Hi everyone! I just arrived to Näätämö, which is in Finnish Lapland, near the Norwegian border. From here I’ll be walking to the Vätsäri wilderness area. It took me 20 hours to get here, so I’m feeling a bit rough. But it’ll get better now that I’m on the move. This is just going to be a day of marching, as we slowly approach the outskirts of Vätsäri. It’s already 6pm Only tomorrow will the actual hiking begin. That’s the plan, this time. Welcome along! Vätsäri wilderness hike,
Summer 2019 Kalaton river Uutuan river We’re near the Norwegian border now. While walking here along a quad track, there were yellow cairns along the border. The border line was otherwise not obvious. Except for a reindeer fence, one could easily have passed the border without realising it. It’s grey and rainy today… The temperature is about 10°C (50°F). It’s rainy and windy. Regardless, the forest fire ban is still in force. I’m at the Vuontis river now. This is where I’ll be spending the night. My hammock is already set up behind me. It’s a quarter to ten in the evening. I need some coffee, despite the late hour. The terrain is quite different now, since leaving the quad track at the Uutuan river. There was a reindeer fence running along the border. But when I steered away from the border, there were no more proper tracks or paths to follow. Everything’s damp… The tinder is struggling to ignite. There’s an old forest ranger’s hut on the other side of the river. We might go check it out. It’s pretty far away, though, so let’s see. There’s also a river crossing. I boiled a litre of water, and I’ll be making some meat soup. This is kind of like instant coffee… There’s my campsite. The Vuontis river is pretty large. On the opposite shore, you can see some sand barriers. There’s also a boat, no doubt because of the hut. The sand barrier seems to taper off in that direction. There might be a little beach. We’ll have to go see, if we have enough time to explore the shoreline during this trip. I can’t wait to get warm and go to sleep! It’s probably gone down to about 5°C (41°F) now. My tarp is hung a bit too high, it’s windy… but I don’t have the energy to fix it now. I’m sure I’ll be warm and snug, regardless. It’s a really rainy day today. I’m considering just staying put, and spending another night here. Besides, I have something to pass the time with. Yesterday I realised, that I’d forgotten to take a spoon with me. So I quickly made myself a makeshift spoon. But now I could whittle myself a better version. If nothing else, it’ll at least make time pass. A seaplane just landed there, near the hut. That was an unexpected turn of events, here in a middle of the wilderness. That’s not allowed in national parks, but since this is a wilderness area, it’s allowed. You can even hire one of those, to transport you into the wilderness. The other reason I decided to stay put, is because about 5 km (3 miles) from here, there’s a deep gorge with a river running through it, which I’d really like to see in clear weather. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be clear, so I’d rather save the Routasen gorge for then. Here’s the spoon I whittled… It’s really small and also otherwise not that great… The piece of wood I used was too narrow. I like the profile, though. Nothing like hot soup on a chilly day! The seaplane is still there. I assumed it was just dropping people off. The passengers are probably staying at the hut. I think that the hut is called “Pakanajoki” It’s a rental hut run by Metsähallitus. In the wintertime it might be nice to stay in a hut. But in weather like this, sleeping under a tarp is just fine. It’s a new day, and there’ll be no more lazying about. We’re now heading towards the Routasen gorge, and later on we’ll find a place to set up camp. Rarely do I take whole days off while hiking. It was pretty nice, though, just hanging around, resting, eating and listening to the rain. It certainly did rain a lot throughout the day and night. Here’s hoping it won’t come down hard today! That way we’ll get a better view of the gorge. Near last night’s campsite, there was this huge anthill. There were ants everywhere… It was a bit annoying, since the ants were very persistent. My hammock was ideal in this situation, though, since the ants weren’t able to get at me inside the hammock. What a cozy looking campsite! We spent the night over there, last night. We’re going around the lake now, and then we’ll head east, to the Routasen gorge. There it is, the Routasen gorge! We’re roughly at the halfway point of the gorge. Southbound. I walked a good way along the ridge, but then I decided to come down, to avoid a potentially long detour. Some crispbread and water from the Routasen river. It’s really cold, my hands are numb. I need to start storing my down jacket at the top, since it’s so cold now. I need to wear the jacket even during short breaks. I’m using a external frame pack on this trip. It’s a Savotta 1200, which I exchanged from the heavier model I had before. I wanted a lighter pack. It’s pretty old, but in good shape. It smells like it’s been sitting in a cellar for several years. I can go over the backpack features, later on in the video. Pretty tough going… I’m not feeling the cold at all right now! The terrain is pretty rough. It’s hard going with a heavy backpack. My route selection might also be to blame… There was a small path at the beginning, but it eventually faded away, so I navigated my own route. A little “sight-seeing tour”… From here it should be easier going, for a while. The landscape is really barren. Beautiful, but challenging to navigate through. I might have to make some changes to our route, but let’s see how things look tomorrow. We’re now at the bottom of the Routasen gorge. by this waterfall, which I’ve seen a photo of somewhere before. It took quite a bit of effort getting here… but it was worth it. It really is a fine little waterfall, etched in the rock like that, and clearly visible from all sides. We’re not alone… There’s a tent over there, and it looks like there’s a naked person by the shore… Good thing we’re not nearby, otherwise it might have been awkward… 🙂 Our day has ended at the Risti river. I’m looking forward to getting into my hammock. I’ll have to make some food first, though. I only had oatmeal and crispbread today, so I need something sturdier, before bed. I might have some neighbours, since I can smell smoke. Or perhaps it’s from the campsite we spotted earlier. Finding strong enough trees for a hammock is a bit challenging here. The same could be said, though, for any kind of campsite with the ground being so bumpy and irregular. It’s might actually be easier to find a hanging spot, than level ground for a tent. It’s a nice, calm evening. It doesn’t even feel cold, since the wind has died down. It’s nice to have a mild evening, for a change. The mosquitoes are out in force, though, as a result. They’re also after my meat soup… Good morning… It rained throughout the night and morning. I think that we’ll be taking the shortest route out of here. I had originally planned on going to the Rajapää fell, It’s supposed to be the highest point in Vätsäri. But it’s probably best to choose a shorter route to Sevettijärvi, this time. It’s difficult to accurately calculate my daily distances, due to the difficult terrain. I don’t want to end up in a terrible hurry on my last day. I almost forgot to take my blood pressure meds. I have hereditary high blood pressure. Changes in diet, and such, can have adverse affects, despite the fact that I’m a physically active person, and I spend a lot of time in nature. It’s not enough, though, I need to take the meds, too. I use this pouch for small items, such as my toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as a thermometer. Some clear duct tape, for small repairs. And of course some strong dyneema cord. It’s one o’clock now, and we’re going to be following the Rovi river. Let’s see if there are any old signs of life, along the shoreline. Here are the remains of a woodfire stove, made from an old metal barrel. It’s located in a rather strange spot. That might be the Rajapää fell I mentioned earlier on, I’m not sure though. It might be Norway. Vätsäri is largely comprised of fell highland. We won’t be visiting that area on this trip, but we can save it for some other time. Vätsäri is not the ideal place for beginners to test how well their ankles and knees will fare in such terrain. There are lots of boulder fields and scree to manouver through. I used barefoot shoes a lot during the summer, as a result of which, my feet have become stronger. You always need to walk with precaution, though. Time to change the batteries in my GPS device. I’ve started using lithium batteries, which are lighter and tolerate the cold better, and which can be stored for up to 15 years. Even with a GPS, route planning is not that easy over here, with the terrain being what it is. Respect to those, who manage to navigate solely with a map and compass in this area! Of course, a proper map is always needed for actual route planning. Speaking of maps, I got this map at Ivalo, while waiting for my next bus. It has a scale of 1:50 000 and it’s very user friendly. It’s waterproof and tear resistant. It has a lot of information in it. It doesn’t cover the entire area, though. The southern section is covered in a separate map. Wow, this was an unexpected view! Wide an expansive. Whenever I’m up on an exposed fell, though, I start hankering for the woods! There are always times during hiking trips, when everything starts to feel toilsome, and you start questioning why you ever came. Moments like these make it all seem worthwhile. When you’re rewarded after a struggle, it suddenly makes everything feel great again. It seems to be human nature, that the most rewarding experiences are born out of struggle. The greater the struggle, the greater the satisfaction. This day has ended at the Pori river. I need to tank up now. I only had some oatmeal and crispbread during the day. I have lots of noodles, tuna and black beans here. I’ll probably also have some cocoa. It’s been quite a day. Not that many kilometers covered, but it’s slow going in the terrain over here in Vätsäri. How can there be so many rocks?! There are far too many rocks and boulders… During the day I was in awe over the different kinds of rock formations. There were also some really large boulders, which were visible from far off. From here we’ll be joining a path, that leads to the head of a lake, where there should be the remains of an old building. The path should then fork off towards the Sollomusjärven wilderness hut. From the hut I’ll continue on to Sevettijärvi, from where I’ll be heading back home. It’ll take about two days, though, so there’s no hurry. There are some old signs of life here, too, on the shores of the Pori river, judging by these rotting constructions. It’s full of junk. It’s a pity that all this junk has just been left here. The door seems to be open, but I don’t feel like going inside. It’s clearly an abandoned hut. A lot of glass junk has just been left here… Not good. Things can get pretty rugged up here in the North… The hut is nicely situated, though. All this crap needs to somehow be removed, though. This is part of the wilderness area. The state probably took over this piece of land from the deceased owner. I wonder if they knew in what bad shape this is! This old connecting path leads away from the Pori river. It’s part of the ancient Arctic Ocean route (Ruija’s path), and still visible on maps. It was initially a bit difficult to find. But eventually it became easier to follow. I started imagining, what it must have been like, back in the day for a forest ranger in this area. Plodding along with a sack on his back, and a knife in his belt. Carrying a bit of reindeer meat and some potatoes. I don’t actually know how demanding it was to be a forest ranger, back then. He might have had hired hands doing all the work, while he chilled out with a pipe by the fireplace. Time for a coffee break, and some food. Italian stew. Legendary! There’s lots of it, too. I just need to add some dehydrated minced meat. It would probably work with tuna, too. Stews can easily burn over a fire. I made a Mexican stew the other day, that left a burned black mess in my pot. Yum! I haven’t had Italian stew in about ten years, it’s good! It’s just macaroni, minced meat, and spices. It’s really easy to prepare. What an awesome, sandy ridge we have here! We’ll be walking along this ridge in that direction, with a view of the Tuuli river, on our right. The clouds aren’t that low-hanging anymore, it’s nice and bright now. I love this sandy terrain. It’s like being at the beach! Although the cold temperature and icy wind is kind of ruining the effect… But it’s a fine place, all the same! We’ve now reached the area I mentioned earlier, where I thought there might be a hut of some sort. There used to be an old inn here, back when the Arctic Ocean route was still in use. Here’s a little project for Velon YouTube cyclists! The day turned out to be a rather long one. I walked from the Pori river to the Sollumusjärvi hut. A distance of about 25 km (15 miles) I arrived in the evening, and set up camp next to the hut, by the shore. In the morning some Siberian Jays came to visit. I gave them some oatmeal and other snacks. Funny little birds. They’re also know as the wanderer’s soul bird, so you need to take good care of them. I mentioned this backpack earlier on. It’s pretty much the same as the Savotta 906 model. One small difference is, that this lower compartment doesn’t zip open all the way around. Instead it has two zips, one on each side. That has taken some getting used to. But it’s not a big deal. The side pouches are very slim, making it difficult to fit a water bottle or mug. They’re a bit strange in size. The lid is the same in this model. It’s lighter than the other model. The external frame seems to be narrower. The backpack suspension is also lighter, and the hipbelt has less padding. It has less volume than the 906 model, but it’s been enough for this trip, at least. What’s great about these packs, is how easily you can overload them, if needed. I use the flap as a shoulder bag, of sorts. For my wallet, etc. I really like this pack. There were just 7 km (4 miles) left on the last day, to the Sevettijärvi village, and bus stop. There is only one bus a day, towards Inari, and it only runs in the mornings. I spent the night in lodgings at the Sevettijärvi village, in order to catch the bus the next morning. It was an interesting place, since the area belongs to the Skolt Sámi people. There was an open-air museum dedicated to them, and I also visited the site of their Orthodox church. This Vätsäri hike was very grey, cold and rainy. Not the best trip ever, but also not the worst. I’m glad I got the chance to visit Vätsäri, since this was my first time there. I got to witness it’s unique, rocky landscape with all those amazing rock formations. The Routasen gorge was the highlight of the trip. It was fun walking from one end to the other, and then enjoying a view of the waterfall. I didn’t get to explore the Vätsäri fell highland this time. I had originally planned on going there, so I regret having to leave it out. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time, so perhaps I left the area earlier than necessary. But nevermind. This way I have something left over, for next time. The wilderness is not going anywhere. Our Vätsäri 2019 summer hiking trip ends here. I’ll be heading back home now, to sort out my gear and plan future trips. Thank you for your company, and see you again on the next trip!