Part 5: The finnish section and a detour to tromsø

The route: Saraelv-Somashytta-Pihtusjärvi-Kilpisjärvi.  July 2-7, 2019. Day 30-35. 91 km.

Having basically not met anyone on the trail since Knivskjellodden, I was quite surprised to find the Finnish cabins packed with people.

The reason is Finland´s highest mountain Halti. At 1365 m it is in fact not that high by Norwegian standards, furthermore the true 1365 m summit is technically located in Norway, with a several slightly lower summits close by on the Finnish side. Apparently Norway has considered giving Finland a higher summit than the one they have now. The most common access to Halti is via the E1 hiking route in Kilpisjärvi, which explained the +20 people I met on the trail every day, the highest number of the entire trip. Famous for the forests and “thousand lakes”, this is Finland´s only high alpine area and I would constantly hear complaints on the trail about the stony terrain. Compared to DNT standards, the cabins are primitive, but completely fine, on the other hand they are free and I expected to leave my tent in the bag, however after passing hut after hut packed with people I changed my mind.

The most famous attraction on this section is probably “The Niagara of Finland”, the largest waterfall in Finland: Pihtsusköngäs, .

Camping near Pihtsusköngäs

Much to my irritation I lost my bag of food outside Ovi Raishiin visitor point in Reisadalen while chatting with a park ranger, leaving me with 5 pieces of Kvikklunsj for the remaining 95 km to Kilpisjärvi. Something I only realized when I was already on the mountain plateau, 25 km from the valley and ready for a snack. Having mentally prepared myself to eat only 1,5 Kvikklunsj per day, I was much surprised when, 10 km later I arrived at the Somas cabin: There I found both mashed potato powder, oatmeal as well as several soups, more than enough to eat reasonably well until Kilpisjärvi.

Pihtsusköngäs, The Niagara of Finland

Quite frankly, due to my broken boot, which constantly cut into my right big toe, making every step painful no matter what I did, I struggled to get through these 95 km. It was a priority to catch the Friday evening bus from Kilpisjärvi to Tromsø and I would walk until long past midnight to be sure I made it.
Several times a day I went through the same internal dialogue: Is the situation dangerous or just unpleasant? It is not dangerous. Is there a physical problem preventing me from walking? Well, not exactly preventing, but it is painful. Then, the challenge is mainly mental, and I will just have to move on.

The plateau around Somashytta

The detour to Tromsø, by the way, cost me almost 3 days on the trail. On the upside I got the best hiking boots I have ever had, probably the first time I have succeeded in buying big enough boots. I also had the most expensive pizza in my entire life, costing more than 200 NOK as I remember it.

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