Polar Stroll - Day 4

As planned we get on our way reasonably early - at 9:00. The temperature is -2 degrees Celsius and the weather is fine. And the route is fine as well - we cross a marsh, a frozen lake and follow the course of a large river, at least for the first part of the day. But as you know the ferry tales tend to end, and so did the easy part of today’s stretch. Eventually we had to enter the forest again. While skiing through the forest, I can’t stop thinking about the small snow humps we are crossing. Every child knows that the bear sleeps during the winter, and we have been advised not to poke the bear with our poles. Thats the easy part of this head-scratcher. The not so easy part is figuring out which of these humps is hiding the bear. As I try to solve this riddle a polar hare hops along not at all bothered by our presence. Would the bear be as uninterested in getting to know us better? Thats the real question.

We pass by a house from the look of it inhabited only by a horse, and the vague resemblance with Orvell’s “Animal Farm” makes us ski a bit faster. The second house is inhabited by a man so used to the cold that he comes out of the house to greet us dressed only in his undies. After a short while he gets a more presentable look by putting on pants. It seems that we have disturbed the lady living in the third house we encounter, because before returning to her TV set she throws some harsh words at us. At least her tone suggests that the message is not at all welcoming. The locals don’t speak English and we are not strong in Finnish so the only thing we manage to explain is our country of origin and the ridiculous route we have chosen. The locals try to direct us towards the closest town, but, when they understand that we want to go straight into the forest, they shake their heads in disapproval.

In the forest we strike against a deep ditch, that can’t be crossed in this place. We have to go along the slope, to find a suitable crossing. When after a bit of a struggle we finally pull the sledge up on the other side of the ditch, it seams that our luck has changed. There’s a nice cut-through right on our course. After god knows how many kilometers of joyful skiing on the even ground with no obstacles we find ourselves on a road, that shouldn’t be there. A quick look in the map and all of the joy is gone. We have gone off-course again. So the rest of the day we try to get back on it. At 18:45 we stick our poles in the snow and make camp, which takes us more than an hour. At 21:30 we are ready to get in our den.

By the way, I failed to mention that approx. at 14:00 it started to snow and it’s been snowing ever since, so there’s a fair chance that in the morning we will crawl out of a pile of snow like a couple of bears. We have followed or at least tried to follow the Polar circle for two days, and now our camp is approx. 20,5 kilometers from the start point not counting all the loops and hoops we have made. To tell you the truth - the plan was to move faster and in a more straight fashion. Hence the quote of the day - “This adventure should be called Getting across Finland, if we are lucky.” The good news are that we are still moving and sometimes even in the right direction.

We go to sleep a bit high - because of the thick layer of snow our tent is built approx. 2 m above the ground.

Karlis (66° 32.69N, 028° 55.97E)

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