Welcome to Lapland (2.)

Fairy tale and camera issues

Next morning, we were awakened by coming people around the noon. They obviously thought we are homeless people or something like that and they quickly went out. We packed our stuff fast and came out to the cold. It was like enter the fairy tale. Unbelievably nice fairy tale with frost and snow. And sun close to the horizon. After few days, I started to be used to it. Searching sun somewhere at the sky is useless. All the time is sunset or sunrise. More like sunset. If you want to imagine that, it is same as when, two thousand kilometers to the south (central Europe), is approximately an hour to the sunset. All day. So, classical time determination (by sun) simply doesn’t work here.

To the whole imagining, you can add small amount of light. When you are outside it is not that striking. But now, when I begin edit photos, I realized, it is bad for the camera. Most of the time I had time about 1/60 or 1/30 (afternoon even less) and diaphragm (I hope I am using this word correctly, but google says, I do) about 1/8 or 1/5 (minimum I have on my camera is 1/4,6 – I think). ISO not high, about 400 to 800 (those 800 starts to be visible). Most of the time I didn’t have enough time (or was just too lazy) to use manual, so I used scene regime for landscape. I am using it quite often with good results.

Only when I want to “play” with a light (or something else) I am using manual or half manual. Next issue was, that my front lens started to mist up. Camera was outside the whole day, but under the cover, water started to condense. And before I noticed, I made few blurred photos (all photos from the week are little bit blurred – not much light and unclean front lens from cleaning). When I looked on those blurred photos, most of them I like. It is usually on the side and makes interesting things with the photo.

Getting lost

Okay, we started to walk through that nice fairy tale and white I was waiting for the whole last winter. And winter before that…and before that. And I can continue five years back. I saw it last winter near the mountains, and only from the car and from the photos my sister made. I was envious. And now, I had it all around me. In the landscape. In the free landscape with only few building and small human impact. After few kilometers, even without that. We “lost” our way after about five hundred meters from our sleep place. There was a yellow tape crossing the road so we simply didn’t go there and continued to asphalt road next to it. But it went in a different direction. And the asphalt road ended next to downhill course. We knew, that our desired road leads somewhere on the other side of that hill, and we simply started to go uphill, to cross the road…which wasn’t there. It didn’t exist. Any marks, any signs. Just nothing. And as the maps told us, it should be somewhere there. Normal summer hiking and marked route. Nothing.

We knew the direction. We had compass. So…we just started to go some way. From the top of the hill, we decided which way will be probably the easiest and went to the valley. No need to waste energy for going uphill and downhill and in the valley, we will hold the direction easier. And as I wrote; the landscape was just magical and it totally got me. I was enjoying it. My boyfriend told me, if I will make photos like this whole day, my battery will be dead afternoon. For that cases, every time I am taking spare one with me. But the alndscape was this magical only in a stripe through Saariselkä and close surroundings. Everything was light and sometimes even sparkling when the clouds weren’t that thick anymore.

Did I told you about the water?

We went to the valley. There was a river. Yes, I forgot what I read about Lapland on one Czech blog. No place for the tent because of the rocks and swamps everywhere. But I remembered one advice (not from that blog); having good waterproof shoes is necessary, you probably will need to cross the river. For the first time, we encountered a river and swamp next to it. I enjoyed the meanders of the river, how the river was forming the landscape, where the flooded area ends and where the “dry” part start.

I enjoyed the landscape itself. I studied it carefully. Learning about things in a school is just useless, if never see it in real. And I was amazed. This was the best schoolbook ever. I could see everything I’ve learned. And knew where I can go, or where the water will be. And the fact, that crossing this river in a summer time is probably unpleasant. Small one, wide only about one meter. But the wet area had about twenty meters. And on the borders, some shrubs were growing. Mostly birches.

I don’t have enough experiences about crossing the swamps or even the peat-bog, but I know which plant I should search if I want to go there safely. But this works mostly only for the central Europe, the plants here are different. At least form the same plant families, only because of that I could recognize them. At least genus.

What was familiar to me too, was how the geology works here. I had more than month to learn how exactly looks landscape heavily formed by an iceberg. So now, I knew. And how looks landscape formed by a water? I know it too. It was easy to read this landscape. Much easier than read the cities here in Finland.

For a long time we went next to the river, looking what is around. And as I told, it was amazing. I think, I am not able describe it by words, but the photos can be helpful. Still, the photos are just a small part, just a fragment of all that. They don’t have whole atmosphere.

When we went to the forest the nice sparkling white began to fade out. It was less and less of it there. Sometimes we ate lingonberries (hmm, frozen berries are tasty ones) and saw lot of Cladonia rangiferina (reindeer lichen). Mostly the smaller ones, but I think I know why that small ones. A month ago I read some article at Finnish website (topic nature protection) where they were writing about recovery of the forests with the Cladonia which was devastated by too many reindeers. And huge lichens I saw only on a few places. Mostly in a badly accessible terrain.

From that forest, we somehow came back to the road. We don’t know where it was, but suddenly, it was there. We started to follow the road. It was little bit boring, but okay. The road was wide (about 1,5 m) natural road, marked. On the road, we didn’t have to pay attention to where exactly we are. It just led somewhere.

People and getting lost again

We’ve met about four people that day, just before we arrived to the day hut, Vellinsärpimä. It was luxury. We were wondering, how the overnight huts look like, if this one wasn’t intended for staying overnight. There was lot of stuff useful for making lunch and of course table and benches, outside fireplace. Toilets and hovel for the wood. We didn’t make anything complicated to eat and didn’t want to spend there much time (still about 5 km to go).

Short look to the map revealed us, to next hut leads very long road or any road. No road seemed as a best one. But into the forest, led some path. After few meters, we realized it leads to the bad direction so we continued in other way. Somewhere to the forest.

We realized quickly, that holding the direction in a forest is very hard. Every few dozen meters, we were forced to look at compass, where should we go. Terrain wasn’t hard, but most of the time it was uphill. With heavy backpacks, it was exhausting. And for me it was hard because I was wearing army shoes. I am not used to 3 cm not flexible sole and shoe which is not wide enough (just like normal shoes for trekking) – about two or three years I am using mostly only barefoot or minimalistic shoes and from these shoes my feet started to hurt quickly.

When we went out of the forest, we were tired. The terrain here was harder than in forest before and we were slow. It was demotivating. About three kilometers left, we were at the open landscape without a forest at all.  Much easier to hold the direction. But the dark slowly started to come. I knew we don’t have much time and I was ready to sleep somewhere between those rocks. Much better than became totally lost (we knew exactly where we are, we could even locate it on map…almost precisely). Rocky slope was hard for going and it took lot of energy. We went through few small streams with a frozen grass on the sides and few smaller waterfalls.

Did I told you about the rocks?

Around us were lot of ponds. Dry ponds without water, only rocks on the bottom and somewhere even with the peat soil. It wasn’t white anymore. Only little bit of snow, like a powder on every surface. We were tired and I was wishing for the end of our journey. Still, I was enjoying it. Making some photos in dwindling light, enjoying frost.

My boyfriend looked exhausted. Almost all the time I was faster. Still, my back hurt like a hell, I almost couldn’t breathe because of it. My feet were one time freezing and next time burning. It was pure agony. I was asking myself why I am doing this to myself, if I am enjoying suffering or why. Answer was: for that experience, of course. And after things like this, you are much stronger and you are leaving your past ego behind you. You are moving to some higher goal.

Maybe it is healthy, I don’t know. I am simply moving my borders somewhere else. I am less afraid of some things. And I am doing thing which I was unable to do few years ago. I am still searching who I am. And this helps. A lot. So, suffering is my way how to find myself. It is strange, I know.

Dark has come and I almost didn’t see anything. I started to be very fast. My poor boyfriend with very heavy backpack looked even more exhausted and angry in some way. When we couldn’t see almost anything (only lake with some building far from us), we looked on GPS map. There is a road! Close to us! We went with that map almost upright to the road. Looking for it. We didn’t found it. We gave up and continued our way. Now we knew, we need to go to that lake in far. It was terrible. It was close about 1,5 kilometers, but closer we were, it hurt more. Last three kilometers of our way hurt like a hell.

Despair

About 700 meters from the hut we found some “road”. It was more like animal path somewhere in the forest, but it worked. It leads us to the cabin, Kivipää. After few days, I have made me bath in a hot water in a bucket for waste water. Obviously mostly used for washing dishes, so I was little bit oily. But warm water was perfect. Especially for the feet. As you can see, the hut was very luxurious. Wooden beds with a huge space for only two persons (I know, I know, in the summer there is not enough space), stove, table, benches, toilet, shed for wood… just total luxury. I didn’t believe it whole evening. I was enjoying it.

Only one thing. We underestimated stove. It was small hut, with a small stove. We wanted fire whole evening and something in the night. So, we had near the stove temperature about 30°C, in the coolest corner “only” about 25°C and on the upper bed (two floor bed) was…well…very hot. We had there a sauna. We were laying just on the wood planks (cooling us), sweating. We fell there asleep and after an hour or more we woke up (around 11pm.) and went down. The heat there was unbearable. We changed our plans and went to sleep to a lower bed.

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