8 – 17 March, 2019
Springtime had already announced its arrival with snowdrops and crocuses around our home, when Lilo and I, together with 13 colleagues of ours started on a trip northward on March 8, eager to participate in a special skiing event, called ‘Rajalta Rajalle Hiihto’: Crossing middle Finland from the Russian to the Swedish border by ski in 7 days. A stopover in Helsinki enabled us to visit the market hall at the port and also the Dome. It was a rainy day. When we arrived at the Oivanki Outdoor Education Centre in Kuusamo shortly before midnight, it was snowing.
On Saturday we test and prepare our material. Wax or no wax? That’s the question. It is still snowing and the weather forecast for the next day is alike. As it is pretty cold, most of us opt for waxed skis. At lunch we enjoy lohikeito (salmon soup) and before dinner, sauna at the shore, just a few steps off the ice whole. Dinner and information at 8 p.m.
Next morning transfer by bus to Suorajärvi. Along its shore in wide turns at first, then through open fields with scarce pines. It is a sunny day. First stop at Uuttusuo (km 21), where we enjoy soup and coffee.
The last service point is a school in Nissinvaara (km 35), where a retired teacher offers mehu (juice). Pictures of all the Finnish Presidents since the independence (6 December 1917) hanging on the walls. All except the only woman – a social democrat.
During our daily trips of several hours we are served with juice, pickled gherkin, raisins, chocolate, coffee and sometimes Makkara (sausages) from the open fire. On the second day we move for almost 25 km on a narrow-gauge railway embankment, built by war prisoners of the Deutsche Wehrmacht during World War II, not in use anymore – but still dead straight.