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Winter camping in Helsinki archipelago

Posted: 2010-02-27 10:18:30, Categories: Travel, Finland, Helsinki, 557 words (permalink)

Tent in the snow on Käärmeluodot. We've had a beautiful winter in Helsinki this year. Lots of snow everywhere, trees covered in frost, icicles hanging from buildings, ski tracks on the frozen sea leading to nearby islands. The photo on the right is from a weekend camping trip and I compiled a Winter 2010 in Helsinki photo gallery.

The ground got covered by snow already in December and temperature has stayed below zero continously for two months now. In the city snow tends to get dirty but almost every week we've seen new, fresh, lightweight snowflakes falling down and making everything white again. Some people are complaining it's already too much but I think it has been an amazing winter.

Streets are lined with snow walls and some parking places have been converted to more than two meter high piles of snow. Cycling to work has been tricky and required extra time on some mornings, but usually by afternoon also the main bikeways have been cleared already. Smaller streets have seen snow tractors less regularly, but overall the city street maintenance has done a good job. Perhaps a little surprisingly, railways have had the biggest difficulties to cope with the snow: many trains have been cancelled and others have been late.

Sandra was here for one week and brought also her skis so we could go cross-country skiing together. We packed our backpacks full of warm clothes and food and headed out on the sea. After crossing Laajalahti bay from Munkkiniemi to Lauttasaari we continued about one kilometer further south to Käärmeluodot, a group of three small uninhabited islands which belong to the city of Helsinki. There's no regular ferry route even in the summer so the islands are only accessible by canoe or small boat. Camping is allowed.

I had actually never been on Käärmeluodot, but I knew from the outdoor map that there would be some basic facilities. Two of the islands had a cooking shelter and one of them was in use also during winter time, with free firewood provided by the city. A couple of other skiers were having a break and there was even a fire ready when we arrived.

However, it didn't take long until we were alone — only 5 km from city center and 1 km from densely populated Lauttasaari — but far away from city life. We cooked salmon and potatoes on the fire for dinner and set up our tent nearby. Later at night the wind became stronger and it started snowing again. The city disappeared behind a white wall and it felt almost like being in the wilderness. Our tent was well secured so we didn't have anything to worry about. I have winter pegs which are designed to hold the tent stable in the snow — the tiny summer pegs which normally come with tents are good for summer but useless in winter conditions.

On the following day we had breakfast and skied back. Part of the way it wasn't really skiing but rather walking with skis through the new snow. This time we took a different route towards Lehtisaari. There was some water on the ice near the shore and we had to make a small detour to avoid getting our feet wet. After that we felt we'd had enough exercise and took a bus for the last five kilometers home.

2 comments

Comment from: SzGabesz [Visitor]
Moi! :) We had a nice, white winter this year too! Unlike other recent winters, we had 37 cm deep snow for two or three weeks in town, and 40-90 cm deep on the mountains. A lot of people were complaining about it, that it hardens our lives, but me and some of my friends or relatives were happy about the lot of snow finally! What a bad thing that our bike routes weren’t clean but only the roads and pavements. And now, spring has arrived ;) Really windy, +15 °C weather with clear blue sky, and flooding rivers ;)
2010-03-02 @ 00:22
Comment from: Pirkko Teräs [Visitor]
Olipa upeita kuvia; asetin yhden tietokoneen taustakuvaksi. Sopiiko, että välitän kuvat USA:n sukulaisille? Terveisin Pirkko
2010-03-03 @ 19:14

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Copyright Arto Teräs <ajt@iki.fi>, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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