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.
While daydreaming in the middle of this November darkness, I thought it would be a good idea to write down a bit more about the dreams I’m planning to make reality this winter season. The dreams for which I’ve joined the #skierssquatchallenge (thanks for the inspiration Sandra), and for which I find the motivation to explore running the icy remote small town roads in pouring rain like Rocky.
For this winter, I’m already past the first first half of the preparation project. Because these dreams really need preparation and work to turn to reality. I’ve done the squats, gone running and nordic skiing, and lowered the spending and alcohol intake (after the wine fair that is). Unfortunately, I can’t have the long high altitude weekend hikes from last year. Those were the secret for surviving last winter and spring and even the marathon, and they were just so fun. But I do hope the other activities and even a bit more structured plan (I even have kind of a bullet journal now) will do good as well.
This winter and the year coming, I want to really improve my mountain skills, both when it comes to skiing, running, skitouring and mountaineering. I wanna do some more “things I wanna do before I turn 30” things like the marathon already finished, and concentrate on my wellbeing, for common good (hello future employers and cooperators, I’m thinking of you too in here).
Nobody climbs on skis now and almost everybody breaks their legs but maybe it is easier in the end to break your legs than to break your heart although they say that everything breaks now and that sometimes, afterwards, many are stronger at the broken places.
WINTER SEASON 17-18 PLANS – GOING HAPPY PLACES
Talking of the dreams I have for this winter, one of the biggest is to spent more time in my happy places. First, in December I’m going to Switzerland to get my stuff, meet lovely people, and hopefully enjoy some December Swiss pow. Then I’ll continue to Austria to catch up with some awesome mountain babes, and enjoy as much glühwein and raclette as possible, as it’s the Weihnachtsmarkt -season.
After the reunion with my dear Alps, I’ll hopefully hop on plane back north for Christmas or at least New Years. Hopefully, because no tickets bought yet. As the sad story goes, Germania doesn’t offer the direct flights from Zürich to Rovaniemi this winter. Therefore, I have to consider more carefully when I have time and money to fly, with the expensive Finnair transfer flights. Especially during the extremely busy Christmas season, when charters are filling every airport in Lapland and Christmas tourists the regular flights.
I haven’t been up here for the holiday season in two years, and I’ll have a brand new apartment then, so I kind of would like to be here for the holidays. But again, it might become too expensive and also, working for Santa for 4 months now I’ve had enough of this Christmas by now. The sun and cheap wine of south wouldn’t be a bad option either…
After the holidays and turning to 2018, wherever that will be, I’ll get down to the Alps again in January, to go skiing in La Grave. Booked the camp through Boundless Betty again (not paid ad, just a honest recommendation) and I really hope this will improve my skiing and mountain skills a lot. Of course I’m going there also for the raclette, and to hang out with amazing women again, because why not. Alps are always a good idea.
Then, depending on the work situation, I get back north north or stay south the rest of the winter, doing as many weekend adventures as possible before the spring ski mountaineering season comes into play. This will include a longer hochtour/hauteroute tour, and some cross-country skiing I hope. Plans and funding aren’t clear about these last ones yet, but fingers crossed (and work to do) there’s gonna be good trips like these later in the winter and spring too.
Finally, and since my birthday is waiting in May, I also hope to squeeze in (and find the money for) a longer trip this winter (fyi: spring in south means winter in Lapland). Number one destination would be Colombia, for catching up with friends there, learning Spanish and experiencing the Colombian multisport scene. And more than anything else, to enjoy the sun, lack of which I’ve suffered hard this autumn. My friend also said, when inviting me there, that I should show with my experience how Colombia is a destination for a adventurous woman solo traveler. Ready for the challenge, but again let’s see if there’s enough funds and holidays for that.
Finally there was the great glacier run, smooth and straight, forever straight if your legs could hold it, your ankles locked, you running so low, leaning into the speed, dropping forever and forever in the silent hiss of the crisp powder. It was better than any flying or anything else, and you built the ability to do it and to have it with the long climbs, carrying the heavy rucksacks. You could not buy it nor take a ticket to the top. It was the end we worked all winter for, and all the winter built to make it possible.
PREPARATIONS & ADVENTURE LOG 17-18
This winter my plan is to write more, about my training and plans and projects, in here. I’m not sure how many is interested really, but still. To tell you, whoever is interested, what it takes to get to the final stage, to do those long climbs ahead, and stay alive those great glacier runs.
First of all, even if you don’t do freeskiing or the other kind of adventures like I do, I think you could get good tips from my basic endurance and strength training, just to make your everyday challenges like work more bearable, and your body to handle all that more conveniently. Second, for the fellow mountain people, I hope the avalanche stuff and insights on how I view and manage all the risks help you to get forward in the mountains as well. Finally, I hope my insights on how I generally balance my life with my full-time job, all this travel, exercise and relationships, could be of help for someone else. Even if just letting you know that you’re not alone.
Like already said, last winter didn’t go so well in the end, so I hope this time I know how to do this better. This winter I’m really going to upgrade. Be it doing like the Swiss Tourism tells me to do in the video below – to upgrade my winter in the Swiss mountains (check! – booked and the skis are waiting me there already) or just doing everything better this winter, wherever I am.
I do have few extra challenges this winter though, like the non-existent direct flights and still unknown future since my current work project ends soon. But I hope that knowing I need to keep better eye on these things, I manage to beat those challenges and travel to the highest mountains and unknown territories more than once.
the fun of skiing was to get up into the highest mountain country where there was no one else and where the snow was untracked and then travel from one high Alpine Club hut to another over the top passes and glaciers of the Alps. You must not have a binding that could break your leg if you fell. The ski should come off before it broke your leg. What he really loved was unroped glacier skiing, but for that we had to wait until spring when the crevasses were sufficiently covered.
Let’s hope those springy glacier runs will be good and if interested, follow my journey here, in Instagram or Facebook.
Let’s do our best to upgrade everything this winter.
November is really November these days. Monday too. With rain and around 6h daylight – basically, it’s just a loooong and dark night followed with 50 shades of grey before another looooong and dark night. And over again. Calls for a badass attitude and not just in Helsinki.
For a while it was nice. There was snow and I could go skiing even, the Nordic style – 1,5 year break made me feel a bit like Bambi on ice though. But I’m getting there – and whatever the style, it’s one of the best and most effective training methods ever, let me tell you. Watch out skimo and skitouring season, this year I’m really training for you…
And then there were these extremely beautiful and cold days fairytale-like days with frost and all the muted shades of care bears. No wonder Frozen is my favorite Disney film – the one I can really relate to. There was well needed light, sunny (although cold) days and beautiful hikes.
And it’s been so quiet and empty. No wonder solitude has been another thing in my mind and agenda these weeks. It has felt a bit that I’ve been paying the bills from last winter still, the bills from when I for a while forgot what I need to keep it all together. In the end, I survived, and it was the best winter I’ve ever had. But honestly, I was too close to exhaustion with all the work, long mountain days in the weekends, shared flat, etc. There were good things, but there was something important missing. And things didn’t really go as I hoped them to go. Luckily though, life is a journey in which I don’t need to repeat the same mistakes all over again. And when stepping into another ski season, I do make sure I do things better this time and after.
Last winter, solitude was missing, while some other shitty things were taking it’s place, like the pitfalls of bad management. I still do love most of the firm and it has been the best learning experience I’ve ever had. But it had it’s flaws, like any organization. On my freetime, I did some solo hikes, and took my time alone, but not enough. And now, it’s not just my freetime into which I try to squeeze better practices and the solitude. It’s also the work part of my life for which I try to invent better practices. And in which I hope to be able to focus on the really important things and do them better.
Now when I read and hear how good solitude does, I’ve understood that it’s clearly one of the secrets for my success too. The thing I can do to ease the pain. In the best case, it also makes me a better team member. At work and at home.
So, to not repeat the same mistakes again, it’s been sauna almost every day now. The real Finnish one – alone, quiet, naked, veeery hot one. I guess it works like bath for Emma Watson. And then there’s these moments in the nature, almost like Thoreau. And all this skiing and running and reading, and knitting, etc. Yeah I know, I sound like a grandma. But please, just let me take my time and see you in (Verbier) afterski with all the energy gained these months. Darling, it will be wild, I promise.
And for the work I have new calendar and scheduling practices, as well as new confidence to do things my way, the way I know works best for me and for the goals of whatever project I’m on.
If you want to read more about why solitude is good, you may start from this. Or this. Or maybe this. One of them tells you that solitude is even a competitive advantage! Who knew – it’s not just for us introverts to curl up in our comfort zone.
Oh and if you want to come up here too, I may tell that my Lapland guide is almost finished (working on this site and menus this month). And to give a tip from here already, I may recommend the place offering that risotto (Restaurant Roka, Rovaniemi, Lapland Finland) which I enjoyed in solitude – comfort food, alone or made with love and enjoyed in good company, it’s an excellent self care ritual too. Especially after exercising out in the cold, which makes a girl hungry. Veeery hungy.
With these words and pics, let’s survive now (and hopefully enjoy too) November. See you later!