Urho Kekkonen National Park Day 3: Muorranvaarakka – Sokosti -Luirojärvi

Route: Muorranvaarakka – Sokosti – Luirojarvi

Distance: 14km / 7 hours

The third day began with sunshine followed by some rain showers, followed by some more sunshine. We decided to take the morning slowly and wait for some more stable weather. The temperature outside was still quite low. Only about +4 Celsius. That did not stop us picking up some fresh blueberries for our morning porridge. Yummy! At around 11.00 we started to pack the stuff again and started the day’s hike. The ground and the bushes on the sides of the trail were still very wet making the pants and shoes wet, but we managed to avoid all but one rain shower.

The target for the day was the summit of Sokosti, the highest peak at the region (718m). From the summit we would descend to the Luirojärvi, where hopefully a warm sauna would be waiting.  The distance for the day would not be too long, but the ascent and descent to the Sokosti would be quite tough with fully loaded backpacks. Once again after few hours of hiking we had to cross a river. The water was quite shallow but we could not find a suitable spot for crossing with the shoes on (cold!). On the other side the terrain was quite swampy and the trail had gone totally missing. We decided to aim for the estimated correct direction and hoped that the trail would be found somehow along the way, as we soon did.

Route map Day 3

Route map Day 3

The river near the Muorranvaarakka hut

The weather was clearing up and the sky turned from grey to blue. Finally a good weather for photography also. The path followed a small river and we finally stumbled upon a good sunny lunch spot. Jetboil instant noodles à la cookies and fresh water from the river.

Jetboil noodles and fresh water

The river kept getting smaller and smaller as did our path before it finally disappeared totally. The terrain also got a bit harder to hike and soon we found ourselves walking and hopping from stone to stone on a dry riverbed. The Sokosti summit was already close and the hill started slowly heading upwards. The map showed a more gradual route to the  top, but we chose the shortest and steepest shortcut to save some time. The ground was really loose and rocky, making it difficult to find a stable footing especially with the backpacks on. At spots like this the hiking poles really make a huge difference and help in keeping the balance.

On the way to Sokosti summit

From the base it took us about one hour to the summit where we were greeted with nice 360-degree views from Russia all the way to Sweden (at least almost). The summit is easily recognizable even from far away as it is home to the only radio and mobile phone mast in the whole national park. The summit itself is quite flat but the highest point was easy to find and clearly marked by other hikers. It was very windy and cold so we did not spend too much time at the top. Only some snacks and photos before heading down to the opposite side.

Views from the summit

The descent was equally hard rocky terrain for the first hour but finally turned into an easier path in the forest. We still had not seen any reindeer since the very first day, even though there might have been many lurking nearby, but we had been moving fast and staring the trail instead of looking around.

We finally arrived to Luirojärvi a bit after 18.00. Luirojärvi is a beautiful lake and a popular spot for many of the hikers who come to the park. It is conveniently located in the middle of the national park and acts as a crossroad to many of the popular trails. There are several wilderness huts and a sauna scattered along the shore. The biggest and newest hut has been nicknamed “The Luirojärvi Hillton“, but we were happy to notice that a small Rajankämppä hut a bit further away was still empty. It was tiny (sleeps only 6 people) and we were lucky to have it just for ourselves.  There are no rivers or streams near the huts so all drinking and cooking water has to be taken from the lake and boiled.

Rajankämppä hut

After dinner it was time for a well earned hot sauna and the first possibility to wash up after leaving home 3 days earlier. The sauna is located just 20 meters from the lakeshore and features a large wood burning stove and a water heater. Luxury! Our big plans of swimming in the lake were quickly cancelled after dipping our feet into the ice cold water.

The Luirojärvi sauna

After enjoying the sauna for a while, we prepared some more firewood and filled all the water buckets from the lake. It is an unwritten rule that you should always leave the huts and facilities full with firewood for the next visitors, and make sure that you leave them cleaner than they were when you arrived. Tired from the day’s hike we did not have much energy left and went to bed almost immediately. The sunset was beautiful though!

Luirojärvi sunset

 

Here you can find a few more pictures:

 

Here is the map of the full route we hiked in 5 days:

The full route of the UKK hike

 

Day 1: Aittajärvi – Sarvioja

Day 2: Sarvioja – Muorranvaarakka

Day 3: Muorranvaarakka – Sokosti – Luirojärvi

Day 4: Luirojärvi – Tuiskukuru – Kustunlampi – Suomunruoktu

Day 5: Suomunruoktu – Kiilopää

Make sure also to check the packing list if you are planning a trip of your own to the Finnish Lapland.

 

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