30 Apr 2014

A walk in the woods

After returning from what can only be described as a perfect night in the hide, a welcome change of pace was needed, both from the excitement from the back-lit beasts and the back wrenching seating arrangements (by the time you arrive I will have fixed this situation!).

Two Spanish photographers were staying at the lodge and had hiked a few trails earlier in the week, they discussed trying a newer path over breakfast and I thought it sounded like a great idea, to help walk off the night spent in the chair. As we had all filled our quota of wildlife the night before, we were not after any particular species, but took our harem of 70-200's out nonetheless. 
The route cut into the taiga forest and past areas of new pine woodland, where moose tracks were abundant. The trail we used is an active boarder control route for the Finnish-Russian boarder, and when they are not frequenting our espresso machine, they patrol the line using jeeps, snowmobiles and even helicopters. 

After a few kilometres of frozen track, stopping often to listen out for the mating call of black grouse, we took a right turn deeper into the forest, heading towards the boarder. Over time the snowmobiles had slowly carved out a deep path and the tracks were still obvious from recent use. Arctic hare and Red Fox tracks littered the pathway as we hiked on through sunlight patches of moss and pine.

We came across an ants nest that Oscar and Marc showed to me, a species that I would not know off by heart, but extremely abundant in this area. After this natural landmark the track passed directly in-line with no man's land and ran parallel for at least 1 km. This border line, as Oscar vividly remembers, is strictly enforced by the regional authorities. On the spot fines are freely offered to the customers if they don't regard the official warning signs!