It`s a new thing. Skate touring.
The conditions have been great this year with long periods of cold temperatures and very little snow-fall. And I have been hearing the cheering for a few week now, so I gave it a try. I have been skating on the natural ice once, but that was on a bog pool and a totally different experience. (more…)
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.
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
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.
I had this route drawn down at least a year ago. But somehow, probably because of my occasional laziness, I haven’t managed to put my feet down the road.
This weekend I finally get out and, although quite late, was on trail before lunch. Weather is nice and the ground still a bit frozen. I had planned to reach the northernmost point of cape Juminda and back when drawing the route, but it was clear that it was a two day walk OR a very early beginning. Weather forecast for Sunday is not good and I have already overslept so I have to re-assess my possibilities.
Midway on the cape is a huge boulder – Majakivi – Stonehouse. That becomes my destination.
Mostly on smaller paths, occasionally across a bog and through waterlogged old forest until the duckboards leading to the boulder appeared. This is much better than I hoped for. When reaching the stone I feel like I had been there already – maybe during elementary school when we had an excursion the Lahemaa National Park. Will have to dig up some old photos to confirm.
Walking away from the boulder the duckboards take you to another bog – unlike the previous one’s this is still young therefore no trees have grown on it yet to obstruct the views. But this also makes it quite boring as no features stand out. I strongly prefer those in Kõrvemaa, where patches of forest and lakes and ponds make it more interesting.
A lookout tower, which I had no knowledge about stands high above the bog and also offers the sight the the sea. A rare stretch of asphalt I quickly leave behind and after crossing three smaller streams I’m on the path parallel to the one I started on. These roads are interesting ’cause they lead to nowhere – except to the bog, but still look as they have often been traveled with cars. But I doubt these were created to allow access cranberries.
It gets pretty dark when I reach the settlement of Pudisoo and even darken when I discover that I have taken a wrong turn. All I can see is that there are deep gorges on both sides of the road. I had hoped to see them in light, but I guess that I have to return.
Last few kilometers are in pitch black darkness and I get somewhat confused again on the crossroads.
Finally I get to my car after 6 hours and 27 km of walking.
I almost went to an overnighter this weekend, but the lack of capable enough tires on my car canceled that idea. I think I wouldn’t have gotten up the slope near the house. But I was out for a while and noticed this row of maple trees that had shed it’s last leaves on the freshly fallen snow. I returned with the camera.
This is not actually something new, but there has been a quite active Estonian hiking forum online for some time now. At the moment all of the discussion is in Estonian, but there is a sub-page in English where one can ask about hiking in Estonia. Some of us have been around a lot and can point you to the right direction. Gear-wise it’s pretty heavyweight, but the seed of lightweight hiking has been planted and there are some followers.
I hope that the registration process is made easy enough and that we can help you out to plan a visit.
The address is www.matkafoorum.net or you can use the banner on the left titled Estonian hiking forum.
This blog is quite like my life has been recently – uneventful, when talking about hiking and outdoors. I did ride some bike, but that’s a lame-ish excuse.
So when we had to organize a march for conscripts finishing their basic training I decided to make this into a training walk for me and choose the route accordingly. Usually the march is two days with around 25km each day. Before the event I had measured the distance on the map by eye and it seemed like around 50km. I had to man one checkpoint in the beginning and after that was free to pace off. Soldiers usually do this in full gear, but as I ended my basic training almost 10 years ago I can do much as I please. So it was combat gear (minus rifle and helmet) and light sleeping gear for me.
Travelling was mostly on gravel roads. 60km in total with walking time around 12 hours. About a third I walked in total darkness, which was cool. Got some blister, because I neglected foot-care, but nothing too painful. Muscles felt stiff in the evening after finishing, but the next day it was almost OK.
It took just a spark of an idea to start planning for an overnighter in the coldest night of the year. Like in elsewhere in Europe last week was pretty damn cold. How cold it actually is I discovered this week when I shaved off my 3-months-in-growing beard. Now it really was cold and I’ll never do that again in the middle of the winter. So for the weekend of 03-05.02 the night temperatures were supposed to fall under -30C. I whimped out on Friday night, but was out there on Saturday. (more…)
As we had some decent snowfall finally I had no choice to tar the skis and plan a weekend for some snow action. As I didn’t manage to go to Endla Nature reserve in the late summer I chose this destination. (more…)