Way below zero in Nyrölä

The first outing of 2017 was on the Epiphany weekend and we chose Nyrölä as a destination. Does it make sense to spend a night outdoors when it’s -30 degrees Celsius?

Obviously no, no it doesn’t. Unless the plan is to stress test yourself and your gear in a familiar and safe environment which also happens to be fairly close to a parking lot. And this was precisely the plan.

I personally had way too many layers on, on purpose. And judging by the faces of my companions, they also had plenty. I wore my entire wardrobe and I didn’t break a sweat on the 1,5 km hike to the lean-to. I had:

  • Merino wool socks and regular wool socks plus ice fishing boots (hiking boots for the walk)
  • Merino wool underwear x 2 and flannel pajama pants
  • Quilted pants
  • Two merino wool undershirts and a knitted woolen shirt, Fjällräven Keb Jacket on top
  • Two merino wool scarves, a looser one and a tighter fit + a cotton scarf on top
  • Merino wool beanie
  • Quilted gloves

With two amateur photographers tagging along, you need to make sure their cameras stay functional during and after the voyage. Ulla brought a cooler along with some heat packs to go with it – I think they’re about 1,50€ a pair in Prisma or something. We utilized them in our gloves and socks as well. Nice and warm.

We also had two dogs with us, both wearing Hurtta’s warm outdoor jackets. If they weren’t running around, they’d firmly stay inside the sleeping bags. Our Jack Russell doesn’t produce enough heat on his own, so I had to accompany him at times and obviously during the night.

The night

We arrived in the parking lot late in the day, as it tends to happen when you first have to, you know, complete your work day. The shutterbugs focused on capturing the moment while I set up the camp and took care of the little dog, who wouldn’t stay inside the sleeping bag alone. As soon as we got a fire going, I crawled into the bag with him and stayed there.

The pictures of the moon, the stars, the Northern Lights and the lean-to came out great and the cold didn’t manage to break anyone’s equipment.

Right before going to sleep I went for a short walk and took the quilted pants off and placed them in the far end of the sleeping bag. I’m a bit too short for it so padding is required.

So I was in a sleeping bag, which in turn was in another one. The comfort level on the inner one is -9 degrees Celsius and the outer bag is a giant one from Varusteleka. I magine it’s meant for warmer situations. Underneath the sleeping bag combo was the inflatable Expedit mattress with an insulation rating of 6. Six is good. It’s meant for -20 degrees Celsius.

Lying down, strange and ferocious shivers shook my body for a good fifteen minutes before I made a sort of a blindfold out of the merino wool scarf. It’s either superstition or my body thought that just because my face was freezing, I was in some kind of danger.

I slept surprisingly well, considering. In the morning the temperature had dropped to minus thirty.

The sleeping bag wasn’t cold, save for when I had to turn on the account of a certain small dog, whose presence prevented me from tightening the collar of the bag all the way. Which lead to cold air swarming in on every turn. But then again, he produced a significant amount of heat, so this was the best solution.

My sleeping clothes:

  • Aforementioned merino wool socks and regular wool socks
  • Merino wool underwear x 2 and flannel pajama pants
  • Two merino wool undershirts and a knitted wool shirt
  • The merino wool scarves
  • The merino wool beanie

The morning

It was vastly more difficult to keep the little dog in the sleeping bags now. He wanted to run around so bad but after we let him, he kept lifting his paws every time he’d stop.

So I took him back inside the sleeping bag and sat with him until we were ready to leave. I even had a breakfast in be- sleeping bag. Ulla mentioned that maybe it’s my turn to just sit around and be served. I mean, it’s true. Most of the times I’m with someone who brings a camera along and while they’re busy taking pictures, I’m busy making coffee or tea.

It was nice, sitting on a reindeer hide and two sleeping bags, with a small dog providing warmth. It was a very nice breakfast.

On our way back Heikki went ahead to turn on the heat to the car while I packed our stuff, still in the sleeping bag. Möykky visibly didn’t want to walk on the cold ground so I had to pick him up and give him to Heikki halfway there. But the car and the car seat was heated, so he was fine.

What will I do differently next time?

Even though both dogs were seemingly okay, I think it’s best to leave them at home or in someone’s care.

The cheap ice fishing boots don’t hold up shape too well in the freezing cold and since they were strapped onto the backpacks, they were all flattened. So we need to figure something else out.

Some kind of felt slippers would be nice.

Bottle caps, the kinds you need to unscrew, were not ideal. They froze shut and we had to spend time warming them up or pouring hot water on them.

The sledge and boardwalk combo was absolute agony. The shrubbery was too thick next to the boardwalks, so we couldn’t drag the sledge in there. We also need a way to secure the cargo in place. Other than that, it’s a pretty convenient tool.

If you use the double sleeping bag method, it would help if the zippers were on the same side.

Other than those things, I can’t think of anything else. The location is wonderful, especially in Summer.


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