Off-track skiing in Simoskanaapa

Last Saturday, we set off on a skiing trip to Martimoaapa. This time, we left the car on the pohjoispuolentie road near Simoskanoja, at the intersection of Alatalonkarin lean-on shelter.

The temperature dropped, but we embarked on our journey. The thermometer showed -25 degrees Celsius when we left the car. We had forest skis and backpacks with us. We also brought a snow sledge, but we decided to leave it behind and opt for lighter gear, just in case the snow turned out to be deep.

We skied north along Simoskanoja towards the edge of the open mire. There’s a marked trail on the map next to the ditch, which seemed to be in use at least during the winter. Following the tracks of previous skiers, we skied towards the edge of the open mire and began to circle around the swamp.

Simoskanaapa is one of the largest marshes in the Martimoaapa area.

In Simo, there had been a spell of mild weather not too long ago, followed by freezing temperatures again, so the snow was surprisingly firm. It would have been easy to ski with the sledge. The skis only sank a couple of centimeters. The sun was shining, but it didn’t provide much warmth. Fortunately, it was calm, and skiing was pleasant.

On the open mire, we marveled at various tracks in the snow, at least I recognized tracks from a fox, a hare, and some forest birds. It’s amazing how many different animals seem to dart around the swamp based on the tracks, even though you rarely see any actual walkers there yourself.

We examined the tracks of the forest bird more closely. Wing imprints were beautifully visible in the snow and the tracks meandered around small sparse pine trees with signs of needles having been eaten. It seemed like the tracks were quite fresh because there was hardly any snow on top of them.

Then my eyes caught sight of a black grouse further away on a pine branch, and then another, and another… In total, I counted at least 12 birds. They stood out well against the white landscape. The birds were perched on tree branches and walking around on the ground. They are truly magnificent birds. We decided to leave the birds in peace and turned our direction towards the other side of the swamp.

A pair of black grouse perched on the top of a pine tree, nibbling on needles.

We continued skiing along the edge of the swamp and also took a closer look at Simoskanoja. The ditch had steep edges, similar to Martimojärvi. We didn’t attempt to cross the ditch with our clumsy forest skis, especially since parts of it looked like they might be thawed. We retraced our steps along the edge of the forest next to the ditch. After a while, the forest became too dense, so we turned back a bit and returned to the edge of the open mire. We skied along the edge for a while and eventually reached the trail that previous travelers had already opened up.

The day passed as we skied around Simoskanaapa, and we returned to the car in the afternoon. The weather had warmed up a few degrees during the day. Upon reaching the car, we also visited Alatalonkari Lean-to shelter, which was in a beautiful location by the Simojoki River. We then made a quick stop at Keski-Penikka, hoping to capture some wintry and sunny landscape photos of the marshland and have dinner in the warm cabin, as the weather was so clear.

Wintery view from Keski-Penikka.

The trail to Keski-Penikka was well-trodden, so it was quick to walk up the slope. The cabin was bustling with people. There were several pairs of skis along the edge of the cabin, a nice chatter could be heard from inside, and there were sightseers in the observation tower as well. Unfortunately, the drone’s battery had been left in the warmth, so it didn’t work anymore. We settled for capturing the stunning scenery with the camera and headed back to the car.

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