Saturday, February 11, 2012

OUT - Another winterhike, but very different than usual!!

7 februari 2012

It sure was in almost every aspect!
First of all I wasn't alone. My wife really wanted to come too, especially since she saw the pictures of my last one. She is new to the outdoorthings I do, so I introduced her to winteroutings/camping.
Secondly I did not bring any of my natural or traditional gear. No wool, no leather, no canvas.... apart from my tinderbox and a little something I received from Finland yesterday; a Finnish shoulder/gasmaskbag! Courtesy of bmatt!!
And thirdly, we got lost..... I have to admit it. We really were....
How it all went down?
Read on....

After taking the kids to school, we changed clothes, grabbed our gear, which we had packed last night and went on our way. The first 5 kilometers we went by car. Taking into account that the Mss. is fysically unaccustomed to the kind of walking we were going to undertake, we thought it wise to save on valuable energy and time.
We set out to check some sites I had in mind for future events and we did spot a nice one! The clearing in the forrest had accumulated more snow than we anticipated...

Another site we both wanted to check out, was the small island in the middle of the lake we frequently visit. That meant crossing the frozen lake on food. This was a new experience for me too and within a few steps I noticed my senses going on high alert! It felt so not natural and I felt very.... different... light in the head... aware...
We kept our distance.... at least 10 meters apart...

After we crossed the lake and scouted the island, which was larger than we thought, my wife had to take some “private” time....

We noticed the light changed. When we set out it was a flat grey sky, but now the sun tried to burn through the clouds, giving off a strange orangy glow, which reflected in the snow around us..

There was so much to see at the lakeside. There were so many animaltracks, yet the surrounding country was empty and dead silent.... apart fro our footsteps, breaking through the crusty snow..

I did not even see a bird!

After crossing the island and other lakeside, we thought it would be nice to see what lay behind the hill we now faced. What followed was a bit of a touch climb up a steep slope, covered with forrest and undergrowth.
On top we found a loggerstrail and followed that to the right. After a while we found some “pebbles”....
The largest one was also the most interesting one. It had a very colourfull covering of mosses, lichen and algea, topped of with some snow.

On the other side the bolder held a little surprise; a little snowfree overhang with rocks at the base. These rocks held no soil between them, so there were some holes between them.
It would make a grest shelter, I thought. Just a matter of making a wall of poles and boughs leaning at the rock, a small fire in front and a layer of boughs at the base. The holes in the bottom would hold the cold air....

A few meters further up the trail we found a fresh watersource and we still heard some water running underneath the ice.

The water accumulated under a larger boulder first...

and than right through a large rock which had split down the middle...

with a straight edge, as it it was manmade!

A few steps further down the trail we found a grouping of rocks, which would have made an easy and great shelter for 2…

As I turned I spotted some fresh moosetracks

and some unusual and to me unknown fungi

We walked on following the tracks a little, when suddenly my wife called. She had found moosedroppings and these were so fresh, that there was no sight of snow or even frost on them! We got caught by tracking fever!!

While following the numerous tracks; appearantly the moose was browsing through the area, we came across another frozen mountainstream. It was a magical place and sight and it caught us with its spell....
We followed the stream downhill, figuring it would lead us back to the lake, which was our initial plan. Unfortunately we ended up in what in summertimes would be a swampy area, so we had to stagger back uphill again. The terrain got quite tough... Large boulders and rocky outcrops kept throwing us off course and there was another large mountainstream, that held us up...

Finally we reached the top of the hill again and and at the other side at the foot of the hill, we saw a large flat white area. We had reached the lake again.... or so we thought! It was a small lake, not the large one we crossed! Appearantly we had gotten off track, following the moosetracks and mountainstream. The difficult terrain had done the rest.
Now I discovered I had forgotten just one more item for this trip; the map!!
I new there was a smaller lake to the southeast of the larger one, so if we followed the compass, which I fortunately always have with me, to the northwest, we should find the lake again.
So on and on we struggled. The terrain was quite difficult with many clearcuts to cross. These had either young trees and a thick layer of treestumps and branches, but all were covered in a thick layer of snow.
But whatever we did, we did not find the large lake again! I even noticed that the forrest can still play nasty tricks on you, even with a compass in hand. We started crossing a patch of young forrest, after I had checked the compass to see that we were indeed heading NW. After a short time, maybe 10 minutes, I checked again and I was facing south!! I could have sworn I was going straigh, but made a 180 degree turn unnoticed!
And now I had no idea where I was anymore.... I decided that we should follow the edge of the treeline on to a clearcut a few 100 meters ahead. There was a large open area and maybe we could get our bearing again by identifying a landmark. We were really lost and I felt a choking sence of discomfort creep upon me.... I shook it off. I head to keep my head clear and focus on the plan. My wife was doing just great. Despite her lack of fysical fittness and her experience, she never once complained and kept up. Not being alone really kept our spirits up.
We found a landmark we recognised, but we were shocked to find that particular one so close by! Never mind! We found one.... This was the time to take a break, get some warm food and a hot drink, refuel and warm ourselves, befor setting out in order to get home again.
The weather was still overcast, with the same pale grey sky we had started off with. So much for reliable weatherforecasts... They promissed us a more or less sunny day!
We chose a site to take a break and I cut down a dead standing spruce as thick as an arm. After chopping that into sizeable pieces and cutting thin pieces, I made us a fire. No nonsence, just a small pile of wood, some fatwood and a match....

Warm food; pytt i panna (potatoes, unions and meat, all in small cubes and a piece of ham. A kettle with water for coffee.

A gift by bmatt, which I received yesterday; a Finnish shoulder/gasmaskbag. A great little bag.

And a small extra gift I found inside of it; a mini Finnish knife with a salmonhide sheath!!!

Warm food and a hot drink; inmeasurably important as a moralbooster!!
Not to mention to boost your energylevels as well

Well, we did get home…..
We headed toward the landmark we found and came onto a road. I knew that familair terrain was due west, so we followed the road. After more than an hour of walking in an up tempo we came home, half an hour befor dark. When we came onto that road I had a very strong feeling that turning left would eventually lead us to the large lake, but I did not want to changes anymore. Not this late. So I opted for safe.
Coming home and checking the map, I saw that had we turned left we would have found the very far edge of the lake within 500 meters. That would have meant of few more kilometers across the lake to get to our car and arriving home a little earlier. Now we had to borrow my father in laws car in order to retrieve ours..... I guess we’ll be hearing this story for quite some time to come...

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