Saariselkä

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Crown snow-load weighs still heavy on the shoulders of candle-shaped spruces. From smallest branches jutting out from the snow to tallest trees standing exposed on the fell sides, everything is covered in magical rime and whiteness. But it would be only a matter of days, when the wind and risen temperatures will shake off the memories of the winter. In the horizon, snow fields of the distant and bare fells glimmer in the spring sun. With the retreating coldness, new enthusiasm sounds in the singing of cute, tiny Siberian tits and playful -jays. Old northern raven wanders high up in the sky, monitoring the progress of the spring, like it has done for years.

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On both sides of ski trails openes up a vast, untouchable wilderness – the home of hares, reindeers and other arctic survivors. Strong wind sweeps over the treeless fell tops but lower, only the swooshing of the skis disturbs the silence.

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At night wakes up another magic world. After the day has disappeared behind the fells and starfields started to twinkle ever brighter in the darkening night, the Northern Lights begin their own, enchanting play.

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Lapland kept its promise, once again, and calls back to it the next winter too.

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Winter 2013 -2014

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The past winter was a huge disappointment, a total disaster. The one before had been very nice and winterish even here in the South of Finland; I did lot of cross-country skiing and enjoyed the true fourth season. But this one, I waited and waited but it never came. First snow appeared and disappeared and dull greyness prevailed.

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For not losing my mind completely, in mid March I had to escape to north for one week. Fortunately Ylläs ski resort showed the best of Lapland, and I was able to ski so much that it’ll be enough until the next winter!

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Mild and snowless winter meant also that I was not able to test properly a new Guahoo base layer I got to test for free. Mid-weight sport 570 with 30% merino wool is designed for cold temperature range and high activity level, so as the temps rarely went below -5 Celcius this winter, I didn’t wear it that much. But as a first impression, when running (30-60min) or cross-country skiing (whole day), the Guahoo seems to do the job like an ODLO in temps ranging +2 to -5 celcius.

Korpijaakko and his team are skiing across the ice sheet of Greenland this spring, wearing Guahoo baselayers, so we might hear after their trip more about the performance and durability in real use and harsh conditions.

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Autumn colors in Lapland

I spent the other week with my family in Kilpisjärvi, the north-western edge of the Finnish Lapland. No major hiking was planned but to do some nice day walks in the area, visit Norway couple of times and enjoy the luxury of a rented cottage.

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Saana, one of the highest peaks of Finland (1029m, not the second on the list as I had thought for some reason. Thanks Mark!), seen from our cottage window. There is an easy hiking trail up to the summit, which I did last time we where in Kilpisjärvi five years ago. Unfortunately this time the weather got so cloudy and foggy, that after the first day there was no good visibility to climb up there again.

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The weather turned out to be very dark and cloudy the whole week in the Finnish side, so we decided to cross the border to Norway where everything would be better except the prices. We drove until reaching the sea at Skibotn village and followed then the Lyngen fjord to the opposite shore. From there begins a nice hiking path up to a beautiful valley.

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This valley has a very special meaning for me because there I saw for the first time real mountains. Being surrounded by this grand beauty back in 2008 I got the “hiking bug”. It was cool to visit the place again. We were also very lucky with the weather that day as the light illuminated perfectly the yellow trees all around.

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The following day we visited Norway again. This time we headed more to the north along the same fjord. We were aiming for a spot where one could see unobstructedly the open Arctic Ocean. After couple of hours of driving we found it as the mountains and island finally gave away for a clear view. As we sat there on the rocks having a coffee moment, I saw some dark shadows moving in the water. I screamed to everyone, “look dolphins!” A group of harbour porpoise were swimming just in front of us. What a luck!

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I lured the magpie that lived around the cottage for a photo before we left the relaxing silence of Lapland behind. It was a nice week although it’s a long ride to get there and then back home.

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