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Karhunkierros Trail (82km) //

Lapland, Finland in June 2016


Packing List

Granola Bars
Nuts & Cranberries
Crispbread & Spread
Instant Meals (Pasta & Rice)
Coffee Powder
–> food portioned in ziploc bags
Water Tablets
Cooking Stove & Gas
Trail Map
Pot & Cutlery
Toilet Paper
Water Bottle
Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Matress
Dishwashing brush
Rain Jacket
Rain Cover for Backpack
Icelandic Sweater
2 Leggins
Woolen Socks
2/3 Shirts
Soap & Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Mosquito Repellent & Cream
Camera & Extra Batterie & SD-Card
Mobile Phone & Powerbank
Paper & Pen
Head Phones
Money & ID & Student Card & Health Care Card & Credit Card
First Aid: Bandages & Pain Killers etc.

Day 1: Hautajärvi visitor center –> Savilampi Hut (15km)

My friend Salla, who I was staying with for a few days in Oulu, dropped me off at a good spot on highway 20 just outside of Kiiminki, where I only had to wait 20 minutes until a car stopped. As it turned out, the driver Kamil, a Polish guy who met his wife in Belgium and is now living with her and their little daughter in Turku, was on his way to do the hike as well. His clothes and the loaded backpack on the backseat were clear signs. We got along really well on the drive to Hautajärvi (I actually thought of hiking the other way around, but I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to get a single ride all the way to the starting point) and Kamil told me to look out for reindeers on the side of the road and we actually spotted some.

When we arrived in Hautajärvi around 5pm, it was pouring rain. With the blue rain poncho that Salla got in Thailand for around 1€ and had given me for covering not only me (i wore a raincoat already) but also my weirdly thrown together backpack situation that no cover would fit, I looked like a huge M&M when we passed the gate and entered the Karhunkierros.


I remembered that my brother told me they had given each other trail names when he was hiking the Pacific Crest trail last year so although this trail was a short walk in comparison with that I still liked the idea. And because Kamil soon revealed that he carried not less than 8 beer cans, two small bottles of wine and a flask of gin with him, I started calling him Alko (the name of the Finnish liquor shops owned by the government). I was given the name Lucky because „I was so lucky to have hitched a ride with him“.


So, Alko and Lucky started the trail in heavy rain, looking like idiots, one with a humongous raincoat, the other with a gopro on a selfiestick, chatting about everything and enjoying the green forest. Due to the time of the year we didn’t feel any pressure to arrive at the hut early because we didn’t have to worry about the darkness. When we eventually arrived, though, at around 22:30pm, the hut was cramped with snoring people in damp sleeping bags and Alko left me the last remaining space and spread his matress on the small terrasse outside. We enjoyed our first instant meal and I fell asleep only centimeters away from a stranger’s face.

Day 2: Savilampi Hut –> Ansakämppä Hut (19km) + two small detours for the views (2km)

Day 2 on the Karhunkierros was the day that I discovered a new form of hiking that I would call very chilled and enjoyable. It started with Alko sharing a Karhu beer with me on the hanging bridge just outside our hut at 9:30am in the morning. I suppose he wanted to get rid of some weight, haha.

After just one or two hours, it was time for a small break again, where Alko even stripped off his socks and hung them up to dry while preparing himself instant pasta for brunch(?).

After more hanging bridges, more rivers and more trees, we stumbled across a nice picknick place where we decided to have a short hot cacao break. That was a moment, where I realised how glad I was to have a hiking buddy not only because of the continiously good conversations, but also because of the milk and cacao powder he shared with me. We boiled some water from the river and enjoyed our hot drinks next to reindeer poop until I suddenly noticed huge grey clouds behind us.

We quickly packed our stuff together and continued on the trail until we got to Oulanka Visitor Center where we went inside for another break as it was pouring rain again. Clouds, Rain, Sun, Clouds, Rain, Sun. The weather on this day was crazy and to be honest, really exhausting. Alko and I started today’s hike with the idea to make it one hut further than planned in order to finnish the Karhunkierros in four instead of five days. But after starting quite late, having so many breaks and additionally regarding Alko’s suffering due to the 25kg on his back, we decided to follow our original plan and stayed at the Ansakämppä hut.

Before we arrived there, though, just after leaving the Oulanka visitor center, we saw an impressive river winding his way through rocks and were motivated again. Until this point, we agreed that the hike wasn’t as spectacular as we thought it would be, but let me tell you, after this moment, it only got better!

As the climate on the Karhunkierros was quite moderate, changing from cold and wet to sunny and fresh, entering a hut always felt like opening the door to a sauna. It was super hot and humid. Another thing that I could observe, was, that most people in the huts weren’t as social as I was used to from hiking in Germany or New Zealand or as I heard from stories of my brothers hikes in America. As it is probably true for the majority of Finnish people, they mostly kept to themselves.

Well, that was another reason that I was so thankful not to be alone. Alko gave me some of the canned moose meat, which a friend of him shot and prepared, and I used it to spice up my instant spagetti carbonara. Stripping off my tight hiking boots never felt so good before, even though I discovered two new blisters on my second left toe. I brushed my teeth by the river and tried to do some stretching before I fell asleep on the wooden planks.

Day 3: Ansakämppä Hut –> Porontimajoki Hut (29km)

Remember, when Alko and me had the idea to hike the Karhunkierros in four days? In order to make that happen, we had to hike 29 km today. Thankfully, Alko gave me a bandage for my newest blister, but still I was physically and mentally so done at the end of the day, that I couldn’t even remember how to pitch my tent anymore.

In the morning we left the hut as the last ones and started the day super optimistic. We soon passed the half-way sign and stopped for a quick selfie.


Our lunch break was spent in a so-called Lapp hut, a small wooden tipi-like hut with a fireplace inside. We ate some sausages that we put on metal sticks and grilled on the fire.


The warmth and food kept us going a lot further, along the river, over a thousand tree roots and through fairytale-like forest where we unsuccessfully tried to spot reindeers. Around 3 pm, though, I was at my lowest point. I didn’t want to walk another 8 km.


So, at Siilastupa (a nice hut with a view on a waterfall) we had a little break in the cold wind. Alko ate some canned fish and made us a good strong (!) cup of coffee.


This coffee gave us the energy and motivation we needed and we pushed through until we finally, finally saw Porontimajoki hut, the most beautiful hut of all, right besides and on top a river. Unfortunately and almost ironically, there was no more space for us. Without even sitting down, I found a place to pitch my tent, almost lost it when I didn’t manage to put it up, quickly brushed my teeth and went to sleep immediately. All in automode, because I could barely walk or think anymore.

Day 4: Porontimajoki Hut –> Ruka Visitor Center (15km)

It was not the best night. It was freezing my muscles were aching. I think I was to exhausted to fall asleep. A tip from Alko that really helped me on my next camping trip: Cook some water and put the bottle in your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm. Btw: The sunshine pictures of the hut are from around 3 am in the morning!

After the long distance we managed to hike on the third day, we were a little burned out on the last day. I even took an example from this guy and napped on our lunch break. (In my sleeping bag on the floor of a wooden shelter next to a burning fire)

Only 15 km to go, but these last kilometers were really really hard as we were constantly climbing up and descending hills. Here my light luggage came in handy and also the fact that we had finished all of Alko’s beers. We were walking like grandmas, limping, groaning, having to sit down from time to time. Hiking uphill, however, also means, that you get rewarded with really nice views!

One highlight on that last day was the Valtavaara hut, which is also a point of interest for many dayhikers coming from Ruka. It was super windy up there and I took a little break in there and wrote my name in the summit book.

And after a few more ups and downs (literally), we made it!! The reason, why we were so angry at the finishing point of the hike, was the fact, that after all these hills, the path led us over a ski slope on the last kilometer. It felt like being kicked in the stomach, when you are already k.o. on the floor.

Make sure, you know where to sleep after hiking the Karhunkierros, because Ruka is basically a ghost town with only expensive restaurants, petrol stations and hotels. Alko hitched a ride back to Hautajärvi and picked me up with his car and we drove back to Oulu, where I pitched my tent in a random piece of forest nearby the street, from where I could walk back to my friend (and right into a shower) on the next morning



  • the visitor centers have specific opening times.

  • in June you get sunlight almost 24/7 which takes away the pressure of arriving before darkness but also can cause difficulties sleeping in a tent.

  • in Finland there is the „law of everyman’s right“ which means that you are allowed to camp wild (except in the National Park area) and pick berries, mushrooms etc. along the way. If you plan to do so make sure to be informed about the poisonous kind!

  • you do not have to book or pay the huts. They are equiped with a cooking stove, a toilet and a fireplace with enough wood to use. However, depending on the season and the time you arrive there, it is possible that the huts are full. That’s why it's recommended to bring a tent anyways.

  • mostly there is running water nearby. I wouldn’t drink it without cooking it first or using tablets but that’s on your own responsibilty.

  • in case you want to end hiking earlier there are certain ways to leave the trail and reach the road towards Hautajärvi/Salla in the North or Ruka/Kuusamo in the South.

  • make sure to know where to sleep in Ruka or in general find a place to stay for the time you’re finishing the hike so you’re not stranded there.

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