I think I’m extremely pleased to inform all the non-Estonians that just a week days ago a brand new long distance hiking trail was opened. It’s a massive (for Estonia) 627km long and takes you from Aegviidu in Northern Estonia to the southernmost point of the country and then some more to end at Ähijärve in the Karula National Park. Unfortunately there is no internet information about it in English so I have taken the liberty to translate the Estonian text. I hope that some official prints will be available soon.
I’m kinda sorry that this took so long, but I managed to delete part of the post at some point and got a bit demotivated after that.
The last part of Via Alpina Red Trail began from Champex-Lac in Switzerland and ended in Monaco 22 days later. According to my calculations it was almost 700km, but the ascent/descent sums are too messed up on the guidebook so by my best estimation it’s around 40k up and about the same down. Average distance for a day was 31,5km and speed 3,5 km/h. It took 207 hours of walking. Several passes over 2000m highest of those over 2700m and many still covered in snow.
Estonian State Forest Management Center (clumsy I know) has finally managed to translate their website about hiking in Estonia into English. If you happen to visit my country then this is the place you can and should look if you want the basic and official information about trails, camping sites, rental and forest huts and different national parks, reserves and so on. It has a pretty handy search module and of course the results are displayed in English too.
If you need to specify something then you can use the facebook page.
However - if you should desire more detailed andunpublished information about different trails in Estonia then you should visit our hiking forum – matkafoorum.net
I have finished walking the Via Alpina Red Trail. It took 24 days of hiking to get from Champex-Lac to Monaco. It was sometimes hard, but now it’s done. More to follow when I get back home.
Although this blog has been quiet for too long I haven’t been sitting idly for the whole time. Some preparations have been made to take me again to walk in the Alps. This year the goal is to finish the Via Alpina Red Trail and reach Monaco in the end of the first week of July. Starting point is Champex-Lac. I’ll be on trail for three weeks and hopefully it turns our better than last year. Still some packing to do but the gear isn’t much different from the last yea, except I have a new tarp (made by my mother) – more about that when I get back. And YES, my French hasn’t improved much.
If needed, I can be contacted via blog. See you on the trails.
from Alastair Humphreys ” Thunder & sunshine”:
“Outside the snow sat a few inches deep. With a chewed and dirty fingernail I traced on my map a glorious route across China that would set the heart of all intrepid souls racing. In a couple of day’s time I should reach the Great Wall. I brushed aside biscuit crumbs and looked at the Yellow River and Inner Mongolia, the land of Genghis Khan. On through Gansu province and into Xinjiang I continued. It showed all of that on my map, and a ring from my coffee mug, and my finger traced the expedition in my imagination. Maps are an invitation to adventure. Snow was falling and I was in a grubby, windowless room next to a pig. That was not on my map. Nor were the black muddy alleyways between the snow-covered mud-brick homes grimy with coal dust. Men were slewing homewards on mopeds, their blue workers’ hats and jackets covered in white. My socks were steaming and stinking on the stool beside the hot coal stove. None of that was on my map. A map is an idea, nothing more, a framework of geography for an adventure germinating in the back of your mind. From the frame of the map you hang your own discoveries. A blizzard curtailing a day’s ride, a pigtailed girl on a red moped, a quirky smile and a wave from a blacksmith. None of that was on my map. If it was then I could just have stayed at home and read my map. But those small details and glimpses of lives are what will stay with me in years to come.”
I found this to be probably the best passage in his story from cycling around the world. But for myself, I didn’t connect it with maps, but pictures. Some pictures I take, actually turn out to be quite good. And they remind me of the days or places I’ve visited and can bring back the moment, when I had finished a 4 hour ascent to a col or found campsite after 12 hours of walking, even if years have passed.
It’s why we take those photos. But to others, it’s never the same. Everyone can and will interpret what they see to their liking and find something that talks to them – that’s why we ( I at least) spend quite a lot of time over others blogs trying to find something that resonates back. Often I even tend to scroll over the text and only look at the pictures. Which is kinda sad because sometimes writing even a short text can be more effort than taking a picture.
Every time we drive to the exercise grounds we pass a juncture. I don’t remember how long ago it was when I looked it up on the map, but today was the first time I managed to get down that road. According to our maps, it leads to Võhma mires and so called Võhma island which is surrounded by mires and Soodla river. The map shows some ruins on the island. The map also shows a road connecting there clearings, but occasionally it disappears. I was interested if it still possible to follow that road. And as i was near the Võhma mire itself then visit it also and ski over this old Soviet airforce and artillery target area called Jussi nõmm.
It was seriously cold in the morning, but eased up during the day. (termomeetri pilt)
I decided not to follow the road, but cut through the forest to a clearer patch of the mire. That got me a bit disorientated, but soon enough I was back on the trail and reached the Võhma island. Shortly before I crossed a ski-track made not long ago – maybe two days old ’cause we had some snow recently. It seems that there are more explorers around. These so-called islands used to be habituated, but now there are only ruins. Found some good camping spots in the higher ground. The road that is not on the map, actually exists and and the ski-tracks found before headed the same direction.
Found this stump, that seems like a training ground for woodpeckers or just contains extremely delicious, but evasive maggots.
Reaching the Võhma mire itself – a vast area, sparsely covered with low trees. Some trees were dead and blackened as if by fire, but I haven’t heard of recent burns there.
Now reaching the Jussi nõmm (heath). Although the morning promised low temperatures and clear skies, it didn’t happen. But when reaching this place the sun shone through clouds for about half an hour. And this became the highlight of the day. I think it was even better this way than with full sunlight all day.
After taking the pictures I headed north along the NÕMM towards Jussi lakes. On the way there I managed to get descents to test out the skis, but those measly 5 meters downhill don’t give much credit. The snow itself was pretty good and firm, but it seems that the boots restrain some control over turning.
Near the Jussi lakes are some really neat spots of a lunch break or even a night, but the latter was not planned for this time.
Heading east towards Valgejõgi and then turning south again leads back to Jussi Suurjärv and Võhma mire. The lake itself is about 2 meters lower that the mire. I first had planned to follow the edge of the mire to a road leading back to my car, but halfway there decided to take a quick look at the bog pools in the middle of the mire. Those turned out to be nothing special.
Somehow I managed to get disorientated again and reached the small lake designated with number 75. I DID plan to get there, but bot that soon. Than messed up my navigation and for the tenth time I swore to get a decent compass when I get back. I even managed to surprise myself by getting on the ski-track I myself had made in the morning. But that meant that now I exactly knew where I was. A elk had been investigating my track while I was on the other side of the mire. Actually I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t see any animals during that day. Some tracks, but nothing moving.
So after 5:30 and 19 km I was back at the car and it was still daylight. I had felt that I wasn’t moving very fast – mainly because I had taken my short walking poles – but after measuring the distance I considered it a good day and also a good training.