How does one behave in a wilderness hut? What about reservation huts?
These are the common rules and agreements among hikers to ensure a pleasant trek for everyone. Some of them are written down in the Park’s regulations and some I’ve learned from fellow hikers and so-called hiking grandmas* who have been coming there for centuries.
Every interpretation is my own, although I’ve checked them from the Park’s website. Should you find a factual error, let me know!
Common instructions to all huts:
Don’t spread your stuff around and leave your rucksack outside.
Especially the smaller huts don’t have room for you and your luggage. They’ll be fine out there and you can fetch stuff gradually and bring some inside.
I had a vivid reminder of this myself when we stayed the night in Pahakuru and assumed we arrived so late that no one else would show up. So we took our stuff indoors. As it so happened, the door opened at around 2 AM and I had to get up and make room for them instead of falling back to sleep.
Should it rain, hanging your attire to dry should also be done in agreement and not in a “me first” manner. Someone might be leaving early in the morning and they need their clothes dry before you do. Communicate, ask politely and answer.
When you arrive to a hut, check the hut manual and the guest diary.
The manual usually contains detailed information about the particulars of the accommodation, from the location of a well and if the water needs to be boiled before consumption. If the water quality is monitored, there will be information in the manual with a health inspector’s seal. All other water sources should always be boiled.
Caution! Remember hygiene: don’t wash your hands or do the dishes in the hut’s clean water buckets or in the designated wells/waterholes. Don’t fill your water bottle directly above a clean water bucket, either. If the hut doesn’t have a separate waste water disposal unit, pour the water as far from a wells, waterholes, lakes and brooks and rivers. Don’t do the dishes in them, either. Imagine if you were getting a refreshing drink from a fell stream and it had bits of pasta in it.
If you take the last sip from the clean water bucket, fetch more.
The guest diaries usually contain tips and tricks and even warnings. If you notice a fault, be a dear and write it down.
Use firewood in moderation and see that the fireplace is in good condition. Learn to use the gas stove.
Before making a fire, check the fireplace’s condition and put the excess ash into their designated container. Use firewood as if it came out of your own wallet or as if you had a tight budget set for firewood. Make more before you leave so the next fellow don’t have to start their stay by chopping wood.
Remember, it’s a hut, not a sauna. The top bunks aren’t pleasant to sleep in if you heat up the place. Use the same principal with cooking.
If the hut has a gas stove, learn how to use it before actually using it. Remember to shut the valves (both the cooker and the main valve).
Smoking is prohibited inside the huts!
Give others their peace.
Others seek peace and quiet from their hike so remember to respect that and their privacy. Keep it civil and short if your roommate seems shy.
Follow the waste disposal regulations of the hut.
Burn only clean paper. Decomposables and toilet paper can be thrown in the outhouse or in a designated compost. Wrappers with a tin foil innings do not burn or decompose so you need to take them back with you. In fact, since you’ve managed to carry them there when they were full, surely you can take them back when they’re empty. Leave no trace.
Wet wipes and sanitary napkins don’t belong in the outhouse bin. Use the designated trashcan should there be one in the outhouse. If there’s not, put them in a small plastic bag and take them with you.
Even if the hut has a waste disposal unit, emptying them requires National Park resources that could be utilized elsewhere so avoid using them. They’re a relic of the past when there were significantly less hikers and by proxy, waste. If you find trash left behind by previous visitors and you doesn’t have room for them in your bags, leave them in a waste bin usually located in the wood shed.
Before you move on, tidy up and mark your route in the diary.
Clean up after yourself and even after the previous guy, if they did a poor job. Empty the water buckets and ash drawers. Close the door and windows. Sweep the floor and wipe the tables and other surfaces.
Do not leave food for other hikers (unless you personally give them to someone who stays after you leave), because food in the cabinets only attract rodents.
Sign the diary and write down any faults or things of notice and your upcoming route. This is purely for your own safety: should you get lost of suffer an injury, it’s easier to locate you when they know your intended route.
Inform the Visitor Center if a diary is full!
Wilderness hut etiquette
These are meant for every private person traveling on foot or on skis etc. Anyone on motorized vehicles should use day huts. It’s okay to stay a night or two in open wilderness huts.
Wilderness huts aren’t for corporate use in any other way except as a brief rest stop of lunch admissible by Metsähallitus. Corporate customers should book reservation huts or rental huts.
Give room to new arrivals since the last to come has the right to stay the night. Especially in poor weather, make room on the floor if necessary.
If you have a pet, ask everyone if it’s okay to bring them inside.
Day huts, as you’d imagine, are meant for day use only: cooking, drying up clothes and warming up. In rare exceptions or in an emergency it’s okay to stay the night.
Instructions to those who use reservation huts
Anyone who has booked a bed in a reservation hut, has the right to use it for the amount of time they’ve paid for it. You are not allowed to let people who haven’t booked a spot in the reservation hut to stay the night.
Pets aren’t allowed in the reservation hut.
In addition, there are rental huts where you book the entire hut. Check in advance whether or not you’re allowed pets inside.
The ultimate guide to Hetta-Pallas will continue in August and next time we’ll be focusing Park rules and regulations! The next blog posts will be about National Park volunteering, our other adventures in the wild and a few DYI articles!
The ultimate Hetta-Pallas guide answers your questions about the most popular and the oldest hiking trail in Finland. This is the third installment. Click the texts below to go to the other blog posts. If the post is already published, you’ll see a link. You can also ask additional information in the comment section below or by sending us a message in Facebook!
- Preparations and bookings/services
- Huts along the trail
- Hut etiquette
- National Park rules and regulations
- Terrain difficulty, trail safety and cellphone coverage
- Trash-free hiking, economic use of gas and firewood
- History and culture
Writer Anne Sulander has been volunteering in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in 2016 and 2017. She has also hiked the trail several times. If you find an factual error in the text or if you have any questions, comment below!
*Hiking Gradma is a reference to seasoned female hikers who’ve been around the fell a fair share of times. A compliment, I assure you.