Hiking In Finland & Exploring The Beauty Of Ruska

This year I decided to extend fall season by traveling up north. In Finnish Lapland I found myself amongst reindeer and all hues of red, orange and yellow. The finns call it ‘Ruska’. It’s a word that encompasses the leaves vibrant colors, as well as the very moment of autumn. Ruska is one last reminder to enjoy nature before winter arrives and covers the land in snow. 

This year I was there mid September and we timed it very well with the most intense fall colors just before the trees dropped their leaves. When Ruska is at its peak will of course be slightly different every year due to the weather that season.

I flew to Helsinki where I met up with a team from KAUAS Creative. I was heading up north with them to make this video, about the new 20mm lens released with OM System. (A lens that I was the only one to have used before it’s official release!) From Helsinki we flew to Rovaniemi where we had rented a car, and then we drove further north towards the barren mountains and lush forests, susirajan takana.

All photos in this post are shot on my E-M5 MK III + M.Zuiko 20mm F1.4 PRO, and it really shows just how versatile this new lens is! I’ve been able to capture both grand landscapes, details and moments in between. All with very minimal gear. This is why I switched to Micro 4/3 in the first place – to break free from heavy gear and travel light. It was incredibly freeing that I could roam around exploring nature and capture all of this with just a small camera and one lens!

Hiking in Finland

I’ve been hiking in Finland before, but never this far north. It was so exciting to see mountains, it’s always the one thing I miss the most with where I live. Before I’ve been to Koli Nationalpark and I’ve done parts of the St. Olav Waterways in the Finnish archipelago, so this time around I got to see a very different part of Finland.

a fall forest in Finland

Heading up to Särkitunturi Fell

Nature up north took me by storm. There’s something about a Scandinavian forest that looks different in the north, the landscape is a bit more windswept and rough. And I went there at just the right time. Nature was on fire. The Ruska colors where everywhere and so intense! Coming up here for photography really spurred my inspiration and I capture so many images that I love and treasure dearly.

It was also so good to spend time outside with other photographers and creators, I did this trip together with Kauas Creative. Together we hiked, chased sunrises and sunsets, photographed, filmed, laughed and had many good conversations. It’s so valuable to be out with other to get new perspectives, inspiration and some creative “push”. 

On our first day we woke up incredibly early and left our cabin at five in the morning. It was rough but if you want to capture sunrise, it’s worth it. It’s a nice feeling when everyones tired and it’s pitch black outside, but you can sense the excitement of adventure in the car.

We drove to Särkitunturi to hike up the mountain for a good view of sunrise. It’s a fairly easy hike, not too long and with a wide path all the way. It starts at a big parking lot and at first you walk through a forest for a bit. After you pass the tree line it gets more rugged and the landscape is beautiful with many small mountain likes and trees shaped by the wind.

view from parking lot at Särkitunturi
even just the view from the parking lot is breathtaking
lone tree on Särkitunturi
cameraman watching sunrise in Särkitunturi

Me and Janne were running the last part of this hike as we released we were about to miss sunrise at the very top. It was so beautiful along the way that we stopped way to often to shoot and then we ended up loosing valuable time. To make it worse sunrise only lasted a few seconds as the sun had risen above the mountains, then it continued to rise up behind a blanket of clouds.

woman enjoying sunrise at Särkitunturi
Did we make it in time? Nope! But it was still incredibly beautiful up there and the soft light was great for photography of course.
I love taking photos of myself enjoying an amazing view, and this one was no exception.
female hiker enjoying sunrise at Särkitunturi

The views, the colors of Ruska, the coffee… As always it’s in grand landscapes like these I feel the most alive, and when I love capturing every little moment of the experience. I am walking around amazed at everything, crouching down to get in close to those vibrant colors as well as stepping back and capturing the bigger landscape.

grill house at Särkitunturi
Half way up the trail you have access to toilets as well as this Lapp Hut with a fireplace inside

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

After spending the early morning up in the mountains enjoying the sunrise and quiet start of the day, we head back down to Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. It’s time to switch mountains to forest and the world under the canopy is so different from the exposed and barren one we were just at. Isn’t it amazing that we can experience both in one day?

Here I continue to explore the wondrous nature with Janne, JT and Helen – my new Finnish friends. Me and Janne make way too many stops to take photos and film at various streams, by mushrooms and beautiful logs on the ground. 

On the mountain everything was burning red and here it’s all a golden yellow as we hike along Velhopolku (The Wizards Trail) to Varkaankurun (The Thiefs’ Gorge).

hike to Varkaankurun

This is an easy trail that meanders for 3.5km through a forest down in a small valley or “gorge” with loads of streams running through it. It’s easily accessible from the Visitor Centre where you have parking, a restaurant, toilets and also the option to rent bikes to explore some other trails in the area.

outdoor portrait of woman enjoying the fall colors

This is my new friend Helen, we clicked right away and had a blast during this trip. Good conversations, laughter and loads of creativity and inspiration was shared between the two of us. She’s a very talented illustrator with a cool style. She even made an illustration of me from the trip and I think she nailed it, what do you think? Hopefully next year we’ll go on some photo / illustration trip and just gather inspiration in nature and create together!

female hiker taking water from a stream

A bit into this trail you can take off and head down a smaller path and there’s a hidden little pool of water with a small waterfall. It’s beautiful and in the stream going from it the water is cold, fresh and lovely to drink! This was definitely one of the highlights from the trip, to sit there in the forest and drink fresh water straight from the stream.

a small waterfall and pond in an autumn forest

I only spent a few days in Lapland but we really maximised the trip, I got to see so much! In the evening we went to a lake to watch the still, blue water and have a little fire. It was a nice ending to a fantastic trip!

I always find that I’m full of new ideas and that my spark has been re-kindled after traveling, experiencing beautiful nature and hanging out with like minded people. A creative profession definitely has it’s ups and downs and there are lulls where I don’t want to take a lot of photos. Trips like these combined with meeting new people always brings me out of those.

man taking a photo of the sunset by a lake

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