Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Isojärvi Wildlife

From my recent trip to Isojärvi National Park I present thee some more wildlife pictures and stories. There was no shortage of wildlife on this trip, and as I sat down this afternoon to remember all the impressions I decided to share some additional photos.

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Frog spawn

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Groupsex and a happy onlooker

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Black-throated Diver

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The first spring flowers

These weren't all, but I was too slow to snap pictures of the other animals. A common pheasant was seen while walking on the grit-road. A Black Woodpecker I saw on my way to the Kalalahti lean-to shelter, its pecking sound was heard already way before I finally spotted it. The Black-throated Divers - there were two couples on the Kuorejärvi lake - has an incredible call and I was first thinking that an Elk must be in the forest across the lake - how wrong I was! They also had quite show going on after dawn, running two full circles in the water around the island and slapping their wings in the water.

There were a few more birds I saw, but being far from a expert on birds I wasn't able to identify them. However, I managed to distinguish the frogs and toads. Toads are considered frogs, but there is the sub-species of the "true toad". I saw a common toad which disappeared into its underground shelter as I approached, not even two meters from my sleeping place. All the frogs and toads showed that it was an amazingly healthy environment I was in, as they are considered a good indicator for an intact ecosystem.

I already mentioned the two pike earlier. I heard an Owl at night, but am not able to tell which species. Thus all in all, quite a variety of wildlife for only two days out in the forest. Sure, there was nothing huge like an Elk (of which I saw two the weekend before, as I was fishing with my father-in-law in Vaasa) or rare like a lynx or bear, though I was happily surprised about the amount of wildlife I saw. I expect it will increase even during the following weeks, as spring turns to summer. Thus I hope to be able to snap some more photos of the wildlife here in Finland on my next trips, about which I will tell you soon more.

Isojärvi Trip

I got back already from Isojärvi (which means "Big Lake" in English), I planned to stay till tomorrow but some pain in my Achilles heel made me decide to come home already today. The trip was good. Isojärvi is a beautiful place, and it has three Lean-to shelters as well as a Rental Cabin with Sauna, so its well equipped for those folks without tent.

I changed by plans a bit, and decided to go by bus to Kuhmoinen and then walk the 17 km to the National Park from there, then walk another few kilometers to the Kuorejärvi lean-to shelter and stay there for the night. I had a early start, and was walking at about 12.30 yesterday. However, those 17 km were boring grit-roads, so walking wasn't to interesting.

Isojärvi

Happily there were some nice spots along the way, as spring is just starting here in Finland so the Toads and Frogs were in love, and I also passed a nice old store and a bus stop which hasn't seen much traffic lately. I also managed to snap some photos of some butterflies =)

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Isojärvi

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After around three hours I reached the National Park Info centre, and there were quite a few cars parked there. I started walking, and soon reached one of the first lakes, where I refilled by water bottle. As usually, I don't use any filters or tablets, the water is very clean here and I am careful with the spots from where I pick my water. There was still some ice on the lake, too.

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I reached my camp site after another hour, and started to look around the place a bit.

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If you look closely on the last photo above, you'll be able to see two pike next to each other. I saw those two "love birds" as I went to get water for cooking, and was surprised to see two tail fins almost jumping in my pot! My natural hunter instinct said "Take your knife and grab one by the neck!" though my environmentalist instinct said "Take the camera and snap some photos!". I listened to the latter one. Those two were quite active the rest of the evening, splashing in the water close to the shore.

I slept on the floor, on my Therm-A-Rest and a groundsheet, though I would have fit in the lean-to shelter. Just felt I wanted my privacy and not lie next to two strangers. There were some interesting bird calls during the evening, and they continued till near darkness. Lying comfortably warm in my sleeping bag, I was glad as it became a bit colder because so the few mosquitos also disappeared.

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This morning I started early, made a fire to warm myself up a bit and had a good breakfast. At about nine I was on the road, and I passed some interesting sites. Isojärvi National Park is quite small, but it has three or four Nature trails, which overlapped with my chosen path at times.

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The frog (or is it a toad?) above probably didn't hear me approach. Normally I could see them disappear way before I reached their location, its surprising me time and again how well they can feel the vibrations of an approaching person. At noon I reached the Kalalahti lean-to shelter, and a had a bit of lunch. This was the spot I was planning to stay for the night here, but didn't feel like hanging around for 10 hours till its dark, so I continued to the exit and the 10 km to the village. All in all it were 43 km I reckon.

Also close to Kalalahti was a beaver damn, and the underneath collection of mating frogs. It was quite a concert those fellows gave. And on the way back, there was one more toad which was trying not to let me pass =)

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Isojärvi

Helvetinjärvi Easter Hiking Trip

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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.

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On the way to the national park entry. Photobucket

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:

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After a few kilometers I reached the official entry to the national park.

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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.

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You like walking in the snow?

Happily in between there were again and again some spots which were easier to walk, like this one:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Close to the Helvetinjärvi gorge.

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Another kilometer and I will be there.

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Helvetinjärvi viewpoint.

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:

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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.

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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!