The ultimate Hetta-Pallas guide, part 6: Ecological hiking

Why shouldn’t you use trash bins?

Obviously you shouldn’t throw garbage into the wild but most rest stops have them and what better way to rid yourself of broken shoes and all the empty food bags by throwing everything in one. Your hand is already reaching for the lid.

No! Don’t even think about it!

Whenever you leave trash behind in a bin, someone needs to empty them out and travel on-site on an ATV. Every bit of litter means more manpower needed for maintenance. Every drive to the wild wears down the terrain.

Whereas you start your hike bearing a certain amount of weight and let me tell you, the wrappers don’t get heavier as you go. In fact, the burden lessens every time you eat something.

You’re well on your way towards a recycling point so just leave the garbage bag in your rucksack and close that damn lid.

The bins are remnants of a time gone long ago when the visitor count was significantly lower.

But times have changed and we’ve evolved as people. Nowdays we enforce trash-free hiking and understand that whatever you bring with you, you take back with you.

I suggest bringing a hefty, tightly sealed bag along so the litter doesn’t soil the rest of your gear.

A few specific garbage types and how to recycle them

Do not burn outdoor meal bags or anything with a tin foil inning. Tin foil doesn’t burn and it gets in the way of removing the ashes.

Use it as a tiny trash bag instead. You can also just fold it to fit a tight spot.

Another type of garbage I tend to see, especially in outhouses, is a wet wipe. They don’t belong in the outhouse toilet. They don’t decompose fast enough.

Most of the outhouses in Hetta-Pallas have a separate bin for sanitary pads and you can throw the wet wipes there but I favor a small ziplock bag for them.

I suggest you use regular toilet paper as, you know, toilet paper. It decomposes properly.

When is it okay to use trash bins?

If you spot garbage left behind by others and can’t fit them in any of your own bags, you may leave them in the hut’s bin.

This is the only instance wherein it’s okay to use a trash bin.

Oh and by the way: when you do see trash lying around, don’t just give it a dirty look or leave feedback later on. Pick it up. It doesn’t require that much effort. A small heap of litter has this magical way of attracting more litter. You could be the one to put a stop to it.

If, however, you choose to leave feedback in a guest journal, keep in mind that the people before you weren’t necessarily the people responsible for the mess. So don’t go around pointing fingers.

Using gas in huts

Read the instructions carefully so you don’t leave the gas on.

To help decrease the need for maintenance runs, you should also use gas in moderation.

Bringing your own camp stove is the best way to prepare your food.

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Moderation is also a virtue when it comes to firewood.

There’s no need to go overboard when it comes to firewood, especially if the idea is to just chill by the fire. Make a smaller flame.

The logs also burn better if you chop it into smaller pieces. The axes they keep at the rest stops are usually heavy but they get the job done.

And it’s not as scary a tool once you swing it a few times. Make sure to get plenty of practice before the actual hike.

One should always chop plenty of firewood and kindling for the next person. Imagine arriving at a hut all cold and tired and still having to chop firewood.

Warming the hut to rival saunas is not a smart thing to do

Overheating the hut is a subject constantly under heated (pardon the pun) discussion. As with lots of other things, I assume this is due to simple ignorance: a starting hiker wants to chill by the stove after a day in the freezing snow.

And I mean, the temperature in your own tent is always lower and more ideal for sleeping. Just saying.

Overheating is not only unfriendly to the environment but it’s also just plain rude.

Campfires are allowed exclusively near wilderness huts and lean-tos

Again, camp stoves are your friend. This way you can prepare your meals where-ever you like. If you really want to use the old open flame, take these things things into consideration:

Every hut in Hetta-Pallas has one or several campfire spots, easily recognized by the firm circle of rocks, benches and whatnot.

These are the only places where an open fire is permitted.

Furthermore, let go of the mindset of “oh, there are people by the fire already, I’ll just make my own so I don’t bother the-” just forget it. As long as there’s room by the fire, go sit by the fire. Cook food by the fire and make new friends.

Campfires are for common use and cannot be reserved in advance.

During a forest fire warning it’s not permitted to make an open flame at all, except inside the huts, in a fireplace or stove.

A camp stove doesn’t count as an open flame but you still need to exercise caution. Use a sturdy base and don’t leave it unattended.

The ultimate Hetta-Pallas guide answers your questions about the most popular and the oldest hiking trail in Finland. This is the sixth 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 on Facebook!

Installments:

  1. Preparations and bookings/services
  2. Huts along the trail
  3. Hut etiquette
  4. National Park rules and regulations
  5. Terrain difficulty, trail safety and cellphone coverage
  6. Trash-free hiking, economic use of gas and firewood
  7. 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!

 

 

 

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