Monday, 13 August 2012

Jyväskylä: A keyring walk

Drifting - a walk in the shape of a keyring? It is one of the 'recipes' that Meiju Niskala, an experiental city consultant gave me in March when she was visiting Jyväskylä and I had an appointment with her and her assistant. Meiju asked me for something from my pocket and I was asked to drop the keyring on the map of Jyväskylä, but I declined and asked the consultant to do it, in order to not choose the area myself. Meiju took a marker and drew a line round my keys: my drifting route. The tricky part was to be the crossing of lake Jyväsjärvi because the ice wasn't strong enough to cross it in those areas in March so we decided that I'll do it in the summer. Boats allowed!
I start my Drifting assignment (which is not really drifting because I have a plan and a map in my hands) at Rauhalahti where there are quite a few rowing boats, among them the one I'm borrowing for the afternoon. The day is warm so I am grateful for the light breeze when I start rowing across the bay. On the other side of the lake, there is Lutakko with its apartment buildings, behind them the Jyväskylä city centre.
I get ashore at a small sandy beach. The fields between Viherlandia garden center and lake Jyväsjärvi don't look like much but that is about to change. I start walking towards Ansaritie road which is drawn on the city map already although it probably doesn't even exist yet.
The forthcoming national Housing Fair (2014) area is right here, and work has already begun at the construction site.  Rauhalahti power station is not too far away. Quite a few ducks are swimming happily in the narrow, quiet canals that have already been dug through the fields.
It is hard to imagine that this area will be full of houses in two years' time. The application period for pieces of land was closed in May 2012. I wonder if the berry bushes and other plants that are part of the garden centre next door will remain there.
I drift a little further and turn back at an old farmhouse. Looking at the worn tractor and the cow shed, I feel like I've stepped back in time.
I must admit that I don't stick exactly to the route drawn on my map when I'm walking on the fields which have partly turned into a construction site. I should actually continue straight across the river but since I'm not planning to swim but prefer a boat, I turn and head back for the rowing boat, enjoying nature on the way.
There is a wild meadow, absolutely in its natural state, behind the field. I try to cross it to reach the shore of lake Jyväsjärvi only few meters away but the ground is so wet (and I'm not wearing rubber boots!) that I decide to turn back and find an easier way to the boat.
After a little detour, I visit the only public pier on this shore. The footpath called Rantaraitti that goes round lake Jyväsjärvi doesn't yet extend right here. However, there are clear signs of a better footpath being built here as well, so perhaps the route of the popular Rantaraitti will change! I take a look at the map and can discern Ruulahti, my next destination ahead. Unfortunately, before reaching my rowing boat, I also spot a Do not trespass sign that refers to the Housing Fair area. A little too late for me because I didn't see one earlier.
I start rowing the tiny boat towards Ruulahti. I see a steamboat, s/s Suomi, coming and let it pass me by before crossing Äijälänjoki river.
There are lots of white and yellow water lilies about. The only thing I don't like about rowing is that I can only see where I am coming from, not where I am going! Also, a kayak would be able to handle the reeds much better, especially when trying to pass through them. Oh well, better turn back and take the easy way instead.
Ruulahti, Jyväsjärvi, P:62° 13.78' I:25° 47.588'.  The sign is decorated with exactly the right image: a rowing boat. I step off the boat, have a look at the map and start heading for the Pirttimäki forest above me.
I can't see a path so I climb up the cliff, manage to get my foot off a hole easily and stop to taste some blueberries. I had no idea there was such a nice little forest here. A bit later, I find a path or two and follow them for a while, then stray off the track again and walk the short distance straight ahead to Pirttimäentie road.
Next, I meander back to lake Jyväsjärvi, passing through a residential area and the Sulkula allotment garden. My rowing boat is patiently waiting for me. Before I get off the shore, m/s Suomen Suvi goes past, and as I'm sliding to the lake, m/s Rhea follows her to Äijälänjoki river. It is such fun to be drifting like this - seeing something new once again and from a new angle.
I return the rowing boat back to Rauhalahti and get back to my own element: walking. The motorway hums above me when I stop to have a look at the two thoughtfully decorated pillars. The top of the next tunnel ahead is painted blue and red.
I climb up Vaajakoskentie road, making a little detour compared to what is marked on my route map; you can't jump across the railroad tracks anywhere you want. Also, I don't want to climb over people's fences and private gardens... So I make my way via streets that are almost in the right places. The neat hand made sign of Tiirantie guides me to a street with houses both old and new.

The original houses at the old Halssila area are fairly small and they don't have large gardens either. This area bears resemblance to Pispala at Tampere - also in that you need to climb up and down.
There are nice details to look at in the gardens, such as the clever flower bicycle. It seems also that this will be a good apple year... I slip through a school yard, past Halssila library, descend to Vaajakoskentie road and start ascending to Halssilanmäki.
The massive stone fence must have been built of rocks from the quarry that used to be up here in Halssila - Aittovuori area.
I have another sip of water; the path is really going uphill. Above me there is a new housing estate, surrounded by this forest. I bet most people drive there instead of cycling or walking! The paths are really nice. This drifting trip has brought me to the highest place along the route: this lovely forest from which you can get a glimpse of lake Jyväsjärvi somewhere down there, behind the treetops. More blueberries, anyone?
I find my way back down along narrow streets and footpaths. After the sports field I arrive at the white Halssila church and find the footpath with the cutest name today: Tassupolku - literally 'Paw path'! The street names in this area are typically names of small mammals that live in the woods or of birds.
Oravankuja (Squirrel Alley), Majavankuja (Beaver Alley). I am getting closer to lake Jyväsjärvi. Originally, the lake shore was closer to these houses but the motorway required a landfill beneath it. Again I cross the railroad tracks, after tasting my first wild raspberries this summer.
The skyline of Jyväskylä and especially of Lutakko area is bathing in the sun. I am very close to where I started from.
Should have thought about bringing a towel...

Drifting... I didn't let the boat drift and I didn't really drift myself and walk at random. I followed, or tried to follow a route marked on the map of Jyväskylä, but the route was given to me randomly. Perhaps you could call this planned drifting? A drifting trip? Of course, I was free to throw away the map but felt more like seeing where my keyring would take me.  This was a fun afternoon in the sun with something old, something new by the lake Jyväsjärvi where I had never been rowing before. Thank you for the city experience, consultant Meiju!

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