Saturday, 10 November 2012

Tikkakoski nature trail

Tikkakoski is located about 20 km north from Jyväskylä and it is best known for its close connection to aviation: it is the location of Jyväskylä's airport, Aviation Museum of Central Finland and home to Finnish Air Force Academy. However, I don't plan to be walking in the air but firmly on the ground, along Seitsemän kukkulan luontopolku (Seven Hills Nature Trail) which starts in the neighbourhood of Air Force Academy, at the beginning of Luonetjärventie road.
There is a notice board by the side of the parking lot but it seems to offer information on anything else but the nature trail: Moped driving prohibited! An ad for a local driving school. Cross-country skiing instructions. When you're allowed to go skiing with your dog on the ready-made tracks (No kidding! Mon & Wed between 8 and 10 pm! Obviously, there needs to be snow.).
It is no use to look at a map of cross country skiing tracks if you all you want to know is where the nature trail begins. I have to resort to my cell phone and search for the map of Seitsemän kukkulan luontopolku online to see where exactly the path is supposed to start. OK, only a couple of meters from where I'm standing. Right.
As the trail is named after "seven hills" I must be standing on the very first one now - at least the path leads down from here. The bright sunshine promises a nice walk in the forest but very soon I hear a distinct noise coming from the left.
The trail marks lead me to a narrow road. A quad bike whizzes past. And then another one. The first signpost says that the land in this area is pretty worn because of lots of activities. As I follow the red trail marks along the same tracks that the quad bikes take turns to ride I think that my own footprints may not be equal to those of the tyre marks... Again I hear the engine roar and step aside, to give way to the guys on wheels.
I must admit that I am relieved to see the trail turn off the wide track because the quad bikes aren't attempting to take this trail. The ground becomes level and I enter a small marsh. A signpost reminds me that cuckoos are typical inhabitants in areas like this. At this time of the year you can't however hear the cuckoo calling in Finland. They have left us for a warmer climate for the winter.
The path follows a pine bog and guides me to a narrow channel of still water that reflects the pines growing on its shores. Thanks to the duckboards it is possible to keep your feet dry when walking here.
In an instant the marsh turns to extremely dry land: there are sandy ridges on my right. I listen carefully and can't hear the quad bikes anymore. Perhaps they have left their perfect, peaceful training ground for the day. Thank you!
The route marks steer me towards a narrow track, off the gravel road and again to the side of a pine bog with few trees. It is actually interesting to see the scenery change so much within such a short distance - from dry to very wet land and back.
I can't help looking around for mushrooms; it would be great to find some to take home with me. I'm not extremely lucky and find only few but at least there is an abundance of lingonberries growing in the woods before they get hit by the cold weather. If only I had a cup or something with me to pick some berries!
Oh no, this doesn't look too good. How come those pines have fallen exactly on the path? However, there is nothing to worry about because you only need to take a couple of steps to the right to see the trail continue intact a bit further.
Along the trail, there are a couple of signs that remind that this area is a nature reserve since 1981 (when Tikkakoski was not yet part of Jyväskylä city) and it is used by schools for learning about geography and biology. No rubbish. No disturbing the nature. I try to step very carefully over the lichen to keep them intact.
The trail is descending slightly so this must be one of the "hills" of the "Seven Hills' Trail". All this while, I've been looking forward to a sign that would explain why on earth the trail got its grand name. To me, the little hillocks don't necessarily deserve to be called hills.
The weather has already turned cloudy when I arrive at the quiet Mustalampi lake, surrounded by marshland. There is a small resting spot with two wooden benches right on the shore, overlooking the lake. I learn that it is possible to meet red-throated divers (in Finnish: 'kaakkuri') in little lakes just like this.
On the shores of Mustalampi it is at first slightly wet, then very wet. Again, I thank the duckboards for keeping my feet dry!
It is so late in the autumn that the birches have lost their leaves already; the dry leaves are turning from yellow to brown before they become one with the earth. The green moss seems to offer the only bright colour in the scenery before I spot the blue and white stripes on some trees. They indicate that I am now very close to Luonetjärvi Air Force base.
Next, I step onto a small road and see a swamp right in front of me but no trail signs. Which way to go? Left? Right?
After a moment of hesitation, I check the forest on my left and see another route mark. The trail continues along the edge of the marsh before turning right into it, on the wobbly-looking duckboards that are actually some kind of a narrow bridge across a shallow pond. No handrails. And the duckboards are seriously leaning to my right. I don't want to slide into the pond, walking on damp pieces of wood!
Once I'm almost halfway across the duckboards I give up. Better be safe than sorry! I want to have a good look around me and kneel down. Much better. The grass, leaves and their reflections are simply works of art, created accidentally on the surface or beneath it. Despite enjoying the moment I think the duckboards could perhaps be straightened, making it easier to cross the pond. Oh well, it is easy to walk round the water to the other side if you don't want to risk it.
Next, I arrive at a spruce forest. To my eyes, the area around the path has mostly been surrounded by pine trees so this is something different, if only for a while.
There are lots of paths running in different directions in the forest, yet it is easy to stay on the right track. Quite a few other people are enjoying the area on foot here also, either jogging or walking. I can well imagine that this place is full of people cross-country skiing in the winter. A forest always beats asphalt tracks that run next to busy roads.
When I arrive at the next sign that tells about the landscape I am not surprised to find it tells about suppa, a large 'hole' in the esker which was formed by a large block of ice during the ice age. That is exactly what is in front of me.
The last sign tells about the smallish treeless bog, in Finnish neva. It looks like my boots would definitely sink in if I went walking there to see if there are any cranberries growing there. From here the trail climbs slightly uphill, to the top of the ridge and I find I've walked a full circle. There's still one question in my mind: which hillocks have been upgraded to hills to give a name to this trail? Need to get a detailed map to find out about that... 

1 comment:

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