We did it!

With all the wisdom from our last trip, we took off without a tent and more importantly, without a dog. Surely the trek would’ve been easier if we had skis but since we don’t have such luxury, we headed onward on snowshoes. And on them shoes we hiked from the Selänpohja parking lot to Soimalampi lean-to and get this: we stayed overnight!

Carrying a tube backpack was cumbersome, especially when sporting snowshoes on soft, deep snow. We needed to shed a layer or two and stop for hydration a couple of times but before we knew it, we were already there. The forest was dead quiet and all we could hear was our own heavy breaths. My other shoe made a cracking sound every time I lifted my foot. Someone had gone before us on skis and we expected to run into them on their way back but alas, no such luck. We took the Mäyränkierros route counter-clockwise until we arrived at the intersection leading to Soimalampi pond.

The start of the Mäyränkierros route is almost entirely pine trees and ridges. Another bar-code scenery with ups and downs. We did pass a few ponds as well. There were a couple intersections on the way, clearly marked without the risk of getting lost.

As we walked away from the Mäyränkierros route, the scenery changed. The ghost skier had made some paths of their own, trying their best to avoid having to bow under looming branches. The spruce trees took over and for a while we were hiking on an old road. Just before Soimalampi there is this magical winter wonderland, passing a marsh and then going up a steep and rocky ridge. This way, you arrive from the South and from the shore you can see the lean-to on a hill. It’s like your own small, perfect summer cabin on the bank of the round pond. The ghost skier had taken a shortcut across the ice and but he had left warm logs for us at the campfire.

The minute we got to the lean-to, we started a fire for food and after we were done eating, we started chopping wood to make more logs. It’s just common courtesy. The saw and axe provided by Metsähallitus did their job without any fine tuning and I even got to use my own travel axe for making kindling (every girl has to have her own axe, right?).

Darkness came in fast and after we were done with our chores in our home away from home, we took some light-painting photos and just talked. I’m not sure if it was the snowshoeing, chopping wood or just a severe case of fresh air poisoning but after 7 PM, we started to feel sleepy. Neither of us felt like going on an adventure in the dark so we crawled into our sleeping bags and just stared at the fading campfire together. It’s not that dark in the woods in Wintertime, by the way. Your eyes just need to adjust to it and you basically turn on a dark blue filter. There were no stars, no moonlight, thanks to all the clouds.

The campfire was warm and water was dripping from roof of the lean-to – steadily through the night. It was only about negative two degrees Celsius. I’m not sure how well I slept, to be honest. Nor for how long. What I do remember, is that it was hot in the sleeping bag. I had to push the hot water bottle away and open a zipper to be comfortable. I woke up in the middle of the night and my imagination took over and for a minute the dripping water was replaced by the paw-steps of vampire werewolves, circling the lean-to. Note to self: ear plugs! This time around I used up all the battery life on my phone listening to an audio book on YLE Areena. It helps me fall asleep, like it does at home. Before my sleep-aid I was listening to the sounds of the forest and I’m pretty sure I head a large bird fly by. Or I was just hearing things.

In the morning we woke up pretty early. The light was creeping in at six. Heikki woke up before me so he had the honors of making a fire while I was barking orders from the comfort of my sleeping bag. I mean, wasn’t I the one who got the fire going with a single match last night? My instructions were unclear so I had to jump in – although I’m fairly sure he had done the ground work and all I had to do was drop a match in. We made porridge and laughed at how impossible it is to wash dishes outdoors during Winter. It was the first time we had the opportunity to try out our coffee pot, too. I offered some to Heikki, who took a sip but didn’t seem convinced. After my second cup I realized I should’ve waited a while longer.

So we packed our stuff and backtracked our way to the parking lot, which seemed to be a lot shorter of a trip than the other way around. It was only 9 AM when we got to the car. The porridge wasn’t much of a breakfast, so we made an extra pit-stop at a gas station diner. Although I don’t condone visiting those too often, especially the larger chains, the bacon tasted like heaven! Fresh air does wonders!

We felt good, even giddy about our night out and we’ll keep at it! I’ll be writing a list about our gear and equipment later on. Check out our previous blog posts about making the choice, minimizing risks and last but not least, our first shot at staying the night at Leivonmäki National Park.

 

~ Anne

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