The legend of Saana and Malla fells in Kilpisjarvi

In the upper north-west of Finland the country is like an “arm” between the Swedish and the Norwegian border. This area is where the highest fells of Finland are situated. On the Swedish and the Norwegian sides of the border are even higher fells and this area is amazingly beautiful all year around. Every season has its charm and beauty here. I use to go ice-fishing in this area in spring time.

As it has snowed the past week in Lapland for the first time this autumn, I think it is suitable to show you some winter pictures now in the beginning of winter. You can check out the snow situation in Kilpisjarvi here.

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If you visit the little village of Kilpisjarvi in Finland you are just 7 km from the crossing of the border to Norway. Kilpisjarvi is a very small village, and its known history is young. The first permanent inhabitants came to the village as late as 1915. Anyway, nothing remains from those years, since it all was demolished in the Lapland War 1944-1945. In the end of WW 2 Finland had to drive the former allies, the German forces, away. The Germans retreated towards north and then to Norway. German forces burnt everything behind them. This retreat and burning of structures left behind is called Lapland War. The road to and from Kilpisjarvi was much improved during the war because during the WW 1 (1914-1918) large amounts of war materials were transported through Kilpisjarvi to vicinity of Tornio. All this material was meant for the Russian front. At the most, between 1915-1916, 1400 horses were in duty to transport military materials on this road. This road, the Northern light road, is the only road in this area, so the Swedes and the Norwegians also use this road for transports to their fells. Kilpisjarvi is a very popular village to Norwegians and they spend holidays here both in summer and in winter time.

Treriksröset (in Swedish), Treriksrøysa (in Norwegian), Kolmen valtakunnan rajapyykki (in Finnish) is the special point at which the borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet.

TreriksThe name can be translated into English as “Three-Country Cairn”, and is named for the monument of stones erected in 1897 by the governments of Norway and Russia (which was administering Finland at that time). The Swedish could not agree on a boundary commission with the Norwegians and did not bring their stone until 1901. This is Sweden’s most northerly point and it is the westernmost point of the Finnish mainland.

The location of Treriksröset

It is reached by walking 11 kilometres from Kilpisjarvi on a public road. In summertime it can be reached by boat from Kilpisjarvi plus a 3 kilometres walk.

IMG_3698To drive from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjarvi by car takes about 5-6 hours. You drive along the Northern Light route and before you end up in Kilpisjarvi you will pass by a place called Muotkatakka. This is where the highest situated road in Finland is. It is on 565,6 meter above the sea level. On this place, Muotkatakka, you can also find a monument that tells you this is the place where the last cannon shots against the retreating German forces were shot in the Lapland War in 27.4.1945.

After you have been on the highest place of the road, the road starts to go down again and finally you will see a silhouette of a fell that is nothing like the surrounding fells at all. This is the fell Saana and the little Kilpisjarvi village is situated at the foot of Saana fell by the Kilpisjarvi lake. On the opposite shore of Kilpisjarvi lake is the border to Sweden. .

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Saana has received its name from the word of Saami language meaning a certain mushroom. From one angle the fell does look like a mushroom. Some people think it looks like an overturned boat with a keel. For the Saami people it is a sacred mountain. Fires were burned to the God of Thunder on top of it. The peak is 1029 meters above sea level and 556 meters up from the Kilpisjarvi lake’s surface. Saana is the 25th tallest fell in Finland, but second most known because of its impressive shape.

According to the legend – long ago Kilpisjarvi area was inhabited by giants. Sullen Saana (the fell) got a crush on lovely Malla (the fell next to Saana). On the wedding day Pältsä (that is a fell on the Swedish side of the border) wanted to stop the wedding ceremony. He had found out he was also in love with Malla. The wedding ceremony would have been held by Paras (a fell on the Norwegian side of the border), and he was known as the magician. But Pältsä had called the evil elderly women of Lapland to come to Kilpisjarvi. All of a sudden a fierce northern wind wiped all the celebrants with ice-cold wind. Very soon the area was frozen and filled with ice. At the last moment, Saana pushed the lovely Malla over to her mother’s, Big Malla’s arms. (There are two Malla fells just near one another). At that moment the freezing cold took away all life in the area. Malla cried, and from her tears Kilpisjarvi – the lake was formed. The lake is situated in between Saana and Malla fells.

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Read more about the area around Saana fell here.

 

 

Expecting brown bear cubs in Ranua Wildlife Park?

I use to visit the Ranua zoo several times a year. I love to see the animals and their actions at different times of the year. In winter there are many active animals in the zoo, because this is an arctic animal zoo with animals from the region of Lapland, and so they are used to winter. During the winter the animals are more active while they during the summer season often are feeling a little dizzy because of the heat during the days and are mostly resting during the visitors’ time.

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When I visit the zoo during the winter seasons one animal is not to be seen at all. That is the brown bear. The brown bears in the nature are sleeping winter hibernation during the winter, and so are the brown bears in Ranua zoo. They use to go to sleep in November and wake up in the beginning of March. This year the brown bears woke up already in February. The staff in the zoo thinks the early wake-up is caused by the big amount of visitors who came to look at the polar bear cub, Ranzo, and the noise spread in to the dens of the brown bears. Read more about Ranzo in my post about the polar bears. Here is a link from Jehu’s first meeting with the snow in 2011.

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I visited the zoo in the beginning of May. At the moment there are three brown bears living in Ranua. They are the old Palle-Jooseppi and his son Jehu, 3 years old. Last spring Jehu got a girlfriend from another zoo in Finland, the Ähtäri zoo, and her name is Malla. Malla is four years old at the moment. The brown bears get sexually mature at the age of 4-5 years, so the expectations are high there would be one or two cubs in the den next spring when the bears wake up. The cubs are born in January-February. Here is the you tube-link from Malla’s first day in Ranua zoo last spring.

IMG_2777The possibilities for cubs in Ranua zoo next spring are quite high while Jehu and Malla spend a lot of time together and seem to get along quite well. Jehu is at the moment the last brown bear born in this zoo. His mother, Doris, got sick and had to be put to sleep a couple of years ago. After Doris was gone a new female bear, also named Malla, was brought to the zoo. The staff wanted Malla and Palle-Jooseppi to get acquainted to each other and the two bears were put together in the same cage. But it turned out something about Malla irritated Palle-Jooseppi and he hit her and then caused her death.

Last spring as the new Malla-bear was brought to the zoo she was put together with Jehu immediately. She, however, got a bit scared of Jehu’s interest, so the staff had to put Jehu away for a while to “cool down”. But at the moment there are no problem whatsoever and the two young bears seem to get very well together, while Palle-Jooseppi spends his time alone in his own cage.

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The brown bear lives in the forests and mountains of northern North America, Europe, and Asia. The Finnish brown bear lives mainly in conifer forests. The brown bear, which is active during twilight, can also be seen searching for food during the day. Brown bears are usually solitary. The male and the female spend time together during mating season in the summer, and the mother usually lives with its growing cubs until the next cub is born. The female bear gives birth to new cubs approx. every three-year.

Adult brown bears are powerful, top-of-the-food chain predators, but much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots. Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose. Last week there was a killed reindeer found just about a kilometer from the Santa Claus’ village outside Rovaniemi, most certainly killed by a bear. There is at the moment not so much other food to eat in the forest, unfortunately.

Despite their enormous size, brown bears are extremely fast, having been clocked at speeds of 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour). They can be dangerous to humans, particularly if surprised or if a person gets between a mother bear and her cubs. Almost every year there are reports of bears seen too near habitations in the eastern parts of Finland. People have all reasons to be careful when they see a bear, even though the bears are very neat to look at and every child probably has a beloved teddy bear at home in their bed.

The bears could live to 25 years of age. The adult bears are 5 to 8 ft (1.5 to 2.5 m) tall and weight 700 lbs (318 kg). The male bear is bigger than the female bear.