Sunday, 17 March 2013

Jämsä: Icy Synninlukko gorge

There are Paths of Sin (Synninpolku in Finnish) but there is also a Lock of Sin - or at least that is the literal translation of Synninlukko which is the name of a gorge in Jämsä, south of Jyväskylä in Central Finland. Finding the place isn't too easy - not least because the snow has covered some of the signs that are desperately trying to guide visitors there. Luckily, I've got my reliable snowshoes with me so it is easy to cover the distance between the road and the gorge; it has been a while since the previous visitor walked here but his or her footprints are still visible. So are those of the hares and foxes.

If Synninlukko isn't too easy to find, it may have been a blessing at some point. In the old days, the gorge was known as a hiding place (apparently not everyone knew it even then!) but the name may be a variation of some words in the local dialect. 'Lukko' (literally 'a lock') means a gorge in the local dialect and 'synnin ('of lock') refers to birth ('synnyin-', 'syntymä') and according to one story, someone was actually born here. Who knows.
I cross a small wooden bridge and follow the previous visitor's footprints slightly towards the left to locate the gorge. There are no signs and since the path is hidden beneath the snow, I sincerely thank the person who came here before me! Soon I find myself surrounded by the tall rocks of the gorge which is about 50 meters wide.
There are huge blocks of ice hanging down from the rocks as well as sharp icicles on my left. The gorge isn't huge but I think small is beautiful.
Come to think of it, the rocks are quite tall and steep enough for me. I walk along the bottom of the gorge, step closer to the rocks, feel the ice with my fingers, check the colour and shade of the ice and the patterns in the frost.
There is plenty of ice in different colours; somewhere the icicles are tinted with blue, somewhere else with brown.
As it turns out, Synninlukko gorge is an excellent place for exploring different kinds of ice! Although my visit takes place fairly early - it is not really spring yet - there seems to be loads of ice everywhere.
It is as if there was a huge ice monster on the top of the cliff who is gnarling and baring his teeth to me! Synninlukko gorge will surely be even more handsome as the spring advances.
Finally, I reach the end of the gorge and climb up to the top of the cliff, to take a snowshoe walk there. There is a small sign that announces I'm at a nature reserve but no further guidance. Should I walk further or turn back? However, as the sunlight seems to be starting to fade and the sky is slowly exposing a shade of pink, it is a clear message to me that I'd better head back.

This gorge may well be at its best in the winter but I'm already wondering what it is like in here in the summer!


  1. The ice monster :)

    I am curious regarding the sounds you hear while out on walks like this. Is it very remote and you only hear nature sounds?

    1. On this walk and on many others, my footsteps have been the loudest noise around. Occasionally you may hear birds (crows, woodpeckers or smaller birds) but that's about it; usually you can't hear any traffic - the closest roads have very little traffic when you go to a place like this.