the Degree Confluence Project

Finland : Lapin lääni

9.5 km (5.9 miles) NNW of Hanhimaa, Lapin lääni, Finland
Approx. altitude: 215 m (705 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 68°S 155°W

Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: North #3: East #4: South #5: West #6: GPS picture #7: Roger standing at the confluence #8: The going is getting tougher #9: Beginning the trip #10: Stopping by the stream on the way back

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  68°N 25°E (secondary) 

#1: Confluence from about 50 m distance.

(visited by Stefan Nilsson and Roger Uusitalo)

10-Apr-2004 -- We started our journey in the easter eve morning from Pajala in Sweden, where me and my friend Roger Uusitalo both have grown up, and we still have our parents around there.

We drove by car and crossed the finnish border after 25 km and continued along some quite big roads towards our goal. Close to Hanhimaa we had to leave the big road and continued along a smaller road (gravel) for roughly 10 km. After that, we had to enter a very small road leading towards the confluence.

The first starting point we initially planned to take was only 6 km from the confluence, but when we took a short break for lunch earlier at the Levi ski resort, we found a better map which showed us that there were a few lakes and streams on that path, so we skipped it and found another path which was a little longer but without any major lakes or streams.

After driving 150 km by car, we stopped at a three-way crossing where the small road continued straight and a forest road went to the left, almost straight towards the confluence. This was however not plowed, so we had to continue on skis. The distance from the car to the confluence was exactly 10 km as the crow flies.

My friend had skis made for skiing outside of cross-country tracks, so he lead the way most of the trip. I myself had narrow competition skis, totally wrong equipment for this trip (and that wasn't the only thing that was badly planned with this trip, see below).

We started skiing from the car at 1.30 pm and followed the forest road leading towards the confluence. Some snowmobiles had driven there some time ago, so there was a vague track to follow under 20-30 cm of snow.

The forest road ended roughly 3 km from the crossing where we left the car, so from that point on we had to continue straight into the forest without tracks. Although we crossed a few old snowmobile tracks a few times, no tracks were leading towards the confluence, so we had to make our own trail.

At first, the crust held at least partly, but unfortunately the weather was a bit too warm and sunny and also the confluence was a bit lower than the starting point, so the crust on the snow got softer and softer as we advanced further towards the goal.

After 7 km, we crossed an open stream on a snow bridge and also drank some of the stream's ice cold, crystal clear, water.

After 10 km, we still had over 3 km left to the confluence. At this stage, we sank all the way to the bottom of the 60-70 cm deep snow cover. Skiing, or what it was (I actually wouldn't call it skiing!), got a lot harder and was very strenous. But eventually we reached our goal, after no less than 14 tough km and 4 hours of skiing!

The confluence itself was on quite a big bog, or swamp would describe it better, I think. I actually hit water 10 cm below the crust when I forcefully plunged my ski stick thru the quite hard but not very thick crust at the area of the confluence. Luckily enough, the crust held. If it hadn't, we could have gotten very wet and maybe even drowned out there!

Anyway, we took the required pictures and also some other pictures. Unfortunately, I am a lousy photographer. Combined with the late time of the day, we didn't get any really good picture on the GPS. I used the Trip Computer page and configured it to get some interesting data of the point. I hope it is readable, I made the display a bit lighter with PhotoShop to make it easier to read.

Another error on the GPS picture is the heading. It says W, but the picture is in fact taken heading to NE. I just turned the GPS around on the spot after taking the four cardinal compass directionpictures, and the GPS doesn't change heading unless you move (I turned the electronic compass off to save batteries, see below).

Yet another error on the GPS picture is that I accidently erased my waypoint just before the confluence, so the "Dist to dest" field shows only ---. The fields on the GPS are, from top left to right bottom: Time of day, Bearing (empty), Distance to dest (empty), Elevation, GPS Accuracy, Location and Time of day again. I tried to find a way to get the date on the trip computer, but I was unable to do that.

When we were finished, we skied back to the car almost the same way as we came. We drank of the water from the stream half way this time also. At that point, we were very exhausted and hungry. We finally reached our car at 9 pm, at nightfall, and our trip ended 7,5 hours after it had started. It was quickly getting colder, and combined with our lack of energy, we were shaking like aspen leaves.

Both me and Roger were very exhausted. We had done a 7,5 hour ski trip for 28 km without tracks to follow, in deep snow and without food and water! Absolutely insane! But we never thought that it was gonna be that far from the road, and that the conditions would be so hard. If it had been 2-3 degrees colder, the crust would have held completely and the trip would have taken 1/3-1/2 of the time it took us now under these conditions!

After once again stopping at the Levi ski resort for a very late but welcome dinner(!), we continued back to Pajala.

For our next confluence visit (if there will be any, the confluences left in Scandinavia are few and hard to get to), we have to plan things a lot better.

We are quite experienced outdoor people and have walked in the mountains a few times, but this trip was a perfect example of how wrong everything can go if you have underestimated your task and are not well prepared.

First, we had no really good map of the area. The one we had was 1:700 000 and didn't show the small lakes and streams on our initially planned path to the confluence. Then, we had no food and water with us! This is of course complete madness. No matter how short the distance or how easy it seems to be, you should always bring at least some water on your trip.

Another thing to note is that the GPS died halfway on the way to the confluence! At first I panicked, but after a while I found out that if I kept it warm in my pocket and only turned it on occasionally to check our position, the batteries worked. Alkaline batteries seem to be sensitive to low temperatures (it was +2 degrees this day). The lesson learned here is that you should always take spare batteries with you, and keep the GPS warm if it is cold outside to avoid freezing your batteries and have the GPS die on you.

Well, that's it for now. We enjoyed the confluence visit trip despite all the troubles we had, and will certainly make another trip someday if there comes a good opportunity to do so.

 All pictures
#1: Confluence from about 50 m distance.
#2: North
#3: East
#4: South
#5: West
#6: GPS picture
#7: Roger standing at the confluence
#8: The going is getting tougher
#9: Beginning the trip
#10: Stopping by the stream on the way back
ALL: All pictures on one page