Martin got up between six and seven, because he felt to cold to try to continue sleeping. He got the fire started while I still was in my sleeping bag. As the sun rose over the horizon I got out of the sleeping bag, and enjoyed the landscape: It was cold that night, frost covered the trees, reeds and ground that morning, and vapour was rising from the river. It was looking like it will be a beautiful day! We guess it was about -10°C that night, as even I in my Mammut down sleeping bag was quickly cold and needed to put on a baselayer, my FjällRäven jacket, and had the silk inlet in there, thick socks on my feet.
After a breakfast and hot coffee and cooking tea for the trip we felt warm enough on the inside, and continued our trip. We planned to walk around 8 to 10 km today, till the old Mill at the river, Myllykoski cottage.
Me putting on gloves after a cold night, next to the river.
Finland is at its best in the autumn, the colours, like the yellow tree, are magnificent.
The fir trees in their icy dress from the night.
Me walking over the duckboards in one of the many swamps.
Martin on a rope bridge.
We made good speed that morning, even if the trail wasn't easy - next to the river, over icy roots and boulders, traversing and climbing over them at times, hoping not to fall into the cold river. We took it with humour, and soon reached the "Pieni Karhumkierros", the "Small Bear Round" which is a loop and has many of the most impressive sights on a short 12 km round. Its easy accessible from a camping ground, and we met many day trippers.
Before noon we reached the Siilasmaja hut, where we had lunch. Because it was windy we had lunch inside the hut, enjoying the view on the small pond and the waterfall at the other end. Some day trippers were hacking up the last wood, and every now and then peeking inside the hut.
The view from the Siilasmaja hut.
We continued after washing the dishes, and reached at 13 o'clock the Myllykoski hut, where we planned to stay for the night. Looking inside, we were surprised to find no stove. It was something we were looking forward to this night, after having been a bit cold the last night. As it was still early, we decided to continue walking another 8 km to the Poronmatijoki hut.
A few kilometers after the old Mill the Oulanka National Park's border was reached, and we continued to walk to regular forest, and also through some less beautiful area where they had logged down all the trees. But this is Finland, and the Forest is one of the countries main natural resources. It didn't take to long and we reached a Nature Protection area, and at around 16 o'clock we stood in front of the hut.
The hut was splendid! Actually it were two cabins, both being able to host four to five backpackers, a very nice kitchen hut and a fireplace in the middle of it all. We lighted up the stove, put our wet cloths up to dry and had a dinner, after which we feel easily asleep.
I woke up early, at six, to light the stove again up, after which I crept back into my sleeping bag for a while. Around seven both of us got up, and after a quick breakfast we were on the trail again - we wanted to get the 14.20 bus to Oulu and the train at 17.30 to Tampere, which would have meant we would have been back home at 22 o'clock, ready for a few beers, pizza and Sauna!
The trail was easy and we were quick, and we had our first short water break after 6 km at a lake, which was shrouded in mist.
While the first six km were easy, the following km were more arduous. Four hills wanted to be crossed, and it was a bit rainy and the mist didn't allow us to see far. We now made about 1,5 km per hour, nearly a quart of what we made on the flat.
Me, walking up the hill.
We managed to traverse all the hills in time, and jumped into a Taxi which brought us to Kuusamo. The last 2 km and 500 m altitude were hard, but we pretty much jogged them up and down, in the hope of having "Sauna, beer, pizza" in the evening. We were exhausted as we sat down in the Taxi, but happy. We finished the Karhunkierros' 80 km in about five days, and enjoyed its splendid nature in autumn. Even though its Finland's most popular National Park, we didn't meet to many fellow hikers, and enjoyed the silence and tranquility of nature. Autumn is in my opinion the best time to go, as the colours of nature are fantastic.
If I would walk it again, I might go in winter and take a tent as well, maybe even a packcraft or rent a canoe to see it from a different angle. Its a beautiful NP, with a very good infrastructure and beautiful sights. If you want to see Finland in a week, this is certainly a good choice!