Trip report - Finland/Norway Jan/Feb 2014 Ivalo and Karasjok

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Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
Apologies for my staccato progress when writing this report, I'm doing it while 'working' on night shifts and will have to do the report in a piecemeal fashion...


The seed was sown back in 2012 when Chris The Cat and I agreed to return to Scandinavia in 2014 and spend a week in a cabin somewhere. However this was not to happen as we had agreed to join a trip with Teepee and Barethrills to Karasjok, supposedly the coldest town in Norway. The trip dates were set at 4th - 18th February for the main party and 29 January - 18th February for me. The early dates were chosen in the hope that we'd get some really cold weather, typically around the -40C mark. Personally I'd have rather travelled in early March to benefit from the much longer days.
Before the trip there was much discussion via the Interweb and C The C kindly hosted a planning weekend were we sorted out out logistical and kit issues but, sadly, we did not nail down the purpose of the trip or the route we would take. Here's a link to the initial planning thread for those that are interested- http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=116047&highlight=karasjok
Interweb discussions continued after the planning weekend and we had 2 main choices of route, either north along an interesting ski/skidoo route which followed an old postal route or south along the river. The route north was on the Finnmarksvidda Plateau and visited many fine lakes and hills but had fairly sparse tree coverage while the route south had better tree coverage and easier hauling. After much discussion the route south was chosen. This was not my preferred choice and I was no longer sure that I could commit to staying with the group for the full trip. After much soul searching I decided to commit to the trip but not to the group meal planning as I couldn't be sure that I wouldn't throw my toys out of the pram and set off on my own.
I was due to fly from Gatwick on Wednesday 29th. I finished my night shift that day at 0530 and drove to the long stay car park where I managed to park next to one of the shuttle bus pick up points. I had about 6 hours kip in the van then got up to pack my bags. I still hadn't decided whether to pack my mountaineering kit and head off alone or pack my bushcraft kit and stay with the group. I was leaning towards the first option but as I was carrying one of the group first aid kits, a group shelter and various other items of group safety kit I was obliged to go with the latter option, and anyway I'd already booked a second visit to the area in March/April as I knew that this trip would not scratch my itch!
So the bushcraft kit got packed, the ice axe and crampons left behind and I loaded my 5 bags onto the Gatwick shuttle bus. Initially I only had 4 bags (inc. hand luggage) but one was slightly overweight and it was cheaper to pay for an extra bag rather than an extra 3KG of excess baggage.
From the bus stop there is a 200 metre walk to the check in desks so I went in search of a trolley. I found plenty but needed a £1 coin to release one. No problem, I had a £5 note and there was a change machine next to the trolleys, only problem now was that the machine was out of order! I really wasn't feeling any enthusiasm for the trip and was about to board the next bus back to the car park and go home when a good Samaritan asked me if I needed a pound coin. This chap had seen me struggling and freely gave me a £1 coin to help me on my way. The rest of the trip was trouble free, the only down sides were the lack of catering on the flight and the overnight wait at Helsinki airport but this was 2 hours shorter than expected due to the UK/Finland time difference.

Me fighting for a chair in a busy Helsinki airport.
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The highlight of the airport, vending machines that sell Haribo Click Mix.
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The January edition of the in-flight magazine had an article about some geezer who holds various records for doing things in cold conditions, I was going to borrow their title for my trip report but given what we were about to experience it seemed inappropriate. An alternative and apt trip report heading of 'What a Karasj(h)oker' was suggested by one of the team members.

In-flight mag, I so wanted to plagiarise this title...
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I finally arrived at Ivalo airport at about 10am and took a taxi into town to do some food and fuel shopping then I carried on in the taxi to the village of Kopello which has easy access to the lake. I was about to find out that I was carrying too much kit for my pulk, lack of snow back home was a fair excuse for not doing any hauling practice but there was no excuse for not doing a trial pack. The fact that I was carrying both a complete wool and a complete synthetic clothing system (for comparison) only compounded the problem. Whilst packing my pulk I was visited by a local old bloke and despite having no common language we managed to have a conversation about skiing on the lake. I also had a visit from a local dog, most people seemed to own a dog or two.

Local dog became shy in front of camera
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Start of the route, notice the blue sky...
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Overloaded pulk
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Sunset was at about 3PM
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This was typical of the view for the first 5 days
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Tracking data
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Roadsigns on Lake Inari
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Skidoo trail map
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Kit once finally packed properly
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Travelling was not as easy as expected. Sometimes I needed the skiis, sometimes it was easier to walk. If I strayed from the skidoo tracks travel became even harder due to the uncompacted snow. I pitched camp on the lake at about 4:30PM. My shelter was the flysheet from my tent, a Hilleberg Soulo. In retrospect I should have taken the tent inner too to help me cope with the powder snow which seemed to get everywhere. The flysheet, even though of a freestanding design, was held down by using buried anchors made from my skis and poles and I also used an ice screw to be 100% safe. My main stove was a brand new MSR XGK which I had purchased 2 days previously. I thought the fuel I had purchased was white gas but it was paraffin. After trying to light the stove for 30 minutes I gave up and resorted to using my backup stove, a Caldera Cone. Even the CC refused to light for a while, a problem not helped by the temperatures of about -18C. Fortunately I was carrying 3 litres of water in flasks and insulated Nalgene bottles so I didn't have to melt snow for a meal and a brew. I was cooking inside my flysheet due to the strong breeze, the downside of this was the condensation freezing inside the tent.

Frozen flysheet
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After my evening meal was finished I spent some time melting snow to refill my flasks then I had an early night. I slept for about 10 hours but had the weirdest dreams. I dreamt that I was chasing the Queen down a motorway, she was in a 1970s Roller and I was on my pushbike. I was trying to arrest her because she hadn't passed her 'dining at -10C or colder' exams!

Breakfast was porridge or pehaps museli accompanied by a brew. After breakfast I set off for a wilderness hut further north. The hut was only about 12KM away but the going was hard, again I was sinking into the snow despite following skidoo tracks. Powder snow would blow across the lake and quickly fill any tracks made by passing skidoos or dog teams. I was passed by 2 women and their dogs, I think they were taking hay to their reindeer who lived across the lake. After travelling for about 6 hours I was finally in the location of the hut however it was only marked on my 1:150,000 tourist map and not my 1:50,000 map. Needless to say I didn't find the hut and I spent another night on the ice.

Night 2 camp
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My nose runs constantly in cold weather...
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Tonight's wild dreams included a conversation with a spider about the difficulty of spinning a web on MDF furniture.

The following morning's breakfast was followed by a short walk to the hut which I had missed by about 150 metres.

Outside the wilderness hut
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The hut complex consisted of the hut itself, a lapp pole tent (a square log cabin with a 4 sided sloping roof) 2 wood stores, a fire pit and 2 composting toilets. The complex gets more visitors in the summer from canoeists or tourists on organised boat tours. The log books in the hut and the pole tent suggest that winter visitors are few and far between.
I had been planning to travel north to Inari but I could not be 100% sure of catching the bus so decided to have 2 nights in the hut then head back to Ivalo where I would meet the rest of the team on Tuesday. During the days at the hut I was visited by 2 guys on skidoos. Their job was travelling between the huts and making sure they were in good condition. Best job in the world.

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The neighbours
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Gas stove in hut (summer only)
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Rules and regulations
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Route planning
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Melting snow on the hut woodburner
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Feeding the stove
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Bed time (6PM)
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Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
After about 10 hours sleep on Saturday night I woke at about 7AM on Sunday morning. My mind was still churning over the options of having another day in the hut or pressing on north for Inari. As the route north was not on skidoo tracks I assumed that the going would be difficult and there was no guarantee that I'd make the rendezvous on Tuesday. I also noticed when looking at the map that the next hut I had planned to stay at was a rental hut and not a wilderness hut. This sealed my decision to stay put for another day then head back south to meet the bus at Ivalo rather than Inari. Not that spending another day static was a bad thing but, with hindsight, I should have pressed on north.
After a leisurely breakfast I decided to have a walk in the forest behind the hut. I found scrapes in the snow where reindeer had slept next to the hut and there was also a quantity of straw. I had seen women dog sledders in the area yesterday and they were hauling straw, I assume that the deer were semi-wild and were fed by the locals. I also found human footprints disappearing into the woods, I followed the prints but gave up when I got tired of sinking to my waist in deep snow. When I returned to the hut I studied the map to see where the prints may lead but there were no other buildings on the island so I can only assume that they belonged to a hunter.
Once back at the hut the fire was rejuvenated and more snow was turned into tea. A stainless steel bucket and ladle are provided for the purpose of water/snow collection, very convenient.
During dinner I was joined on the island by a family on skidoos. They didn't go to the hut but went to the larger pole tent next door which is about 70 metres away. They stayed for about 4 hours then left in the direction from whence they came. I assume they were just out for a Sunday drive/picnic. Visiting the 'tent' after their departure I found that they had lit a sizeable fire, the temperature in the hut had risen from -18C to a balmy +14C.
During the day I also had time to ski out to a tiny island about 1km away. The island was surrounded by giant boulders which seemed to be floating on the ice. Whilst there I saw a group of dog teams on the ice, probably tourists from a local husky farm. I enjoyed the sight of a couple of reindeer who had been startled by the dogs.

Wood store
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Pole tent
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Pole tent fire place
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Camp fire
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Wilderness hut and log store
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Stainless bucket and ladle
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Woods behind the hut
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Returning from ski trip
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Mini island surrounded by boulders
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Boulder on the lake
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Dog teams
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Startled reindeer
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The remaining hour of light were spent walking locally and taking photos of nothing much in particular. Dinner was taken on the patio, the air temperature was about -10C. The temperature was rising from the lows of the previous days, sadly it would not fall substantially during the following fortnight. I have accurate recordings of temperature as I was carrying 3 Ibutton thermocrons, miniature digital thermometers which I had programmed to take a recording every half hour. One was kept attached to my pulk so it recorded outside air temperature, one was on my compact camera so recorded temperature in my smock pouch and the third was attached to my Silva air speed meter which was kept in the top pocket of my daysack. A readout of the outdoor thermocron is shown below. I have shown the first 5 days and we can see how the temperature falls once I leave the airport, we have 2 lows during the first two nights then the temperature gradually starts to rise. I also have a photo which shows a typical day's rations.

1st five days temperature
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A typical 24 ration assortment
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A candlelit meal for one
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A view of full honey pans behind the composting toilet. Hope they are removed before the thaw!
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Basic but effective
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Multilingual khazi instructions
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Why no dogs and why in English?
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Yours truly in the lap tent after the visitors left
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The fire pit in the 'tent'
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The evening was taken up with personal administration and tidying the hut such that the next visitor had a decent supply of chopped wood and kindling. The base of the pulk was treated to a coating of liquid teflon in the hope that it would improve its haul-ability. I also used the hut pen to write my notes, the one thing I had forgotten to pack was a pencil! Cooking (by which I mean turning snow into boiling water) was done on the meths stove as the hut was so warm I had to let the fire die down. The warm hut was also causing condensation issues with the lens on my camera. My frozen Lundhags boots were frozen so I hung them above the fire to thaw. I wore my USAF mukluks instead and the performed well but they were vulnerable to melting snow if I got too close to the fire. Again I had an early night as I needed an early start on Monday. I was sleeping about 10 hours per night, I usually sleep for 6.

Leaving kindling for the next guests
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Stoking the fire for the night
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Smoke build-up on the ceiling
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Salt, I presume it's for the floor which gets slippy when the melted snow refreezes after the stove goes out
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Waxing the pulk
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The hut and I.
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Compass, headtorch and whistle hanging from the ceiling
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View from the bedspace
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Location of the hut complex on the island
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Last edited:

Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
On Monday I had prepared myself for an early start, not easy when the hut was so comfortable. At one stage I had managed to raise the internal temperature to 28C. I was mobile at 0800 at the start of the dim dawn light that occurs an hour before sunrise. Going was difficult and the top heavy pulk kept tipping over in the uneven snow. Righting the pulk involved removing my gloves then removing my daysack. The pulk was connected to me be fibreglass poles which attached to the waist belt of the daysack. After going through the ritual of removing my kit to right the pulk over a dozen times in 200 yards I took a break to repack and rebalance my kit. The pulk became slightly more stable and the remaining kilometre to the skidoo trail was much easier. Once on the skidoo trail tipping was no longer an issue, however even though a few skidoos had passed this morning the continuing winds had filled the tracks with powder snow and the going was not easy. At best I was doing 2km per hour. Eventually I decided to remove my skis and walk in my ski boots. This was no slower than skiing and allowed me to use more familiar muscles. Even so, after about 10KM I was dog tired and resting every 20 metres or so. For some strange reason I started humming the theme tune from the 1970's kid's show 'The Flumps', or more accurately I was humming it when not swearing at myself in a futile attempt to increase my motivation. I was shuffling along dragging my feet and feeling sorry for myself when I saw a tourist party of about 30 or more skidoos heading towards me. As I was wearing a number of prominent Union and Welsh flags I picked up my pace and started to stride purposely. Numerous waves from the skidooists lifted my spirits but once they had passed I was shuffling along slowly again. Next time I'll get some Velcro French flags to place on top of the British flags:lmao:.
It was still dark when I decided to stop. I was at the edge of the lake at the mouth of the river. When I got home and reviewed the tracking data I found that it had taken just short of 8 hours non-stop travel to cover about 15KM. I had passed the half way mark to my destination but not by much. I had until 16:30 on the following day to reach my destination. Anyway, that was tomorrow's problem and I now had to concentrate on setting up my camp. I shovelled a foot of snow to get down to the lake ice then I set out my flysheet. One corner was again anchored with an ice screw and various guy lines were anchored with skis, rucksacks etc. Snow was shovelled around the tent to stop the winds from blowing under the skirts. Once pitched I once again cooked under the flysheet and also melted snow for the flasks. I was now to encounter a new challenge, the temperature had risen to -1C and the ice that had melted under my stove was not refreezing. If I rolled into the pool of melt water at night my sleeping bag would be difficult to dry so I removed the water by using snowballs as sponges.

Tracking data for Monday
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Rejoining the skidoo track
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Digging out the snow on the lake ice
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There's always time for a bad 'selfie'
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Melted ice under the stove
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Tent finally pitched and anchored
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View of 'Chez Bob'
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Time for dessert
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Motivated by my pending rendezvous with the bus to Karasjok I eventually forced myself out of my pit at 0700 on Tuesday morning. Another good sleep on the ice but I had some wacky dreams again. Also I had slid off my Thermarest and had one ear pressed against my foam kip mat. I could hear the weirdest noises coming from the ice, it sounded like wind blowing over distant wind chimes - the lake was singing to me! It made me feel really guilty about taking a massive dump on the ice before breaking camp. The sky was overcast when I arose and it was still dark. Breakfast and flask filling chores were completed within an hour and as the sky started to lighten I dug out the 'deadmen' that were securing my shelter. I noticed that despite using a huge sleeping bag, 2 kipmats and a thermarest the snow had melted where I had been sleeping leaving a fantastically smooth finish on the ice.

Melted bedspace
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I set off for the bus depot at 07:44 and again, even though I was following skidoo tracks the going was difficult. There were so many large skidoo groups on the lake that they were churning up the ice and snow rather than compacting it. As per the previous day I was waved at by numerous tourists* on skidoos. I waved back with a Betty Windsor stylee wave. After about 3km I passed the lake based roadsign shown in part 1. It showed that there was a further 13km to Ivalo. Deep joy. Long story short - it was a real slog but when I was 4Km away from Ivalo I received a text from Barethrills stating that the group was now located at the bus depot. I replied with my location (and a warning that I was moving slowly) via Facebook, for some unknown reason I could receive texts but not send them. After a few more exchanges Teepee and C The C were dispatched to rescue me. I was happy for someone else to haul my pulk for the last Km or two. We arrived at the depot at about 2PM, today it had taken me 6 hours to cover 16Km. Numerous coffees were consumed and another trip was made to the supermarket to top up supplies (and buy a pencil). It was only my tiredness that stopped me having a 'supermarket rage' incident, trying to find what you want in a totally alien market is not a pleasant task and Finnish having no common language roots with English did not help. The staff however were most helpful and most had an excellent grasp of English.

Riverside des res
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British Army Marching Powder, an old friend and saviour
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Skidoo motorway
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Chasing the sun, this was the last I saw of it for a fortnight
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Another bad selfie
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No cars or motorcycles, you don't say!
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Yours truly in the coffee shop at the bus depot
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Chris The Cat
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Barethrills
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Teepee (photo taken later in the week)
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Chris the Sleeping Cat
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Tuesday's tracking data
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Our bus was parked up long before its departure time which gave us plenty of time to hijack its cargo bay. Fortunately there were only 5 other people travelling with us. The 160Km journey cost 30 Euros and took about 2.5 hours which included a 20 minute driver's break at the border crossing. Some group members were trying to sleep on the coach but it was too uncomfortable. We asked the driver to drop us as close to our cabin as possible which was at Karasjok Camping. Being a decent sort he went off route and dropped us off at reception. Result. Once booked in to our cabin we set about the task of repacking our gear for hauling. My kit needed little prep but the others were fresh off the plane and still packed for flight. Boggans were unrolled and stretched out in the cabin. Due to the warm temps we also arranged to ditch a lot of kit, this would be kept in the store room at the campsite. Spirits were high in the cabin and much BS was talked. Packing took an age but we still found time to abuse some 'duty free' goodies.

Prepping the boggans
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Teepee takes 5 (hours)
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There goes the neighbourhood
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Chris's baldy head
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One for the ladies
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Right then, where was I. OK it's Tuesday night and we're sorting kit out in the cabin, drinking spirits and refuelling Zippo lighters, what could possibly go wrong? Long story short, at least two of us were bathing our burns in cold water for half an hour. After a night of Olympic standard snoring combined with some powerful flatulence we arose fairly early on Wednesday and after a breakfast of porridge and chagga tea we finalised our packing. We departed via the reception cabin where we dumped excess kit. We also got some advice about the area from Frank, a local guide and brother of the campsite owner. After a few hundred metres we were on the river and hauling was easy. We followed skidoo tracks which were well consolidated and were not covered in powder snow. After a few Km we were joined by an old dog of indeterminate breed, probably a husky, elk hound collie cross. I suspect that the dog once belonged to a husky farm and took part in dog sled tours. She was well behaved and had a strong herding instinct, she would get upset if the group became widely spread out and would try to round up the stragglers. Shortly after being adopted by the dog a local dude on a skidoo stopped for a chat. Despite being a Man. U. fan he seemed like a decent sort and was interested in hearing about our journey. We asked him about the dog and he said that there were many strays in the area and he stated that the dog would be able to fend for itself and that there was probably no one who was worried about it. After our chat we continued hauling for a while then stopped for dinner. Whilst stopped we nearly had a collision with a dog team, the driver being upset that we had stopped on the river. If we had been moving at 2 MPH instead I'm sure we'd have been just as much of an obstacle. In hindsight I think the female musher was more upset that her dogs failed to take avoiding action without her input.
We travelled about 10Km before darkness began to fall then after much fannying around with maps and GPS (to make sure that we were not near a house) we pulled off the river up an embankment into a wooded area. A fire pit was dug, hammocks were hung, tents were pitched and bivis made. A stew was cooked for the 3 musketeers and I had another Mountain House meal. Brandy was consumed and flasks were filled with water though we did use the petrol stove to hurry matters along. The dog was also fed though she was reluctant to take human food at first, another sign that she was a well trained safari dog. Before turning in for the night we checked the temperature and pressure and the news was not good. The temperature was just below zero and the pressure was falling and this was the theme for the next fortnight along with the 100% cloud cover.

Convoy day 1 (day 7 for me)
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Chris being attacked by a savage dog that we called Spazzy McGee
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Chris and Spazzy hauling downstream, Paul is wearing his Steiger granny boots.
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Local dude takes an interest in the 4 mad Britons.
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Pete has a Dundee cake for lunch
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Spazzy McGee sees off a passing sled team
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Dog team
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Tracking data
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Near miss on the river
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Candle in the wind
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Where's Spazzy?
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Our first campfire
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Bearthrills and Spazzy
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Pete boiling water
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Too many chefs...
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Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
On Thursday we had a late start, I guess the latecomers were still jet lagged after their 2 day trip. Hauling was not so easy today and we had also decided that we would make camp before darkness fell. After travelling for a short while we flagged down a skidoo travelling in the opposite direction. After a brief chat we asked them to take our dog back to the house from whence it came.
A bit more travel took us to a major junction in the river and we also found some bad ice, probably caused by the number of fast running tributaries in the area. The problem was compounded by the cracks being hidden by deep snow on the river. We followed the river to the south and as soon as we passed the last house we made camp. We had a good supply of fallen trees and soon had another smokey fire going. One of the reasons for going to Norway instead of Finland was the more relaxed laws relating to using wood. In Finland you can't even use twigs off the ground and cutting down a tree is a criminal offence. On the plus side they do supply wood for free at numerous campfire sites. Today we used a long fire and it worked well and the 10" diameter logs burnt for a fair while. Our shelter was a simple lean-to and all 4 of us slept under it. Highlight of the day was having 2 police skidoos go past the camp and having our pile of firewood burst into flames in the middle of the night! We slept for 12 hours despite Barethrill's snoring.
Friday was a lazy day, we had decided to stay static today as we had 2 sickly team members, 1 with a touch of the sour apple twostep and one with a bad back. The hours of daylight were spent building camp chairs and playing with an axe. The axe was invaluable for rescuing the bow saw when it got stuck. Other than that we didn't do much. For tea the boys made another stew and I had another boil in the bag meal.

Chris chops some wood
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Pete hauls the logs back to camp
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Chris made a candle from some dead standing wood
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Chris and Pete smoking near the candle
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Making tea
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Our camp and tarp shelter
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Our camp and the river on the left, we didn't travel far from the river.
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The long fire
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We hadn't travelled far
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Friday was another static day. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, we processed more of the windfall wood and had another day around the fire. We had a brief visit from a local on a skidoo who was interested in what we were doing but other than that, nowt happened.

Saturday was another late start. We travelled further south along the river then left the river to travel on a snow covered road. Much of the wooded area was scrubby, there were few areas of old trees. As it was getting dark we pulled off the road and followed a skidoo track into a wooded area. The trees were no more than 30 years old and we were again in an area of deep powder snow. Not an ideal site but it was what it was. The previous night we had discussed sharing a bivi again but unbeknownst to me things had changed. Paul was still under the weather and wanted to try his 'hot tent'. Chris was to share Pete's bivi tent. None of us was particularly bothered about a group fire which meant that I had to break into my last litre of meths, Pete and Chris were cooking on the petrol stove and Paul had his woodburner running. I hadn't yet made my shelter as I really wasn't feeling the love and was not sure that I was going to stay. If I hadn't left kit back at the campsite I'd have hiked back to the main road and caught the bus back into Finland. I was carrying a lot of group first aid kit plus an emergency shelter and various other items of emergency kit so leaving at this stage would have been a bit naughty, however if I had not left kit at the campsite I'm 90% sure that I would have banged out at this point. I think we all realised that we were not going to get anywhere interesting or achieve anything of any worth. Despite being out for a few days we were still only a few Km from the main road, there was never a feeling of being in the wilderness, I had a constant nagging feeling that we were always camping in someone's back garden.
I think the group was well and truly broken at this point, we were all in bed by 7PM though there may have been some after hours drinking going on.
Sunday was another static camp and nothing much happened. 3 of us went for a walk for about 3km down the road and met a local herder on a skidoo who was more than surprised to see 3 British pedestrians. We also saw a couple of moose and an eagle. Again there was no camp fire and we had another early night after we had had a group discussion about how we could salvage the rest of the week. We were well and truly in the doldrums and this was not helped by the temperature being a balmy -1.7C. We would later name this bivi site 'The Camp of Doom'.

Setting off on the river towards 'The Camp of Doom'
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On the road heading towards 'The Camp of Doom'
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Riding the 'bogan towards 'The Camp of Doom'
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No group fire at 'The Camp of Doom'. Pete cooking on the Omnifuel
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Paul's hot tent at 'The Camp of Doom'
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My bivi at 'The Camp of Doom'
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The view from 'The Camp of Doom'
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Pete still likes his food, even at 'The Camp of Doom'
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Pete's bivi at 'The Camp of Doom'
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Chris digging in at 'The Camp of Doom'
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Happy, smiley faces at 'The Camp of Doom'
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Last edited:

Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
On Monday we finally managed an early start. We had the choice of heading about 10Km south to investigate some lakes or head back north east along the road. The decision was made to head back. Personally I feel that return journeys should be done as fast as possible as they mark the end of a trip. I have a particular mind set that tells me to move as fast as possible once on the homeward leg. We still had six nights to kill before being due back at the campsite yet here we were heading for home!
We made good time along the compacted snow on the road and quickly covered the 9Km to a couple of roadside ponds that we had noticed on the map. Sadly they were not suitable campsites. We pressed on through a few villages and at one point a whole family came out to watch the strange sight of 4 Brits hauling sledges. It was a strange feeling walking through a hillbilly village with the dogs barking and with the locals enjoying a freak show. One local asked us, in good English, what we were up to. How did he know we were not Norwegian speakers? Obviously the locals don't go anywhere in groups with 'boggins in tow. Mad dogs and Englishmen etc. The roads around the villages were gritted and this was making hauling difficult and also damaging the sleds. We pulled of the road and hauled up a short track into some trees into what was to be our home for the next three nights. Again this was not a remote site and we were within earshot of the houses on the road. We could also see across the river to the major road in the area which further removed any illusion of remoteness. However spirits were slightly lifted and we had a good supply of wood as we were near power lines which had been cleared of nearby trees by the local power company. They had left the felled trees under the path of the power lines which made harvesting quality firewood an easy task. According to my notes we made a fire and built another camp tripod. And that was Monday.

Tuesday was our second day in this slightly improved camp and the highlight was seeing a red squirrel. We were also surrounded by wolverine tracks. There was a more relaxed feeling in the group and I finally made time to light my pipe. The only other thing of note was that I tried out a vapour barrier liner in my sleeping system. It worked fine but the inner bag was soaked in sweat as it was too warm for the system to work properly. In fact the temperature had risen to plus 1C and the snow on the road was melting! A recce was carried out and a route to the haulable river was found. Despite the rising temps we were starting to feel cold. This is because of the damp conditions which seem a lot colder than when the temp is below zero and the dampness is frozen out of the air.

Wednesday was supposed to be a travelling day but we were within a day of the final campsite and the road condition was due to improve due to the forecast snow. We were so late getting up this morning that another night in this location was inevitable. Nothing else happened other than we got my MSR XGK stove working and failed miserably at making a Swedish candle.

Happier faces at the campsite after 'The camp of Doom'
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Paul's happier
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Chris was less miserable than than he had been
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I'm always miserable, it's a hobby
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Pete was the life and soul
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We did little else today other than cutting wood, smoking pipes, taking stupid photos of each other and chilling out. But it was a good day. Well at least it was good in comparison the the previous few days.

We made a fire again, yay!
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Paul's bivi
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We had some fantastic birch bark
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Paul, the mad axe man
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World's worst Swedish candle
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We used the hot tent stove to cook on
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Pine trees make fine pipe racks
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If you're going to bring a bow saw, bring a big one
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Didn't know whether to laugh or run and hide!
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Searching for missing Rizzlas was a common theme of the trip
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Chris' spirits were rising too
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Everyone loves a sailor
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Pete, never far from food or a fag
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Powerlines, the reason we had so much easy (and legal) firewood
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House across the river
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Smoke from the fire was a constant menace
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The camp kitchen
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Chris
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A passing motorist, he went past twice a day on his commute
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On Thursday we managed a fairly early start. We had previously discussed hauling to a lake near the village/town but Paul and Chris had decided that they'd had enough of the grey skies and were going back to the cabin early, or more accurately, they were going back to the cabin if it was available. Hauling along the road wasn't too bad as we'd had snow overnight but there were patches where we had to haul over gritted tarmac. The highlight of the day was an unexpected visit to a local knifesmith - Steve Strømeng. The knifesmith specialised in Sami knives or leuko. After leaving the knifesmith we made our way to the river and hauled back to the cabins. It was interesting to see that patches of weak ice were visible on the river due to the recent warm weather. Once back at the cabins I had a decision to make, go back out with Pete or stay with Paul and Chris. I was intent on ditching some gear then going back out but for some strange reason I had looked at the UK weather report on my smart phone and noticed a red warning for north Wales. There were warnings of 100MPH+ winds and I was concerned about my house. As I was using my last phone battery and it was almost fully discharged I decided that I had to stay and recharge it so that I could follow the news back home. As there were now 3 of us pulling out we booked a 4 man cabin for an extra 3 nights. Pete arranged for a lift to the start of a route that would take him onto the plateau. After Pete left for the great outdoors again the rest of us went shopping in town for food and beer. Food prices were slightly more expensive than the UK but beer was about £5-£6 per can.

Friday - We went to town and had a coffee and did more food shopping. I think Paul and Chris went to the Sami museum and parliament and I went back to the knifemaker and bought a knife. The rest of the day was spent watching the Olympics on TV combined with Mythbusters and various other Discovery Channel shows.

Saturday - Can't remember much, I stopped making notes on Friday. We probably watched TV. I can remember that we drank tea and ate crisps.

Sunday - Another wasted day. Pete came back from his adventures then Pete, Chris and I went for a walk into the woods. Later on we had a sauna.

Monday - We caught the early bus back to Finland. This time we got charged an extra 20 Euro each for excess baggage! Paul got a taxi to our next cabin the rest of us walked about 6Km after spending some time shopping in Ivalo.

Tuesday - We hauled the remaining 6Km to the airport.

On the homeward straight, the road had fresh snow cover. River can be seen on the left.
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Fag break
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Pony farm near the knifemaker
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Knife maker's roadsign
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Leaving the knife shop for the river
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Melting river ice
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Tracking data from 'The Camp of Doom' to 'The Pit of Mediocrity'
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Jazz club roadsign. Nice.
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Bridge into/out of town
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In the UK we shovel snow off the drive, here they use an excavator
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Nice shed, hope the floorboards are sound!
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Tracking data from the knifesmith to the cabin
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Maps of ski/hiking routes around town
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Hot tub
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Our cabin in Finland
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Cleaning fuel bottles before the flight
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Pete likes his airport crisps
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Last edited:

Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
So what did I like and dislike about the trip, what worked and what did not?

The biggest buzzkill was the weather. The first two days in Finland were very good with temperatures between -14C and -18C. However there was total cloud cover for the entire duration of the trip which meant that there was no chance of seeing the Northern Lights despite there being much activity. The temperature for the remainder of the trip was also way too warm for the time of year. We were hoping for a low of -40C and an average of -18C but got a low of -5C and an average of -2C. The sole reason we went to this part of Norway this early in the year was to experience the cold weather which, in previous years, is almost certainly guaranteed.
The lack of isolation was another low point. In hindsight we should have paid for transport to take us directly to our end destination and then hiked back from there (rather than trying to hike there and back).
As a bunch of individuals we all got along just fine, as a group we were OKish too but I think our individual hopes and aspirations for the trip were too diverse.
We had planned to practice various skills however the grey sky induced apathy meant that we didn't do a whole lot of anything.

Kit wise the stars of the show were my Caldera Cone stove system, Petzl Duo headtorch with Duo V3 module, PHD Xero 800 sleeping bag, Neoair Allseason kipmat, Paramo salopettes, Montane Extreme mittens, Norwegian 1:50000 maps, Mountain House meals, merino thermals, Woolpower 200 longjohns, matches (much better than lighters), Aladdin insulated mug, Thermos Ultimate flask 0.8L and Thermos Light and Compact Flask 1.0L

Ok-ish kit - Devold wool pullovers, they made great pillows but were heavy for the amount of insulation offered,
Bergans Morgedal smock, OK but in all things other than spark resistance the Paramo Aspira is better.
US mukluks - great but it was too warm to fully appreciate them
Hilleberg Soulo flysheet - great but should have taken the whole tent. It's heavy and will probably replace with a Scarp 1.
Aiguille - rucksacks performed as well as could be expected
Skipulk sled - performed OK on the flats but overloading caused constant tipping
MSR XGK - buying the wrong fuel meant that it was not used, works great on the right fuel

Not too impressed -
Lundhags Husky boots - suffered from being unbreathable, wish somebody made something similar from leather rather than rubber.
Camp fires - a lot of time and effort for little reward. A you're better off ditching your saws and axes and carrying an extra few litres for the petrol stove.
 
Last edited:

rg598

Native
Awesome. I look forward to the other parts.

What is the weight of the Hilleberg Soulo flysheet? I've been looking into free standing designs, in particular the Direkt 2, but have had the exact same worry about condensation and frost.
 

Imagedude

Full Member
Feb 24, 2011
1,984
20
Gwynedd
Awesome. I look forward to the other parts.

What is the weight of the Hilleberg Soulo flysheet? I've been looking into free standing designs, in particular the Direkt 2, but have had the exact same worry about condensation and frost.

Soulo flysheet and poles weighs 1.3Kg or roughly 3 pounds. Condensation will be an issue in any single skinned nylon tent.
 

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