The snowmobile is an unbeatable vehicle to reach remote destinations in winter. One way to experience those incredible natural winter escapes is to combine snowmobile adventure with ski trekking. We joined photographer Timo Veijalainen on his photography trip to a national park in Finnish Lapland to admire the early-spring nature.
There are no mountains in Finland, but in Lapland the bare top fells rise proudly. Peaks of Pallastunturi photographed from lake Jerisjärvi.
A snowmobile kind of hovers on the frozen lake. From time to time it takes a little air from the wind blown banks to land back down soon on the soft snow. Big fell tops rise next to the big lake as white, smooth surface giants. There are tens of kilometers of snowmobile trails ahead, surrounded by the magnificent and rugged nature of Fell Lapland. A powerful four-stroke Commander pulls strongly beneath. A complete feeling of freedom prevails from the very beginning of the journey. This is snowmobiling at its best.
We have gone on an overnight trip to the wilderness. In the morning, we packed sleeping bags, clothes, groceries, backpacks, ski equipment and photo gear in LinQ sleighs and cargo boxes. With snowmobiles we get closer to the actual destination of the trip: the wilderness hut in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and the fell top rising next to it. Because snowmobiling is prohibited in the national park, we travel the last kilometers on skis, carrying overnight equipment and photo gear in our backpacks.
LinQ Carrier cargo sleigh and LinQ trailer sleigh both are excellent accessories for carrying large amounts of gear needed on wilderness adventures. The LinQ Carrier Cargo sleigh carries the 135 l LinQ Utility Cargo box and LinQ Jerry Can on it. Larger gear, like skis, rods and backpacks fits perfectly in the LinQ Trailer Sleigh.
Our travel companion Timo Veijalainen is an avid outdoors person and an experienced photographer. He is familiar with the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park where he has traveled the park’s countless fells, swamps and waters since he was a child. Timo moves in nature all year round in different ways: hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowmobiling. According to Timo, every season has its beauty, but when asked about his favorite season, he doesn’t think long and hard about his answer: midwinter. He is ignited by polar night, cold and snow covered ghost trees.
❝The colors and atmosphere of midwinter are unique. Nature is at its most beautiful in the harsh frosts and that is also the best time for me to be in the fell. The colder the more comfortable.❞
Now we are on the move in mid-April, when the snow cover is still thick and the day is long enough. The coldest weather is over, but thanks to the night frosts, getting around this season is effortless, especially in the mornings.
❝ In the spring, it’s prime time for photographers when the long daylight hours allow working from morning to evening and at night. This season is ideal for hiking, as even long day trips are often effortless❞ Timo says.
In the winter, the snowmobile allows Timo to go long distances to the photo shooting locations, which makes time management more efficient. The sled is also an unparalleled aid in transporting a large amount of photography and trekking equipment.
❝ With the help of a sled, it is easy to make even long transitions to places that would not be possible to achieve with just your own strength. Lapland has a good network of snowmobile trails, which can be used to get closer to the locations. I often continue my journey on skis, as we do now when we move into a national park.❞
Timo says that he also uses the sled to help in shooting. For example, in video recording, it allows him to steadily track his subject in difficult terrain.
Open wilderness huts are a specialty in Finland. They are free to use for hikers for short, 1 or 2 night stays.
The snowmobile trail is in ideal condition. It ranges from a flat and wide groomed trail to narrow, curly forest tracks that bring variation to an otherwise smooth progression. The rising temperature has made the surface of the trail soft, which helps to make traveling comfortable.
We arrive at the unplowed forest road and break through the rest of the trail with the permission of the landowner. The snow is wet and soft in some places, but both of our four-stroke travel partners, the narrow-tracked 49 Ranger ST and the wide-tracked Commander Grand Tourer, manage the leg effortlessly, even with heavy load.
We leave the snowmobiles at the end of the forest road near the border of the national park. We switch our riding gear to hiking clothes and lift our backpacks. We jump on the skis and head to the wilderness hut on the side of the fell.
Short and wide skin based skis are a great way to move around in the winter. Due to their length, they are convenient to pack in a sleigh or on a sled. Another advantage of shortness is the agility of the skis in the dense forest terrain. The wide bottom floats the ski well on the snow surface and the skinbase takes care of the grip when steep forest humps are to be climbed.
Our ascending journey feels like a true workout for us with backpacks on our backs. After just over an hour of skiing, we arrive at the wilderness hut. Open wilderness huts, maintained by the Finnish forest service, are free to use for hikers and a Finnish specialty. The huts are freely accessible to all and can be used by those who travel under their own manpower, for a temporary stay of one or two nights. The only rule is that space is always provided for the last person to enter the hut. Now we hardly have to go out for the night, as the guest book says that the remote hut had its previous ski trekker a couple of weeks ago and there are few notes in the book anyway for the past winter.
We light the fire in the stove and change into dry clothes. We carry water from a nearby creek and wonder if we can ski for the evening on the top of the fell next to the hut. However, the light is already running low and the long day out is felt in the energy levels, so we decide to focus on eating and resting.
The temperature is getting low for the night and the full moon illuminates the yard so that you can see to go outdoors without a headlight. We are out of reach of mobile networks, so now is a great opportunity to reminisce, how sleep was caught in time before social media, audiobooks and podcasts. We dive into the sleeping bags and fall asleep surrounded by the crackle of the stove.
Timo Veijalainen is an outdoor enthusiast and photographer who enjoys outdoor life all year round.
The morning is bright and cold. The wind in the yard of the cabin foreshadows a strong blow on top of the fell, so we pack plenty of warm clothes in our backpacks. Following the night frost, the snow easily carries the skier and a small soft layer on the surface of the snow makes the progression velvety soft. The creeks gurgle open and the tracks left by the willow grouses curl on the snow below the mountain birches. A few of those white grouses flutter their wings, accompanied by their recognizable cackle which sounds like laughter. We don't meet any other wayfarers – not even traces.
We cross the tree line and suddenly the wind calms down. Even if it is only early in the morning, the sun shining from the cloudless sky comfortably warms our faces, predicting a very warm day. For the last hundred meters, we ski on the concrete snow beaten by the heavy mountain wind. We finally reach the top of the fell, which rewards with its views. This is why we have come here.
The wind calms down and spring weather offers its best when we reach the top of the fell.