Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In search of snow crust - Excursion to Marttila

So, it's March, the weather forecasts screams for excellent conditions for this week right after the weekend. What I'm going to do? Of course I persuade my boss at work to give me a free day and I go for an overnighter, that's what I'm going to do!

The plan this time was to go and enjoy the possible snow crust conditions at the mighty Kuhankuono area. Peter had already left there on Sunday evening. But on Monday he text messaged me to call him. His frostbite had not fully recovered yet and he decided to go back home. So onward to plan B, the Wilderness of Marttila. Althought the area is smaller than Kuhankuono, and the bogs are smaller too, it's one paradise of many paradises.

Leaving home right after the sunset:

Getting closer to Marttila, on the small roads. In this time of the winter they are really icy, so I installed Surly Nate on the front.

In the moonlight:

When I arrived at Marttila my plan was to go to one of the bogs and camp there. The Karhunperänrahka bog is the largest so I thought it would be a good idea. I had a map of the area with me, and I know that the trail from the road goes close to the bog. Time for some bike pushing:

I finally have an important gear for going on snow, Outdoor Designs Perma eVent gaiters:

It was tough and slow. At some places there was literally waist deep snow! And of course some damage of the Christmas storm:

I figured out that I was trying to reach the bog from the wrong side. On the road again:

Next up the Orhijoenrahka bog. It's smaller but at least it's very close to road. I was getting tired and the air was getting colder, so I setup my little campsite on the edge of the bog. I hoped that the sunrise in the morning would be in the right direction.

I took the new Alpkit Rig 7 tarp with me, mainly just for testing it. I have to study a lot more of tarp setups, my version for the night was just a fast and easy.

More moonlight blissfulness:

The night. My feet were cold again. But as the night progressed, my body started to occasionally feel cold too. In the morning I really wondered that what was the problem. Marmot Never Summer is really good sleeping bag. I got the answer when I checked the temperature from the StemCAPtain thermometer. It was as low as it can get, -26°C!! It shows temperatures about 3 degrees incorrectly, but it still was probably -23°C.

A couple of shots of the sunrise before my batteries died:

The extremely cold morning meant that all the usual chores were really slow. In addition to my feet, my hands were cold too. I put the spare batteries to pocket of my down jacket, and crawled back to my sleeping bag for awhile. I knew that things would get better when the sun goes up and starts to warm.

My plan was to cook real, proper coffee with the new GSI Java Drip. But before that, I had to warm up the gas cartridge.

In the meantime, I enjoyed the fantastic morning. The silence was so great. When the sun started to rise, the nature started to slowly wake. I heard a voice of some exotic bird, probably an owl.

Under the tarp:

Finally the water started to boil and coffee was soon ready:

The Primus 4-Season Gas is useless in these conditions. A multifuel stove is in my plans for the next winter.

Melting water. This time I was going to ride more in the area and go back home later in the afternoon:

Packed and ready, time to go:

Lots of snow:

There was skiing track going into the Karhunperänrahka bog: 

The track was wide enough for me to ride on the side without ruining the track. The snow crust wasn't good enough for riding on the bog, but the track turned out great.

The views were great:

This was fun! This is where fatbike rules:

Landscape extravaganza:

That magic bike again:

And again:

Time for a lunch break:

And enjoying the fabulous views:

On a field after the bog:

And then to home, after a great day:

The album and slideshow links with some extra photos: Google+ and Picasa.

Definitely one of the best winter overnighter so far! Thanks for reading, and leave comments, should be easier now with Disqus.