Sunday, February 27, 2011


I've been a bit remiss in my blogging recently - I keep promising myself to write more but the days just seem to slip past. But here are a few photos from out snowshoeing today - just because they are quite pretty really. Uusimaa, the region that surrounds Greater Helsinki, is the Finnish equivalent of the Home Counties I guess. Less BMWs and stockbrokers, more moose though. It's not really wilderness as such, although in mid-winter the farmers' fields turn into wide open snowscapes and quiet, overhung rivers become hard highways for snowmobiles, skiers and the occasional snowshoer. In some ways, rather bucolic, yet still when it is -20 or colder - rural idyll or not, your toes will still go black and fall off if you don't look after them.

The bridges of Uusimaa county; new...

...and old.

But the winds have changed and the temperatures soared to a giddy -4 degrees. Today I was sweating and was quite happy hiking in a merino t-shirt and R1 pullover - a microfleece, or glorified sweatshirt really. Rather than full on snow boots, it was nice to wear some light fabric hiking boots with just some shorty gaiters to keep the snow out the tops. After some really cold hand experiences over the last few weeks, I was actually happy walking for some time with out gloves on and was getting sweaty inside my Marmot XT gloves when I did put them on. What a difference a few days can make.

There are animal tracks every where, from tiny little marks that might be mice or shrews, hare tracks everywhere and interestingly what I think must be foxes that seemed to favour the river as a quick way to move about. Then there are the people tracks - lots of skiers have been out and about a few other snowshoers. Snowshoeing is definitely picking up in popularity in Finland. A few years back you basically never saw snowshoe tracks  at least in the parts of southern Finland that I tend to frequent, whilst this winter in particular I'm seeing more and more. It is in someways not as graceful as skiing, more plodding and pedestrian, but it also has its own advantages and rewards of being able to go anywhere - particularly through dense southern deciduous-mix woods - with minimal hassle.

More daylight - hurray! About 5 pm and the sun is still above the horizon
It's lucky I can never throw out odd straps, bits of velcro, elastic and the like as in my bits-and-pieces box I found the perfect ultra-light snowshoe holding system for my super light pack!

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