The truth of the matter is that a winter camping trip to the Finnish Taiga takes a fair bit of planning. I usually enjoy that part of of the process too. Dusting off cherished kit, deciding which bits to take and how to pack them, splitting kit between bags in case one or other is delayed or lost on flights.
Most of all I enjoy planning what I will do when I get there, which involves pouring over maps and guides, both real and online these days.
The planning for this trip literally took months. Not because the trip was particularly complex, it wasn’t. What was complicated was the world around it.
We started planning this trip in 2020 aiming to be in Kittilä in February 2021 but then some guy in China ate an undercooked bat and everything went pear shaped. If anyone ever tells you that one person cannot change the world I beg to differ.
The COVID pandemic made the trip impossible for 2021 so all the planning went on hold and all the gear was packed away again hoping for a brighter future.
Towards the end of 2021 there was a glimmer of hope and we picked the plans back up for February 2022. Lots of changes were required for the new travel restrictions and we got as far as booking flights and even a dog sledding trip for one of the days.
It was the Airline that pulled the plugs on us this time. Evidently the travel restrictions were discouraging travellers and our flights were not deemed profitable enough so Finnair cancelled them. We were entitled to refunds of course but not in time to make alternative arrangements so we were completely devastated.
Morale was at an all time low for some of us, added to by the fact that one of the team that originally planned to take this trip with us had died tragically during this period of limbo
By the time it came around to thinking about 2023 most of us hardly dared to hope, not wanting to trust the airline with our money again we held off booking until the new year. Unfortunately the ski centres of Europe had very little snow and some of them were closing the slopes. This led to a surge in bookings for Kittilä and Finnair responded by dramatically hiking up the prices. I’m not developing much love for that company I have to say. We got in just before the worst of the increases but we still got burned.
The objective is to take a group with varying levels of experience into the Boreal Forest, west of Kittilä in Northern Finland. The trip will focus on sub zero camping skills with relatively short distances travelled between camps. We will be flying in to the local airport, picking up food and fuel supplies locally.
My equipment should remain largely the same as previous trips but there have been a few minor modifications and I’m sure more refinements may follow.
I will be experimenting with a new shelter, the Wayland Snow Shed, and a new Ventile cover for my sleeping system. I have also made a lighter weight toboggan and changed the saw I will be taking with me. Apart from the addition of a solar charger and an iPhone to my photographic kit, most of the other changes made to my gear so far are cosmetic really.