Mosquito bitten and sore from carrying the heavy backpacks while walking through difficult terrain, but happy nonetheless, we emerged yesterday night from the national park.

We walked from Ristikallio to the Visitor’s Center of Oulanka and stayed over night in the camping area of Taivalköngäs.

The distance wasn’t that long: Maybe 18 km - still, our untrained bodies were and are pretty exhausted nonetheless.

Initially, we had the idea of continuing our hike down south to Juuma which would have added another 35 km tomorrow and on Tuesday, but we wisely decided against it. In our current state of fitness, we can do around 10 km a day, maybe a little more, but this number is really dependent on the terrain. And even a full day of rest in our home here in Kuusamo, we felt, would have not been enough to recuperate. You have to leave something for next time. And we’re looking forward to hike it.

Regardless of that, we had a great time. This part of the national park is just breath taking. Lush forests, amazing rapids and all around amazing things to see, big and small.

We were lucky with the weather, too. It only rained once, in the morning, while we were laying comfortably in our tent, listening to the water dropping on the nylon tarp, mixed with the sounds of nature and the faint rushing of the rapids some two hundred meters down the hill.

For our trip we had prepared a southern German speciality: Spätzle. Spätzle’s are normally a kind of fresh pasta that taste amazing with a heavy helping of Emmentaler cheese, some fresh parsley and roasted onions on top. Since the German supermarket chain Lidl is also present in Finland, we sometimes can get a dried version of this dish, which we did. We pre-boiled the German-style pasta at home, so we would just need to warm them up while out in the field (instead of boiling them for 13 minutes out there). And although they were somewhat heavy in my backpack, they tasted amazing after a long afternoon and evening of hiking.

These kinds of trips make you appreciate your home, when you come back as well. Our comfy couch, the soft bed, a warm shower to soften the muscles. We celebrated by getting pizza on the way back home. What a great Midsummer weekend.

Photos: M.H. & e.virsu