Suomen Latu arranged two women’s fell hikes in August of 2017 in the Urho Kekkonen National Park.
We spent five days in the wild learning survival and camping skill.
Guiding us was wilderness guide and Alone In The Wild author Minna Jakosuo and I got to act as a co-guide!
Our diverse customers in Kiilopää
The course started from Kiilopää fell center where we gathered to study our gear and pack our outdoor meals. We had a delightfully diverse bunch on both hikes, from ages 22 to 67 with different backgrounds and varying hiking experiences.
There were lots of people who had arrived on their own but it was nice to see how group mentality and co-operative spirit quickly settled in. I’m willing to bet friendships were also formed that will last well beyond this hike.
First milestone: Rautulampi
It was 10 kilometers from Kiilopää to Rautulampi, with varying landscape and terrain: open fells to riverside trails to beautiful birch forests. Clear, running water and a cozy day hut awaited us in Rautulampi.
After pitching our tents we each started making our individual meals and discussing the events of the day. Spirits were high after making it to the first milestone.
I took an evening walk up the fell to pick some blueberries for my morning porridge.
The view that opened up to the East bathed in the rose red and golden light of the setting sun.
I have to get there one day!
The following morning we packed our bags in the sun and took off. This part of the trail offers the best this park has: barren fells, lush birch forests, babbling brooks and stunning woods. We also had the chance to admire a local oddity: Kiilopää birch – slithering all over the ground as a green carpet.
Awaiting us in Suomunruoktu was a lovely little hut, gorgeous Suomujoki River and forest terrain.
We set up shop there for two days. On the first day we visited the old museum cabin of Suomunruoktu, which offered us a chance to practice crossing the river. Despite general nervousness, we all came through with flying colors!
The next day people could choose a day trip between visiting the top of a nearby fell or take the riverside trail. My group chose the latter and we got to see the turquoise waters, lush greens and cloudberry-filled marshes.
In the evening we studied navigation and safety and went through our gear. Siberian Jays were curious and watched us closely.
The last night: Niilanpää
We spent the last night in Niilanpää and got to see an amazing sunset atop it.
The following morning we topped Kiilopää and arrived back to the fell center. The cherry on top was a smoke sauna and a dip in the fell river.
So what did it look like through the eyes of a co-guide?
It was extremely interesting to watch a professional at their best and see how a guided hike functions. I learned an equal amount (if not even more) in two weeks here than I had in my two years of school.
Customer feedback strengthened the idea of what kind of guide I want to be and gave me motivation for self-improvement. It was amazing to bring people here in the beauty of Lapland.
However, the greatest gift was found in the matters of the heart.
Wonderful, diverse, hilarious, unique and brave group of women showed how much fun a bunch of strangers can have together. The wise and more experienced ladies taught me how to better see the shapes, colors and nuances of Mother Nature.
My mentor and tutor Minna gave me responsibility, courage and faith in my own dreams.
They all helped make these hikes an everlasting, cherished memory.