Last Saturday I started my first hiking trip this year, the sun was shining here in Tampere and I was in a good mood. I catched the bus and drove to Ruovesi, which is the closest town to the Helvetinjärvi - which means "Lake of Hell" in english - national park. I looked on my map and soon found the road which leads out of the town and towards the national park, it was a short 6 km trip on which I passed by old farms and houses in the country side.
On the way to the national park entry.
Entry to the national park.
At the beginning the walking was still easy, some people have been walking their dog here and a little path lead further into the forest. I also saw that the local ants were already active:
After a few kilometers I reached the official entry to the national park.
That was then also slowly the time, where the tracks disappeared and I needed to make my own. What sounded in the beginning still like fun in my head - "Making the first tracks here" - soon turned into reality and it became more and more difficult to get forward.
You like walking in the snow?
Happily in between there were again and again some spots which were easier to walk, like this one:
I was quite happy that I opted for the German Army boots, because in my old boots I would have had soaking wet feet. In between I even managed to get lost for an hour, because I wasn't able to spot the markings on the trees, and so I took an involuntary detour through a swamp. After trying to spot the red markings I finally decided to just follow my tracks back to where I knew I was right, and surely enough after some more searching I found the markings and followed the trail in the right direction.
I was getting quite tired in between, and my heels started to hurt as I felt the blisters rubbing against the heavy boot. I tried to keep up my good mood, and also didn't let little obstacles hinder my way.
A little creek in the forest - a good spot to get more water.
While I normally walk easily 4 km per hour in this kind of terrain, the snow slowed me down to 2 km an hour - I thus needed double the estimated time. Well, the sun was still up in the sky and it was warm, and surely enough I reached my destination for the night at 1830. The sun was still shining over the frozen lake, and I walked the final few hundred meters on a forest road to the cooking hut. Happy that I reached my destination for the night, I took some pictures of the view and started to set up camp.
Camp in the morning.
It got a few degrees under zero during the night, however, it was till to warm for my sleeping bag and I needed to open it a few times at night to not sweat too much. I woke up early in the morning, after an otherwise good night, and had myself some breakfast and tea. To my surprise I heard the sound of a car, and soon a fisherman parked his Jeep in front of the cooking hut, grabbed his sled and fishing equipment and went off to the lake for some ice fishing. I packed up, and around 9.00 o'clock I was back on the track.
The first few hundred meters were easy, as they followed the forest road which had been used a while ago - the Finnish Forest Ministry always brings new fire wood to their huts, and also keeps them in shape. However, after a easy stroll I came to the junction which lead back into the forest - and it was again shine deep frozen snow. However, my luck soon returned as I came to the next junction, where more tracks from other hikers lead down to the other camping ground! This made my walking so much easier, and I started to climb the hills towards my goal.
Close to the Helvetinjärvi gorge.
Another kilometer and I will be there.
I did the 5,5 km from my overnight place till the Helvetinjärvi hut in less than two hours, so I was rather happy. I went down to the day hut, had a cup of tea and enjoyed the scenery:
After half an hour, and a short note to the guest book in the house, I went on. My destination was the parking place 2 km from the day hut, and I was positive to be able to catch a ride from there into town.
The parking lot. On my way I met a lot of folks which came for a day trip, so my hopes were high. And sure enough, the first persons to come back from the forest which I asked for a ride to the city were willing to give me a ride. Great, because I wasn't in the mood to walk the 17 km back to Ruovesi. In Ruovesi the two girls dropped me off at the bus station, but the next bus would have left in two hours so I decided to try my luck and hitch a ride back home. I was lucky enough, as I got three rides which got me very quick back to Tampere!