A couple of weekends ago we went on a mini-expedition. The goal? To see how Treriksröset looks in winter. Treriksröset is a giant lump of yellow concrete marking the place where the borders of Norway, Sweden and Finland meet. We previously visited it in summer ’14, when it stood proud in the middle of a lake, guarded by a ferocious army of midges, mosquitoes and those horrible stripy flies that bite really hard the second they land on you.
To visit in winter is actually easier than to visit in summer. To go in summer one must take a boat, or walk up and over a hill. In winter the lake freezes solid and one can ski across from Kilpisjärvi, a really flat, easy, 9km ski. So we did that. We were really lucky with the weather, it was calm and clear, sunny, minus 20 something degrees C. It didn’t feel that cold though, because its nice and dry inland. Dry cold does not get in your bones the way wet cold can.
We had intended to pass Treriksröset and stay the night at one of the DNT huts a couple of km further on. But when we passed Kuohkimajärvi autiotupa, an open hut on the Finnish side of the border, it was so cozy (still warm because the previous group only left that morning), that we decided to stop there instead. Husbeast has some problems with his ski boots destroying his feet so he was glad to cut a couple of km off each day!
They say man who must chop wood gets warm twice! Well we proved the truth of this one, as the previous people had written very proudly in the book about having burnt all the wood that was chopped small enough to fit in the stove, and sure enough, there were only giant lumps left in the shed. Fortunately having stopped early we had plenty of time to devote to wood chopping. Unfortunately the axe handle was broken in two, and it was horribly blunt, so the chopping process was quite frustrating!
There were lots of fat, fluffy, little birds around the hut that were very entertaining to watch, they didn’t seem to mind the cold at all. We got the fire lit, got the indoor temperature up to 15 degrees, melted some snow for the all important cup of tea, and had a very relaxing evening. Finnish huts are not as luxurious as the DNT ones (also not as expensive, being free, so that’s fair enough!) there are no beds/mattresses provided, but this was no problem because we had brought all the camping stuff along in case of I’m-not-sure what kind of disaster (can’t be too careful in winter?). Some hilarity ensured when we cooked dinner, because the one thing I hadn’t brought along was spoons (doh!) and the only spoon in the hut was a HUGE thing. So we took turns with that one! Romantic dinner for two?
We were a little surprised that no-one else showed up, as I would have expected such a place to be popular on a Saturday, but it was lovely and peaceful to have the place to ourselves. At nice the sky remained clear and we saw so many bright, sparkly, stars, & the milky way. There is no light pollution there.
We slept well, waking only to zip sleeping bags all the way up at the stove went out and the temperature crept downwards. By 7am the temperature indoors dropped just below zero, and outdoors was -25. Brrrrrrr. We lit the stove again to take the chill out of the air while we ate breakfast, but used a bare minimum of wood so as to leave some for the next people without doing any more chopping with the crappy axe, so it didn’t really get warm warm.