Autumn Hike Guide
The Autumn hike
Soopa organizes annually an autumn hike at the end of August or in the beginning of September. It takes place in the mountaineous regions of either Finland, Sweden or Norway. The autumn hike includes challenging terrain, ever-changing weather and brilliantly colored trees. The ”Ruska” season is very often just starting and the wild berries are ripe for picking.
While the ground is yet warm, the hiking terrain varies from the pleasant mountain shrub to the challenging rocky hills or watery swaps. It is not unusual for big rivers and other bodies of water to also make you change your route. Streams and other smaller rivers are waded through. Particularly on the autumn hike, it is possible, that the route you have planned might look simple and short enough on the map, but hiking that few kilometers might take you the whole day. The terrain has effect on how fast you are able to proceed. It is likewise good to keep in mind that a symbol on the map might carry a different meaning in different countries and regions. As an example, it can be assumed that throughout Norwegian mountain areas, there are rocky terrains (even it does not show up in the map). In Finland, however, rocky areas are marked specifically on the map.
The weather conditions
In the mountains, the autumn season begins already in August. The weather can change radically: during a week you can experience windy days, less windy days, rain and sunshine. During the night, the temperature can even drop to below zero. Because of the humidness and wind, the autumn hike can be the coldest hike of the year – therefore remember to take warm clothes and waterproof gear with you! It is not unusual to experience some snow at the end of August. Usually the autumn hike destinations do not provide wilderness huts, so it is more common to sleep in tents. The nights can get a bit chilly, so it is advisable to have a proper sleeping bag and sleeping mat, which can withhold the cold. On the other hand, sometimes the weather has been more like the summer, when it is possible to hike when wearing merely a t-shirt.
Getting around in the area
On the hike, the only means of transport is by foot. Depending on the group, the daily progress can be anything between from 5 to 20 kilometers, and during the week it ranges from 50 to over 100 km. Some days can be a bit more laid-back, and some days might involve doing a day-trip, fishing or climbing up on top a nearby hill or mountain. In the Archives you can find out what has happened on previous autumn hikes: Hike in Loveriver and Kayaking hike in Inari-lake.
The group divides into smaller groups for cooking. Usually the cooking groups consist of two or three people, and they share one cooker. During the hike, you will need to have breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. The cooking groups/partners agree upon their food themselves. Take a look here for more tips on hiking food.
Can I go on the Soopa Autumn hike?
Even though you don’t have any previous hiking experience, that is not required. The autumn hike is suitable for beginners and hiking as part of a group is a safe and good way to gain experience. For many people, Soopa has been the place to start hiking in general. Before the hike, all participants are divided into groups of 2 to 6 people according to their fitness level, and their expectations for the hike. These groups hike independently on the route of their choice. When forming groups, we try to take into consideration previous hiking experience and ensure that there are experienced hikers as well as beginners in the same group. Throughout the hike, it is assumed that we will be sleeping in tents.
It is advisable for people going on their first hike into the wilderness, to learn and read about the general principles of hiking, before going on the hike. The guidelines include tips on hiking in a group, how to pack, what gear to take and information about what to do in the case of emergency during the hike and how to resolve difficult situations, that might arise during the hike. It is recommendable even for experinced hikers to read these guidelines, as it can help them find new ideas on how to create an even more successful hike.
How fit do I have to be?
The hike requires being in average shape, and the better shape you are in, the easier and nicer the hike will be to go through. It is our intention to form groups with people from approximately similar fitness levels, so usually there is an appropriate group for everyone. If you haven’t got a clue what shape you are in, you can take a test to evaluate your fitness level. This page have descriptions of some popular fitness tests. If you indeed do take a test, please be sure to fill in the name of the test and your result on the registration form.
Groups and group leaders
During the hike, the participants will be divided into small groups of 2 to 6 people, which proceed independently throughout the hike. The number one criteria for forming the groups is fitness level. Each group should have one or more experienced hikers. Any other expectations of the participants will be taken into consideration if possible. The underlying assumption on how groups work on Soopa’s hikes is based on the notion, that all participants are adults. It basically means that everyone in the has an equal opportunity to take part in the decisions the group makes before and during the hike. Every member of the group should make sure they have all the gear needed for the hike and they know how to use it. First-timers are requested to communicate to their groupleaders about their most important gear: about what kind of a sleeping bag they have, what is their sleeping mat like and what kind of a backpack they have. Especially if they do not have something they or are experiencing difficulties with the gear they have, it is required to give note beforehand – it is easier to arrange things in the city than in the wilderness. And during the hike, everyone should communicate about the problems they are experiencing – tiredness, health issues or trouble with gear. It is always better to be open and frank, before problems escalate to ridiculous measures.
For every group there is an appointed group leader, who more often than not, has already been on many Soopa’s hikes before or is otherwise qualified and an experienced hiker. On Soopa’s hikes, the group leader’s most important single task, is to maintain and uphold communication between different parties. Communication should be facilitated:
– within the group, before and during the hike
– between the group and the organizers of the hike
– by communicating about what gear the group needs to the Soopa storagekeeper or other person resposible for taking care of the storage (e.g. tents, specific gear)
– by transfering knowledge and experiences from previous hikes to especially the first-timers
Each and everyone is responsible for successful communication. Before and during the hike, do talk and decide your route, how often you would like to have a breaks and what are the group’s ambitions and expectations – communication is essential!
Gear-list for the autumn hike
Gearing up for the hike is extremely important. The weather changes rapidly and the items you carry have to be functional and preferably waterproof. This detailed list, of course, is prone to changes – you can also be creative. Though, do not leave out anything mentioned on the list, unless you are absolutely sure you will not be needing it during the hike. If in doubt, ask the organizers, your group leader or other experienced hikers for help. The groups are formed in such a matter, that it might not be necessary to have all the things on the group list (such as tents or cookers), what matters is that some one in the group has something. If you lack any personal gear or equiptment, you can ask around from your friends and other people in Soopa, if you can borrow stuff from someone. On the hike, we will be sleeping in tents, therefore Soopa has about a dozen of tents, which are available for the groups take with them for free. At the end of August, the weather can be already very chilly, so the sleeping bags and sleeping mats should be accordingly warm enough (for sleeping in a tent).
Pack your sleeping bag and clothes that they are waterproof. It is also advisable to ensure that your map, your dry food, the first aid kit as well as any other gear which should not get wet, is protected from water. These items can be packed in plastic bags or special canvas pouches, which are designed for that purpose. At the start of the hike, your backpack will weigh about 15-20 kilograms.