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Staff Pro Maren Krings recently joined an international media group coming together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finland's independence in quintessential Finnish style - by hiking arctic trails and blowing an alphorn on the summit of the country's highest peak, Halti.
Maren was official photographer to the group of seven journalists, photographers and travel operators from five nations as they hiked Finland’s classic Calotte Route up Halti. They each carried a section of the seven-piece alphorn in their backpacks and came together to send a musical anniversary greeting over the hills of Finnish Lapland from the top. The celebration was part of an eight-day trip celebrating the nation’s centenary.
Hailing from Germany, Austria, Sweden, Iceland and the U.S., the group first gathered in Helsinki for the nature day celebrations on August 27th and to explore the country’s capital city.
After a moving stop-over in Rovaniemi - including an e-Bike tour and a private audience with Santa Claus - the team headed north to the Sami village of Kilpisjärvi to prepare for a five-day trek into the wilderness.
The historic North Calotte Trail leads hikers through wild forests alongside deep lakes and into massive landscapes of all colors and shapes. Hikers can camp or make use of hikers’ huts along the trail to Pihtsusjärvi, a larger camp area below the final summit hike.
The group arrived at the summit at lunchtime on Wednesday August 30th after two-and-a-half days and 53 km of hiking through the national park. They spent more than an hour on the windy peak, celebrating by toasting with sparkling wine, giving hugs to all the hikers on the summit and assembling the alphorn to blow greetings down into the fells in a gesture of respect for the 100-year anniversary of Finland’s independence.
The return trip along the same trail towards Kilpisjärvi offered sunny days on foot and cozy evenings, cooking and exchanging experiences and moments from the hike. Kilpisjärvi gave the team a warm welcome, with saunas to relax aching limbs and live music and friendly hospitality to further warm hearts.
Arriving back in Helsinki, the team split to head in their different directions, but they carried with them the long lasting memories of this Finnish adventure and plans for the next travels - up to the top of the remaining Scandinavian countries to complete the Scandinavian Summits project.
Organizer Matthias Aßmann notes: “This trip has been a wonderful experience for all of us and we met with the most polite and friendly people alongside the trail. We are grateful for the help and kindness we received before and after our trip from the destination bureaus and partners. Now, we will recuperate, marvel over the beauty we have seen and look forward to more adventures to come.”