I was able to avoid all the commitments for the Easter holidays and even got my brother’s car for loan; a perfect opportunity to visit some of the national parks here in southern Finland.
I left Sunday morning at ten when it was raining slush, but closer to Kurjenrahka NP the day began to clear. I left my car around twelve to the Kurjenrahka visitor center and headed south towards Töykkälä. The car park was half full and few other walkers left at the same time, but the overall feeling was quite peaceful.
Soon the Töykkälä trail departed from the main path and its condition got much worse. The duckboards were in bad shape and often under water. My boots are leaking nowadays but fortunately I didn’t wet my feet that badly. I kept my first break at the Koivusaari bird watching tower hoping to see something.
At first the mire looked dead; I could hear or see nothing moving. But after a while three black and white birds with big wings were bursting into the air flying around and diving fearlessly. I later learned they were Northern Lapwings (töyhtöhyyppä) but at that moment it bothered me a lot not being able to identify them as they were too far for my tiny binoculars.
I finally reached the Töykkälä shelter but the kilometers seemed to go slowly. Maybe it was because of the condition of the trail, maybe my lack of walking lately. I saw few people but the trail was mostly silent. At Töykkälä I needed to decide if hiking still the southern loop of Vajosuo or making a direct shortcut to the northwest. It looked like I was running out of time so when reaching the dirt road south of Töykkälä I headed towards Asonlammi.
After one hour and half I was back in the forest. I passed by some clearings and then a campfire place and rocky slopes of Takaniitunvuori. After that the trail descended into the Pukkipalo old-growth forest, where the forest had stayed as pristine as the nature had wanted. The green color of the moss and pine needles was deep and full of secrets. Chaffinches were singing but I could not spot anything else.
I reached the quiet Lakjärvi shelter a bit before 6 pm. I sat down and felt slightly anxious. For a while I thought walking the 7 km back to the car park and driving home and have a sauna. Tall pines stood still and the evening sun shone brightly between them. Slowly I began to feel peace of mind and decided to make a fire.
Not much later a middle-aged man came with his daughter and a cute little dog. As I was already placed myself comfortably they went to the second shelter. After chatting for a while all of us started cooking. I boiled some noodles with my burner and kept a small fire just for the joy of having it.
When the darkness began to lurk behind the corner and I was about to make myself ready for the night, two young couples arrived with big backpacks. I offered to move to the third, tiny two man shelter, and let them have the biggest one. It was good that I had kept the fire going. I let the guys to prepare their dinner and moved my stuff away. After reading for a while I closed the headlamp and the darkness of the night swallowed my small shelter. From further I could still hear low noise of a cracking firewood and people chatting around it.
It got -2 degrees during the night and I stayed just at the edge of feeling comfortably warm. I had my Halti summer sleeping bag over the RAB one and few layers of clothes. The wooden platform felt hard under my back.
In the morning I packed quickly and left at the first light, around 6:30. There was no movement in the other shelters yet. The ground was frosty but walking felt good, although a bit tiring.
After 3,5 km I reached the Savojärvi lake and saw a group of swans floating silently in front of the morning sun. After few photos I left Rantapiha behind and walked in the complite solitude the last 3 km along more duckboards back to the Kurjenpesä car park. I had had only a banana for a breakfast and for a second I got terrified of how little food I had taken with me. But then I remembered the choko muesli package that I had left in the car. Such a joy was the reunion with it.
I drove one hour and half to the Torronsuo National Park as I had not been either there before. After a couple of hour tour along the edges of this marshland, I headed back home. Torronsuo was busy of people, but for my disappointment I didn’t see much birdlife. Overall good overnight trip!
Here’s official info about Kurjenrahka NP.