The best way forward in Lapland is by foot
This week, Lauri Kangasniemi tells why hiking makes Lapland a year-round destination.
A few years ago, a couple of friends of mine and I had a silly idea. It was early autumn, and we were wondering what to do before the university semester starts. Seriously, I have no clue how the idea originally saw daylight, but a flurry of inspiration saw us decide to summit the highest point of Finland, Halti Fell in northernmost Lapland.
Now, it was not totally outlandish, as we all had some previous hiking experience and Halti is not exactly a Mt. Everest, standing at 1 324 metres above sea level. However, the fell lies in an isolated corner at the Finnish-Norwegian border, so it takes days of hiking to reach the mountainside.
In retrospect, our gear was not up to the task, but the weather was perfect. We were complete rookies… and completely lucky.
The early autumn was beautiful with the first shades of ruska turning the landscape into a painting. It was easy to see why so many nature lovers consider autumn to be just as good a time to visit Lapland as winter. The place has obviously more to offer than just skiing resorts.
We took it for granted.
In our next trip a year later, we set sail for another location up north – and the Arctic nature showed its true colours. Endless rain, cold, and no cover.
At that very moment, we took nothing for granted.
During my short lifetime, I have realised there is a slight difference between knowing and understanding. Back in our maiden voyage, we noticed how comprehensive and well-equipped the network of free wilderness huts is here in Finland. We had even heard that one could hike across the country from Helsinki to Lapland and only stay in open huts.
We knew this was quite a nice and unique feature in international comparison, but the weather was so good that we were perfectly fine with our tent.
It took the uncompromising breeze of Mother Nature on our second trip to teach us just how unique and nice Finnish Lapland’s open wilderness huts are. At last, we understood.
Since then, I have had my fair share of hiking around northern Finland and beyond; the silly idea has become a habit. If you ask me, the best way forward in Lapland is by foot and it is not even close.
Meanwhile, I tend to favour the trails with open wilderness huts. After all, no matter how the weather treats you, the door is always open at the next hut.