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only a ninja can sneak up to another ninja

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.

link

facebook link

However  – if you should desire more detailed andunpublished information about different trails in Estonia then you should visit our hiking forum – matkafoorum.net

ready for a crime

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.

the third wish

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.

pooleli

 

I tripped, fell and landed on her strings

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.

via alpina ´10 601

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.

old soldiers just fade away

v6hma jan13 0192

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.

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v6hma jan13 004

It was seriously cold in the morning, but eased up during the day. (termomeetri pilt)

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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.

v6hma jan13 009

Found this stump, that seems like a training ground for woodpeckers or just contains extremely delicious, but evasive maggots.

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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.

v6hma jan13 0221

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.

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v6hma jan13 024

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.

v6hma jan13 030

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.

v6hma jan13 033

võhma jan13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tend to avoid making New Years’ resolutions – or at least make them public, ’cause I’m just that kind of person. But, as was pointed out maybe it is easier to keep yourself focused when you HAVE openly declared that you will do or at least try to do something.

It might serve some purpose to keep it all secret and then come up victorious to bask in the admiration of others. But is that the reason that drives people to do great things?

But if we share – what great things might come of it? Would we receive encouragement and support? Maybe. Would we gain companions? Possibly. And if we happen to fail despite of our efforts? Could we be criticized? I think – never, by those whose opinion matters to us.

So here are my resolutions:

* Finish the last leg of Via Alpina Red Trail from Champex-Lac to Monaco

* Put at least 5000km of human powered travel behind me, be it cycling, hiking, running, swimming, skiing, paddling or something else. (Last year it was about 2800)

* Get out more with other people

* Two outings per month to places NEVER visited before

Anyone up for some resolutions of their own?

meanwhile in Estonia…

oulanka '12 0231

It’s nice to get away. Even if it means sometimes frantic planning, frustrating waiting and enduring a 2×13+ hour drive in a minivan stuffed with gear, food, skis and 6 other people. Read the rest of this page »

leap my faith

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.

stop the music!.. medic!

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.

 

 

 

 

post-cancer-scare-mercy-fuck

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.