• Pyhä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Monday morning well spent.

    I used to live and work in here briefly, in the Pyhä Ski Resort and Pyhä Luosto National Park in Northern Finland, above the Arctic Circle. Back then (I sound so old – not really sooo back then, just a few years ago) on these trails, and in a matter of fact on all the trails in this and other national parks in Finnish Lapland, mountain biking was prohibited.

    Back then, this was just a sleepy hiking and trail running paradise in summer, and skiing (alpine and Nordic) paradise in winter. This was also the place I and many more learned to really ski and where we, the kids from the neighboring towns, spent almost every winter weekend.

    Later some made it to the Olympics, some bumming to the Alps.

    Nowadays the place’s still all that but also a mountain biking paradise, both in summer and winter. This thanks to last year when, after many years of talking and lobbying, many trails in the national parks and near them were opened and even built from scratch for the two-wheeled ones, with the help of the modified park rules and the growing trend.

    In winter on snow and in summer in the most rocky parts – kind of which you find plenty of here –  the trails are best with a fatbike. A normal one is also more than fine in summer, but remember to keep a well-equipped maintenance kit with you (and good protection on) then.

    The quartzite doesn’t have much mercy.

    This time I was just trail running the appr. 12km path through this tunturiaapa marshland to the Isokuru gorge and past Karhunjuomalampi day hut back to the ski resort, and snapping few pics of these silvery pine woods, my rare favourites of the dead things in nature, and of the hill chain (tunturiketju, as we call these in Finnish) which continues north from Pyhä to Luosto ski resort and village.

    Things haven’t changed much since I left and this is always a good place to come back for a visit, as one of the few places in Lapland with the authentic original Lapland spirit left, with grey log cabin, one small hotel (which would need a renovation though) and many stories and legends to read and hear when in town.

    For starters, ask for the story of Huttu-Ukko, or of the hill on the left in the pics – Noitatuntunturi, Witchhill.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Pyhä Ski Resort / Pyhä-Luosto National Park, Lapland, Finland.

    mtb trailmap

  • BLOG
  • Stop The Press

    Tiina Kivelä

    Right, just when I said that the winter running walking trail’s the best for summer too in Ounasvaara, I found the new nature trail (marked with blue-white pine cone symbols) and let me tell you, that’s really the best for everyday running and hiking in Ounasvaara near Rovaniemi in summer.

    When starting and ending the tour in the city, the distance of the loop, added with the connecting trail past the view tower, is a bit over 10km (the loop itself about 4.5km). See the pics for the scenes.

    And yes, my shoes aren’t the best ones for these trails. But when I need to optimise my baggage (aka only hand luggage) and when some of the stuff is always in the other home I remember them to be (#nomadlife) this happens. Luckily the trails have been dry until the past days.

    Also, the clothing I have here is good for Lapland outdoors only if and when you wanna motivate yourself to keep on running without stops… The mosquitoes have no mercy and even though not carrying any diseases, they are annoying as f***.

    So better keep on moving or dress better when in Lapland.

    Tiina KIvelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä


    Ps. Outdoors in Lapland

    Since there was news again how the rescue missions are on the rise in the outdoors and wilderness areas in Lapland, and I’ve noted the poor state of the signalization myself and the cool pics in Instagram rarely tell the real, honest story, I want to advise you, if and when heading into the outdoors in Lapland, to take into an account how most of the outdoor areas in Finland, and especially in Lapland, really are wild.

    The networks of trails, unmarked paths and Instagram worthy places are tense in many areas, especially near the resorts, cities and towns, but many of them lack the services and signposts of i.e. the outdoor areas in the Alps. Locals know better when and how to go there safely, but even for them (a good example of which me), the reality can easily be confusing and overwhelming, causing unexpected problems.

    If something happens when you’re hiked into the outdoors 10km off the resort, or if you just grow tired, there’s rarely a shortcut nor signs to the civilization, nor a restaurant offering food, drinks and shelter for a good rest.

    Although many of the trails in Lapland are suitable for beginners and/or people with little experience, and easy to walk on (thank’s for the mellow tundra landscape), and some of them are marked clearly, offering an accompanying map and even the suggested hiking times, they many times aren’t as easy a task to tackle as they may seem at the first look and in curated Instagram feeds. Especially the trails in the national parks bring you easily far, far away from civilization and services. And to confuse you even further, despite the same managing organization for all the parks in Finland (Metsähallitus National Park Service) the trail markings, signalization and symbols etc. aren’t standardised as i.e. in Switzerland, and therefore the trail markings and map symbols differ from one park to another.

    In other words, most of the times tours require good preparation and some amount of general outdoors skills like orientation, map reading etc. to be done safely. No harm in hiring a guide for your tour either.

    In Lapland outdoors, it’s good to have an idea how to read a map, and how fast you walk/run 10km in varied terrain. It’s also good to keep some food and water with you, not to forget outdoors appropriate, wind and waterproof, warm and covering (for the mosquitos) clothing and good shoes. And before going, I’d suggest you consult carefully a local (recreation) information point, guide service or similar for more information and tips for a safe and fun tour.

    Outdoors in Lapland aren’t the hardest of the environments, especially in the summer, but it’s not called wild north for no reason.

    Pps. More detailed brief guide for outdoors in Lapland coming soon by me. Until that, look for the Lapland and activities categories in the menu for more tips and inspiration.

  • Same Trails Different Season

    Tiina Kivelä

    Yesterday I told you about trail running in Ounasvaara on summer, which made me realize that I haven’t even told you about the winter trail running in Rovaniemi! Which is almost as good – maybe even better – as the summer version.

    Just look at the snowy landscape from past February in here.

    In winter, the best option for everyday trail running up here is to follow what’s called as the “winter walking trail” in the Ounasvaara hill next to the city. Starting from the city, you first run up from the left side of the other end of Jätkänkynttilä bridge (the starting point in my guide in here) to the observation tower and resting point, with fireplace and dry wood (on a good day). From there, you continue a bit more up and then right, to the mast and Sky Ounasvaara Hotel, from the south-east corner of which (really, go to the exact corner of the hotel – it’s hard to believe but the path really goes from there) you may continue to the signed (poorly though) winter walking loop trail of appr. 6km. (You may upload the GPS track from here.)

    At the end of the loop, when you reach the cross-country trail “entrance” and parking lot, you may turn right and continue the rest of the loop trail back to Sky Ounasvaara and go back the city along the same trail you came up. Or you may as well turn left here, and continue downhill past Santasport, directly to the city and sauna and after run beers.

    Please note that running on cross-country tracks is strictly prohibited in Finland (as it ruins the tracks and is dangerous as well) and that there are also many MTB trails in the area, along which you can basically run, though I wouldn’t recommend that either (again for the security reasons).

    I know, since the MTB trails are better signed than the hiking/walking trails and for few other reasons they are very tempting for running and walking (I’ll write about biking those a bit later), but still, better to keep on the walking paths when running/hiking. For that, in addition to the winter walking path, the snowshoe tracks found in the area, especially the ones made by big tour groups, are an excellent option. They are rarely, if ever, marked, but offer a nice adventure as long as you find your way out of the forest in the end/when getting hungry. And of course, the snowshoe walking is also a nice activity to try, if you fancy that.

    I really hope that the current work they are doing on improving the overall signalization of the nature trails in the city will help and all the trails will be better marked and tempting in the future, as currently even I get lost here from time to time.

    The views are worth a detour or two, though. Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Ounasvaara, Rovaniemi, Lapland