Day 14 – Tour de Laponie 2013: Pallasjärvi – Äkäslompolo

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All the pictures of Tour de Laponie 2013

I have to consider myself lucky: this has been the only full cloudy/rainy day of the trip (Norway doesn’t count: it rains once a day anyway). Last night (and this morning as well) has been very windy, and it left just a last hint of sun, just in time for a reindeer to say good morning just near my tent.

Morning reindeer. They don’t get scared if I’m not on my bike

Although hard to find, I must admit the Punainen hiekka (lit. Red sand) area of lake Pallasjärvi is very beautiful.

Leaving Punainen hiekka

As yesterday’s route ended with a looong downhill, today it started with a looong uphill, since I had to cycle about 7 km to get back to the main route. I have to say that I checked this ascent and it went well beyond 400 metres, so it’s more or less the record of yesterday in Levi.

Starting the uphill with Sammaltunturi in the background

Now, after this first stage the route continued for about 30 km with some bursts of headwind, some light rain and a bit colder weather than usual. But all in all it was a pleasure cycling.

Until I got to bloody road 940.

Bloody road 940 begins

Road 940 (call me bloody) is a road that connects Muotkavaara (south of Pallastunturi) to Äkäslompolo. I must give a warning to all the cyclists: if you can avoid road 940, just do it. Go to Muonio and from there to the south, go towards Kittilä, go to Sweden, Norway, wherever, but just avoid it. It is also marked as a cycling route in the map of Northern Finland I have with me, but I must admit there is no cycling fun whatsoever in it.

Have you seen the picture above? Well replicate it for about 30 km and you get the point. I give you an example:

Bloody road 940 goes on, and on, and on (look better, it really is a different picture than the one above)

Ok, maybe pictures don’t give the whole truth, so I’ll try to explain in words. You check the route on the map, and you see that road 940 follows lake Äkäsjärvi and then river Äkäsjoki. Well, did you see a river in those pictures? Did you see a lake? No. What you see is just forest, because there are always hundreds of trees between you and the water. And anything else for instance. With just an exception during all the 30 km, this one:

A swamp

Moreover, still looking at the map, seeing the lake and the river, you might think that the route is quite flat, mightn’t you? Far from that. It’s all climbing up and down for 30 bloody km. You know those short climbs that you might think to take enough speed to reach at least half of the uphill before starting to pedal, and the uphill is instead so steep that you stop almost immediately. Well, replicate it for 30 km. Of forest. Nothing else around. So, don’t take that road and you’ll be a happier cyclist.

Anyway, coming out of the hell of cyclist (a road with never-ending uphills), I reached my final destination for today:

Äkäslompolo welcomes you with a lively neighbourhood

Äkäslompolo is a nice little village just below the Yllästunturi hill, with a lot of traditional red wooden houses.

Äkäslompolo red houses with Yllästunturi in the background

Start of the hiking routes of Ylläs

I had never been in Äkäslompolo before, but I remember the name, because I saw it on a T-shirt in one of the most improbable places:

The Äkäslompolo adventures in Kerman, Iran, November 2007. I took that picture, I was there on a holiday. No idea anyway how the T-shirt ended up there.

The problem of Äkäslompolo is that it is a winter place, because of Yllästunturi. So, almost every shop or restaurant had this sign:

”Will open again on 4th of September.” Great.

Except for the church, that, I have to admit, I didn’t even recognize:

Church of Äkäslompolo. Built in 1999.

A very talkative elderly lady explained me everything about the church, how the inhabitants wanted the view of the hill from inside, and I have to admit it is a fascinating building, being a church.

Altar of the church of Äkäslompolo with Yllästunturi in the background

Ceiling of the church of Äkäslompolo with sky and stars

Äkäslompolo has also other strange things:

A huge troll in Äkäslompolo. It didn’t seem to move, though

In front of me now the climb to Yllästunturi, but I’ll leave it as a task for tomorrow. It’s raining outside and it’s so nice to hear the sound of rain while you’re in a tent.

No, they are not stockings, it’s just Lappish suntan

Day 14 – Tour de Laponie 2013: Pallasjärvi – Äkäslompolo

Trip distance: 71 km
Total cycling time: 5 h 15 min


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