Trekking

Album: Karhunkierros1

    Treks:Finland:Sep2002:Oulanka:Karhunkierros1

Karhunkierros ("The Bear's Ring") is the most famous trek in Oulanka. It is a 70 or 80 km track, depending on the chosen starting point (Ristikallio or Hautajärvi).
I walked the Hautajärvi to Luontokeskus part in May, and as this trail is actually not a ring as the name would imply, I had to go back then to my car. This time I took a taxi to Luontokeskus ("Nature Centre") and walked the remaining 50 km to Ruka.
This portion of the trail contained some of the most difficult parts of it, but also the most spectacular sights, so it is well worth it.
Especially the last section approaching Ruka is hard, the track runs over the top of every hill that it can find. This makes for great views but it requires you to climb and descend some quite steep slopes. The ultimate point along the way is Valtavaara hill, where you have a spectacular full 360 degree view. I spent the night there in the small 3 by 3 meters day hut, together with a very nice Finnish couple.
Valtavaara is also easily reached from Ruka as a day trip. It is not for people that dislike climbing endless wooden stairs with slippery steps... :-)
September turned out to be a very popular time for Fins to walk this trail too, due to the 'Ruska', the autumn colours. However, due to the dry summer the colours were not very bright this year, almost only some light green and yellow. But anyway, because of this every night the huts were packed with people, far beyond the number of people indicated on the maps for these huts. It was very nice to see how everybody improvised and worked together to allow extra space for new arrivals. No one was ever turned down, in the Siilastupa hut near Juuma we stayed with 22 people where there was supposed to be only space for 12... It was cosy, I'll tell you that!
Meeting all sorts of very nice people on my way and in those huts is one of the things that makes these treks so great!

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Kiutaköngäs

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Not as much water now...

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At Merioja campsite

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Ansakämppä?

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Wet and slippery

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At Jussinkämppä

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Inside the hut

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And outside

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The hut

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The kota

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15 km to go today...

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A classical 'Laavu', a lean-to shelter.

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And another one

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This is where one of the roughest parts of the trail begins...

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Yes, this is the trail...

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Just completed one of the hardest sections, enjoying some much deserved rest

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Luckily, there is also a bridge now

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Looks familiar, back at Jyrävä and Siilastupa hut again

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Crazy Fin: it is -5 outside...

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Smoke on the water...

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Getting ready for the road again

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Siilastupa, sleeps 22 persons...

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Jyrävä close-up

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A remarkable guy, Juhanni. He was already more than 6 weeks on the road, started walking near Helsinki, hopes to go on to the most northern point of Finland. And a very nice person too. I really hope he made it.

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Now the hard part starts...

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Kuukkeli

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Getting water, there is none to be found on top of Valtavaara where I plan to stay the night.

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There it is!

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A very nice Finnish couple, Ritua and Pasi, from Tampere

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I was there too!

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Beautiful views up there

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Right out of a Monty Python movie

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300m down the hill is a kota and the woodshed. And a toilet!

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Small, but cosy

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It seems not only humans appreciate the view...

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Ruka!

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Pasi and Ritua making pancakes. You gotta love these people!

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There goes a very fine couple...

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Rukatunturi

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Inside Valtavaara hut

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The hut

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The toilet at the kota, almost same size :-)

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Inside the kota. I prefer the hut...

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The kota

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On my way again

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Almost there! Three...

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One last look back to Valtavaara

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Approaching Ruka

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Two...

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Stairway from heaven

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Eehh... One?

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There we are!

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Leave your stick for the next person

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Done! Now what shall I do next...?