Karhunkierros III

This post continues from where part 2 ended.

Day 4 - from Ansakämppä to Siilastupa - 22 km

People’s sleeping patterns at the huts were a mystery to me. I had been one of the last to go to sleep and I was one of the first to wake up. People were going to the bed already at eight. Me, the well-known night owl, stayed up until ten and woke up just before seven. Many were still sleeping when I left the hut after eight. I guess people just love to sleep?

My hiking speed was picking up, so I decided to re-evaluate my plans. Originally the hike was supposed to take six days. This day, the fourth day, I’d camp at some lean-to on the way to Pieni Karhunkierros. On the fifth day, I’d reach Porontimajoki and then it’d be a short walk to Ruka on the sixth day. I decided to speed things up and get to Siilastupa that day and finish the hike the next day. Otherwise I’d have to spend too much time getting bored at huts.

The morning was uneventful and I got to Jussinkämppä quickly. Then I hit one of the hardest sections of my hike. The route took me right to the riverside. In the map, it looked like a flat and easy section and I thought I’d blaze through it.

In reality, the path was sloped and it was full of rocks and roots. Climbing over them got tiring quickly. When the trail finally hugging the river, there was steep uphill. I was so tired that I worried that I wouldn’t make it to the hut.

After the hill, the path got easier. Soon I entered Pieni Karhunkierros, a shorter trail that overlaps with Karhunkierros. It’s frequented by dayhikers and the trail is in very good condition. It’s not quite as spectacular as its bigger sibling – there’s so much forest that you can’t see much.

Just before the sunset I reached the Siilastupa hut. The hut is small and there was already a couple with a dog and a German family, but the upper floor of the two-level group bunk bed was still entirely free. The other guests were feeding the fireplace eagerly and for the first time on the trip, it was too warm.

Day 5 - from Siilastupa to Ruka - 23 km

In the morning I chatted with the German dad. He apologized for snoring but pointed out that I hadn’t been entirely quiet either. During the night, I kept rolling and rolling around like I was in rotisserie and my pad is loud. This inspired him to propose a trail name for me: Kebab. I might pick it up if I ever to go hike in the US, where they actually use trail names…

When I started walking, I got lost for the first time. The whitewater lured me off the path to take a picture. After walking 20 meters, I realized that I wasn’t seeing anyrail markings anymore and backed out. That’s how well the trail is marked.

The first 15 km of the day were easy. It was flat, uninspiring forest and marsh. When the final 8 km started, shit got real. First there was a steep, small hill called Konttainen.

I was worried when I was approaching it. It looked steep both in the map and in the real life and to get to it, I had to scramble up rocky slopes packed with ice. Luckily I was greeted by the sight of stairs at bottom of the hill.

I walked up and down. After Konttainen, there’s Valtavaara. It’s steep and long with three peaks. This was the most physically demanding section. You had to be careful to not slip when ascending and descending the icy slopes. I fell over a couple of times but did not hurt myself.

It felt good to reach the day hut on top of Valtavaara. There was fog, so there weren’t any sights to mention, but making a cup of hot chocolate in the hut was a welcome break.

After descending Valtavaara and seeing there was 1 km left, I was feeling pretty jubilant already. I had forgotten that the final kilometer goes over Rukatunturi. It was pretty disappointing to realize that the path goes up the hill and under a ski lift.

One more hill later and just before the sunset, I finally reached the end of the trail. The gate of the trail is not in use, because they have dug out the stairs to make space for a driveway. I scrambled up the hill to walk through the gate anyway.

That was it. The day had been demanding and I could not have done another day with so many hills. I was happy to have made it to Ruka.

I stayed night in the skiing resort hotel. Sauna felt good and the hotel restaurant had a pretty decent vegan burger.

This is the third part of a series about hiking Karhunkierros. Read part 4.

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