Conditions very poor. The base of the snow has melted and the surface of many trails is prone to collapse. I chose a trail through the forest and going was very slow. I must only stick to the main trails when the sledge is heavy.
Lunch and siesta at Jänisvaara. Timo dropped off a new gas cylinder.
The afternoon running was better, but the dogs were getting tired. I went very close to Jussi’s place and travelled back mostly on snowmobile trails which were practically the only reliable routes.
In the evening I tried to read Alan’s unpublished book (Green & White). I think it could be described as a bit of a curate’s egg.
Limited sleep on train. I had the compartment to myself until midnight and then they let some other bloke in. There also seems to be a party in the adjoining compartment until 0200.
The Bus was OK and shortly after arriving I met Alan Kiff who had dropped in to see Timo. Apparently they are now living in Lower Woodford. Fixed up sled and sorted out dogs. Timo predicted rain and was later proved right!
The Tilsa road was completely impassable as it had been strengthened with a thick layer of grit which had completely obliterated the remaining snow. Tilsa was reached with difficulty. I later went to the top of Jänisvaara hill and then back to kennels. The continuous rain was very trying and made the trail almost impassible in places.
A very difficult start with dogs reluctant to leave Jänisvaara towards power lines. Storm was particularly bad and eventually I returned to the hut and left Storm. The other dogs then went 200m and stopped before the Valtion-Metsala. They could not be persuaded to go on. Finally I returned to the hut and tried to make for the farm. At this, the dogs started to run fine and so I decided to go North instead. I covered some interesting loops including the eagle trail.
The guides told me that the dogs have stopped in the same place before for an unknown reason. The consensus is that they can smell something, but no-one knows what.
A had lunch at Jänisvaara and then made a convoluted route back to the farm.
Headed NW from Saija and then down to Hepokangas. After driving around I tried to get to the Laavu for lunch. As usual there was no trail leading to it and when I finally arrived by walking and leading the dogs along the edge of the river there was no wood. Fortunately I had brought some from Saija. I painfully cooked the frozen sausages and then headed back along the army road.
I met an angry skiing lady who told me that the sledge damaged the special ski track. I told her to talk to Timo. When I told Timo about this later it was clear that he had crossed swords with this lady before!
I got lost in a stupid forest trail near Jänisvaara and arrived just as it was getting dark.
Left Jänisvaara at about 1030 and decided to take Northern route towards Saija. I followed the snow mobile trail and had lunch at Harjajärvi. Pressed on along the ridge by Kylmäluomajärvi and after several false turns found myself at Ahveninen. One interesting trail looked very promising until it passed a reindeer pen whereupon I decided to turn back. Several other turnings looked interesting but I had already had a very long run.
Woke at 0630 to find hut still quite cold. Clearly, I haven’t got the hang of the fire yet. I managed to get away by about 1100.
I met a group of snow mobiles and on re-starting nearly lost the team. I also found my way to a lake last visited many years ago.
I arrived a Jänisvaara at about 1440. The fire was already alight (presumably Sonja had recently been through with her guests) so I soon heated some sausages.
I lightened the sled and had a go at the canyon trail. On the way back I followed a new (at least to me) trail to the very top of Jänisvaara hill. The views were spectacular.
I returned to the hut and, after feeding the dogs, discovered that there was no gas left to heat my meal and no spare cylinder. I send a text to Timo who had a new one delivered. It subsequently turned out that there was still some gas, so the problem may have been with the valve.
Morning entirely spent fixing bag, loading sled and buying replacement thermals. I went with Sonja to Taivalkoski where I paid €20 into the SIM card and got some new thermals. I also visited a weird shop/museum and stopped for a brief cup of tea.
I finally set off after lunch. Storm was again reluctant to start and barked for many km. I arrived at Kÿlkeinen at dusk. The hut was cold and as always impossible to heat quickly. Timo has moved the kitchen again!
Sonja lent me her old phone, but when I got to the hut I discovered that it was flat, despite having been switched off. Fortunately, mine still worked to send text messages.
Still no sign of missing bag, but the lantern has been found. After the usual fuss to find things to take I left at about 1200. Sonya and Lotta asked if they could come along too and they agreed that I should lead. Visited Tilsa and Kÿlkeinen. Sadly, at Tilsa on of Lotta’s dogs chewed my GPS case. That evening, in what I can only describe as a sewing tour-de-force, Sonja made a new case which re-used the straps from the old one.
Timo’s son’s snow mobile broke down and I volunteered to help him retrieve it with the aid of a sledge on the back of his snow mobile. The broken machine was 20km away and we didn’t get back until 0015.
Uneventful flights from Tallinn, but security unhappy with my bag again.
At Oulu bus station, hundreds of students were trying to catch buses to Ruka. Apparently I had clashed with some species of holiday. I finally got onto the 3rd and last bus which left 45 minutes late. I tried to phone Timo: Good news, SIM card still active, but bad news, he can hear me but I can’t hear him. I discovered that text messages still worked OK.
At the farm I discover that my lantern and bag of clothes are missing; Timo instigated a search and after a while delivered a map case for me to borrow which turned out to be the one I lost two years ago and thought was somewhere at home!