Summer trip 2015

I had read an article [in Finnish] about the post-glacial land rising at the coast of the Kvarken region and wanted to go see the area. I thought I could as well make a longer trip, so I decided to rent a car for a week. First I went to the village of Lepaa in Hattula, where I studied landscape design. I have made a trip there every summer since graduation. After that, me and my sister spent the weekend with our mother in Heinola. After weekend I started my actual trip. In addition to the coast I went to two national parks so that I spent one day in each place. This is my journal for the whole trip.

I don’t much like driving. At work I only drive in the city, so it took some time to get used to driving on the highways after such long time. I still didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t too bad either. I wrote down the distances I drove, and have marked them in the left column of the journal (in kilometres).

The photos can be enlarged by clicking.

Published .

Lepaa, June 26

At eight in the morning I went to the car rental to get my car and started driving.

In Lepaa I met my colleague from the time of my practical training, and we chatted for a while. I walked around the school park and went swimming in the river like I always do when I go there. It had been sunny for the whole time, but as soon as I left for Heinola, it started raining. I had decided to go to the landscape tower in Aulanko, so I drove to the parking place and waited if the rain would stop. When it only rained a bit, I went to the tower. I’m afraid of heights, and on the last time it took me a long time to be able to look at the view, but this time was much easier. The view down to the rainy and foggy forest was quite beautiful.

In the evening I arrived in Heinola. It rained a lot on the way.

Heinola, June 27–28

The weather was good on the weekend. We walked in the forest and saw animals and plants. I hadn’t seen figwort or locoweed before.

Red-necked grebe (Podiceps grisegena) in lake Ruotsalainen.

Common figwort (Scrophularia nodosa).

Nettle flowers (Urtica dioica) and field locoweed (Oxytropis campestris).

Kurikka and Korsholm, June 29

At eight in the morning I started the trip to Korsholm. I wanted to visit Kurikka on the way, because my mother’s side of the family came from there, and I had never been there before.

I was in Kurikka at 13:30. I bought a postcard and sent it to my mother. I went to see the church and cemetery. Some tombstones had familiar names on them.

There is a seal statue in the river Kyrönjoki.

There’s no passenger traffic at Kurikka station anymore, but the track is still used by freight trains. There’s an old steam locomotive at the station. The building is now a restaurant, and the statue in front of it is called Hirviheikki, or Henry of the Elk. Tradition has it that the first inhabitant of Kurikka was called Heikki, and he came there while hunting for elk.

At 15:15 I left Kurikka.

At 17:10 I was in Svedjehamn village on Björkö island in Korsholm. I walked the four kilometre nature trail which also has a landscape tower. There were sea-buckthorn saplings (Hippophae rhamnoides) and dwarf cornels (Cornus suecica) along the path. I hadn’t seen either one in nature before, although I had seen sea-buckthorn as an ornamental plant.

Saltkaret landscape tower and surrounding nature. Junipers were low shrubs.

The view from the tower to the newly risen islands was magnificent.

Creeping willow (Salix repens).

Heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) and lesser butterfly orchid (Platanthera bifolia).

A pair of whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus).

The coastal meadow is maintained by letting highland cattle graze there. The Society for the Preservation of Björkö Antiquities has also restored the old storehouses and boathouses.

In 1617 Gustav II Adolf, the king of Sweden, granted tax relief and exemption from military service for the inhabitants of Björkö, because it was their duty to transport passangers and mail across the Kvarken. The monument was erected to honour the toils of the forefathers in the place where boats and equipment was stored.

Another monument is at the place where the Russian army started their campaign across the Kvarken in 1809. The campaign was led by lieutenant-general Michael Barclay de Tolly. Many soldiers died on the way to Sweden across the frozen sea, but Barclay de Tolly was able to sieze Umeå. He was made general and Governor-General of Finland.

Alpine bistort (Bistorta vivipara). There are white flowers in the upper part of the spike, and reddish bulbils below them. These fall to the ground and grow into clones of the mother plant. The specific epither vivipara (‘giving live birth’) refers to the bulbils.

I made the mistake of going to the nature trail in a short-sleeved shirt. Lately I’ve been getting a rather big reaction to mosquito bites, and there were a lot of mosquitoes along the path. Fortunately the bumps went away during the evening and night. For the rest of the trip I wore a long-sleeved shirt all the time.

After returning from the nature trail, I decided to drive a part of the next days journey.

In Laihia, I stopped to take photos of the wind turbines that I saw beyond the fields. At home I learned that the turbines were just built and they started operation on May 28 this year. They are located five kilometres from the place where I took the photos.

At 21:05 I parked my car to a roadside parking area in Isokyrö. There came also an RV with a man, a boy and a small dog. I put up my tent on a pine forest covered hill next to the parking place. Mosquitoes couldn’t get into the tent, but midges are so small that they came through the net. Luckily they bit me only for a short while in the evening, and left me in peace in the night.

Pyhä-Häkki National Park, June 30

There was light rain in the night, and the ground was wet in the morning. I managed to leave at half past nine.

At noon I was in Saarijärvi and bought food.

I was in Pyhä-Häkki at 13:35. It had rained now and then during the drive, and the forecast said the rain would continue until the evening. When I went to the forest from the parking place, it was sunny, and I hoped the forecast was wrong.

“New Big Tree”. The pine started growing in 1641 and is now 24.5 m tall and 220 cm in girth.

Patterns in tree trunks.

“Old Big Tree”. This pine started growing in 1518 and reached the height of 26 m and the girth of 288 cm. However, in 2004 it died and gave the title of the biggest tree in the park to the New Big Tree.
It had already started raining, and it would continue to rain until the evening. Every now and then it stopped for a while, so I didn’t have to sweat in the rain coat all the time.

This tree and its big burl I remembered from the time I was here as a child.

This is not a mountain stream but a path.

At this point I was a bit tired of the rain already, but on the other hand I had started to get used to the idea of walking in nature when it rains. I thought these orange tree trunks were so beautiful that at that particular moment the rain didn’t matter at all. In the picture on the right there is a tree that has experienced a forest fire. There are trees like this here and there.

I like bogs. And it is nice to walk on the wooden path.

Unripe fruit of cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) and a withered male flower.

Dwarf birch (Betula nana).

Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) infected by the fungus Exobasidium sundstroemii.

At a crossing of paths I thought for a long time, if I should go see the Poika-aho cabin, but fortunately I decided to go. There was a beautiful meadow with sheep which I petted. The cabin was a nice old building. The cabin can be rented in the spring and the autumn. In the summer it is used by shepherds, and anyone can apply for a week’s post. There’s also a well in the yard, and I filled my bottle.

At 19:10 I arrived at the cooking shelter at lake Kotajärvi. It was barely raining anymore, and soon it stopped altogether. I made a fire in the fireplace, put on a dry shirt and enjoyed the warmth. It was pretty amazing to be there all by myself in the middle of a forest after a wet journey. I also washed myself in the lake. The pier was in bad shape, but it still managed to hold together. I went back to the fire to dry myself, grilled some sausage and chopped wood for the next visitor. A vole came to see what I’m up to, but went quickly back under the floor boards. The time was already 22 when I continued the walk.

The wooden path across Riihineva bog was in places under water, so I had to use the path in the forest.

At 22:45 I arrived at the parking place. Originally I had meant to get my tent and go back to Kotajärvi for the night, but since I had spent the evening drying myself, and I didn’t want to sleep in the wet forest, I put the tent up in the information hut.

Isojärvi National Park, July 1

At nine in the morning I started driving toward Isojärvi.

I took a break at Palsankoski rapids in Multia.

At noon I went to Keuruu to buy food.

I stopped to take photos of roadside plants. Common valerian (Valeriana sambucifolia), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), spreading bellflower (Campanula patula).

At 14:50 I came to the parking place of Isojärvi National Park. I packed my backpack and went to the forest.

An old beaver dam and bite marks.

Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) growing among lichen. The forest is a nice coniferous forest with many hills.

The shore of the lake Hevosjärvi can only be reached at one point, because the beaver dams have raised the water level so that the old path has gone under water.

In the area called Latokuusikko, there is a warning about easily falling trees. There were a lot of partially fallen and fallen trees, even on the path.

Apparently a beaver has tried to cut down a big aspen tree without being able to chew through. The diameter of the tree is about 54 cm.

A beautiful little stream. The bridge across it wasn’t as beautiful.

There is a cave-like space under this huge rock.

A young three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus). On the right there is a natural formation vaguely resembling a bird.

At 18:45 I arrived at the shelter of lake Vahterjärvi. I would have gone for a swim, but the beach was a bit too difficult for my taste. I continued walking at 19:35.

Hare’s-tail cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum) and peat moss (Sphagnum sp.)

At 21:20 I came back to the parking place. Again my intention was to take my tent to the camp site at lake Kuorejärvi, but I didn’t have the strength to go on, so I put the tent up behind my car. At night at one o’clock I woke up when someone drove their car to the parking place.

Return home, July 2

I got up some time after seven and at 8:40 I left for home.

A little before Kuhmoinen I drove past a pretty-looking meadow, so I made a U turn. The meadow was full of spreading bellflowers. My camera had showed me the battery warning light already in Isojärvi, and now the camera shut itself down every time I took a photo. I still managed to get several photos of the meadow.

At 11:40 I was in Helsinki at my home. I took my stuff inside and went to fill up the gas tank.

At 12:35 I returned the car to the rental place and at 12:50 I was home. Then I started putting my stuff to dry or in their proper places. My apartment is so small that it was quite cramped while the equipment was drying.


It was easy travelling with a car, because I could keep most of the stuff in the car, and I only had to carry water, food and other small stuff in the forest. Long distances were difficult in that I only had the afternoon and evening to walk in nature. If I’ll make another trip with several destinations, they could be closer to each other. If you want travelling to be even easier, it could be nice to have a van. You could even have a mattress inside and you wouldn’t need a tent.

I had some trouble in understanding the size of the areas and how much time it would take to go around them. Good thing I didn’t go on a too long route. It is a pity though that in Isojärvi National Park I didn’t have time to go to the actual lake Isojärvi.

Svedjehamn in Korsholm is a beautiful place. The nature trail goes through forest, bog and meadow, and the view from the tower is amazing. The path is uneven in places, but a part of it is made suitable even for a wheelchair. The road from the mainland goes across the Replot bridge, the longest bridge in Finland.

Both national parks are well maintained, and the trails are clearly marked. The Latokuusikko area in Isojärvi was difficult because of the fallen trees. Some of the fallen trees were even those which have the painted trail marks, but since there was only one path, there was no danger of getting lost. In Pyhä-Häkki, the Kotajärvi pier and the wooden path over Riihineva needed repair, but otherwise the structures were in good shape.

The terrain in Isojärvi National Park can be difficult for some people. The path is full of roots and rocks, and there are a lot of hills. Pyhä-Häkki is easier, but even there are some more uneven places.

Both national parks have dry toilets and wells with good drinking water. The fire places have firewood and an axe. In the Heretty cabin in Isojärvi there is even a café that is open in the summer.

Information about the places I visited: Svedjehamn, Pyhä-Häkin kansallispuisto, Isojärven kansallispuisto.