Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Ilomantsi: Susitaival, Day 4

I wake up early at the wilderness hut by Harkkojärvi lake. It is still raining, perhaps a bit more than yesterday. The positive side of it is that at least there should be no mosquitoes (well, there haven't been too many so far either). I pack my backpack slowly and get ready for a walk in the rain. Today's plan is to follow the Susitaival Trail at least to Naarva, if not beyond.
The very first part of the path follows Harkkojärvi lake on even ground and offers two short cruises across the water, courtesy of Ilomantsi. Self-service, of course. I jump aboard the light ferry and pull myself across with the orange rope. Thanks to the hiker who came from this direction yesterday, the ferries are waiting for me on the right side of the shore when I arrive.
The map tells me that these will be the last lakes before Naarva. I miss this scenery already; paths that run close to the water are usually the best ones. Even when it rains.
However, when I leave the green forest, I am greeted by a clear felling area. There are very few trees left standing, and if there is a storm, even they will easily be gone because there is no longer the protection of the forest. I know the trail is somewhere around here... Finally, I discern some orange paint marks on the tree stumps and continue my walk along the muddy tracks left by the heavy machinery.
This must be the most difficult part of the trail - to watch. I have walked through such wonderful ridges during these past few days that I know exactly how beautiful this area must have been before the felling. I stop for a bit of rest and take my backpack down. Even my back is moaning. Not so good.
The clear felling area is pretty large, but finally it is behind me. The part of the trail I will least miss! It feels good to be back among the pine trees, heather and lichen. Besides the raindrops falling from the sky, the young pine trees that grow right next to the path are getting friendly with me, and keep brushing their wet branches against my face and jacket. Nice of them to wish me luck, isn't it...
When I reach the edge of the pine forest, there is a surprise waiting. This shelter is not marked in my map! This is the only place after Jorho where it is possible to sit down and not be rained on, so it is a welcome sight indeed. Well, it seems that the roof of both the shelter and the toilet leak so perhaps it was better not to know about this place. At least I didn't accidentally get wet during the night!
At Petrokangas, the trail follows a road for a while. Apparently, there isn't too much traffic, or the cars don't mind an occasional fallen tree.
When I get closer to Naarva, I can see houses this close for the first time since I started the trail. It feels strange to walk past the old farmhouse. As if I was coming back to 'normal' life with electricity and all that. Then there is another house, and another, and a Susitaival sign pointing to the left. Next to it, another sign welcomes me to Hirvola farm (camping, rooms and cottages to rent, sauna available!) which is at the end of the path.
I walk through the yard of Hirvola farm. The open view to the distance tells that it will keep on raining for the rest of the day as well. What should I do? I could spend the night at Hirvola and see if my back is better in the morning...

However, you have to make difficult decisions sometimes. My difficult decision today is to finish my Susitaival right here, after about 62 km, leaving one third of the whole trail for another time. These boots would happily keep on walking but one single aching muscle in my back decides otherwise. If it got any worse when I was somewhere in the woods, there would be nobody to help me carry my backpack, so better be sensible.
The local taxi driver is at home so I catch a taxi from Naarva to Ilomantsi village straight away. Susitaival was four great days of solitude, fantastic nature, peace. And good-looking false morels. Thanks and farewell, Susitaival. I'll be back.


  1. Awesome pictures of finnish nature! And this blog gives nice image and perspective of Finland and Jyväskylä. Good tips for places where to go jogging. I found also nice pics from this blog,they're taken near Tourula and also a programme is coming out about that place, if interested. Didn't notice if you have images at the same place as well, but it is very pretty place..

  2. Thanks - will check out the programme. My photos of Tourula nature trail are only in my Finnish blog, - see Should do another walk there now the nature is greener!