Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pisa hill, Nilsiä

How about a walk to Pisa tower, enjoying a bit of peace and quiet? Well, there are fewer people here in Nilsiä, Northern Savo in Eastern Finland than in Pisa's namesake in Italy. What they both have in common is a tower with a view.

The easiest way to get to Pisa, Finland, is by car because the school bus runs only on weekdays. Equipped with a map, we start our walk at Koskenala parking (Lastukoski).
The trail is marked with red paint and the occasional trail posts that at best show your location on the map. Pretty early on we miss a turn to the left, opting for the wider track, and soon discover that we are off the trail. However, arriving at a narrow road saves us from turning back because we'll be able to rejoin the path via the road.
A moose hunter meets us on the path; no luck so far. I'm so happy to wear waterproof hiking boots because the ground is very wet; this autumn we've had our share of rain. In some places the fairly worn-out duckboards are falling apart. Rubber boots wouldn't have been a bad idea.
We arrive at Iso Pisanlampi (the Great Pisa Pond) which is deserted; not even a little log cabin or sauna in sight.

Oh well, this is a protected area. I wonder if there are any trolls or fairies trodding on the mossy ground on this fairytale land.

The trail soon joins a narrow road before reaching the northern end of the pond where we stop to enjoy the scenery from a tiny wooden bridge.

The path begins its way upwards. On the ground we can see white rocks, pieces of quartz. They are to remain there since we are in a protected area.
A bit higher, we reach Pirunkellari (Devil's Cellar), a man-made cave from the walls of which people mined crystallized quartz. I manage to squeeze myself inside the cave from the hole in the bottom to have a better look. Better not leave a trace here either.
Climbing higher and higher, we reach the top of the Pisa hill. Even before getting to the Pisa tower the views are good, but taking the narrow steps up to the tower are definitely worth it for the great view you get from the very top.

The wooden structure of the tower looks quite impressive, but I'm glad I don't notice the bits of worn timber before climbing back down...

The view to west / north-west reaches as far as Tahkovuori, the region's well-known holiday resort which can easily be spotted by its treeless green slopes. Right before it is lake Syväri. Tahkovuori is especially busy in winter months when the skiing crowd takes over, but at 220 meters it is not very tall; Pisa Hill (Pisanvuori) reaches to 270,6 meters so we are now standing much higher. In Finnish, vuori is literally a mountain but often translates better to a hill...

After enjoying not just the scenery but a refreshing cup of tea from the thermos flask, we continue to the next stop: ancient carvings on the rocks from 1595. They mark the peace treaty of Täyssinä between Sweden (which at the time included also Finland) and Russia.

There is a worn-out sign in Finnish explaining what the characters mean but it is very difficult to locate all of them on the rocks. It is almost as hard to imagine that we are now standing on an ancient border line between Sweden/Finland and Russia!

A steep descent with wooden steps follows and takes us down to more level ground. This is a sight you don't normally see in a Finnish nature trail: a memorial bench. Tapani Parviainen's (1948-1997) family has kindly provided walkers with a resting place. A beautiful gesture.
On our way  back we pass different types of forest, also some forested areas. One ancient pine tree has survived through the ages and is even signposted (Iso mänty). The two of us try to join our hands around its trunk without success. Oh Old Pine, I wish you a long and happy life.

The brightest autumn colors have died away, but we have enjoyed a beautiful day at Pisa.

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