All bogged down

Out for another hike. My husband has been out and about in our neighborhood quite a lot lately, and visiting some other places too a couple times, like hiking in Karkali, Lohja, last week on day when I was visiting a customer at Lohja. After that he started to look for a nice place not too far away, to go both hiking and camping for the night, and came up with the Torronsuo National Park, most of which is bog (Torronsuo = the bog of Torro).

Friday after I was home from work, we went to the stores to get me a proper sleeping bag as I only had one that was good for indoor usage; it’s been so long since I last went camping, that I was actually using my dad’s down sleeping bag back then… We were also looking for a waterproof jacket for me, but in the end, I decided to borrow one of my husband’s, as big as it was for me.

Back at home we started to pack our stuff into our backpacks. We gathered our clothes and knives and water bottles, a small first aid kit, dry snacks, rubber boots – it was said that if you go off duckboards ankle-high hiking boots won’t be high enough – and I even dug out my compass. We attached the sleeping mattresses and sleeping bags to the backpacks, making everything as ready as possible for the next morning.

There was no alarm going off in the morning, but we were awake by 8:30 and padded downstairs for a cappucino, some bacon and eggs and a shower. I made us some rye sandwiches and my husband packed a couple packages of sausages in his backpack and we were good to go with our 15-18kg backpacks. Maybe a bit of an overkill, but we had no idea what we really needed and what not.

We started out towards Forssa, not exactly certain where we were supposed to go, so we had two initial stops in mind. #1 an Alko in Forssa (original plan was to get a bottle of wine for the evening by the fireplace, but settled on a couple of ciders after all), #2 the Häme Visitor Center for some maps and other info on the National Park.

First thing we noticed as we approached Forssa was a Citymarket. Quite certain we’d find an Alko (the government owned liqour store, the only one allowed to sell wine, booze and such) there, we cruised to the parking lot and got out of the car. And true enough, there it was, the Alko. But first we took a turn in the Citymarket, where I found myself that waterproof jacket, one that I actually liked, that is.

With my new jacket and the ciders added to the other stuff in the trunk of our car, we turned our wheels toward the general direction of the Visitor Center. Not knowing exactly where it was, I was googling for an address and accidentally found the Siri-copy on my Lumia: press the window button down for a few secs and a “talk to me” app launches. So I tried “Search for Häme Visitor Center” and got “Search for Turkey Hampton”.

As soon I managed to stop laughing, I returned to Google and found the place and navigated us there. After inspecting the maps on the walls of the archway to the center that was some 300 meters down a walk path, we decided we had enough info to continue straight to the Kiljamo parking lot and take off hiking there. We still had no clue as to where the cabin was that we intended to stay for the night in, but figured it would reveal itself eventually.

Sticking to that plan, we first climbed the Kiljamo bird watch tower and then headed down the forest trail on to the duckboards and accross the bog. Beautiful colors! A symphony of different shades of red, white, green and yellow. Cotton grass and cranberries were all over the moss, some lingonberries could be found here and there, but cloudberry season is already over. Marsh tea made the air thick, mingling to the other scents of the bog.

We came to the edge of the bog, entering the forest on the far side of the National Park. Half a kilometer of footpaths took us to an old granite mining site. Another half a kilometer and we were out of the forest on a dirt road behind the Park area. We turned right, wondering where we should actually be going and where the h*ck was that cabin we were supposed to find. A few hundred meters later we saw the sign of the “Ilves reitti” – the Lynx path – point us back to the forest.

We followed the path in and out of the forest, on and off of the duckboards. After an especially tough uphill we sat down for a little break, still wondering if we’d even find that cabin at all. We had a tent in the car as a backup plan, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was a matter of curiosity, if nothing else, since we’d read that it was somewhere there!

Just a couple hundred meters after our break we finally stumbled upon that lean two we had been sort of looking for. There were a couple of girls in their early twenties just finishing their picnic, and they pointed us to the cabin, which was just around the bend from the lean two with the fire place. We were going to leave our backpacks there and go back to the bog without them, when we noticed that people were actually driving their cars up the to lean two!

While we were grilling our sausages at the fireplace we decided to go get our car back to the cabin. I hitched a ride from a family who’d pulled up to the lean two right as we were getting settled at the cabin. They took me to Kiljamo, and I drove our car back to the cabin. We locked our stuff into the car, thinking that it would’ve been good if we’d understood to drive the car there in the first place, but we couldn’t know.

We took off the way we’d come, through the forests and back to the bog as the sun was slowly making its way down towards the horizon. The evening was cooling down quite a lot and the scents of the bog were changing as the temperature dipped. Whenever the sun shone through the clouds, the colors of the bog grew even brighter and more intense. An awesome sight toghether with the intriguing smells!

Making sure we were out of the forest before sundown at 20:30, we headed back to the log cabin and lean two and made a fire again in the fire pit. Sitting there by the fire, with the evening getting darker, we were sipping our ciders and talking about what a peculiar thing that bog is. Ancient, and more than ten meters deep. You could easily dispose of a cow there and nobody would ever find it. And who knows what kind of swamp monster lives underneath of all that moss?

As the darkness fell and the air got cool, I pulled my husband’s army poncho liner – a wonderfully warm lightweight blanket – around me and lay down and fell asleep right there on the hard wood floor of the lean two. I was exhausted from the day!

When the fire was out, my man woke me up and we walked the short distance to the cabin, wondering about the absolute quiet of the place. We hadn’t seen or heard any birds all day. There were practically no mosquitoes around. The only living thing we’d seen apart from other hikers & their dogs was a frog when coming back from the bog earlier. We were truly a lone duo in the wilderness (with a road winding right up to the cabin ;D ).

We spread our mattresses and sleeping bags and settled for the night. I fell asleep immediately, but woke up a few hours later, feeling quite claustrophobic, tangled up in my sleeping bag with the hood down to my face, in pitch black darkness. Fighting away the beginnings of a panic attack, I loosened the sleeping bag hood and tried to make myself comfortable (on the hard wood, with minimal softness from the mattress) and against my anticipation, fell back asleep as soon as I was done adjusting the bag.

In the morning I pretty much remembered why I hadn’t been camping in ages. Every part of my body hurt from the uncomfortable sleep on the wooden platform. My man had already ventured out the the early morning and was back from his little walk at 8:30 when I finally decided to open my eyes and sit up. I was sitting there trying to convince myself to get out of the warmth of the sleeping bag – it really had kept me warm – for a good fifteen minutes before finally getting on some day clothes and climbing out of the cabin into the dreary drizzly morning.

In the evening we had planned on doing a full hike around the bog, following the Ilves reitti, but the weather made us think twice and revise our plans. First off, we drove to Forssa in search of a cappucino. A little bit too much to hope, I grant you, in a place like Forssa, at least on a Sunday morning. Nothing was open yet at 9:30. Finally we found a gas station with a little cafe, that was actually open.

So we parked the car next to some other one and stepped inside. A tablefull of local 60+ guys turned their eyes on us. We walked to inspect the coffee situation and decided on hot chocolate over the regular coffee. I felt like a guy ordering milk at a bar, with the eyes of the patrons boring into my back as I pushed the button of the hot chocolate machine. Good thing I had my “you don’t mess around with slim” -man with me ;)

With our hot chocolates, we drove back to Kiljamo, parked the car and hiked to the bog again. First thing I noticed was that it had a different smell again, after the rainy night. We had some drizzle every now and then, but the overall weather wasn’t too bad. But a couple kilometers down the duckboards, when the dark storm clouds were rolling in towards us, we turned around and returned to the car and headed back home.

Our startpoint (Kiljamo) at the P sign, the cabin and lean two in the blue circle
Our startpoint (Kiljamo) at the P sign, the cabin and lean two in the blue circle