Tag Archive for: hiking with dogs

In paid collaboration with Kestävästi kasvua kesään Itä-Lapissa -project

In the morning, the weather forecast for the day was looking grim, giving us reason to consider back-up options for our trip to the fell. Thankfully luck was on our side, as the worst rainfall cleared up in the early afternoon. When the time came for us to start heading towards Kivitunturi fell, the sky was left with nothing more than a dense fog. This suited us well, as a misty fog over the forest wetland adds to its magnificence! The plan was to do the Kivitunturi Nature Trail basic route, 5.9 kilometres in length. Our fell tour was not so basic, however, as we would be joined by an exceptionally energetic and furry companion to get to this exceptionally beautiful fell.

Led by our guide for the day, Reija, we drove along dirt roads to an empty parking lot. On arrival, the star of our hike hopped out of the back trunk of Reija’s car: Alit the husky. Reija’s company, Radnis Northern Venture, organises farm tours and other guided adventures such as the husky hike we were about to go on. 

Alit had different coloured eyes, one brown and one blue – in fact, the word ’alit’ means blue in Sami, and the dog is from the Sami land. We took in the fell’s silence for a moment while Alit took the chance to do some unfinished business after the exciting car ride, then we were on our way!

The forest of Kivitunturi resonated peacefulness. The kota, our trip’s first stop, was as silent as the trail we followed. You could almost wrap yourself in the magic and stillness of Lapland’s warm and misty forest. The first signs of autumn could be seen here and there in the yellowing of birch branches and red shades of bunchberries.

It was a short walk to the first lookout point. After a warming workout up a flight of steps, we looked out from the terrace-like platform at the misty evergreen forest. The candle-like fir trees gave off a fresh earthy scent with a hint of musty aromas.

As I took my raincoat off, I realized that the brisk air had warmed up. The warm feeling was not just from the step workout to the platform – the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. 

Kivitunturi hiking trail differs from other fell trail in that no expenses have been spared with the trail infrastructure. Flights of steps, boardwalks, and other wooden structures along the trail lighten your step and make the route feel shorter. This feeling is of course also influenced by the interesting sights to see at regular intervals along the way, the first of which is this lookout point.

“Luojanluomalaavu” is the first actual sight on the route, and it certainly is a memorable sight to see. The name literally means ”laavu created by God”, for a good reason. Karoliina posed for a photo in front of the lean-to with Alit, though in reality we didn’t stop here for long. A little further down the path is the official campfire site, so at Luojanluomalaavu we focused simply on admiring the scenic nature.

The trail was spotted with smaller and larger puddles, which Alit enjoyed cooling off in. It was fun to watch the husky greatly enjoying himself as he splashed around in the water. I wasn’t feeling particularly warm after taking off my raincoat, yet the thought of joining Alit in the forest pools was tempting. I contained myself this time. 

After our first sight-seeing warmup at Luojanluomalaavu, we were ready for the highlight of the trip, “Pirunkuru”. Here, a suspension bridge hangs over a magnificent gorge. Alit didn’t require any extra coaxing to cross the bridge, but after crossing we let him take a break with Reija while Karoliina and I went back to the bridge to get a better look at the gorge.  The steep and rugged drop is not done justice in pictures – this beauty must be experienced in-person!

While looking out from the bridge, I noticed for the first time that the blanket of clouds had started to give way to a small blotch of blue in the sky! For a moment the clouds still worked to patch up the sky, but the day was starting to brighten.

After Pirukuru, the trail continued with a fair share of paths, flights of steps, and boardwalks. The forest opened up to a bright sight of bushy pines with tufts of hanging moss and puddles and ponds shimmering on the shoulders of the fell. 

Our next break was at “Äitipetäjänlampi”, or mother pine’s pond. Awaiting us in front of the half-kota was a campfire, looking out to a calm, clear pond. Alit took a gulp from the pond and waded in for a bit before settling for a birch shrub root as his resting spot. After circling a few times, he was fast asleep. The dog lay in peaceful silence for the whole time that we snacked. We didn’t make a fire this time since we didn’t have the need for it. Reija had baked us blueberry pie, and boiling hot water was waiting in a thermos flask. Reija served us rose-hip tea, and everything was so delicious that it felt like nothing could have been better in that moment. 

At our rest stop, I examined the trail map and oops! I thought we were already almost at the peak, but according to the contour line the real ascent only started from here. The curve rose almost straight upwards. In reality, the trail sloped gently upwards with trees to push from on the way to the top. 

As we climbed higher and the weather brightened, the landscape started to appear. I am partial to the versatility of nature in Kivitunturi. The small bodies of water bring to life the already distinctive fell. I could spend forever admiring the view, the verdant nature nestled between water and stone creating a collection of miniature worlds. 

The autumn colours of “ruska” were already visible on the blueberry bushes, as could be expected in August. There were also still plenty of large ripe blueberries, which we took the time to pick along the way. The lingonberries were not ripe yet, cloudberry season was long gone, and cranberry season was still to come, but the blueberries were a perfect snack for the trip. 

I’m one of those people who finds water enchanting. As we reached a babbling stream running over jagged rock, it would have been impossible for me to pass by without stopping to examine it. I studied the water and how it smoothened the edges of rocks and formed a shiny, velvety surface over them. I broke the water’s surface and felt the rock with the entire palm of my hand, while the running water smoothened my hand as well. The water was clear, accentuated by the needles and leaves mixed within it. While I stopped to admire the water, Alit decided to take a drink as there was nothing more exciting to do.

The highest point of Kivitunturi is really quite humble. There is no showy pile of stones or sharp peak – in fact, as we examined the map, we realised that the fell seems to have at least two peaks. The path only traverses one of two gigantic bumps that sit side-by-side. The surface boasts a wide and beautiful landscape, low-growing pine trees and other forest, and the stunning scenery opens far out into the horizon. According to the old – or perhaps new? – wooden sign close to the peak, the Soviet Union is 71 kilometers away.

The peak was followed by a steep and narrow path downhill, through rocky and forest terrain. At this point, I wish I had something more supportive on my feet than rain boots. The slope led us to a beautifully colourful sunlit forest, the rays of light transforming blueberry shrubs into sparkling rubies. 

At the parking lot, we said goodbye to Reija and thanked her and Alit for a wonderful trip. Alit hopped in the car as if he had springs in his paws. Our journey continued onwards to “Samperin Savotta”, our place for the night. A short drive from Kivitunturi, it is located on the shore of Kemijoki river at the edge of Savukoski village. 

Waiting for us there was Ms. Santa Claus cottage’s cosy room and inviting beds as well as “Marski’s sauna”, already radiating heat. The heavy log sauna, originally built in Saunakangas for President Mannerheim, was later moved to this spot at Kemijoki’s beach cliffs. We studied the markings and numbers on the logs while keeping an eye on the spectacular sunset on the river. A thin layer of fog formed over the river as the sun set. The water of Kemijoki was clear, enabling the late evening light to shine beautifully on the riverbed plants. We stayed in the sauna until it got dark, and fell sound asleep as soon as we got into bed. Thank you Savukoski!

Translated by Karolina Salin

Check out all the posts from this series:

Part 1: Reach the wilderness overnight by train – paddle at sunset in Salla

Part 2: The fog lifted and revealed the first colours of ’ruska’ – our hike to “Kivitunturi” in Savukoski with Alit the Husky

Part 3: Climbing up Pyhäkuru rock formations & cycling with e-fatbikes to the eternally beautiful Tunturiaapa mire in Pyhä

Part 4: Summer at Kemijärvi on horseback & SUP-boarding on the superb Kalkonniemi beach

Part 5: The outskirts of Riisitunturi National Park – a journey through Posio’s untouched wilderness

See also

Visit Savukoski-Korvatunturi – Korvatunturi.fi

Radnis Northern Venture

Samperin Savotta

Article by Johanna Suomela

For years, at the time when the wood anemones are in perfect bloom, I have travelled to my cottage passing the Town of Ekenäs and the grove paradise of Ramsholmen. I have always dreamed of stopping by the grove to marvel the breath-taking beauty it offers in the spring. I am happy, though, that I have not done it in passing, because Ramsholmen deserves a proper and unhurried visit.

The 55-hectare forest park of Ramsholmen is made of three adjacent areas: the cape of Hagen and the islands of Ramsholmen and Högholmen. A wide bridge leads from Hagen to the island of Ramsholmen. In Högholmen, there is a narrower and longer bridge. Going along the beautiful bridge over the cane grass-adorned river bed, we embark on a trip to see how spring in the grove paradise looks like.

Getting warmed up in Hagen

I have my trusted travel companion Jetsu with me. He is a Labrador retriever and he’s fond of everything outdoor. He is on a lead, because we are in a nature preservation area.

In the unlikely event that some dog-owner does not remember this, there is a sign to remind them that it is mandatory to have pets on a lead. Having pets secured ensures the nesting peace of birds and protects other wildlife as well. We had to pose by the sign for the first photograph.

To guide the travellers, there is also a signpost by the wide gravel road of Hagen, nicely covered in moss.

Today, we are walking with our senses open. We stop, look, listen and sniff. Both of us. Although the small town of Ekenäs is only a stone’s throw away, suddenly it feels that we are in a different world altogether.

It is so quiet and peaceful that you could almost hear things growing. Only birdsong breaks the silence. A bird expert could probably name all the singers, but I recognize only a few.

Ramsholmen is still ahead, but I am already in total awe. They’re everywhere – the wood anemones – as far as the eye can see! These are the provincial flowers of Uusimaa.

The grove paradise of Ramsholmen makes my head spin way before we even reach the actual place.

In addition to the wood anemones, Hagen has two old villas, built in the 19th century. The other villa, painted yellow, is located at the southern tip of Hagen. If we kept walking along the southern shore of Hagen towards the east, we would reach the camping ground of Ekenäs.

If we wanted to stay overnight, the Tammisaari Camping ground would be the closest possible site for setting up a tent, because camping is not allowed in Ramsholmen.

The island of Ramsholmen is also accessible

After a short and easy hike, we come to the bridge that leads to Ramsholmen.

I cross the sturdy bridge with my canine buddy. The paths on the island of Ramsholmen are smooth, wide and hard-surfaced.

This place grows greener and greener by the day. It allows access for almost any type of unmotorized vehicle; a pram, wheelchair or a bicycle for instance.

We see many people of all types and ages: there are people with children enjoying nature; single people exercising with their headphones on, people listening only birds, and people with dogs.

What connects all of them is nature. They have come here to feel better and to reduce stress, and what would be a greater place than this green oasis!

I would have no problem of spending the whole day and enjoying life here; the nature of Ramsholmen is so unique. I could sit down on a bench for rest, or go for a picnic. There’s also a beach in case it gets hot or if I want to go for a swim.

Are you really hungry, but didn’t bring any lunch with you? No problem, because the beautiful centre of the Town of Ekenäs is only a little more than a kilometre away. There you can find all necessary services.

Enchanting little bloomers of Ramsholmen

The wood anemone and other beautiful flowers in the grove bloom early in the spring just before the trees come into leaf. This happens because there’s plenty of light to reach the forest floor. When the trees are in full leaf, the amount of light on the ground is reduced.

I suddenly hear a low buzz. Where does it come from? Looking up, I can see where: many hardwood trees of the grove bloom before they come into leaf, and numerous busy bumblebees are doing the best they can to pollinate as many flowers as possible. Those chubby little friends are keeping busy!

Ramsholmen is renowned for its wood anemone. But there’s more.

Along the numerous paths and trails in Ramsholmen, there are wooden posts with numbers on them. By following the numbers, you can spot at least these trees and plants: wych elm (Ulmus glabra), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), black alder (Alnus glutinosa), mountain currant (Ribes alpinum), red-berried elder (Sambucus racemosa), bird cherry (Prunus padus), fly honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum), European larch (Larix decidua), English oak (Quercus robur); the highest elm in Finland by the dance hall, white elm (Ulmus laevis), hazel (Corylus avellana), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia).

One of the other tree species that’s found plenty in the grove is the Norway maple (Acer platanoides). It too blooms early in spring.

Looking back down towards the ground, I see some yellow wood anemones (Anemone ranunculoides) in the midst of the white ones. I have rarely seen the yellow species, perhaps this is the first time ever that I have come across them?

With white wood anemones, Ramsholmen is also sporting the yellow ones.

Suddenly, I see blue everywhere.

Although the fumewort (Corydalis solida) is one of the first flowers to have started blooming, they are still looking so beautiful!

Even after the anemones have stopped blooming, the grove doesn’t rest. The paradise grove is teeming with life. A group of other plants is waiting for their turn, such as herb paris (Paris quadrifolia) and the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris).

When the ostrich fern begins to flaunt its feathers, Ramsholmen starts to resemble a lush jungle. That I would like to see. So I have to come back in the summer.

The leaves of herb paris are working their way up through the anemones.
The ostrich fern is fluffing its feathers ready for summer.

The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is too almost ready to spring up. In a matter of days, it will be spreading all over the place, both physically and in scent.

It seems, though, that the bird cherry will take the first place in the competition of which plant smells the strongest. It will most likely be the first one to pop open its inflorescence.

The bird cherry is about to bloom as well.

A rank outsider takes the race of bloomers in the early spring. The first runner-up will be the Norway maple. I don’t remember ever looking the inflorescence of the ash tree so close. Oh my goodness the beauty of it!

The inflorescence of the ash is as pretty as a pearl.
The hazel has done most of its pollinating.

Högholmen is a wilderness-like natural sanctuary a stone’s throw away from Ramsholmen

Whereas the island of Ramsholmen is easy to walk on, the neighbouring wild Högholmen is a different story altogether.

A beautiful, long and narrow bridge is leading to Högholmen. Someone has left two bicycles waiting by the bridge. That is a smart thing to do, because Högholmen is no place for bikes. The narrow, in some places root-covered paths, are unforgiving and would turn to mud when it’s wet.

We decide to take our trip counter-clockwise around Högholmen. The path is leading to the jungle-like grove.

The wooden causeways suggest that this place must be quite wet when it’s raining. Along the way, there’s also a small bridge to cross.

After the wild grove, the path begins to go upwards, and more and more coniferous trees appear. Finding their way through the rocky ground, the roots of the trees have made the trail very uneven.

A rare gem: a single-room apartment with all the amenities?

We are admiring the view on the cliffs of the southwestern tip of Högholmen.

On the cliffs, there are many dead trees still standing upright. If we were to stay longer, this would be a perfect place for watching the sunset.

There are many black marks on the cliff. That means that someone has made a fire here, which is not allowed. It should be remembered that making an open fire is not a so-called everyman’s right. Campfires are only allowed on designated campfire sites. Other than that, you will always need the landowner’s permission.

The ornate dead tree of Högholmen

On the southeastern slope of Högholmen, the coniferous trees give way to deciduous ones once again, and the trail becomes easier to tread. The only exception is a fallen dead tree that cuts the path.

Fallen trees have their own and important function in the ecosystem and in preserving the biodiversity. Trees offer hiding places for insects and food for birds.

There are benches in Högholmen, too. Although just simple plank ones, as you would expect to see in a place like this, they still offer good resting places.

Sit down for a while and look around to catch the fleeting spring.

You could also study the little leaves of the rowan, or the modest inflorescence of the mountain currant. Or explore the lilies of the valley which grow so abundant that you could find them with your eyes closed – so strong is their scent.

Rowan
Mountain currant (Ribes Alpinum)

On our way back to Ramsholmen’s side, we stop and log a geocache by a bridge crossing Blindsund. The cache seems to require some serious maintenance.

While we were having an adventure in Högholmen, the sun had gone hiding behind a curtain of clouds. It is the night before May Day (also called Walpurgis Night) and many people have arrived in Ramsholmen to celebrate the event.

We spot a yellow dance hall still in use during the summer months, and the forlorn remains of a summer theatre that was built over a hundred years ago. Nature is slowly claiming the land back, and trees are growing between the rows of benches.

On the side of the wide main trail, there lies a weird-looking rotten tree. How would that seem through child’s eyes? A dinosaur, crocodile or perhaps something else?

We have explored Ramsholmen back and forth and over again. My sport watch has tracked almost seven kilometres. Could have been lot less if we’d been just taking a straight route.

What does spring in the centre of Ekenäs look like?

Spring evening at the centre of Ekenäs might look interesting. Actually, on our detour we get an unforeseen bonus: Sargent’s cherry (Prunus sargentii) is blooming pink like crazy next to the former town hall which is also brightly coloured yellow.

The old town hall of Ekenäs is beautiful. Although the sign for tourist information still exists on the corner of the building, the actual information point is elsewhere. It is located 120 metres from here in a pretty red wooden house, in the same place where the EKTA Museum is.

The current town hall is handsome, too. It used to be an old psychiatric hospital, and the town spent 8 million Euros to make it the new administrative centre. Only the facade reminds us of the bygone era; everything else is new.

The sargent’s cherry is one of our most beautiful ornamental trees.
The Ekenäs Nature Centre in the north harbour is waiting for the summer. Some early bird has already come to queue up.
The traditional summer restaurant Knipan in the harbour is built on top of stilts.

The old centre of Ekenäs is idyllic. Too bad that the EKTA Museum on the Kustaa Vaasa street has already closed. Had it been open, I could have asked the tourist information agent for some tips for my next visit.

Next time, I will walk through the oldest pedestrian street in Finland, the Kuninkaankatu Street. After doing some window-shopping on the small boutiques, I will head to the narrow alleys of the Old Town that was founded in the 16th century. Many of the narrow alleys running between idyllic wooden houses have been named after artisans.

After having walked through the Hansikkaantekijänkatu (glovemaker) street and Satulasepänkatu (saddlemaker) street, I will eat a tasty and unhurried lunch, taking in the atmosphere of this lovely little town with all my senses. Then, it is time to head out to Ramsholmen to see how it looks, smells and sounds like in summer.

I am thinking how privileged we are to have four seasons, and how our nature is so diverse. And most of all, how each one of us can enjoy it freely.

Translation from Finnish: Mikko Lemmetti

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Ekenäs Old Town