Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Siikaneva Trip Report

A few weeks ago I met my Finnish friend Matti, and discussing over a beer we decided to go for a weekend trip together soon, a one-nighter close by Tampere. Fast forward to Saturday, 6th of March at the bus stop, where we meet again. Matti with his 260 cm long skis and I with my snowshoes, perfect sunshine and a bit of snow coming down from heaven, we talk about hiking and how great it is to go out for a night.

It's still getting better.

An hour later we get out at the lonely bus stop in the middle of nowhere. Siikaneva is Southern Finland's biggest swamp area, and wide rolling marshes intermixed with little patches of forest will be our sight this weekend. But before we'll see any of it, a short three to four kilometer hike to the area needs to be made. Matti asks me if we go on the road or off piste, and seeing that I am in capable hands I let him guide us off piste through the forest. He does a good job, and an hour later we arrive at the entry.

On the way in, still glorious sunshine.

Wind blown snow holes.

At the start of Siikaneva, the fox tracks leading into the forest.

With our arriving at Siikaneva also the clouds arrive, and the previous blue sky is covered in grey. Matti gives me a short rundown how to navigate, and so we break yet again more trail in a straight line to the camp. The snow carries well although I do break in a couple of times, one time so deep that I need help from Matti to pull me out. I repay the favour to Matti a bit later, and realize that also on skis one can tumble and fall =)

A few sparse trees in the swamp...

... and many huddled together on the rocky outcrops.

Matti tells me that our camp is on top of a hill, and so our ascent starts. Its slightly easier with snowshoes, but where the snow is soft I break in till my crotch, and getting out of that is difficult, for a beginner like me at least. I do succeed and manage to get to the top, just to hear Matti tell me that I should come down as I went in my effort to "bag the peak" a bit too far away from the direction we should be going to.

Breaking in.

We arrive at camp, where there's six other people and the fire is going. I put on more clothes, drink some cold tea and eat a musli bar, while the other Finns throw their sausages on the grill and open their beers. There's a couple there, about my age, and we have amusing conversations with them. The man is German, and it goes again to show that whereever you go, you're bound to meet Germans! Later they pack up their Fjällpulka with enough supplies and equipment to last them a week in Lapland, and start the four kilometer trek back to the parking lot.

Being alone now, we roll out the pads and let the sleeping bags loft, while we chop more wood for the night. As we're finished, the sun starts to set, and it is the most beautiful sunset I can remember. We stand on the rocky outcrop and enjoy the view over the vast swamp area towards where the sun sets, a magnificent display of colours accompanying it.

Warming my hands at the fire.

The sky clears and millions of stars illuminate it, making it a perfect night. We enjoy dinner and a few Minttu Kakaos before we throw some big logs on the fire and creep into our sleeping bags. I read a bit more in the light of the fire before I doze off into the realm of dreams, waking up a few times at night to have a pee and throw more wood on the fire.

View from my sleeping bag the next morning =)

I get up around nine the next morning, make a new fire, set my shoes close to it, have a few bites from my Flapjack and go back into the sleeping bag. Its to early to be up on a Sunday, I decide, and read a bit while listening to the bird songs. The sun is out again, and no cloud is to be seen in the sky. Glorious weather to be outdoors.

We take our time to eat breakfast, chop more wood for the people who might come after us, and pack up. As we leave around half one, already four other day trippers are sitting around the fire and grilling their sausages. Finns and their sausages! Off the rocky outcrop and down into the swamp, the sun is almost blinding. Spectacular, and so we ski and walk towards the road, mostly off track, exploring the little patches of forests and the hidden swamps.

Matti on his skis.

Rabbit tracks leading into the forest.

Self portrait.

Fox tracks leading into the distance.

Matti leading the way.

The beauty of winter is so apparent around us. The sun shining, we have smiles on our faces as we ski and walk through this great area. We come across different sorts of tracks, left during the previous night, and Matti takes out his book and we try to identify the tracks in the snow. As we come across the tracks of an Elk, I amazed at the vigor of this animal: Every step it breaks through the at least one meter high snow, and walking here must be take a lot of energy for it.

Another short break with a camp fire, where I munch down my Ramen noodles, before we walk the last stretch to the road. We're waiting for a while till the bus takes us in again; and driving back home my thoughts go back to the vast, white swamp area, glistering in the sunlight, the beautiful sunset, and I long for more.

Elk tracks leading into the forest.