsu at with your details. The price is 11,90 EUR (including shipping inside Finland). I’ll update this availability list, also when the e-book is out.

ISBN: 9789523184411
Language: Finnish
Published: 02/2015
Pages: 176
Weight: 193 grams
Publisher: Books on Demand GmbH

Includes: Detailed and lively written travel story of my GR5 hike, artistic black&white photographs, a map and statistics sheet in color. Remember, it’s not a guidebook.

English translation is under work, but I can’t give yet any estimate.

I hope you’ll enjoy and please feel free to give feedback to a.rantsu at Big thanks to everyone who has helped and supported along the way!

Total cost of the project ~ 190 EUR

  • Publisher deal 99 EUR
  • Test prints 3 x 20 EUR
  • Text review service 30 EUR

FREE Camping guide for GR5


As lot of people have asked me about camping and possible spots along the GR5, I wanted to publish a camping guide, which should answer to most of the typical questions. It’s complitely FREE, so just download it from the link below. I only hope that you could answer the simple poll if the guide was useful or not in your opinion.

Includes: General information about camping on GR5, a list of refuges, campsites and possible wild camping spots along the GR5 Alpine variant, all marked on the map.

ARantanen_GR5_Camping_GUIDE_FINAL (PDF, ~6.7MB)


My hiking gear overview 2014

This is how it all began back in 2009, me carrying a huge backpack through the Swiss Alps for three weeks. And we didn’t even have camping or cooking gear with my friend!


(photo by my friend mr. Wolfskin)

I am not a gear enthusiast by any means – I don’t even have a scale to measure the grams, but I have learned to appreciate right type of clothing and equipment. Within the years I have slowly updated what I have and tried to look for lighter alternatives. I’m especially happy with my Big 3 nowadays: the backpack, shelter and sleeping system, weighing 3,3 kilos in total. I know those could be still lighter, but compare that to the old monstrous backpack which was 3 kilos alone!

Here’s an overview of my hiking gear and what I usually wear on trail. I hope you’ll find some useful examples, inspiration and please feel free to recommend something better! (click the images to see them larger)


The main difference between a summer hike and autumn/spring hike is that in colder weather I’ll wear the Rugged Mountain Pants instead of shorts. However, they are way too heavy to carry around, so I need to be sure that weather stays cool enough to wear them while walking. Otherwise I usually have pretty much the same set of clothes with me, whether going to the Alps or coast of UK. For example the shield jacket is so light and useful in windy conditions that I have it always with me.

I usually feel chilly in the evenings after a hard day of walking, when the air cools down and sun is setting. At the camp I’ll have my Rab baselayer on, fleece (taking either the micro or thicker one), down vest, rain pants and thick gore-tex shell jacket. The jacket is quite old and not very useful in the rain (too hot), so I’ve used it just when in camp. I’m dreaming of having a down jacket some day.

In West Highland Way and GR5 I used a cheap poncho as my main rain protection and despite its obvious defects, it worked well enough. But when it pours water the whole day and strong wind tests your spirit, going gets tough. So my latest gear update was to replace the poncho with a proper rain jacket and I found a good offer for that Montane Air. I recommend to check Ultra Light Ourdoor Gear that offers very good service and selection.


Here are some small items: tiny bottle of shampoo, minimum amount of toothpaste, cut toothbrush. I found that plastic capsule for my camera charger and batteries inside of a giant choko eastern egg! :)


I carry usually a small survival box with me. I have never needed to open it while on trail and hopefully no need to do so in the future either. I have customised what’s inside, not sure if everything is useful or if missing something important but it has for example a signal mirror, wire saw, sewing kit, water purification pills and painkillers, flashlight, tinderbox, money, tampon (for making fire), some gauze, glukoce pills…


It sure looks like having lot of stuff, but my base weight still stays under 10 kilos and usually with weeks food the weight settles somewhere around 12-13 kilos.


Vaude Power Lizard is like a palace for one person; you can easily take even the backpack inside.


Here’s a list of my hiking gear. The weights are estimates and taken from manufacturers web sites, as some of the cut gear images.

At the moment I’m looking for walking poles as I had to leave the old ones to France. But most telescope models have clumsy and big mountaineering type of grip. For fast and light movement I want to have slimmer and similar grip than those used in cross-country skiing. (check the photo here)

Also I need to replace my loyal Lowa boots in the near future.


And in winter?

I’m not (so far) a huge fan of winter camping and as you might have noticed I lack some proper gear (and skills) to survive in Nordic winter. Daily hikes and cross-country skiing are the best ways for me to enjoy the white and cold beauty.

Overnighting at Porkkalanniemi

A few weeks ago I took my bike and finally went all the way until the land’s end at Porkkalanniemi recreational area.


I followed first the Länsiväylä highway until Kirkkonummi before turning to south through picturusque countryside. The day was pleasantly hot to bike the 37 km and then to walk half an hour until the seaside.



I enjoyed long afternoon watching birds flying all over, boats passing by and just reading and laying in the sun. I found a nice and quiet spot at the very edge of the peninsula.



When the evening painted the landscape with late hour colors, I decided to sleep just there on the rocks and under the warm summer sky.



I left very early in the morning, hoping to see some wildlife on the way back home.


I got lucky and spotted first a huge flock of cranes and then three times a white-tailed deer crossing the road or nearby field. I am definitely going to repeat this trip in the future!


Trip report: Seven Brothers hiking trail

“Jukolan talo, eteläisessä Hämeessä, seisoo erään mäen pohjoisella rinteellä, liki Toukolan kylää. Sen läheisin ympäristö on on kivinen tanner, mutta alempana alkaa pellot, joissa, ennenkuin talo oli häviöön mennyt, aaltoili teräinen vilja.”

With these words begins the famous Seven Brothers novel (1870) by a Finnish national author Aleksis Kivi, and now I was standing at Jukola bus stop, south of Nurmijärvi, near Palojoki and the childhood home of Kivi and in the very same landscape that had inspired him as described above, and along the hiking trail of Seven Brothers.


I began walking slightly after 7:30 am. The sun was already high and shining brightly, promising a sweaty day. Righ next to me both the Hämeenlinna highway and old Hämeenlinna road were noisy and it was difficult to tune myself to a mood of a previous century and the time of Seven Brothers, even though a typical Finnish countryside landscape opened up soon on the right hand side.


After walking three kilometers I reached the Myllykoski bridge, which spanned high and wide over the Vantaanjoki river. I found the first official signs of the trail after getting down to the riverside, passing by a slope full of blooming greater stichworts.

The path was well maintained and it climbed few times higher on the river bank and to the shadows of tall pine trees. The noise of the two roads got weaker under the sound of water. Birds were signing merrily but for my disappointment I wasn’t able to identify them. Only a White Wagtail and few Great Tits were brave enough to show themselves, and the first mosquitos of the summer.



I soon crossed another bridge and went under the highway to the northern side of Nurmijärvi. The fields were shining in yellow sea of flowers, and near an edge of another forest I saw the summer’s first lilly of the valleys. The day got hotter as the morning progressed.



After three hours of walking I arrived to the potholes of Nurmijärvi, which the Ice Age had so precisely carved. A whole class of school kids were wondering the same together with their teacher, but as soon as “lunch break” was shouted, I was left alone. I continued soon after towards Rajamäki town, some 6km away.



I walked through forests, which were both boring thick bushes and nicer ones with tall pine and spruce trees, along endless fields and sand roads, until I finally reached the first houses of Rajamäki and personal looking church behind them.




I bought some fresh juice and a choko ice cream, before sitting down for a lunch break next to a local football field – a true landscape of my soul.


I kept going soon after because I was barely at the half way, which began to feel heavy in my mind. Everywhere there was more fields, more forests, and no sign of Juhani, Eero or any other of the Seven Brothers, apart from the good signposts.


I went through a dry pine forest after crossing the Hanko highway. The ground looked nice for camping but I didn’t want to leave so much to walk for the next day as the weather would turn worse during the night; from summer heat into a cold and stormy, barely plus ten degreeish.

I pushed onwards but felt blisters beginning to form under my toes. What was happening? That had not happened even in the Alps.


I reached finally Hyvinkää region and the trail marks changed from red to blue, but at the same time I lost the whole trail near of a huge sand quarry. I made my way out from the forest to a road nearby through some backyards and people staring surprised. I walked a small detour following the road back to the Petkelsuo crossroads.

The route crossed then Petkelsuo marshland along well maintained duckboards. I reached also the 30km landmark and I wanted nothing else but to camp. But where to pitch your tent, the ground was not that nice and my goal, Kaksoislammit shelter, was still 7km away. Seven long kilometers full of suffering, just like many fierce adventures of the Seven Brothers had been.

My blistery feet were hurting, mosquitos were biting and the landscape wasn’t that inspiring. I began to question the sense of the whole hiking hobby, but I realized I had made a mistake by trying to walk too much considering my lack of walking lately.


I reached the Kaksoislammit around 7pm, almost after 12 hours of constant walking. I felt a great relief when I saw the well maintained log shelter on top of a rocky cliff. I was exhausted and the evening began to cool down, but fortunately the sun would be still smiling for a few hours more. I cleaned some rubbish that previous people had left behind before boiling noodles and vedgies. I read for a while the Seven Brothers book that I hadn’t finished yet.

Few bees were living inside the shelter and I didn’t dare to bother them so I placed my tent nearby. The sun was swallowed by the clouds just before disappearing behind the tree line. Wind got stronger and the treetops were singing with a threatening tone.


The next morning I got up early because of the birds and strong wind. At 4:30 it was light enough to walk so I began my last 8km to Hyvinkää city centre. My legs were complitely finished but the approaching stormy weather gave a boost to push forward. I saw two cranes in a field of Hyyppärä but the vicinity of Tampere highway disrupted this nature experience.

I finally reached the railway station and took a train back to Helsinki together with morning commuters, me looking tired and wild like a real Jukolan Jussi, one of the brothers in Aleksis Kivis story.



ROUTE: Palojoentie – Myllykoski – Rajamäki – Herunen – Petkelsuo – Kaksoislammit – Hyvinkää

DISTANCE: 37km + 8km

TRANSPORTATION: Plenty of busses from Kamppi bus station in Helsinki. The busses go towards Nurmijärvi or Hyvinkää, and depending on the line you can drop off either in Nurmijärvi or a bit earlier in the Jukola stop at the crossroads of Palojoentie -road. Takes about 40min and costs 7-8euros. Coming back by train from Hyvinkää. The birth home of Aleksis Kivi is located in Palojoki, 2km from Jukola stop to the east, if one feels like seeing that.

MAPS: Plenty of signposts along the trail, starting from Myllykoski, but I would recommend to print the maps below. Other terrain maps I didn’t need.

First part in Nurmijärvi

Second part in Hyvinkää

SHELTERS: One log shelter at Myllykoski and another one in Kaksoislammit, both well kept and having wood to make fire.

OPINION: I was excited in the beginning, but then the walking began to feel tiring and the trail boring. But this is partly because of my own exhaustion and the fact that as a Finnish I’ve seen this type of a landscape my whole life. It might be also much better for terrain bikers. Lot of noisy sections because of the main highways crossing the area.

Backyard birdwatching

Last time I visited my parents I challenged myself to photograph the birds that fly around my parents house. The idea was to capture at least one image of each of the different species and to learn to recognize them better. The task was difficult as most of these little fellows appeared only very briefly to the stage, but I’m very pleased with the results: 11 different birds and the squirrel!


Blue Tit




Common Magpie


Great Tit & Tree Sparrow




Yellowhammer (?)



European Robin




Great Tit




White Wagtail

I had so much fun spotting birds that it made me to appreciate more the “backyard nature”. I encourage you guys to study your nearby surroundings and to see what you could find!


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