3 min read

The long walk and the journey to self

What was to be the first long hike, turned into an opportunity for self reflection, while hiking in Bears Trail, Salla, all alone.
At the Hämeenlinna train station, with a huge backpack, eagerly waiting for the train to start the journey
The journey begins, Sunday 08:20 in the morning, at the Hämeenlinna train station. Photo ⓒ Niko Kotiniemi 14.8.2022

The plan was to go hiking, with a work colleague, on the most popular trekking trail in Finland, the Karhunkierros, the Bear's trail.

At a length of 82km, the route usually requires 3-7 days of hiking through scenic areas and National parks in Kuusamo, Dallas of Lapland, in Northern Finland.

This is to be my first hike of such length. Unfortunately, my trail companion had to cancel only shortly before the trip, and the whole journey suddenly took on a new meaning. I would be going alone (not sharing equipment and thus carried weight), making my fears about what could go wrong even more pronounced in my mind. My plan is to do the route in 4 full days of hiking, which would amount to little more than 20km a day.

The hike would also give me the unique opportunity to be alone with my thoughts for a number of days, an opportunity I would never have planned. What an exciting journey to one's self.

Inspired by these changed circumstances and the time freed from social activities, I decided to start a travel journal of sorts.

Where is this 'Karhunkierros' trail?

Salla and Kuusamo, are located in northern Finland, near the eastern Finnish/Russian border. The whole northern area is Lapland, a territory where the reindeer roam free most of the year.

The karhunkierros path, with (A) representing the northern starting point in Hautajärvi, Salla and (B) representing the southern startingpoint in Rukatunturi, Kuusamo.

The scale of the map is on the top left corner (depending on your resolution), with the whole route 82km long, with the highest point at Rukatunturi, some 480m high. Map a screen capture, courtesy of Komoot.

English-Finnish vocabulary relating to the post

English Finnish Notes and what is it?
Bear's trail Karhunkierros An 82km trekking/hiking trail through areas and national parks in Salla, Oulanka a
Gravelake Hautajärvi Author's liberal translation of the name of the lake at the northern end of the Karhunkierros trail.
Ruka-mountain Rukatunturi A low mountain, on which the Ruka resort, and downhill skiing slopes have been built
Nature center Luontokeskus An office, shop providing information about the nature in the area.
Lapland Lappi An area or northern Finland encompassing perhaps 30% of the whole country. North of the arctic cirlcle, characterized by cooler, northern climate and more sparsely populated with towns and villages.

Further reading

Next: Arrival at the beginning, the Northern end of the trail.