After a few days resting in Rovaniemi, we decided to head a little further up north. We had our hearts set on a two day hike in Urho Kekkonen national park.
This national park is the second biggest of Finland: 2538km². It is home to bears, wolverines, wolves, otters, golden eagles and reindeer. Sometimes you can also spot some elk there. Ofcourse we had our heart set on spotting a bear, but we knew our chances were slim.
We headed off to the park. The road close to the entrance at Saariselkä was being renewed. It had been a pretty severe winter, and due to large snowfall, the road had to be repaired at certain points. Apparantly it’s something that happens quite often in the North of Finland, so we were told.
Trails in the park are easily marked: there are signposts with a big wooden cross on them: you can’t miss it. We choose to hike a good 10 km, to camp overnight at a small lake in the park. The next day we would follow the river Luttojoki back to the entry point, another good 10 km back.
This might seem like a small and easy walk, but it wasn’t that easy at all :-) We were not only carrying our tent, but also food & water for two adults and a big labrador dog. Quite a heavy load! The landscape up north is known for its fjells, which are hills that look like a bump in the landscape. They are not that high (average around 400 – 500 m, though they go up to 700 I believe), but quite steep. Suddenly you’re climbing one and before you know it, you’re heading back down. It does make hiking a little more challenging, certainly because of the temperature – around 25°C that day.
Even though it was summer and the temperature during daytime was fairly warm, there were still some areas of the park covered in snow. Snow had only melted away a good week and a half before we arrived, and at nighttime we still had some frost. Our fjällraven tent & sleeping bags served us well!
After a long hike we reached the halfway point of our trek: a small lake with a wilderness hut for those who would want to camp there. The hut was already occupied by a Fin (who didn’t speak any English – like most of the people we met in Lapland), but we planned to camp out anyway. We set up tent & cooked some dinner. Our dog decided to go for an evening swim, which wasn’t his best plan ever. We had to take him inside the tent during the night, he wasn’t completely dry when the temperature dropped and he was a bit shaky. A good warm blanket and some rubbing helped out a lot. The smell of wet dog was part of the deal ;-)
The next day we headed back, following a small river. It was good to relax our soar feet in every now and then… Apart from the one reindeer we didn’t see any large wildlife. Still, it was a beautiful hike in a different landscape.
Back then my photography skills weren’t as good as I would call them now. I didn’t quite catch the landscape as I would like to show it to you, so I’ll leave you with a picture from the Wikipedia page of Urho Kekkonen. This captures the rugged landscape far better than any of my pics above ;-)
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Next post: relaxing at lake Inari