Kilpisjärvi, Lapland, Finland.
I stopped halfway the mountain stairs to catch my breath and have a look around me. The view was already astoundingly beautiful. Koen stopped right behind me. “Can I have some more water please?” I asked. I took a few sips from our camel bag while Koen put his sweater away. I followed his example. “The weather keeps surprising us right?” I laughed. It was a very beautiful day without any clouds; and at this point on the mountain, also barely any wind. “I’m so happy we decided to wear shorts this afternoon.” I added. We slowly presumed our hike on the stairs as we suddenly are passed by a couple, each wearing half of a six-month old twin in a child carrier. “Oh well!” Koen laughed. “Superheroes do exist!”.
As we reached the top of Saana Fell, the vast landscape unfolded itself. The village and lake of Kilpisjärvi were only the beginning of our view over the highlands of Lapland. It are moments like these this that give me energy, there is something so energising about standing on top of something and realising over and over again just how wonderful and wide our home planet is. It never fails to amaze me. The beauty of nature it is something I never want to get used to. Being surprised again and again only increases my appreciation. No wonder this mountain was perceived holy and comes with its own legend. (Curious? Read here)
“Look! You can more or less see where we will hike tomorrow.” Said Koen as he pointed towards the eastside of the lake of Kilpisjärvi. Tomorrow we would take a short boat trip over the lake to the starting point of the hike. “It seems a very nice route.” I answered. “How many kilometres was it again?” “Around 14 I think.” Koen answered. “A small 2 to the three nations border and then another 12 around the lake back to the village.”
We ascended Saana Fell and headed for the sauna. Hiking and sauna, another perfect day!
“There’s an arrow over there!” I said. “It has been a while since the last once, how far you think we are?” Koen answered. “We should at least be over halfway, it has been 3 hours since we came of the boat. Hmm 8km done and 6 more to go?” I asked. Koen approached the arrow and started laughing. “Guess again!?” He said. “We’re already beyond that?” I asked “4 more to go?” “Hahahaha no, the opposite, we still have 8km more to go!” He said. “How is that even possible?” I asked “We’ve been walking for almost 3 hours!” I didn’t understand a thing about it. Ok, the weather was the opposite from the day before and the constant drizzle made the ground very muddy and the loose rocks very slippery. The landscape went up and down quite a bit as well. But it’s not like we’ve been lingering. “Maybe the map is wrong? Are you sure it says 14km?” I asked. “Yeah I’m sure, look!” He said as he showed me the map. “But this hike is very vaguely indicated...” He added. “According to this arrow, we should be around here.” He said while pointing at the map. “Could be right….” He said under his breath. “Well lets continue then, apparently were not home yet!” I said.
We continued walking the gorgeous path which flows up and down between forest en loose rocks. We crossed an impressive foss and had to make path for a few crossing reindeer, just a regular day. The arrows next to the road indicated that our average walking speed was about 2km/hour. It truly was astonishing. “Maybe they calculated the distances from the air? Without taking the landscape into consideration?” I asked. “Maybe we’re just really slow.” Koen jokingly answered. “Considering we’re not even carrying heavy backpacks.” We continued our way further over the path and were rewarded with some really pretty views over Kilpisjärvi lake and Saana Fell. “Pity that the weather is this bad, now we will be one of those people whose pictures can’t compete with google images!”
Koen laughed. “I find it still amazing.” I answered. And it was, no bad weather can take away all the beauty of the landscape. “I’m getting pretty hungry as well!” I said. “Well, only 3 more km to go!” We both laughed. In the end it was almost 19u00 when we made it back to the village of Kilpisjärvi. Well, walking speed is quite dependent on a lot of factors.
Trust that some weather and landscape conditions can make you walk considerably slower than you think. Bring enough water and food in the case that the hike takes a lot longer than expected.
The region around Kilpisjärvi, Malla Strict Nature Reserve, Saana Nature Reserve and Käsivarsi Wilderness Area is truly amazing and worth visiting. You can do all sorts of hikes, clime mountains, sail the lake or even walk whole trails. Definitely a recommendation when travelling the Artic high-fell area. Just pass by the Kilpisjärvi Visitors Centre (http://www.nationalparks.fi/kilpisjarvivisitorcentre) and they will help you out with hiking maps and other information.
Curious for the legend of Saana Fell? Read it here.