Day 112. Luostejohka to Gaisavuolesjohka camp

Posted by: James on April 22, 2009

Distance 63km | Time 13hrs | Ascent 930m | Descent 1020m

Day 112. Setting of from Luostejohka cabin across the remote Rastigaisa Massif on FinnmarksviddaDespite the dankness in the cabin I slept well and woke at 0500. I got up soon afterwards and had a double portion of dehydrated chicken curry for breakfast. It was going to be a long day and cereals would not have done the trick given a choice.

It was slightly overcast, quite warm around zero, and with a slight south west wind blowing. I thought I would have problems with slippery skis and would have to apply more red wax but surprisingly they were perfect.

I set off at 0700. On the map there was a old turf shelter or gamme marked and just beyond a shed. Both were well over 40 km so it was going to be a long day. It was very likely neither existed so I was expecting to camp.

It was a very good fore, or snow condition, and my skis were gliding well over the top of it. It did not take long to get into a good rhythm as I went into an open shallow valley on the north side of Vapma mountain. Indeed everything as far as the eye could see was smooth and gentle. There were no steep sections anywhere.

The sun was out and I was wary about getting my lips more sunburnt. I was for once skiing towards the sun. It was very quiet and remote up here. It was a very isolated place. Perhaps a bit smaller that Hardangervidda in southern Norway but far more desolate, and I am sure with equally vicious weather sometimes.

I crossed Borseelva river as high as possible having been warned to stay up high and avoid the canyon it descended into. After Borseelva there was a gentle climb between featureless rounded hills to an extensive plain. I could not see due to the snow cover on this flat plain but the map showed it was covered in hundreds of small tarns.

Day 112. The wind started to whip up the spindrift across the shelterless Finnmarksvidda plateauAfter skiing across this plain for nearly 15 km I came to a large boulder. I stopped here for lunch in the lee of this single rock. The wind was increasing and must have been a good force 5. It was directly behind me. Although I did nor give the wind much credit it must have assisted me enormously.

To the south east of the boulder was Rastigaisa, 1067m. The highest hill on this plateau and the only feature I could see on the rolling plateau. Even Rastigaisa was quite rounded except for its summit.

I now had another frozen river and valley to cross. It was the Stuorrajakka. It was difficult to make out were the river was so gentle were the slopes. The climb up the rounded mountains on the east side was also very gentle.

The wind was starting to increase more. It was a good force 6 if not 7. Spindrift was flowing over the surface, hurtling to a cornice or some other lee where it would come to rest. It this terrain that would be many kilometres. The spindrift was flowing in the same direction I was going which was north east. I had to ski the uphill sections now but on the gentle declines and flat sections I was virtually being blown along. In one hour I went nearly 8 km until I was just south of the Vuonjaljavri lake.

With the increasing wind came a slight worsening of the weather. Behind me and to the north the skies were slowly but surely darkening. The blue sky of the morning had long since disappeared. I was slightly worried. There was nowhere up here to hide from a storm except in a deep snow drift and there were few of them.

From the Vuonjaljavri lake I half skied and was half blown up another shallow incline. Reindeer herds fled when they saw me coming. After crossing the watershed of this shallow incline I entered another drainage area, that of the Vazzejohka stream. Some 2 km down it was the gamme, or traditional Lapp turf shelter. There was no sign of it at all so I continued down the south side of this valley to the shed marked on the map. There was no sign of that either. I would have to camp after all as I expected.

The problem was it was too exposed to camp here. Despite having already done some 50 km I would still have to do another 10 and cross yet another gentle saddle, my fifth of the day. The wind was still directly behind me and would give me a fair bit of assistance.

I set of north east up a line of tarns slowly climbing up to Fasttesjarvi lake. There were a few drifts at the start of this valley if I had needed to dig a hole. However that was not necessary as with one and a half hours I was on the lake and almost being blown along it. From the map I could see that at the east end of the lake there was a kind of gentle escarpment and the plateau dropped of from about 500 metres down to 250 metres.

When I reach the east end of the lake I got quite a surprise. The lower plateau was indeed down there and it was quite accessible. However it was also two thirds bare of snow. It was predominantly a black landscape with some snow patches. I don’t think the snow here had melted, I think it never arrived. This would affect my plans to reach Ifjord.

There were many small herds of reindeer here taking advantage of the exposed lichen they thrive on. I could see a small birch wood below me and a route of snow down to it. It was quite a steep descent but within half an hour I was down in the trees.

Day 112. Camped in some shelter in Gaisavuolesjohka valleyBeing in the lee of the hill and also being in the birch wood meant I had great protection. The force 6 wind I had experienced all afternoon was probably still raging up there but here in the forest there was a gentle breeze if that. I found a quiet place to pitch the tent and levelled of the snow and made a small depression for me to lie in, before putting up the tent.

The tent was solid here. I used trees as anchors for the guy ropes in addition to skis for the main anchors. Then I heaped snow onto the storm flats and crawled inside. If a storm came I would be snug. I melted water and by 2100 had eaten and drunk enough. I did not bother to even attempt the blog. I did have a look at the large scale map I had of northern Norway and it seemed like I had done the lions share of this section to Ifjord today. I slept soon as ptarmigan chuckled in the woods nearby.

It had been a magnificent day. A very impressive distance much of which should be attributed to the wind. None the less I was getting supremely fit with legs of steel. I was also lucky I was was not caught out on the main plateau with violent weather. It would have been an unforgiving environment.

Comments are closed.