Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ilomantsi: Susitaival Trail, Day 3

Gone is the hard wind from yesterday, replaced by a steady drizzle. I wake up to a wet morning, get out of my warm sleeping bag and start making breakfast with my Trangia stove. Don't want to struggle with making a fire. Lake Kaunisjärvi is all stillness except for the raindrops that land on its surface.
The clear lake is trying to hide its beauty in the greyness of the morning but I still get an idea of how gorgeous it must be on a clearer day. On a hot day it would be great to walk into the water and feel the sand beneath my feet. After a refreshing cup of tea I get into full rain gear and walk back to the dirt road and today's Susitaival Trail. While walking, I keep hearing a Finnish song in my head: Ilomantsi by Juice Leskinen; the song was competing for a place to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981, but without success... 
I pass through heath with pines but very soon I enter the fantastic forests wearing their early summer greens. I pass a simple wooden bridge, accidentally scare a bird that is swimming in the water, come to a path that is surrounded by mires and again arrive at the greenest scenery by the small lakes. Even without the sun, I feel dazzled.
The raindrops keep falling on my head as well as on the lakes, everywhere. A pair of swan takes it easy on the other side of the pond on my left, and a cuckoo is singing happily on my right.

The beavers are hiding somewhere nearby, but they have left their familiar marks on the trees next to a small brook that connects the lakes. This birch is doomed to become part of the beavers' next home.
Rain, rain, rain... In addition to trying to make me as wet as possible, the raindrops are slyly making the path less safe than before. If I'm not careful enough, it would be very easy to slip on the wet rocks or roots. I almost trip twice, but luckily manage to keep my balance.

Far too soon the path arrives at a clearing: a huge pile of logs is waiting by the side of the road in the distance. It means that for a while, the trail marks are no longer on tree trunks but there are painted marks on tree stumps or rocks on the ground, or on sticks put up here and there. Of course you could say it means that you get a better view to the nearby lakes and beyond, but the scenery with only few, lonely trees scattered on the formerly gorgeous ridges full of trees is simply sad.

It is only one or two kilometers until the next wilderness hut when something strange happens. I see another hiker coming towards me! A human being! We say a brief hello - why bother to stop and chat... I know there would be many hours of daylight left for me to keep going as well but I decide to call it a day and not continue any further than Jorho, although I have "only" walked about 14,5 km today.  When I walk down the slope to Harkkojärvi and see the grey log cabin next to it, I feel happy already: soon I'll be able to make a fire and start drying my gear. I wonder if there are other people?

Whether it is being antisocial or just enjoying the solitude, I feel lucky to have the hut completely for myself, to continue my journey in silence. Jorho hut is taken care of by the local Lions Club, LC Ilomantsi Brihat; thanks for providing me with this well kept haven for the night.

The rain stops for a brief moment towards the evening, and I take a stroll at the sandy beach. The well provides fresh drinking water. According to the guest book of the hut, some travellers have arrived here by plane, landing on lake Harkkojärvi, and continued their journey by air to another part of Finland the next day. Right now it is hard to even imagine changing scenery that fast, and I feel no desire to be travelling with motor. Even if I feel a bit of pain in one of the muscles on my back. Ah well, it will probably be alright in the morning, after a good night's sleep at Jorho. I sincerely hope so.

When I go to sleep, I think about the 36 false morels that I did not pick from the path today. Better not think about them and sleep instead.


  1. Very nice. Enjoy the solitude. Reminds of story "Alone in the Wilderness".

  2. It's good to be able to enjoy the solitude. In my book that's not antisocial, but a sign of self reliance.
    I enjoy travelling alone.

  3. It just feels so good to be out there on your own sometimes. However, people usually ask: You're going alone? Why?

  4. I've had many people question me why I go out on my own.
    But if they haven't experienced it for themself, they can not understand the freedom of choosing your own path.
    To go right, or left, or stop and make camp right there where you want it.

    Sure there are also times that sharing experiences with others can be equally nice and comforting, but there's nothing wrong with feeling the need for solitude.