When travelling as carelessly as I sometimes do, avoiding disappointments is impossible. The fact that I’m awful with planning trips doesn’t much help. I’d rather just pack and go, even if travelling like that usually means missing out something priceless. To give you a perfect example of my amazing planning skills, tomorrow at this very hour I should already be on a plane flying towards Prague. Have I started planning the trip? No, not really.
At least I grabbed some travel brochures and a map of Prague from the Czech stand at the MATKA Nordic Travel Fair this weekend. That’s something!
Before I’m heading over to Czech Republic, I’m going to tell you this story that takes us back to Vuokatti in Eastern Finland. We had already made an inspiring snowshoeing excursion to Hepoköngäs waterfall, and proved the Eino Leino trail in Vuokatti being a boring route for snowshoeing, so we decided to take a day trip to Hiidenportti National Park.
Located within an hours drive, the nature sight that really tempted us to drive up to the national park was the stunning Hiidenportti gorge that we had only seen pictures of. The plan was to drive as near to the gorge as possible and continue with snowshoes. The plan that we didn’t plan too well.
The chain of silly coincidences started already at our holiday cottage in Vuokatti. Due to several stupid stuff that happened in the morning we didn’t manage to leave as early as we were supposed to.
At the same time the next delay was already waiting for us in the parking lot: a flat tire. Somehow we were able to drive with it to the nearest town, Sotkamo, where a helpful garage guy filled our tire and we were able to continue our excursion.
It was the only sunny day of our one week winter holiday in Vuokatti. The sun was shining directly in our eyes revealing the true condition of the icy forest roads leading to Hiidenportti National Park. It was so slippery that we had to drive carefully, even if it delayed our journey (which was already pretty delayed anyway).
I knew that the road wouldn’t be plowed all the way to Palolampi information point, but I had received a piece of information from a fellow winter hiker that we could leave our car 2,5 km away from that point. From Palolampi it would take another 1,3 km to the Hiidenportti gorge. No biggie. Our snowshoes were ready, the lunch was packed… we were ready to go!
I had tried to plan ahead a bit. The previous day I had contacted the staff of the national park asking about the road conditions, but they couldn’t give me a definitive answer. Therefore I only had that fellow hiker’s tip that I was blindly trusting. We were only about to find out the truth.
The truth was that the plowing ended more than 6 km before the Palolampi information point.
We stopped the car and had a little thought. What should we do? The expected 8 km snowshoeing excursion turned out to be 15 km long. The length wasn’t really the problem though. The real problem was that it was already late afternoon, and in January the dark gets you early in Finland. The more we wasted time for thinking what to do, the faster the light hours would disappear.
We didn’t like the idea of driving for nothing, so we put on our snowshoes and started trekking.
Walking with snowshoes into the wind didn’t feel either nice or fast. At least the storm wasn’t as rough in the East as it was in the West – during the same day the waves of the Baltic Sea had reached up to 14 meters, and the storm had damaged several cruise ships at the sea.
We made a little test with maps and clocks and found out that we had no chance to reach the gorge before dark. We had to do some more thinking. Would we be able to admire the stunning rocky gorge if it was pitch black? How would we feel snowshoeing back to the car? Are there wolves here? I think there are!
After trekking a couple of kilometers we made the rough decision to give up and turn around. It did not feel good!
Our snowshoeing excursion ended up being super short and pretty lame by landscapes. Sometimes you just have to admit yourself the truth and give up, even if the little voice in the back of your head tells you to keep going.
I wanted to amuse myself somehow after such a big disappointment. I realized I had my snowboard in the back of the car, so once we returned to Vuokatti, Daniel drove me on top of the ski slope (yes, you can drive up there!).
My snowboard had been lonely and forgotten in the car for the whole week, waiting for me to take the poor thing out on the slopes. I felt I owed him one go. One go is better than none, and it did make me forget the bitter disappointment for a few minutes at least.
Hiidenportti National Park and the beautiful gorge would have been a perfect destination for our snowshoeing excursion. When travelling, not everything can always go as planned. Especially if it’s not planned very well. Sounds familiar?
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