Itäkaira 2009

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Kaldoaivi 2009
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Paistunturit 2009

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Over the river Jauru


The water was dark and cold, just above the freezing point and the frost of past night was still on the ground. This was the legendary Jauru river, which divided the UKK National Park into two parts. In the south, spruces reached the sky long, dark and candle like. That was the domain of the bear, the wolf and the wolverine. In the North, everything was changed into pine forest and eventually fell terrain and arctic tundra. Over there, was my Lapland. This river changed everything like magic.



I started my Lapland trips in forest areas of eastern Lapland, but it was not the Lapland of my dreams. My Lapland was up on the mountains, above the tree line, where only occasional stunted birches grow. Some people think the opposite and they like to wander the forest lands, but it is not for me. It reminds me too much of swamps and wildernes areas of North Carelia, where I was born.

But here I was, even if I just had told everyone a month earlier, that I would not waste my time in these backwoods, but would head north, to real Lapland. Now when I saw the river Jauru cold and silent, ready for the winter, splitting the wilderness in two, I was happy I was here.

This was the third day of our trip. We had walked maybe 40 kilometers from the car, I bit too much for me in my current condition and I did did not like the feeling in my knee. I suspected trouble towards the end of the hike, but I didn't want to think of that now, since we were just reaching the areas we were here for.

I took of the boots and tied the laces together, put on my "crossing slippers", hanged the boots onto my neck and started to wade over. It was not a difficult crossing, but the water was cold, just above freezing point, so I did not plan to spend too long in there. I paced quickly to get over the river and suddenly got really worried about the knot that tied the laces of my shoes together and kept them on my neck. Did I tie the knot well enough? Would it hold? Though the stream was not very strong, I would be in real trouble dropping the shoes now. Loosing a shoe in the wilderness in end of september could be serious.

I remembered a story of swedish Carsten Lorange, who lost his shoe, got lost and died on northern Lapland in July 1961. That happened in the middle of summer and he was a very experienced hiker. No one really knows what exactly happened to him, but the event shows that when something goes wrong in the wild, the consequences may cumulate up to a point, when your are in real danger. Here, you can lay helpless weeks or months before anyone finds you. The cell phone coverage does not reach the river valleys.

Of course I was not in real trouble, but these thoughts sometimes suddenly cross your mind in the wild. Once on the other side, I was smiling to my thoughts. The knot was good, of course. Nor was I alone this time, my friend was only just taking of his shoes on the river bank.


Jauru 2


I watched as he stumbled across the freezing river and was perversely happy, that I already was wearing my boots and warm socks, while he had just started the crossing.

I knew I would have to come back this way, but I did not think of it now, for I was going to my Lapland.