A while ago we were asking people to join us as “guest pens”, so to speak. So here we have our very first one! Give a warm welcome to Ulla! //Anne
There’s always an excuse to sleep outdoors
So I promised to tell you guys about the addictive nature of sleeping outdoors and as I’m typing this, I’ve already spent my fifth night outside. My first night was some time ago and Spring has since turned into Summer. We’ve actually already met, dear reader.
Last year I rediscovered my passion for landscape photography and with it I’ve visited my fair share of locations. Lots of times Anne and Heikki have been there with me! At the turn of the year we were discussing spending a Winter night outside when we were taking pictures of stars atop Hyyppäänvuori. I decided that it would take a bit more planning and preparation. Winter nights require a lot more gear, after all. But that didn’t stop these two! I will follow suit soon enough!
The days grew warmer as Spring rolled on and I figured I could give it a shot as I was planning my next shooting location. I chose the Sinivuori Nature Trail, located in the borderlands of Hankasalmi and Kangasniemi, as my target. It’s about five kilometers long. I had already been there once but the path was a bit too demanding to traverse without a way to efficiently carry my two-year-old daughter, so I turned back. The beginning of the Trail was so beautiful that I knew I’d have to return one day. I had read about the path on Retkipaikka‘s website while looking for a destination in Middle Finland. The map revealed that it was just about 10 kilometers away from my grandparents’ old farm. The idea of all the Summers spent there made me excited about going. Sinivuori Nature Trail is a bit of a hidden gem.
In addition to a new sleeping pad, I also purchased a new axe, a knife ands a bag of timber in case there weren’t any on site. Everything else I already had. According to the website, there’d be a lean-to atop the hill so I left the tent in the car. Looking at all the things I’d have to carry, I concluded that if I started doing this more often, I’d need a proper tube backpack.
The day I departed, the forecast was accurate for once – the sun was shining the whole way there. The starting point was on a parking lot with clear markings as to where to go. Someone who lives across the lot came out to see what I was up to, unloading stuff from the car, and offered help with my “flat tire”. After clearing up the misunderstanding, we had quick chat and I took my first step on the Trail.
A small forest path took me across a felling field and even through a few yards before veering toward the hillside, revealing a lake and a wall of stone. The ground was wet and covered in snow in some parts and I naturally forgot my wellingtons. The uphill reminded me of the weight I was carrying and I had to take a small photo break. The stunning view didn’t hurt, though. The birch trees had already started sprouting leaves, glowing against the sunset.
The feeling I had once I arrived at the lean-to was undescribable. The site was big and surprisingly clean! A previous group had left a good spot for a campfire so that’s where I made mine. The bag of timber came in handy since there were literally none in the shed – just an apology in the guestbook. They’d bring more once the roads dry up. Photography came second after nutrition and general tomfoolery around the fire. Eventually I set the camera aside and just sat there with my dog in the warm glow of the flames. A star or two appeared on the sky but it was too bright outside to see them properly.
After the fire died out, we turned in in the lean-to, which felt like a proper cabin in the woods. I had a small string of led lights with me for mood lighting and I lit up a few discarded candles as well. I set the alarm for the small hours, since this would be one of the last opportunities for night photography. I did wake up but only to realize that I’d have to wait until Fall to get any results. It was beautiful nonetheless, watching the night sky as fox cries echoed somewhere in the distance. I ended up just taking it all in with my dog Kitka.
I missed the sunrise, I have to admit. It was too comfy in the lean-to. When I finally got up, I couldn’t see for a while – the sun was so damn bright. Birds were singing all around and the faintest breeze blew against my face. Just five more minutes before I have to go. I could get used to this.
The author Ulla Keituri is a photography enthusiast from Jyväskylä and a frequent flier in Rinkkaputki Airlines. She’s especially passionate about night photography and excels in atmospheric tent shots. More from her can be found on her Instagram and Twitter.