Scenes from Urho Kekkonen


               A MAN stares out the a window, his face cast in white light. 

               A DOG pads into the room and rears up, resting it's paws on
               the window ledge.

                         What you looking for?

                         An angle.

                         Obtuse? Reflex?

                         Very funny. I'm trying to find an
                         angle for a blog post. Something to
                         make it interesting.

                         Maybe you should write one of those lists.
                         You know -- The Ten Best Backpacking
                         Dogs. That always brings in the punters.

                         Nah. Too easy. Not my style.

                         Make it dramatic then. Like a

                         A western? For a trip report in

               A familiar, three-note, plaintive harmonica tune sounds from

                                   MAN (CONT'D)
                         Did you just play the Harmonica
                         Theme from "Once Upon a Time in the


                         Since when can dogs play harmonica?

                         You should hear my Armenian duduk. 

               The three-note tune echoes out again.

               EXT. ROAD IN LAPLAND - DAY

               A Volvo drives north along a wintry road in a scene not
               unlike the opening credits from "The Shining".

               SERIES OF SHOTS

               - The road becomes icier

               - It starts snowing

               - A peculiar light transforms the landscape, turning it from
               grey to eerily golden.



               The Volvo pulls in to a snow-covered parking area. A strange
               mist hangs in the air. The weak sun seems to be trying to
               warm it away, but the entire landscape is like the interior
               of a freezer: cold, frosty, steaming. It's beautiful, in a
               harsh and entirely unforgiving way.

               The man grabs a pair of lightweight trail runners from the
               boot of the Volvo. He turns them over, looking at the mesh
               uppers, and shakes his head. No. Ils ne pas couper la

               Moments later he's tying the laces of a pair of leather
               boots. He straps on a 9.5 Kg Gossamer Gear Mariposa backpack, 
               and heads off along a trail, his feet crunching in the snow, 
               hand shielding his eyes against the bright white light as he 
               walks toward the sun.

               The man -- let's call him a HIKER now, because that's what he
               is -- vanishes into the snow white mist.

               EXT. FELL TOP - DAY

               All around is white. A blistering, scathingly cold wind,
               attempts to shred skin from the Hiker's face.

               Glimpses of hills appear and disappear through the mist.
               Short trees, encrusted with snow and ice crystals, stand
               alone, stoically resolute on the barren hilltop.

               The Hiker stops to take it all in.

                                   VOICE (O.S.)
                         Are you sure you know where you're

               The Hiker jumps, and spins around, looking for the source of
               the voice.

               From the mist, a figure emerges. A man. He wears a long black 
               herringbone coat.

               He's completely bald, the only thing on his head is a pair of
               thick, 1970s (George Smiley, or Uncle Junior for
               younger readers) glasses. Finnish readers will recognize him
               immediately as Finland's former president, URHO KEKKONEN.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         I am the spirit of Urho Kekkonen
                         National Park.

                         Aren't you cold? Shouldn't you be
                         wearing a hat or something?

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Spirits don't freeze. It's all the
                         vodka. I asked you a question.

                         Of course I know where I'm going.
                         I've got a map, a compass, and a

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Which one?

                         A Dakota 20.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         The battery life sucks.

                         Everyone's a critic. I get two days
                         out of it if I turn on economy
                         mode. What are you doing here?

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         You've wandered off the trail. 

                         No, I'm taking a short cut.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         But you're missing something
                         special. Come on, this way.

               Kekkonen walks off. The Hiker reluctantly follows.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN (CONT'D)

               He points dramatically behind the hiker.

               The Hiker turns around to see what the Spirit of the Park is
               pointing at.

               It's a strange, beautiful sight: a snowbow -- a rainbow made
               of suspended ice crystals -- hangs in the air over a tree,
               glowing a spectral white.

               The Hiker stares at it in awe.

                         That's beautiful.

               He looks around for Kekkonen, but the old man has vanished.

               The wind blows.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN (O.S.)
                             (a whisper)
                         I'll be watching you...

               EXT. WILDERNESS HUT - DAY

               The Hiker splashes across a stream, and up the steps of an
               old wooden log cabin -- one of the many wilderness huts scattered
               throughout the park.

               He looks at the fresh footprints in the snow on the steps.
               Strange... like slippers. He knows he's not alone.

               INT. WILDERNESS HUT - DAY

               The Hiker enters the warm hut to find a couple in their 50s
               eating their dinner: potatoes and meatballs. We'll call them
               TUOMAS and ELLA -- not their real names, but the Hiker has a
               poor memory.

               They exchange pleasantries as the Hiker sets his pack down.

                         How long have you been out?

                         Nine days. We've been over to

               The Hiker eyes their large, external frame packs.

                         We've been taking it slow. We're
                         too old these days to do long

                         What about you?

                         Just three days. I wanted to do the
                         big loop but the snow is making
                         it harder going.

                         Yes, there's 20 centimetres on

                         Yeah, I might have to skip that
                         this time and go via Tuiskukuru to
                         LankojŠrvi tomorrow.

                         Hooh. That's a long day. 

                         30 km. It should be okay if I start

               The Hiker looks around at their things in the cabin. Big
               hiking boots drying above the stove. A tupperware box with a
               slab of butter. Another tupperware box with two pewter shot
               cups. Slippers.

                                   HIKER (CONT'D)
                         How much are you carrying, just out
                         of interest?

                         I started with 27 kg. It's okay for
                         9 days. We're staying in huts so we
                         don't have to carry a tent, which
                         would add another 4 kg.

               The Hiker nods, but doesn't say anything. Remember, he thinks
               to himself, it's just backpacking. Each to his own.


               As the night draws in, the Hiker decides to enjoy their company
               and stay in the hut for the night. He unnecessarily tries to
               justify the decision to himself: 

                                   HIKER (V.O.)
                         Why not? The huts are here. They're
                         not even carrying a tent. I could
                         have saved another kilogram or two
                         if I'd left my 'Mid, bivy, winter
                         pad and all that additional
                         insulation behind. Stupid of me,

               The Hiker lies back, and pulls his quilt over him. The
               FIREPLACE CRACKLES in the corner, throwing flickering amber
               light across his face.

               EXT. WILDERNESS - DAY

               SEQUENCE OF SHOTS

               -- The Hiker walks quickly through the forest.

               -- He crosses a bridge over a stream.

              --  Then stops to photograph an iced-up stream.

               -- He climbs up a ridge to the top of another fell.

               -- He stops to take a drink.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         You're missing all the good bits!

               The Hiker turns toward the voice.

                         Oh, you're back.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Look over there, there's a good

               The hiker looks over Kekkonen's shoulder, and sees two almost
               identical hilltops, capped in snow, one behind the other.

                         Cool. That must be Terävä- and Suku

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Good! Well done!

                         They kind of look like --

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Breasts! Yes!

                         I was going to say mounds of icing
                         sugar, but sure, whatever.
                         How much further is it to

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         What am I? Your GPS? Figure it out
                         for yourself. You're doing fine.

               Kekkonen walks back into the dwarf birch scrub, causing snow
               to fall from the branches as he disappears into the woods.

               EXT. FELL SLOPE - DAY

               The Hiker looks down across a valley. The trail disappears
               into a small area of marshland that he'll need to traverse. 

               A movement catches his eye on the other side of the valley. 

               He takes out his camera, and zooms in to the hill opposite.

               He can't believe his eyes...

               It appears to be a tall man -- maybe a cowboy or a gunslinger
               -- riding a jet black steed. The man wears a poncho, his head
               covered by a flat hat. If he didn't know any better, he'd
               have said it was a young Clint Eastwood. 

               But that would be ridiculous.


               The Hiker fills his plastic bottle with crisp, cold, fresh
               water from an arctic stream. He takes a gulp, smiling as the
               freezing liquid trickles down his throat.

               He walks up to the steps of another hut, sits on them,
               and takes off his pack for a short break.

               He pulls out a protein bar and munches away, admiring the
               clear bright day. 

               EXT. TUISKUKURU GORGE - DAY

               The Hiker walks along a high ridge that follows a river in
               the valley below. The path winds through the pine forest,
               dappled light falling in columns through the branches. The
               sparse vegetation of  the forest floor allows him to see deep
               into the woods.

               The frozen silence is suddenly broken by a THRASHING --

               A large bird -- a metso -- bursts out from a hedge nearby,
               flapping away, annoyed.

               Then two snow grouse break cover and swoop upwards.

              The Hiker looks around to see what disturbed them.

               From the forest, heavy footsteps, and a jangling of spurs.

               A HORSE WHINNIES.

               From between the trees, the jet black steed emerges, the MAN
               WITH NO NAME riding on it's back. 

               The Man with no Name looks down at the Hiker and nods a
               greeting as they slowly pass by.

               The Hiker returns the greeting, nodding back. They exchange
               no words. The horse and rider disappear into trees.

               A three-note harmonica refrain echoes through the forest.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Was that...?

               The Hiker isn't even surprised anymore at Kekkonen's sudden

                         I think so...

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         This is truly a magical place.


               The hiker stops on a bridge to photograph the rapids flowing
               underneath. The tracks of a fox cross the bridge -- the only
               other traveller to have passed this way in days.


               The Hiker walks along the banks of a slow moving river. The
               path takes him right to the edge of the flowing water. He
               looks down and sees the river is deep -- at least two meters
               of clear, cold water.

               Behind him, reindeer run through the forest, their BELLS

             EXT. LANKOJÄRVI - DAY

               The sun sets over a frozen lake. In the distance, alpenglow
               lights a tree-topped fell.

               The hiker ponders the best route across a stream. Some of
               the rocks are coated in ice. He decides the best route is the
               direct one, and splashes across, knee deep.

               Om the other side he check his boots. Wet, of course, but not
               too bad.

               It'll have to do.


               The Hiker arrives at another hut, his breath suspended in the
               air. It's cold. The lake is frozen.

               He weighs up his options: hut, or DuoMid.

               With wet boots? No contest.


               The Hiker and Urho Kekkonen sit by the stove, sipping from
               kuksa's filled with Jameson's. The hikers boots hang from a
               hook above the fire, dripping.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         It was a good day?

                         Aye, it was. Kippis!

               They knock kuksa's and take another sip.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Home tomorrow?

                         Yep. But I'm saving the best 'till

               EXT. FOREST / RIVERSIDE - DAY

               The Hiker walks with great speed along a slowly rising trail
               that edges its way towards bald felltops in the distance.


               The Hiker stands at the mouth of the lake, the day hut behind
               him, admiring the view. The small lake is surrounded on all
               sides by barren, snow-covered fells. It's magnificent, more
               so for the Hiker as he knows he will soon be on top of them.

               EXT. RAUTUTUNTURI - DAY

               The Hiker climbs toward a large cairn on top of the fell.

               Around him, in all directions, stunning views of the park
               open up.

              He tramps through the deepening snow, stopping to affix a set
               of microspikes to his boots.

               At the cairn, he takes his camera out and surveys the
               landscape. Words cannot describe the cold beauty of it all.
               But photographs do a pretty good job.

               As he scopes out the scenery, he stops, incredulous at the
               sight he sees in his viewfinder...

               There, not too far away, TWO GROWN MEN wrestle naked in the

               The Hiker blinks, finding hard to believe what he's seeing.

               The two men are locked in a battle grip, fierce grimaces
               distorting their faces.

               The Hiker listens as their voices rise on the wind.

                                   FIRST MAN
                         You have grown too strong... But I
                         will cut you down to size!

               He seems to be gaining the upper hand.

                                   FIRST MAN (CONT'D)
                         Your beloved ultralight... 
                             (pause for dramatic
                         ...<u>is dead!</u>

               The First Man throws a powerful punch into the Second Man's
               face. As it makes contact, time slows down, and the skin and
               flesh of the second man's face visibly ripple in slow motion.

               The Second Man falls to the ground. 

               Is he down and out?

                                   SECOND MAN

               He turns, lifts his head up to the first man.

                                   SECOND MAN (CONT'D)
                         Ultralight will live forever!!!

               He bursts upward, leaping at the First Man with all the
               strength he can muster. He SLAMS into the First Man knocking
               him flying, again, in heroic slow motion.

               As they wrestle aimlessly in the snow, Urho Kekkonen wanders
               up to the Hiker.

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         What's that all about?

                             (shakes head)
                         Don't ask me. 

                                   URHO KEKKONEN
                         Maybe they should go for a hike
                         together. That always made me feel

               The Hiker and Kekkonen wander off as the two naked men
               continue their squabbling.

               EXT. RAUTUPAA FELL TOP - DAY

               The Hiker walks over the barren fell tops, striking out a
               path all his own.

               Around him, the open landscape undulates off, seemingly
               forever. White-capped hills, cris-crossed with animal trails 
               - arctic fox, arctic hare, reindeer -- all heading nowhere...
               somewhere... who knows?

               The Hiker climbs up to one of the summits. He surveys the
               widescreen, technicolor vista that has opened up before him.
               A herd of reindeer rummage around under the snow, in search
               of berries and lichen, sustenance for the months ahead.
               Beyond them the valley dips and swirls. Trees emerge, spires
               of green/black, snug along the course or a river. A ravine. A
               mire. Further still, another bold, bald hill; hulking, squat, 
               resolute. Nature on an epic scale.

                         It is like the West.

               As if on cue, the Man with no Name spurs his jet black steed
               along the spine of the hill. A spray of fine snow particles
               thrown into the air behind.

               The Man with no Name looks over at the Hiker, and for a
               moment they are connected. Two men, travelling alone; in the
               world, of the world, and yet separate from it. 

               A fiction? Perhaps. But all the real for it.

               INT./EXT. CAR/WINTER ROAD - DAY

               The Hiker drives the Volvo south along the icy road. As he
               turns away from the park, a lone figure stands by the side of
               the road. Bald. Herringbone jacket. George Smiley glasses.

               The figure waves slowly at the Hiker as the car passes by.
               The three-note harmonica melody sounds a final time.

               Until next time, Urho Kekkonen.

                                                              FADE OUT.