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Karhunkierros ( The Bears' Trail) Ruka - Finland (Part - 2)

Karhunkierros ( The Bears' Trail) Ruka - Finland (Part - 2)

Postby ScotFinn65 » Tue Dec 29, 2020 1:41 pm

Date walked: 06/07/2020

Time taken: 2.5 days

Distance: 82 km

Ascent: 2244m

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........continued from Part 1 ==> https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=102445

Soon after the halfway point (41km) and at 15km for the day, we came across the next camping spot. This was still too early to stop for the night but this was one of my favourite places. It had an overnight hut, open fires, picnic benches, dry toilets, wood storage and just had a great camping feeling about the place (Jussinkämppä 42km).
Jussinkämppä open fire and picnic tables

Jussinkämppä Kota - Indoor grillhouse

Jussinkämppä wood storage (free for use)

Jussinkämppä sleeping and eating facilities

Jussinkämpä dry toilets

We had our break and started on our way. It was approximately 5km more until the place that the lady (at breakfast) had recommended for our overnight stay.

At this point, the forest stared to become thicker and the walking a little bit harder. But the track was good and we encountered some wildlife along the way
Reindeer mother and baby

The day was getting on and starting to feel longer. The forest became thicker and the sky became darker. I started to feel like I needed a break but the camping place was shortly in front of us :shock:

At this point there are no more photos for a while. My mood was changing. The rain came on heavily just as we reached the 20km for the day. The place was where the track now meets the Kitka river. There was a lot of water around and even more mosquitos.

I had noticed that I has developed blisters on both feet but failed to address them. I thought they would just go away or something :roll: (not very experienced walker thing to do). I also started to feel a tween on my hamstring. I was used to this when jogging but never felt it on walks. In addition, I think I had under-eaten and it was giving me some fuel and mood problems. Again, this was something I had never encountered before.

To make things worse, the suggested camping areas were nothing at all. The one with a kota and open fire may have been nicer in the right weather but it was now under water and full of mosquitoes. We decided to please on after a short break to shelter from the heaviest rain, in the kota.

For the next few km we trudged along the banks of the river Kitka up and down, up and down. This stretch reminded me a lot of the worst part of the WHW along the not so bonnie part of the banks of Loch Lomond 8)

This seemed to go on forever. Then we had quite a sleep uphill climb before joining the day track circuit of the small Karhunkierros. I had waited for this point for quite a while as it was familiar to me and I knew just how far it was to the campsite from here.

However, the track we wanted to follow headed in the opposite direction from the day circuit. So we plodded on.

There was a place on the map that promised to have a pretty good camp and it was only 4km more, so we headed there. Unfortunately there was no great camp spots and a family had already taken over the covered area with open fireplace.

We agreed to head to the final target for the day Siilastupa (60km). This made a total of 33km for the day, the last 15km of which had been quite a struggle for me for some reason. The ascent was not great and the distance wasn't too bad but it was just one of those days.

I wasn't the best company for my walking companion as we reached the final stretch for the day.

When we reached the site, there were plenty facilities but it was so late that everything was full, The tupa sleeping was packed like sardines in a box. The camp spots were all taken by tents or hammocks. The cooking areas were all being used.

I swore I was going to; pitch the tent, take a cold dip in the lake to cool the muscles, make my dinner and then go straight to sleep...……….and I did exactly that.
My pitch for the night

Heikki's scenic pitch

Total for the day 32.9km - 11hr:42min - 679m ascent

Day 3

I slept well that night and recovered from all the bad feelings. My hamstring problems disappeared, I had a good dinner and we were about to make a substantial breakfast and my mood had improved immensely.

The facilities for cooking were very similar to place we passed with the family, the evening before. Much of this seemed new. There was the normal open fire for grilling or boiling but also plenty picnic type tables and benches, as well as standing places with higher tables. The facilities in more of the places as not typically what we find in Scotland.
Facilities for those cooking

After breakfast, I took a look around the place a bit more and took a few pictures of what I had missed the night before :?
View from our campsite

Right next to the campsite was one of the most picturesque rapids of the whole trip
One of the most spectacular rapids

Rapids and stairs to plunge pool where I took my bath the night before

Pictures taken, breakfast eaten, tents packed and we were on our way again.

Due to the fact we had done 27km and 33km in the past 2 days, we saw no reason we would not just finish the trail on Day 3. It was, after all, a shorter day. Only 24km or so! After the 33km of yesterday, this had to be a breeze, right?? :roll:

We started off and the trail was nice woodland again with plenty higher views of the river, after the initial ascent away from the banks.
yes, still mosquitoes

The path now was quite different from yesterday and more like the forest and swamp combination of day 1, as we headed for the lunch stop place of Porontimajoki (68km)
White water river Kitka

The wooden railroad through the marshes

It was here in the bog cotton that I could somehow imagine that I would see a bear or a wolf but alas, it would not be. There are plenty bears and wolves in eastern Finland but quite rarely seen need humans. Probably just as well, I am pretty slow these days :lol:
Bog cotton land

The walking was again easy at this point, no ascents and a fresh start to a new day. However, as we progresses, the skies started to darken and there was a spit of rain in the air.
Dark skies closing in

Porontimajoki was a place I knew fairly well, I had been there on some day trips x-country skiing and ski mobiling a few years ago. I knew it had quite many facilities for a nice lunch spot.
Laavu, fireplace and lunch hut at Porontimajoki

Another hut where we had our lunch.

On leaving Porontimajoki, we only had 16km to go. However, I knew that the final 12km would have more ascent than the rest of the trail added together. I was as prepared as I could be for this. Some of the ascents are aided by well prepared wooden stairs. This made life much easier.

For the next 7km or so, the paths were easy and then came the first ascent to Konttainen hill. This again was on prepared steps and not too long.

From the top of Konttainen, you can really get a better feel for the geography of Finland. Lakes and trees, lakes and trees and more lakes and trees :lol:
Konttainen looking south west.

That is a bit unfair, further north (about 400km more north :roll: ) into Lapland there is a nice change to rolling fjells and heather covered moorland. That could be another trip :?

From Konttainen, we could also see our destination now, the ski slopes of Ruka in the distance.
Konttainen looking to the ski slopes of Ruka

From here, there was "only" 7km more to go. The descent from Konttainen was far easier than the last time I done it. Instead of eroded paths there was a prepared trail with stone gravel to protect the erosion from the day trippers climbing he single hill. This made it far more pleasant and easier on the knees. :wink:
The new descent path from Konttainen

Crossing the road, we would now start the ascent to Valtavaara. I had never done this before but understood it would be quite a lot of ups and downs.

We started on the narrow ascent path and right away I could feel that it would be quite steep for a while but it was aided again by the well prepared stairs (in places :crazy: )
The start of the ascent to Valtavaara hill

The next 4km were a serious of false summits. The rain and the clag came in during mid-ascent. False summits, clag ………. now it feels like home :lol:

At one of the false summits there is a nice lampi (lochan) where there was laavu. I wanted to stop for a short rest and shelter from the heaviest of the rain. I got the feeling Heikki just wanted to continue at this point. However, I got my way and we took 10 minutes stop to talk to an older lady at the laavu.

She had done the trail in the same direction as us and was about 4km from the end. However, she was preparing to spend the night with her sleeping bag at the back of the open laavu. I took a look at her rucksack and swore it could not be less than 20kgs. She was also wearing another 10kgs of clothing ( I wear very little as I heat up very quickly while walking. I guess she runs cold). She told me how many days she had been walking. I would be lying if I said I could remember exactly but it was something like 6 or 7. She had one more day before she would catch a scheduled bus, so didn't want to get to Ruka too early. I remember admiring her commitment to the trail and strength to continue day after day. I was quite happy now we were about to do it in 2 - 3 days.

We proceeded to Valtavaara summit, where the rain stopped and the skies cleared. From here we could see and almost touch the final destination.
Valtavaara looking to Ruka ski-centre

Before we could reach this however, there was another series of ups and downs. Often aided by the well prepared stairs but after 80km in 2.5 days, there final hills started feel tough again, but the thought of the finishing line would keep us going.
This time a decent

At last, after many more stairs and ups and downs, we came to the ski slopes themselves. Again after this spot there would be even more ups and downs again, before the final finishing stretch downhill.
Reaching the ski slopes with 1km to go

Looking back at the ridge we just covered. Konttainen centre left and Valtavaara peak just above my head

The final downhill came with the usual sense of satisfaction and achievement. It was not always each but then again, we don't do these cause they're easy.
The end point at Ruka ski centre

We were happy and tired at the same time. What to do when you finish an adventure? An anti-climax? No! Only one thing to do after activity at a ski resort :lol: :lol:
A wiess-bier and a smile

Total for the day 25.2km - 9hr:44min - 1150m ascent

It seems the GPX viewer doesn't work. I can upload the file but the map doesn't show. Anyone wishing the GPX can PM me :D
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Re: Karhunkierros ( The Bears' Trail) Ruka - Finland (Part -

Postby caromiri » Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:30 pm

Thanks so much for writing this one down :D - it has been on my list for ages ! I love the hiking infrastructure in Finland (the huts and fireplaces look awesome !)

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Re: Karhunkierros ( The Bears' Trail) Ruka - Finland (Part -

Postby matt_outandabout » Sun Feb 14, 2021 3:52 pm

What a lovely few days you've shared with us. :clap:
Thank you.
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