Just time for a short run before going for the bus. Managed to leave by about 0945 and headed N up old Marco route to forest road, then back to main trail and S via Finn-Jann laavu.
Dogs seemed a bit reluctant, particularly Max who kept stopping and trying to turn back and I didn’t take Selimo as she had not been running too well yesterday. I think they definitely need a couple of days rest to get back into top form.
Arrived back at farm just as dogs were being harnessed for day trip. Packed, stuff, tried to pay Timo (card failed, will try again via bank transfer from home) and made it to the bus stop in plenty of time.
In Oulu, experimented with getting number 9 bus to airport rather than taxi. It departed a few minutes late and took quite a while to get there due to circuitous route via suburbs, but was quite a bit cheaper at €5.80.
The day started early when I was woken at 0400 by strange noises coming from the veranda. I tried to solve this problem by hiding inside my sleeping bag, but when this didn’t work I was forced to get up and investigate. It seemed unlikely that it was a wild animal as the dogs would have been going wild and indeed it turned out to be the very un-wild form Max who had managed to get off his chain! In my bleary state I couldn’t work out how and just put him in another kennel, but in the cold light of day I discovered that the coupling on the end of the chain had somehow come unscrewed.
During his freedom he had found the feeding bucket containing two scoops of dried food ready for the morning. How much he ate and how much fell through the gaps in the floor is not clear. In addition, the scoop was nowhere to be seen. When Timo arrived at about 0930 with his tractor and snow plough he immediately located it in Max’s kennel!
Left at about 1045 and headed across lake to Hämeenvaara then up Tilsa road and around Romevaara before arriving at Tilsa for lunch. Many trees have been cut on Romevaara since I was last there (at least four years ago) and there are now some excellent views from the top.
After lunch went up Tilsa road and left at power lines along track next to canyon. Joined Koivuvaara road and then turned N across top of hill to Kortesuo swamps. Headed E and crossed Lohilampi which was not looking quite as open as I remember. Perhaps it is starting to silt up a bit.
Back along Koivuvaara road and then via normal tracks to farm.
Noticed strange object on trail leading from hut where it passes in front of sauna. Turned out to be a wooly hat presumably dropped by a guest as they were starting. Hung it up in hut and sent text to inform guides. After starting got a reply asking if I could take it with me, so collected it at lunchtime.
Dogs definitely a bit tired after two very long days and didn’t start with quite a much vigour.
Headed N from Jänisvaara road to North Road and from there too track N towards swamp trail. Found it OK, but took wrong turning and ended up next to main road. No obvious route away from road and Max keen to get onto road. Fortunately there was a bit of a bank to climb and after managing to stop team I removed Max and led him into the forest. Got rest of team to go the same way and finally managed to retrace my steps. Found better route which eventually emerged near junction of main trail and North Road.
Then took loop to West which turned out to be the same one I took on Tuesday. Returned to Jänisvaara for lunch.
After lunch tried to head for Lohilampi but must have taken a wrong turn as I eventually hit the snowmobile trail. However, on the way I crossed a swamp with many picturesque frost coated trees so stopped to take some photos.
Made my way to and then down canyon, crossed Tilsa road and headed for Kÿlkeinen. Arrived a little earlier than yesterday, but it took quite a while to get the new fire going. Perhaps there is a knack. As an added problem I had run out of new batteries for the lanterns.
Weather now much warmer and around -4°C most of day with cloud and no wind.
Slept in a little later and managed to get away from Saija by 1030. Headed N to Kylmaluomajarvi. Met Saija guide from yesterday at snowmobile trail junction at W end of lake. Followed trail as far E as the edge of the map before returning to kota for lunch. Direct route from trail to kota not open down steep slope so had to continue to adjacent laavu and then back along lake.
The kota was a delightful as always, it being one of those with a chimney suspended over the fire for you to bash your head on (as I did, just as every previous visit). Unfortunately the wood supply seemed to consist almost entirely of tree trunks.
After lunch drove length of lake and then followed snow mobile trail all the way back to Jänisvaara. Last few km along power lines and then through little used forest track to Jänisvaara road. Light almost gone by the time I reached the hut.
Whilst feeding dogs, five snowmobiles appeared on road. They stopped and the drivers started shining torches in my direction. Phoned guides and was told that they were probably police on a training exercise. Apparently one of the guides met a group of 20 of them yesterday. May have heard something which sounded like a police radio, so this theory has merit.
Weather today a little warmer at around -7°C. Some light snow towards the end.
A very long run from Jänisvaara to Saija partly due to wrong turnings.
Weather excellent with clear skies and trees very picturesque with frost on them.
Started OK on snowmobile trail and followed ski track S from power lines towards Hella and then on to army road. Got confused by trail near bottom of army road and turned back N. Eventually, after another couple of wrong turnings ended up at road crossing where trail runs beside road and eventually to Harjajärvi kota for a late lunch.
Decided to proceed to Saija by shortest route and fortunately met two Saija guides. Headed back across road and then E towards top of lake. Trail seemed much more open and couldn’t find the power lines I used to follow. Fortunately trail of Saija dogs was clear and my dogs found their way.
Subsequently discovered that power lines have been buried and forest was opened up at the same time!
Weather was generally good and skies clear, but as a result much colder. Temperature on lakes dropped to about -20°C towards end of day.
Spent entire morning preparing kit, waiting for bag and then packing stuff from bag. Timo provided new sled with significantly larger sled bag (as it turned out this was essential). Lunch and food supplied in two huge bags was far too much, but could be cut down by discarding less vital stuff and some judicious decanting.
Helped a couple of groups to depart and bag arrived just as the last of the guests set off at about 1130. By the time I had showered and re-packed my stuff it was after 1300.
Drove directly to Janisvaara by the direct route up the main trail in about 30 minutes. Had a hasty lunch and lightened sled then returned back down Janisvaara road and across main trail. Did standard loop to re-join trail further up, drove N and then found another route to the left. Not sure if I have driven it before, but certainly ended up on knife trail. Route eventually led to forest road which led back to main trail.
Before returning to hut, drove to top of Janisvaara hill and photographed sunset complete with Moon and Venus.
Managed reasonably well in hut given how many years it is since I last did so. New LED lanterns worked very well. It looks like they give nearly as much light as the petrol lantern with vastly less weight, faff and risk. Unfortunately they are not quite as battery efficient as I had hoped. They seem to get through three AA Lithium-Iron Energizer cells in about four hours. Given the number of new batteries I brought with me some economising is going to be needed.
No sign of bag in the morning, so borrowed some thick socks and ventured out without a map. Got away by about 1030 and headed off to left of main trail. Eventually re-joined trail but wasn’t sure where. Headed N and finally hit Janisvaara junction. Didn’t want to go to hut, so instead went to top of hill and down other side to power lines.
Found my way to Tilsa road and thence to Tilsa for lunch. Large bag of food provided included not only sandwich and sausages, but also dried soup and associated billy can.
During lunch Kattla got loose after someone chewed through his line. Fortunately I had a spare.
After lunch tried to proceed around base of Romevaara, but trail not open all the way. Therefore turned N and eventually ended up on route next to large swamp S of kennels. Clearly following day trip, but due to strong wind and snow they tracks were almost invisible across the swamp.
On arrival at power lines let dogs lead me home which they did via the Southern route to the kennels.
Still no sign of bag, so kennels phoned Finnair to be told it was waiting at Oulu because they couldn’t get through to my mobile.
Before bed tried out my old petrol lantern which hadn’t been used for four years. Partly in-case bag didn’t arrive and party to show modern youth (guides) how tough we had it back in the old days! Sadly it didn’t work as there seemed to be a leak in the valve which made it impossible to maintain pressure.
Checked in OK for flight to Helsinki, but plane was late departing. Reason was unclear, but there seemed to be a very long queue just to get into the gate. Queue didn’t go away until boarding was already underway.
Plane was new A350, so 3-3-3 configuration, but long haul experience with screen in back of seat and video on demand (including two external views of aircraft). Not clear if this is a permanent change or just the aircraft that was available, but economy class was pretty full. I was fortunate and there was no-one in the middle of my block of three seats.
Still 10 minutes late on arrival to Helsinki, that plus slow bus ride to terminal meant that I only just caught the Oulu flight and my bag didn’t.
Met at Oulu by Timo’s daughter Milla who helped me to fill in the missing bag form. Then long drive to kennels with two other arriving guides. Evening meal was Pike – very tasty.