Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Jyväskylä: Kangasvuori nature trail

It is the morning of All Saint's Day in Jyväskylä and I am heading for Kangasvuori nature trail with a slight worry in my mind. I have heard the news that the water tower on top of Kangasvuori hill has collapsed earlier this morning so I can't be certain that it is possible to follow the nature trail. I arrive at the start of the trail by the forest behind Huhtasuo school and study first the mysteriously named HH 2000 (cross country skiing club Huhtasuon Hiihto) which doesn't mention the nature trail. However, the nature trail (luontopolku) sign can be found only a couple of meters away and there is no warning about the area being closed to public.
Kangasvuori nature trail is about three kilometers long and it runs round Kangasvuori hill. It is recommended to follow it anti-clockwise. I expect to meet both dry and wet ground, especially now that it is raining. The nature trail crosses a wide footpath and then continues along the slope.
When the trail crosses a small road there is a new channel where the water has rushed through in the early hours of the morning.
Only few steps away, there is also water flowing down but not as fast. I am sure that this area is wet especially in the springtime but the collapse of the watertower must have changed something here as well.
I tread through a beautiful green spruce wood before arriving at a lichen-covered cliff. From there you can see some houses close by; the trail almost touches the closest back yards. Someone else is walking on the path. A woman is returning home, carrying an armful of juniper branches taken from the woods. Well, well. According to Everyman's right in Finland, you are allowed to pick berries and mushrooms in the forest even if you don't own the land (not from someone else's garden though!) but that right does not include damaging trees.
This rock has travelled with huge blocks of ice during the ice age. However, it isn't big enough to offer shelter from the rain.
There is an unofficial open fireplace by Vuorilampi lake, by a large rock. A friendly soul has been kind enough to bring firewood here but it looks slightly wet. No problem; I wasn't expecting to be able to make a fire here anyway.
Raindrops keep dropping on me and lake Vuorilampi. The worn but steady, tiny jetty serves also those who want to step in for a swim. Not me, not now... 
Standing on the duckboards by lake Vuorilampi, I look carefully around me. What are those little red dots in the grass?
But of course - cranberries (in Finnish: karpalo)! They are actually tiny but it is great to sample some of these late autumn berries, although their taste isn't too sweet.
The ground ahead of me continues wet. The trail is sometimes very worn which may be due to mountain bikes also using it, by the look of things.  No worries though, the duckboards take you safely across the most wet parts. A sign tells about the duckboards; on this trail some of them are made of larch, some of impregnated wood. The pond next to the trail is still partly covered with ice and slush although the first snow has already melted from the forest.
While the trail ascends slowly, the ground gets more dry. Yet it stays green and becomes even more beautiful, beneath the tall spruces.
The mist in the air creates an eerie atmosphere in the woods of Kangasvuori hill.
This must be the most gorgeous area in Kangasvuori nature trail; there is something magical in this place. I breath deeply and simply enjoy the moment, wondering what else this forest has to offer when I hear the sound of tiny twigs breaking under somebody's light steps a bit further. Fast light steps. An orientereer is running happily through the woods.
I am guided to turn to the right to a scenic spot. Need to be careful by the side of the cliff though. This rainy, misty day offers a somewhat limited view.
The nature trail winds slowly upwoards before it arrives close to the now fallen Kangasvuori water tower. There are yellow tapes that prohibit entrance to the damaged area so I have to make a detour by following the tapes.
I soon get to the road that leads to the sad remains of the water tower. There are blocks of concrete and trash everywhere. Where does the nature trail continue? I take a couple of quick steps to the area that is cordoned off, just to check where I should be heading. The small wooden bridge has partly collapsed but at least I know which way to go.
I return immediately to the safe area and continue my walk along the yellow tapes. It is easy to see how furious the huge streams of water - about 2,000 000 liters - were when flowing down in the forest, making angry wounds on the ground. It was lucky that the unforeseen accident of the water tower's collapse took place in the dark, at 6 am. Had it happened later, in the daylight, there would have been people taking a walk or jogging in the flooded area.
The remaining part of the water tower looks like a tower on a chess board. The water was flowing also this way in the morning. I scan the scenery around me for the nature trail but can't see any trail marks. The young birches grow so close together that walking through them would be difficult so I make another detour in the forest to find the rest of the path.
It only takes few minutes to find the nature trail because I'm walking in the right direction. I follow the path upwards for a last look at the now closed area.
I am very close to the end of the (now muddy)trail. The other people who I see on the nature trail are cursing their shoes which are not waterproof...
The last trail guide has attracted some unwanted attention from a passer-by but it is still possible to read most of the text. People used to be gatherers, hunters, shepherds before turning to agriculture and eventually living in large communities. What is our true landscape? Urban surroundings, something else? Do you hear the call of the sounds and smells of nature, the call of the wilderness? Can you resist it? The man-made urban construction proved its weakness but nature keeps going strong.


  1. Thanks a lot for this great blog!! We are living in Jyväskylä for almost 1 year and we really love to walk in the nature and we really enjoy all these luontopolkut :)

    1. Thanks! Marked trails like these nature trails (luontopolku) are great; you don't need a map but can walk without fear of getting lost even if you don't know the area.