I can't pretend that 2014 was one of my more active backpacking years. Some years things conspire against you, and other things must be given priority. 2014 was one of those years.
January saw odd weather. It began with rain transforming the wintry Lapland landscapes into a waterlogged horrorshow. Fortunately the warm spell was short-lived and the snows returned.
I started offering Nature Photography Tours, which was one of my more successful attempts at making some money from the business. I always enjoy meeting new people and sharing the thrill of taking good photographs on a local trail. When the light is right, it's just perfect.
Unfortunately, for most of February and March, Lapland was covered by a thick blanket of cloud, so all that beautiful light was hidden. It's not impossible to get good shots under cloud, but I find the conditions less inspiring.
After a while, the lack of sun got a little depressing. I started to wonder if this was to be the real effect of climate change in the North: not extreme heat, nor extreme cold, but month after month of mundanity. Thick, impenetrable cloud, and temperatures hovering around zero. This year seems much the same so far. Every day I look at the weather forecast, hoping for some sun.
Work and domestic realities also put paid to doing many long trips, but at least the daily dog walks got me out and about.
March brought more unseasonably warm weather, which ended the already short cross-country skiing season on the river.
And in April, things were already melting.
At least someone got to watch some wilderness TV.
May: another wet month, but finally a chance to go on a short overnighter in which I enjoyed the Lure of the Local.
June brought sun and verdant scenes, and intense activity on the artistic front which would dominate for the rest of the year.
We were working on two new films/installations for a forthcoming exhibition. On the plus side, we got to travel to some nice places to film, but doing so with a three-year-old and a dog was an "experience".
The backpacking highlight of the year was, of course, the Sarek trip.
I'll only put that one photo - the rest can be found in the trip report and gear analysis.
It was Minna's 40th last year, and I made a rash decision for us all to go on holiday to Greece with some friends to celebrate. This would be our first proper holiday in several years, and well overdue.
Two weeks of swimming, Mediterranean food, and simple relaxation in a sumptuously warm environment for a change. Just what was needed.
My friend and I did manage to find a trail across the island...
But after about 2km we were so exhausted from the relentless heat we gave up and headed back towards the far more inviting sea.
Somehow we also ended up filming some more scenes for one of the artworks, so it was a bit of a busman's holiday, but I can think of worse places to work.
In September, almost immediately after returning to Finland, I had to set off again to northern Norway to film up there.
I got to drive around all the coastal areas, and even saw some 8000-year-old settlements, and standing stones.
The first snow came in October, and with it the mysterious sliding (not standing) stones of Mellanlampi.
October also saw the opening of our exhibition, and the final fruits of our exhausting labours from the previous months.
I was very happy with the end results, which you can read more about here if you're interested. If you really want to see the films, email me for the links (advance warning: it's political art, not backpacking).
November. Enough said.
But at least December brought more snow, colder temperatures, and the occasional cloud-free day.
Who knows what 2015 will bring? For me, at least, it will have to bring some kind of effective change, and a move towards a more financially sustainable lifestyle. What shape that will take, only time will tell.
But here's to (hopefully) happy trails!