Welcome to Lapland (4.)

Water and food

Last few days, we didn’t drink much, or ate much. After that, we were tired. Last morning, I counted how much water we drunk and it was about 2 litres in two days by two persons. It was bad, especially in cold weather (it is necessary to drink enough for so many reasons in cold weather). About the food? We were just lazy to stop somewhere and make food. It was same with water. After all, we changed it and made it little bit better in next days.

 

Long twenty kilometres

This morning we woke up quite early. We had to start our journey earlier than at noon. Our Finnish “roommates” helped us with getting up a lot. They just started to make their breakfast around 7 am and they woke me up with headlight (I had earplugs – boyfriend started to blow his nose and snore a lot). I was glad for earplugs. Still lying in bed, I give them some time to be alone and make their breakfast time.

When they looked almost finished, I got up and started preparing our breakfast. My boyfriend was still sleeping and didn’t want to wake him up. He got cold and was tired more than I was. I felt like my presence is highly annoying for that couple. They didn’t say anything; they even didn’t move with any mimic muscle. Only had their unwelcoming faces (just neutral expression, I am having it quite often), sitting at the table, talking and having breakfast. Sometimes I caught some words. Not enough to know what about they were talking. Mostly I didn’t listen, because I just wasn’t interested in it.

Around 8 am we had breakfast prepared and my boyfriend woke up. Or I woke him up. It doesn’t matter. We wanted to wake up at 7 am. Finnish couple left only few minutes before us, going the same direction as we wanted and asked, if we were there. We gave them some time (going close to somebody in nature is very weird and impolite in my opinion) and left.

Swamp and road

Yesterday we looked at maps and I checked even the route in terrain. It leads exactly to the swamp. I was worried we will easily loose our way again. But we went there. It was wide swamp/stream and because this day started to be very warm weather (no more snow) we didn’t see the path clearly. And the swamp began to melt too and it was soft, deep and wet.

We lost the path more times even before we arrived to the swamp and we were forced to watch it very carefully, because it wasn’t visible. Only somewhere laying grass, that’s all. And when we arrived to the water, the path didn’t exist there anymore. It simply wasn’t there. Only sometimes, somewhere few broken grass blades.

Somehow we crossed the wet part and after that it began to be very interesting. The path on the other side didn’t continue. We looked at map and realized, it continues about 500 metres from us somewhere in the hill. I told you how those paths looked like. They weren’t sometimes visible even when you were just standing on it.

We gave up for searching start of that path and just came in bigger angle to it, so we can spot it more easily. It was exactly it. It took us some time before we found it, going through the wet forest with soft plants on the ground. All around 100% coverage of plants (for phyto-cenologists) with some “bushes” in lower levels (mostly birches – other one than Betula pendula) and as trees mostly only Pinus sylvestris (pine) height about 10 meters. Any Picea abies (spruce) anymore. On ground surface, there were mostly half-shrubs. So here the soil was deeper.

And when we were going more uphill, Betula sp. (I didn’t examine it) started to increase its numbers and trees (Pinus sylvestris) were there less frequent and more far from itself. Even more rocks and with rocks usually comes shallow soil with Cladonia rangiferina.

After some time, we found our path which led exactly in our way. It was little bit wider with no plant coverage and the white/yellow gravel was “shining” compared to the dark green/red/brown plant surface. It led us to the “hell”. It was just great and amazing. It led us straight out of the forest and I adore landscape without trees (only the natural one).

Gloomy landscape

How to describe this totally amazing landscape with nice effect? Gloomy. I think, this is the best word for it. Colours? Yes, we saw some colours. Little bit of brown and red. But it was dark hill with empty open landscape, rocks, very cold wind, dark heavy clouds filled with rain and mist. We couldn’t see very far.

I will say it more botanically. Landscape without trees, only with some shrub and half-shrub vegetation (coverage about 30-40% or less), mostly with birches (Betula nana or Betula humilis). It didn’t have leaves anymore; it was hard to determinate and I didn’t want to do that. Those birches were in 20×20 metres square about 4-10 pieces. Not even lot of Cladonia rangiferina, mostly lichens like Xanthoria parietina (again, I didn’t determine it, I just looked at it from far). Shallow soil or no soil, lot of rocks and some water.

As I wrote, we couldn’t see far. The road was marked by wooden crosses and that was big issue. In normal circumstances, it is not a problem. They were “close” to each other and you could see from one to another one. In normal circumstances. But now, was misty weather and we didn’t see almost anything – especially I. My glasses were useless; they had too much water drops on it and I couldn’t see. I went without them.

Those crosses had even one next minus. They were old and sometimes destroyed by wind. Lot of times just lying on the ground. Coloured same as other landscape, sometimes we thought that is just a tree torso. It wasn’t. And when we saw just a rod going upright from the ground, with no cross at all, it sometimes was tree torso or destroyed wooden cross.

It started to be harder on the other side of hill, where trees started to be present again. We went to that rod only to realize; we are going to a tree torso. And we couldn’t see last cross, because it was on the ground, leaning on shrub. We were just standing on a place, afraid to move to any direction (going far from last cross wasn’t good idea). Of course, we knew the direction, but we didn’t want to lose path. On the ground wasn’t any path.

After some time, I finally spot that one cross laying on the ground. I needed to concentrate on strange objects which are not common in nature. And I think I have good eye for that. Especially, when you are looking on the dark grey shrubs and searching in them some signs. Wood lying on the ground was normal here. But if you focus, you can easily spot those man-made structures like planks or wooden cross even with same colour as everything around.

Forest? Forest!

When we made it little bit lower (altitude) we started to head back to the…well…” forest”. If you can call it like that. Mostly just trees closer to each other. Even some Picea abies (spruce).  Orientation there was easier and harder at same time. We could see path (sometimes) and mostly even those crosses. Lot of them were damaged, same as trees.

We made it to the valley with river. After that, we knew it will be easy now. And it was easy. And nice. The landscape was changing; I didn’t get bored because of that and it was simply perfect. And weather was very warm.

In a real forest (nice one) we saw not only reindeer tracks, but even the reindeers. Just two small white dots running somewhere in the forest far from us. And after few moments another one. Much closer to us. Bigger herd, some of them still having summer dark coat, some of them were pure white or light grey. We stopped for a moment. I wanted to enjoy watching them, but we had to continue.

Shelter

After some time, we arrived to the shelter. We saw it from behind and we saw the smoke and we thought that the Finnish couple from the morning is there. Carefully, we went to the fire. Only to see, that nobody is there and the fire is going to burn out. Any flames at all. I added one log and it started to fire again.

We enjoyed such a luxurious shelter and made our lunch. I put my woollen cloth next to the smoke, to have that amazing smell in it. Sweet woody smell. Not that aggressive smell of smoke, you usually have.

After spending some time there, making another tee, we were ready to go. I even made some photos of sunshine. We even saw tree shades! I almost forgot how does it look like. I made some photos of sun and those shades. Such a miracle! And not only shades. Blue sky. Can you imagine that? You probably can’t. You will maybe have trouble to imagine why it was so miraculous for me. It was beautiful.

Here even was thermometer and it showed it was very warm weather. Not in that meaning which most people have. It was about +2°C, very very warm weather. Few days ago, it was freezing and I didn’t felt it as cold. Now I had only light jacket against the wind (not warm at all) and one light sweater. I was okay with that, sometimes I felt hot in this combination.

We had something about 10 km in our feet and only less than 4 km left to the next day hut with closed café (Luulampi). It was cheerful way. We had nice weather (just little bit cloudy), sun was shining (I think three minutes), any rain and wind, warm weather. Just okay. And road was almost highway. Wide, marked and comfortable.

We arrived to coffee house in middle of swamps with nice lake and amazing views. Building was big and looked almost inappropriately there. And the big roads there looked weird too (no asphalt, of course).

Easy ski track

We took some time in that day hut there in coffee house with “dying” fire in the middle and ate something, looked to the map to next way we need to go. We were sure, we will arrive there in dark. It was only about 6 km from there, next day hut. I wasn’t happy to stay in day hut overnight, but I think, that those “exceptional circumstances” (In certain exceptional circumstances is possible to stay overnight in day hut) were obvious.

On our way outside, we’ve meet couple or German tourists. They obviously thought, that coffee house is opened. They had only one small bag for both and frightened away one reindeer herd.

We continued with road described as “easy ski track”. It went in the valley not uphill and downhill all the way. This one was good marked with new blue crosses, easily visible from far even in the dark. But to our desired goal led more than one way. And we didn’t know that. When we started to be far from those crosses, going uphill and almost didn’t see them (in fading light it started to be hard), we decided to go back to the valley.

There was one small path. With close look, we realized it is reindeer path to the river. We used it and went down. And saw birds. I don’t remember their names (they were described in the coffee house). One white couple still with few brown feather on themselves (edit: boyfriend says they are willow ptarmigans). They looked scared, but they didn’t want to move. Maybe they thought they are invisible to us. White birds on grey/brown surface… They were like two small lights. And they were close. Less than two meters. We surprised them, they surprised us. We let them be and continued our way.

Dark

After sunset, we knew, we will have some light at least next 30 minutes. So, we continued. Here wasn’t almost any plant cover on the ground, but path was easily visible. Sometimes not that easy, because it led through the river and swamp, where it wasn’t visible (at least for me).

Sometimes we had to stop to look where next cross is, but searching for weird shapes was useful. And they were visible mostly when you didn’t look at them directly, only with a corner of your eye. I don’t know, how my boyfriend had it, but my night vision sucks. He is much better in it than I am.

After some time, we started to be nervous. The hut should be somewhere here, close to us. Just next to the lake. But which lake? We passed around two or three lakes (I don’t count those without water) and still nothing.

Dark started to be more significant, we stopped a lot a looking where the roads leads. No more blue crosses. They simply weren’t there. Or we didn’t see them. After a while, we went next to the big lake. Is it that lake? Or different one? We weren’t sure. We looked to the GPS map and realized, we are close, less than one kilometre left.

Finally, we arrived there. Only one river to cross. Deep and wider one. No bridge. We looked more carefully in that weak light and I noticed something, little bit gleaming, over the river. Just few meters from us. It was a bridge. We were saved. We were at the place. In a warm nice place where we could sleep.

Soon we went outside from “our” hut and saw the light. Lot of light. It was moon, almost full and nice clear sky almost without clouds. I looked closely if I will spot something. Nothing. Just nice dark sky with no light pollution with shining moon and some clouds on horizon. It didn’t take long time and sky was again full of clouds.

We went to sleep. Happy and tired. And in warm.

 

P.S.: When you are using dry toilet in cold weather, it is uncomfortable and you think a lot, if you truly need to go there and consider how much time you will spend there. Here it was different. No space for wind, at least 5 degrees warmer than outside and polystyrene toilet seat. Oh. That luxurious toilet. It was like sitting on a throne. And so much space. In need you even will be able to sleep there.

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