Monday, 11 June 2012

Ilomantsi: Susitaival Trail, Day 2

The morning sun greets me at the wilderness hut of Pohjoinen Pitkäjärvi (Northern Long Lake). I make a fire outside and sit down to enjoy my simple breakfast. A quiet moment before continuing along the Susitaival Trail. Cuckoos are also awake on the other side of the lake.
I catch glimpses of the lake for the first part of the journey, walking among fir trees, but soon I arrive at a dirt road. The name of the first road, Kontiolammentie (Bear Pond Road) suggests that bears are not a rare sight over here but they decide not to show their faces to me. A good decision. Soon I arrive at a nameless little road which again leads me to the forest.
It would be really easy to follow the extremely straight footpath except for some fallen young fir trees... Apparently the storms have passed through this area as well. However, it only requires one or two steps to get round the obstacles.
One of the spruces by the path is in bloom. A beautiful sight that you don't often see! There are also some old pine trees the likes of which you don't see in cities. Hmm, I hope the red band on some trees does not mean that they are about to be felled soon.
The path is surrounded by masses of blooming blueberries. There will be absolutely loads this summer! It is wonderfully quiet to walk here. The only sounds I hear are birds singing, the wind blowing and my own footsteps on the needle-covered path. This is peace.
The Kontiovaara shelter is only a few steps off Susitaival, and it is signposted. Although the shelter is right by the side of a dirt road, I doubt there are too many people driving past, but local fishermen or hunters (when there is hunting season) probably stop here as well, not just hikers. I sit down for a snack and listen to the wind. Will it start raining more heavily? It seems that there will only be a bit of a drizzle; fine by me.
At the next mire, the duckboards are not feeling too well - surprising, because they have so far been in really good condition. Hope these will be fixed soon. Oh well, in these conditions, you can't expect duckboards to last forever.
There is so much Hare's tail Cottongrass (tupasvilla in Finnish) that it almost makes me think of snow. Wait a minute, there are also some cloudberry flowers!
The path winds close to Pieni and Suuri Kivilampi (pieni = small, suuri = big / great) that are surrounded by forest heath. The wooden bridge between the little lakes takes you to yet another mire which is followed by a cutting area, some more dirt roads and finally a lovely path across some ridges.

When I arrive at Särkkäjärvi wilderness hut I almost wish I was going to spend the night here. There is a great open, covered fireplace right by the lake and higher up, the hut itself which looks very comfortable. It is taken care of by the local Lehtovaara village society - thank you so much! I fill my water bottle from the well, have another snack and wave goodbye to this lovely place.
I really like the fact that the trail takes you through very different types of forest. There is very flat land and mires, a bit of uphill and downhill walking on the ridges, dry land, wet land, little roads and narrow footpaths. What was that? Oh, a male capercaillie just took off! Sorry, didn't mean to disturb you.
Already at Särkkäjärvi lake, I spotted signs of beavers. Therefore, I am not surprised to get into closer contact with their work a bit later, after Hattuvaara road, although I wasn't exactly hoping to find the path cut by a dam. The water level has risen on the other side and apparently the beavers have taken away the duckboards, so have to check how I will get across with dry feet.
I take a stick, shaped by a beaver, find some more of those, and use the sticks both as a bridge and to balance myself across. When I'm sure I can make it easily, I go back and take my backpack - and get across safely.
Towards the evening, the weather is changing; the drizzle seems to have come to stay. I arrive at a cutting area but luckily the trail is still well marked. Not long to go before I've finished today's walk of 22 km... The open shelter at lake Kaunisjärvi is welcoming, and I am so happy the wind is not blowing right into it. I remember fondly the 45 false morels that I did NOT pick today from the path and settle for cooking something else for dinner. Susitaival is said to be for people who enjoy silence. I should add: solitude. I only had myself for company today, and got along just fine.

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