Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Skiing at Saariselkä

  • Length of the trip : 1 week, 30.11 - 7.12
  • Total distance skied : 170 km
  • Exercise time : 14 hours
  • Animals seen : 2 reindeers and 3 Siberian jays (kuukkelia)

  • Coldest day : Sunday -27 degrees
  • Shortest day : Friday 0 minutes
  • The most memorable day : Friday (Finnish independence day)
  • Track conditions : Good, 40 km ready-made tracks

Monday, October 28, 2013

The new year

The most natural starting point of the new year for me is in the beginning of November instead of traditional new year in the beginning of January.

All the plans and goals are typically targeted during the first 10 months of the year and summer time being the most active time. When autumn comes the body turns into an energy saving mode and starts to prepare itself for a long winter time. It's the time to do next year planning as well. When real new year comes in January, I have lived a next year already two months.

Now when we are living the last days of the year 2013, it's time to look back and to see how I managed to complete the objectives and goals set last year.

First of all I was planning to ski 6 Worldloppet races around the Europe last winter and all of them were successfully finished!

Secondly the plan was to cycle 3 Skandinavialoppet races during the summer. I managed to complete 2 of them.

Thirdly I was trying to conquer by paddling 2 unvisited lighthouses on Baltic Sea. I did it and even managed to visit on a 3rd lighthouse as well. Well done!

Fourth goal was to run on Jukola relay and so I did.

Fifth goal was to visit in a 3 new countries and thus get 100 countries. Well, this goal was exceeded clearly as I visited in a 9 new countries. As a consequence there are no European or American countries anymore, where I haven't been. It's easy to guess where I'll be travelling in the future -> Asia and Africa.

Sixth goal was to establish a start-up company and currently I'm employed by myself in my own company.

Year 2013 has been exceptionally laborious and exhausting. Therefore I haven't been planning such amount of tasks and goals for the next year. The goal setting for 2014 can be seen on the column right-hand.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Couple of lighthouses and daymarks in a day

The last weekend was great paddling weather in Finland and thus on Friday I made a quick decision to head to Baltic Sea to paddle on the area of Tamminsaari archipelago and visit on 2 lighthouses and 2 daymarks.

Paddling route on Saturday can be seen from here.

I have been paddling in Tammisaari archipelago many times, but now the intention was to head out to more remote lighthouse islands. The start was from the harbor of Sommarö and the first leg was 18 km stretch to Längden lighthouse. It took 3 hours to reach the island, wind was blowing moderately 3-4 m/s. Island is tiny and full of ladybirds. It seemed that lighthouse was painted just recently...


There were only 3 km paddling to Storgadden - daymark island. It's a tiny islet and extremely difficult to get ashore from kayak. I even managed to capsize my kayak when trying to leave the island. Fortunately water was quite warm and sun was shining.

Storgadden - daymark

The next daymark was Segelskär roughly 5 km from Storgadden. There were good spot to get ashore between two islands and it seems it is known by local people as well. During the time of 1 hour there were at least 4 boats bringing people to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery.

Segelskär - daymark

On a nice tailwind of 2-3 m/s it was good to paddle still towards Sundharun - lighthouse island. There were 10 km crossing, but it was nice and fast. There were good landing spot on the southern bay in the island.


44 km paddling day ended on Jussarö - island on a guest harbor. Lot's of sailing boats and people were spending weekend here. I had had cold at some point earlier on this week and I was getting flu.

On Sunday I was totally exhausted and having fever. Therefore 14 km stretch back to starting place was tiresome. All in all it felt great to get a chance to visit on Längden lighthouse, it was my 36th lighthouse visited by paddling, only 2 lighthouses more to go...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last one in Europe

It was the last one for me. Belarus. The only country in Europe, where I hadn't visited so far.

Welcome to cozy airport in Minsk

I mailed my VISA application to the Embassy of Belarus at Helsinki. Few days later I got it back via return mail without success. I had to change the application and didn't had too much time before the departure date. Therefore I was forced to travel to Helsinki and submit my application personally to embassy.

Fortunately I got my passport with Belarusian VISA couple of days before the flight to Minsk!

Broad avenues

The international airport of Minsk is not the most attractive and modern one. It's kind of relic from past Soviet times. Foreign visitors need to buy a travel insurance before entering the country. It was only 2 Euros for a short visit. When I had successfully bought insurance and passed passport control, I entered bare entrance hall and managed to exchange Belarusian rubles.

The bus from the airport to the center of Minsk was only 2 Euros instead of taking taxi and paying 30 Euros. The bus driver (and nobody else) didn't speak any English.

Orthodox church at the best place in town

Minsk is full of smokers and blondes. It seems to be some sort of fashion to tint hair from brown to white. Avenues are broad and buildings huge. Orthodox is present in everyday life. English is not spoken at all, you need to know some Russian...

Jere Karalahti was flying back to Finland in the same plane.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Open sea paddling and couple of lighthouses

Majestic Norrskär - lighthouse at sunshine

One of the objectives for this year was to visit on Norrskär and Utgrynnan lighthouse islands by kayak. The islands are very remote and there are absolutely no shelter at all for stronger winds or bad weather. After the midsummer I checked the weather forecast and it looked pretty OK.

The Monday would be still windy, roughly 5-7 m/s from SW, but Tuesday would be perfect day for visiting these islands.

I decided start on Monday at the southernmost tip of the Raippaluoto island towards Rönnskäret - archipelago. On a way I visited Ensten daymark island and started a long, windy and tough crossing over the Gloppet. It took 4 hours to reach Rönnskäret islands and I was totally exhausted. Rönnskäret has old daymark as well and nowadays it's having nature center in one of those islands. The major part of the Rönnskäret archipelago is nature conservation area.

Ensten - daymark

I pitched the tent in a stony shore of the Storskäret island after 35 km paddling. I was feeling the headwind section in my shoulders.The first day route can be seen here.

Rönnskär - daymark

At 6 AM my alarm clock rang and I started to prepare for long open sea crossings. I had a decent breakfast and packed my tent and other stuff in my kayak and started paddling. It was 17 km crossing to Norrskär - lighthouse island ahead of me. The wind had calmed down, but it was misty and foggy. After 2,5 hours paddling I was wondering why I can't see lighthouse anywhere. According my GPS it should have been some 1 km away. I was pondering if I had stored wrong coordinates by mistake. Then suddenly when it was only 400 meters to lighthouse it appeared in the middle of fog, oh boy I was relieved.

Rocky shore, misty and no wind at all

I had a good break at Norrskär, it cleared and sun was shining. I took photos, ate some snack and checked the next crossing. This time 15 km to Utgrynnan - island. I started paddling again and fog appeared again. Similarly after 2,5 hours paddling I was wondering where lighthouse would be, cause it was only 200 meters and I couldn't see it or the island. I was already bypassing the island totally, when on my right hand side there were glimpse of lighthouse in the middle of fog. Unbelievable! I could see the island and lighthouse at 200 meters distance. Without my GPS I couldn't have find the lighthouses, which at normal conditions can be seen from 5-10 kms away!


I had lunch on Utgrynnan and the last leg of today's crossings were still ahead. 17 km back to Raippaluoto - island was still waiting. All in all I paddled 87 kms during these 2 days. I'm extremely happy I managed to visit both Norrskär and Utgrynnan - lighthouses.They were my 34th and 35th lighthouses in Finland visited by paddling. The second day route and mainly open sea paddling is available here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jukola relay

The start at 11PM

It was my 9th Jukola relay in a row, since 2005. I was hoping to run either 1st, 2nd or 5th leg, because those were the legs I haven't had a chance to try in earlier races.

The original plan was to start a relay in Tampereen Pyrintö team, but last minute changes moved me onto a 2nd leg. It was quite dark just before 1 AM, when I got the map from the 1st leg runner. The first control point was quite far, but it was nice and easy orienteering at the beginning.

Ready for 2nd leg

After 3 km run on a flat terrain there were a steep and long climb, after which a bit more demanding control points. Despite of darkness all went well so far, no problems at all.

Roughly at 6 km from control point 12 onward I had huge difficulties. I lost at least 15 mins during the next 3-4 control points. The latter half of the 13 km leg was just tired running towards finish line. The goal was just to complete the leg and to get to sauna to warm up and to wash myself.

This was the poorest and weakest performance of the Jukola legs in my orienteering history since the first Jukola on 2005. Next year again :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

830 km by bike

830 km by bike during the last two weekends.

Vänern runt 2nd day

Around the Vänern lake in 3 days (580 km) in Sweden was the first cycling event this year. Weather was sunny, but windy and the last 250 km we had to cycle against strong headwind. All in all the event was very social, because everybody had to cycle in a group. I was only Finn at my group and during 3 days I learnt many new Swedish words like rumpa, kissa, omkörning, alla med, bil bakom, möte, hål, etc...

170 km behind at Telemark Tours

The second weekend cycling event was in southern part of Norway, Telemark Tours (250 km) in Skien. The scenery in this birthplace of Telemark was absolutely stunning. Uphills were steep and long and downhills as well. All went well, but at the same time on the other cycling event in Norway "Bergen - Voss 170 km cycling tour", there were fatal accident, when 48 - year old Norwegian cyclist died after 40 meter drop.

Elevation chart of Telemark Tours

The longest uphill took from me 35 minutes to cycle up and at the same time it started to rain. When I was coming down the serpentine road nearly at 60 km/h at rainy and slippery road, I felt time to time a bit uncertain...

This has been absolutely the most beautiful cycling tour I have ever participated. The views were just stunning!

Now it's time to sleep, recover and recharge the energy for Jukola orienteering relay within two weeks in time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tres Hombres Adventure

Live now!

Breath thin Himalayan air, get salt water splashed on your face, sit by the fire in a freezing cold Finnish forest and listen to the silence.

We make it happen.

TresHombres Adventure Oy was founded in February 2013 and currently consists of three lines of business.

Tres HombresTravel arranges activity trips to magnificent destinations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

Tres Hombres Adventure Club offers a social network for likeminded, active people. We make sure that people are capable and fit enough for the nature experiences and activity trips we provide. 

Tres Hombres Activity provides activities for companies in the Finnish nature. Activities that are fun, teach people new skills and offer a break away from the urban city life.

At the moment Tres Hombres Adventure Oy is in the process of building the digital tools to conduct the business, including interactive web pages, means to share experiences with friends and an active use of the social media.

But, in line with our ideology, we also escape every now and then from the every day life to see, learn and experience.  We just returned back from a tree-week expedition to Southern Africa, where we discovered unspoilt and unforgettable destinations for our new trips.

At your service,
Antti Härkönen, Vesa Airio and Pasi Oksman

Monday, March 18, 2013

Zimbabwe - Botswana - Namibia - Zambia

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Tour has continued on a research on Zambezi - river and Victoria Falls area. I flew from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and started mini-tour of travelling by minibus / combi / taxi in Zimbabwe - Botswana - Namibia - Zambia. The timetables of transportation are not available anywhere.

Sunset at Chobe - river, Kasane, Botswana

But in every village someone knows where minibuses stop or leave to next villages. You just have to go there and wait 2-4 hours in an unbearable heat until minibus, which is full of people will arrive and you realize that everyone who is waiting will be squashed in. Now you can relax and enjoy the bumpy ride tightly squashed side by side the others and sweating like in hell, cause there's no air condition in the bus. This is Africa !!!!

Evening at Zambezi - river, Katima Mulilo, Namibia

You just need to get rid of the clock and just let things happen... Everything is going to be alright finally.

Picking Peri Peri chili

I just fell in love with Botswana. It has incredible nature, vast natural parks, friendly people and great weather. What else could you ask for ?

Moon over Zambezi - river, Katima Mulilo, Namibia

My favorite countries so far from southern part of Africa are Swaziland and Botswana. Hopefully I'll have a chance to relive the hospitality of these two countries many times in the future.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland

Berlin Falls at Blyde River

It has been warm and exciting 10 days so far on a travel through South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. All of those three countries are so different from each others, which surprised me totally and I couldn't imagine it at all beforehand.

Zebras at Kruger national park

I have been travelling with other two partners and we have been doing a research on the southern part of Africa to find travel destinations, which we could put on our offering in Finland. Kruger national park is a huge park, where you can spot e.g. big five, i.e. lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard.

South Africa is enormous country and we have covered only northern and northeastern part of it by driving 2700 kilometers on long and straight roads through the savanna, forest, jungle and fields...

Local traffic jam at Kruger

Blyde River Canyon had stunning views on viewpoints and the milder climate with pine trees and South Africa's heaviest rainfall per year. 

View from the terrace of the lodge at Ant's Hill

Swaziland offered hospitality I have not encountered elsewhere. I must admit I lost my heart to Swaziland totally. It reminded me about Belize, which is a country in Central America and which made similar impact to me when I was travelling there.

Paying for the gazoline

Our trip will continue still one week before returning back to snowy and cold Finland...

P.S. Swaziland was my 100th country

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Comparison of Worldloppet ski events

Finlandiahiihto was 6th and last Worldloppet ski race this winter for me. Now I'm feeling totally exhausted and need a good rest. Based on my subjective opinion and experience from the different Worldloppet events I composed a comparison of 7 different Worldloppet ski race.

Birkebeinerrennet Dolomitenlauf Marcialonga König Ludwig Lauf
Distance 54 km CL 42 km CL 70 km CL 50 km CL*
When (week) 11 3 4 5
Total ascent (m) 1010 745 757 272*
Start Rena Obertilliach Moena Ettal
Finish Lillehammer Obertilliach Canazei Oberammergau
Track condition 10 10 9 1*
Route 10 8 9 8*
Fluency (no jam at track) 8 8 6 7
Washing facilities 9 6 4 -
Transportation - - 9 9
Comments Scenic route over the mountains. Physically tough. At high altitude. Steep and long climbs. Through tiny villages at Val di Fiemme valley. *Due to exceptionally warm weather and lack of snow, route was shortened to 42 km.
Tips Start slowly, demanding climb at the beginning. Travel 2-3 days before to acclimatize to higher altitude. The start place is crucial. Lots of waiting and standing in queues if start place is in the last groups. Original 50 km route would have been more scenic.

La Transjurassienne Tartu maraton Finlandiahiihto
Distance 50 km CL 63 km CL 50 km CL
When (week) 6 7 8
Total ascent (m) 648 695 527
Start Les Rousses Otepää Lahti
Finish Mouthe Elva Lahti
Track condition 10 10+ 5
Route 10 10 6
Fluency (no jam at track) 8 9 7
Washing facilities 8 - 9
Transportation 5 8 -
Comments Very scenic route. Lots of snow. Well organised. Easy and good route. Tracks in excellent condition. Overpriced. Tracks always in poor condition.
Tips Rent a car from Geneva airport, don't take transportation from the organiser. Get accommodation from Mouthe. Tampere maja accommodation in center of Tartu is excellent. Buses to start leave very close. Never again…

As requested I added similar comparison table from three well-known ski events in Finland...

Pirkanhiihto Pogostan hiihto Vuokattihiihto
Distance 90 km CL 51 km CL 60 km CL
When (week) 9 11 12
Total ascent (m) 749 447 777
Start Niinisalo Ilomantsi Vuokatti
Finish Tampere Ilomantsi Vuokatti
Track condition 8 8 9
Route 7 8 9
Fluency (no jam at track) 8 9 9
Washing facilities - 9 9
Transportation 9 - -
Comments Early start at 7 AM. Typically dark and cold at the beginning. Hospitality and nice atmosphere. Beautiful route in wilderness up to Petkeljärvi national park. Scenic climb to Vuokattivaara.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend in Estonia

Town hall

It was time to ski again on this weekend. Actually it was a fifth weekend in a row. 63 km Tartu maraton was waiting on Southern part of Estonia. The race office was located in a beautiful and cozy town of Tartu. Tartu and Tampere are sister cities and therefore the most evident place to stay in Tartu were Tampere maja. Real gem in the heart of the city and conveniently located. I can recommend it for anybody looking a friendly, cozy and inexpensive accommodation in Tartu.

Tampere maja lodging

The race on Sunday was a pleasant one, though physical energy wasn't at best this time. Tracks were in excellent condition and race arrangement were in good shape. All in all nice and well organised event. The last ski event of this winter will be on next Saturday at Lahti...

University of Tartu

Saturday, February 9, 2013

La Transjurassienne

Through the mountain range

La Transjurassienne 50 km ski event was a scenic one. The ski track climbed through the mountain range after the first 10 km on the valley. The start was 10AM at Les Rousses and finish line at Mouthe village. 

Climbing from the valley

The altitude of the race was above 1000 meters, but somehow it felt remarkably easy to ski, Total ascent of 665 meters was a bit short of Marcialonga and Dolomitenlauf, but the weather and scenery were beautiful.

Finish line

The organisation had some hick-ups and it seems French are not that systematic and prompt as German and Swiss :) However the dinner at the school accommodation at Les Rousses was overwhelming with loads of food to digest during the night just before the race...


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

König Ludwig Lauf

41. König Ludwig Lauf

The race was shortened from 50 km to 42 km due to extremely warm weather and bad snow conditions. Fortunately the classic style race was not cancelled like the free style race one day before. It started to snow during Saturday and the temperature dropped below zero, which saved the race on Sunday.

Along the valley

During the race it was snowing and the ski tracks were in awful condition, which was totally acceptable and expected due to the challenging weather conditions before the race. However I was happy to successfully complete this ski event, which was third one for this season. There are still three ski events to go, next one being in France...

Finish line

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


First 18 km uphill behind, arriving to Canazei

The second Worldloppet ski race was famous Marcialonga in Val di Fassa and Val di Fiemme valleys. Marcialonga celebrated this year it's 40-year anniversary. The start from Moena (at 1100 m) was after 9AM and the weather was bit cold, when waiting with 500 hundred other skiers permit to start the ski. Forecast for the day was perfect, sunshine and partly sunny with temperature raising near zero.

Skiing through villages and backyards

The first part of 18 km uphill to Canazei was tough start, but then the track moved towards the lower altitudes of the valley and nearly 45 km downhill section up to Molina. The track swirled through small villages like Predazzo and Lago di Fiemme, which is hosting Nordic World Ski Championships this year.

Finish line, at last after 70 km and 775 m total ascent

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Between Dolomitenlauf and Marcialonga

Only 250 km south from Tirol and the Dolomites lies Venice, the mythical city with narrow alleys and canals. When Dolomitenlauf was skied and there was a week to Marcialonga, visit to Venice was a planned activity in between these famous races.

This was my third visit to this tiny island, and now I had a chance to see how's Venice in January. Well, it's a bit misty, cold and rainy but on the other hand it was pleasant to walk on not crowded streets. Actually I like more visiting Venice at off-season.

Unfortunately the Carnival of Venice will be held on February and couldn't feel and see this world-famous event this time either. Well, the journey continues and the direction is again to the North, Val di Fiemme at Trentino in northern Italy. Val di Fiemme will host the Nordic Ski World Championships 2013 at February.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dolomitenlauf completed

Virgen village in Hohe Tauern national park

It's snowy and beautiful in Austria at this time of the year. Hohe Tauern national park in east Tirol is one of the most beautiful national parks I have been visiting. Grossvenediger, which is 4th highest mountain in Austria. It's best to visit during summertime when hiking trails are open. 

Dolomitenlauf in Obertilliach

Dolomitenlauf is the most famous long distance ski event in Austria. It was held today and the scenery during the race is beautiful. The start and finish are located in Obertilliach village and the ski event will be held at the altitude of 1200 - 1600 m. Fortunately my body is adapting to higher altitude quite easily and I didn't had any problems on that. Physically the route was quite demanding with total of 750 ascend meters.

Dolomitenlauf completed