Thursday, 4 April 2013

Tornio: Nivavaara hill

Karunki, Lapland, by Tornio River and E8 road. Close to a roadside car park there is a black sign Näköalapolku (Panorama Path). We cross the railroad tracks and wonder should we walk straight on or turn left. We keep on walking straight uphill, with the sun behind us, until I realize the road is turning the wrong way, towards the right.
Guess we missed the panorama path but that's no problem; we're well equipped. A quick check of the map on the cellphone - and it's snowshoe time! We will make our own trail to the top of Nivavaara hill. If we manage to find it, that is.
The shadows are creating new shapes on the crisp, windswept snow.
It is totally quiet around us but we are not exactly making a lot of noise. However, the Black Grouse (if that's what it was) manages to hear us approach and takes off to the top of a nearby tree, leaving a snow angel behind him or her.
We march on with our snowshoes and try to keep going in the right direction. It isn't exactly easy because the land rises very gently and there are quite a few trees; perhaps that's a bit higher, and that...As if it were hard to find a hilltop!
This piece of grey wood is what is left of an old tree. A work of art in itself, and probably untouched by human hands. Even mine. It feels good to choose exactly where to go instead of following cross country skiing tracks or a ready made path, even if that would be easier. After a while we however meet snowmobile tracks but that's ok; it seems we're still heading in the right direction.
And here we are: on the top of Nivavaara hill where there are some signs of humans in the form of masts and even a little cottage, albeit a deserted one. Down below is the Tornio River thanks to which it is very easy to not get lost - you only have to keep it on your left!
My guess is that somewhere under this pile of snow there are the remains of an old triangulation tower so this is probably the very top of Nivavaara hill: 124.4 meters above sea level and a guaranteed lookout spot. Nivavaara was visited also by Pierre Louis de Maupertuis in 1736 when this French astronomer and mathematician and his team were conducting their measurements to confirm the shape of the earth. Back then they could see Tornio church tower in the south as well as Aavasaksa hilltop in the north.
Either the scientists' eyesight was far better than mine or they must have carried a telescope with them. I really can't spot Tornio, looking south. It is far too bright... Anyway, I am quite happy with just enjoying the fabulous view from the top of the hill; a true panorama. How about a cup of tea from a flask? Yes, please!

Apparently there is a place where you can make a fire somewhere quite near us but we don't bother to look for it seriously. No need. From here we simply need to choose our own way down as we can't miss the road which runs parallel to the Tornio River. There are not too many footprints on the snow, not even by animals...
We meander downhill through the woods, again ignoring the 'official' trail that must be somewhere close by, under the snow. Soon we arrive among young pines among which there is something taller. It really is a single pine tree but from the distance, counting the tree tops, you could think there are four growing extremely close to each other! No wonder they let it grow... Hope it's gonna stay there for many years to come.

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