Friday, 16 March 2012

Jyväskylä: Snowshoeing at Karhujärvi

Karhujärvi, here we come! It is a gorgeous, sunny day when we arrive at Ampujien Maja, a local shooting club's house at Laukaa. The club house is only about 15 minute's drive from Jyväskylä and it is not only for people who are club members; during skiing season weekends, Ampujien Maja is popular among cross country skiers who park here for the day, go off skiing and on their return can relax with a cup of coffee and a snack at the club house canteen. We step in for a snack in front of an open fire before setting off. Oh, those were the days when the doughnuts were freshly baked right here, but you can't have it all...
Time to strap on our snowshoes and leave. At first we follow the cross country skiing track (no walking on it!) but soon decide to make a shortcut across the bog. Funnily enough, we have just crossed the border of Laukaa and entered Jyväskylä city! The snow is very soft and my snowshoes sink deep into it. The skiers seem to fly past us. We advance slowly, step by step, but luckily we're in no hurry.
On the first slope there are traces of snowshoes across the ski track, going to the right direction. We also turn left and start meandering through the forest. The trees do not grow in straight lines so it would be impossible to go straight anyway; snowshoes are exactly right for this route. Soon we see a clearing ahead: Karhujärvi lake.
Karhujärvi lake (karhu=bear, järvi = lake) is a peaceful corner of northern Palokka, a suburb of Jyväskylä. There are hardly any buildings on its shores, with the exception of a cabin used by local scouts. And of course there's the nearby log shelter to which we made a shortcut through the forest. If you are skiing, you can find it easily following the signs on the ski track.
We follow the previous snowshoer's track onto Karhujärvi lake and find also another set of snowshoe footprints from a slightly different direction. So that's the way we can take to return to Ampujien Maja when we're heading back.
Here you can say it's walking with a light step because the snowshoes don't sink deep into the snow. There seems to be somewhat less snow on the lake than in the forest, and much less compared to the amount of snow on the bog.
There's a smell of smoke and sausages in the air even before we reach the Karhujärvi log shelter. The skiers are just finishing their sausages when we sit down at the fire. I dig two biscuits from my jacket pocket and think positive: it is nice to be walking without a backpack for a change, even if it means that we've got no tea or sausages with us. The skiers leave, the next group arrives with a dog. More sausages, and a small tragedy: one of them falls onto the embers. The lucky dog!
We stop to admire the lake before heading back to the forest. It would be great to stay on Karhujärvi and continue to enjoy the sun that has an extra large smile on its face today... Then again, as we snowshoe across the forest, it is also lovely today, with the sun pointing out some beautiful spots.
When we're back at the Karhusuo bog the ski tracks seem deserted whereas earlier there was a continuous flow of skiers. It is getting later, and the shadows are getting longer. I find our earlier footprints and start marching back towards Ampujien Maja. Here's a trail for the next snowshoers...


  1. I enjoyed reading your description of your day snowshoeing. I just bought some new wooden snowshoes from a company in Michigan, U.S.A. (Iverson snowshoe company). I live in the Chicago area. This year we had very little snow (It figures, new snowshoes) but the few times I did use them I loved them. I was in Finland two times. I skied the Finlandia ski marathon in 1986 and took another trip to Finnish Lapland a few years later. I loved it there and want to return.

  2. Thanks Gary! My snowshoes are plastic ones; not exactly good-looking but very practical. I bought my first snowshoes when living in an area that didn't always have a snowy winter - but that year there was plenty. Hope you'll be luckier with the weather next year.

    Welcome back to Finland - there are always things to enjoy, any time of the year!