This is the story about our tour to Vodlozero National Park in April-94. It was quite exciting to arrive to Petroszavodsk Park office thinking that one of the wildest wilderness in Europe is waiting for us. We had to drive for the whole day by bus around the lake Onega, until we were in Kuganavolok. There we and our stuff were loaded onto a few sledges and this little caravan were driven to the Vodlozero lake powered by Russian 'Buran' snowscooters. Our guide, Voitto Mikkola and Alla Gudym took care of us and were very helpful. Alla takes also care of all tourists and foreign ties of the Park, so she's the one you should contact if you want to visit Vodolozero.

Early in the morning we began our skiing on the west side of the lake Vodlozero. This is our whole group, Päivi, Juha, Voitto (back), Jarmo, Matti, Markus and I, who took the picture. The day was brilliant for skiing, and there were forests and and huge, open bogs all around us. At noon we got to a river, which runs from west to the lake Vodlozero. This group of old aspens you saw also in the background of the last picture. We decided to turn back and return along the ice of the lake. While we were skiing along the river, we looked at the dense forests along the riverside. While skiing on the lake we saw an enormous tree on an island and went there. It must have been among the biggest we had ever seen. Some of the branches were like logs. I can imagine how all the surrounding pines are childs to this great grandfather, who had been there from the beginning of the time.

The next day Markus and the sun were rising at the same time. It was not very cold but we had to cloth ourselves well because we started driving to the north with snowscooters. In the middle of the lake Vodlozero we had a break and let the engines cool. After a while Park rangers took us to the island of Ilinskij Pogosta. We were able to see it also inside, but there were no light to take photographs. Rangers checked their nets in river Ileksa and we had fish in the evening in Novkuda huts.

Nearby the mouth of Novkuda river there is a hill, which seems to be the highest in that area. I got fantastic views from a tree at the top of the hill. I was able to see far away to the north as well as to the southeast. Take a closer look on how much there are aspens and other leaf trees in this forest, which goes on as far as you can see. There is simply no signs of human activities in the forest. Believe me, it's not possible to see views like this in the south of Finland. You can also see how flat it is in this part of the Vodlozero Park.

We took our backpacks and skied to the area where there are larch trees. It was exciting to find the first one. But soon we saw them here and there. Later on we even found some shelfs on them. Some of them take tens of years to grow big. One old aspen had two very big shelfs, one higher and the other one quite low. Other larch trees had holes even though it is quite resistant to decaying.

We were skiing three days in that area because it was interesting but partly bacause we didn't want to pack our tents and make a new camp elsewhere. That way we had minimum impact, at least I hope so. There were lots of lichens, which have disappeared from most inhabited areas due to air pollution. During one skiing day we climbed to a ridge (esker), but were not able to see views until we climbed up to the trees. From there I saw a great view to the north and northeast. In the north the first open area, right below the trees, is a lake, but the second one is a bog. Behind that bog we had our camp, about 2-3 kilometres away. Towards northeast there was a tower, about 10 kilometres away, we thought it was built long time ago for cartographic measurements.

We went again to the area where larch trees grow. Now coming from the east we were able to see how these trees are the higest ones in the forest. Their tops are clearly visible and rising higher than any other trees. There we found a group of aspens, it was like a temple. But we didn't knew that we would see the same trees again during the summer. Just skiing in this kind of forest is an experience.

On the other day the weather was very warm and not very good for skiing. We went north from our camp skiing one behind the other deep in the terrible soggy snow. Finally we got to the river Novkuda and decided to turn back. But first I wanted to look around and check the other side of the river where I found fresh bear tracks. That was an experience to us! The bear had woke up maybe only few hours ago because of melting snow, it was 22nd April. We followed the tracks for a while. It had crossed the river and walked deeply in the snow on the other side. There were freshly opened antpile and the ants were still living on the snow. It had eaten it very deep.

Next day we saw tracks of wolves, they had also been moving one behind another, just like we. Skiing in that soggy snow is hard, especially along hopeless bogs where there is lots of soft snow. We expected it freezing in the night but we were not that lucky. But we got sunshine and we were not in trouble because we could open track to one another along the river Novkuda It was nice to get back to the hut, have a sauna and a good sleep.