Monday, 30 August 2010

The Bear's Ring

We’ve spent the past four days walking the Bear’s Ring, a 70 km trail that runs through Oulanka National Park in north-east Finland, close to the Russian border.

The route was beautiful, with a well marked path winding through birch and fir forests, passing rivers, deep canyons, waterfalls and lakes, with wobbly bridges over the rivers and raised boardwalks through the boggiest sections. Between the trees the ground was covered in fruiting blueberry bushes which provided a very tasty addition to our meals.

Being surrounded by trees also insulated us, keeping us out of the wind so we were warmer than we would otherwise have been and – although over 150,000 walk at least some of the trail every year – making us feel for most of the time like we were the only people there.

We spent the first two nights in wilderness huts which were wonderful: free to use and well equipped with tables and benches, spaces to sleep, double glazed windows and a wood burning stove, with well stocked woodpiles, saws and axes outside. The first hut was so nice and warm we were even tempted to go for a swim in the nearby river – though the water was so cold we didn’t swim long. Yesterday we walked a less popular stretch of the trail with fewer huts so we camped at night next to a small lake and ate our supper by a campfire, the only people for miles around.

Now we’re back in civilisation and warm and clean we’re heading out for pizza tonight – our first cooked meal in 4 days.

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