08.09.2004 Saimaa Canal, GCH26G

On our way to see Riverdance in Helsinki, we decided to stop by Ramin’s childhood playgrounds at the first lock of the Saimaa canal (from the Finnish side). There is a cache there that was easy to reach and provided us with a good place to drop off the Travel Bug Medicine Bag.

This was the first time Anna got to see a large ship going through a lock. During that time Ramin got to try to remember the vital statistics of the canal and the ships that can pass through it. No luck there, but luckily information points near the cache gave us all of the necessary data. The ship we saw pass through was just about the largest that can pass through the Saimaa canal: 84 meters long and 12.5 meters wide. A ship that size fills the lock up pretty well, as you can see.

Ship in the lock Ship in the lock Ship in the lock

Ship in the lockWhile it was all new and exciting for Anna, for the sailors of the ship it was as good a day as any other to go about their everyday tasks. Especially when the locks provide protection from the waves, it’s a good day to paint the deck.

Flippe, as always, was insatiably curious. He kept jumping against the fence to see what is down there. Finally he got a view of the ship, and even recognized that there were humans aboard. At least he greeted them with a bark.

Flippe watching the ship

The cache itself is near the old canal. The old canal was built in 1844-1856. A large undertaking during that time, especially when the final canal had to lower the ships over 70 meters. Parts of the canal were dug and parts were created by using existing rivers and lakes. In the dug parts of the canal, horses (and tugboats later) were used to pull the ships and barges thru the canal. The maximum size of the ships that could pass through the canal was: length 31.2 m, width 7.1 m and draft 2.4 m. As time passed, the need for a new canal was inevitable. Now, parts of the canal are being maintained as a museum (at least on the Finnish side).

The old canal

Most of the time that we spent at the Saimaa canal was a time for Flippe to learn some patience and walk on a lead. To his great joy, when we began to head back on the road towards Helsinki, he got to run free…

Flippe running along the old canal

Cache visited 8.9.2004. View cache details.

16.08.2004 Kalmanniemi, GCK912

The Kalmanniemi cache was only a few days old when we first got to it. We had just found all of the caches that were in the vicinity of Joensuu and expected the next cache to be quite a drive away from us. Luckily Kalmanniemi came along. It’s near a memorial of an old monastery – its name is literally peninsula of the dead. The name comes from the monasteries cemetery, which was found before the old monastery was known about. We also found our first travel bug there.

Monastery memorial Russian orthodox cross

Travel Bug

Impatient FlippeWhile Ramin was writing our log entry, Flippe was more than a little impatient while waiting for someone to play with him. Since Kuhasalo is a glade of tranquility in Joensuu, we decided to walk around the peninsula and enjoy the sunny and windy day.

Ramin and the logbook

Dead treeIt was a day on which Pyhäselkä decided to show its wilder side. While most Finnish lakes are narrow and filled with bays, peninsulas, and islands, Pyhäselkä offers a large body of open water and the most isolated islands in any Finnish lake – over four kilometers from the nearest shore. So you an imagine, even small waves seem large around here.

View of Pyhäselkä

Kassu, Flippe, and RaminOur swimmer, Flippe, got to experience the waves firsthand. He’ll truly go anywhere after a stick, ball, or frisbee. We started out in slightly smaller waves until he graduated to full force of the waves that day. Again he showed that he will not stop until he drops. We finally headed home after a shivering dog started to crawl out of the waves and onto the shore.

Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves Flippe and the waves

Cache visited 16.8.2004. View cache details.

14.08.2004 Öllölä, GCJXTC

ForestOn the way to this cache from Aconitum Tohjmajärvi we realised why Finns, especially Ari Vatanen, are such good rally drivers. If you’re ever driving from Tohmajärvi to Öllölä, we recommend choosing the smaller roads. You’re in for a wild ride, but it is very much worth it.

As it was the last cache of the day for us and we were already running out of light, we just went to the cache and then spent some time letting Flippe swim in the nearby river. The path off which the cache is hidden is worth walking through though. I guess we’ll just have to go back there at some time.

Old gate Old building Rainbow River

Cache visited 14.8.2004. View cache details.

Aconitum Tohmajärvi, GCG2N9

BelltowerOur second cache of the day was near the Tohmajärvi church near a nature reserve. We initially drove by the parking lot from which to go to the cache and went up to the Tohmajärvi church. It was our first visit to Tohmarjärvi and we were surprised by the church and the beauty of its location. The church and its belltower were built in the 19th century in the typical eastern Finnish tradition, i.e. from wood. Especially because the church is far away from the nearest fire station (let alone from large amounts of fire fighters) any suspicion of fire in the church is responded to in force with the alarm automatically going to the Tohmajärvi fire station and surrounding counties. Better safe than sorry.

Tohmajärvi church Karelian swords

Near the church is an old graveyard with monuments and tombstones for the soldiers lost in Finland’s wars. The swords of Karelia (symbolizing a frontier zone between the east and west) have been chiseled onto a monument for the soldiers lost in Swedish-Russian war of 1808-1809 in which the rule of Finland transfered from Sweden to Russia. Most Finnish cemeteries have a part dedicated to the soldiers lost in the Winter War (1939-1940) and the Continuation War (1941-1944) against the Soviet Union. Finland tried to bring all of the fallen soldiers home, soldiers were buried in the graveyards of their homes.

Unknown soldiers

Russian POW monumentA surprising touch was to see a monument for the fallen Soviet POWs just outside of the newer (but called old) graveyard. While it is understandable that the POWs were not buried in the graveyard itself, being the enemy and “pagans,” it is nice to see that they are remembered.

A fallen treeThe cache was some way off the beaten path, away from the road, about a kilometer along a nature path. The woods through which the nature path wanders through is not typical in Eastern Finland. A typical Eastern Finnish forest is either evergreens or birch. Here other trees are the majority and the forest is quite damp, giving a home to fields of ferns.

We took quite some time to find the cache since our GPS decided to play tricks with us and had an accuracy of about 60 meters at times. Finally we found it and enough chantarel mushrooms to give us a meal the next day. Note, chantarels are the only mushroom Ramin recognizes accurately and therefore picks from the forest. But they do make a good sauce for new potatoes.

Anna and Flippe at the cache Ramin and chantarels

There is a Finnish literature classic, Pohjantähden alla, that starts with a sentence that has one of the most famous quotes in Finnish: Alussa oli suo, kuokka ja Jussi. A rough translation would be: in the beginning there was a swamp, a pick, and Jussi. Anna had the brilliant idea to modify it to suit Flippe. We present The swamp, stick, and Flippe.

The swamp, stick, and Flippe Kassu

On the way back we had time to sample the wild berries next to the graveyard fence. Believe me, wild strawberries and raspberries taste much better than their cultivated counterparts. They may be smaller, but they have much more taste. Bigger isn’t always better… From here we went on to Öllölä.

Wild raspberries Wild raspberries

Cache visited 14.8.2004. It has since been removed. View cache details.

The stash of Vanha Puhos, GCJAN8

Vanha Puhos is an old industrial area in Kitee, the home of Nightwish. There’s also a modern industrial area called Puhos nearby, which offers fenced in areas of the forestry industry. The old area has several signposts that tell the story of the area. Unfortunately they are only in Finnish… The signposts are interesting because instead of chemicals they use soot, or burned wood, to protect the wood of the signposts from rotting.

The old mill

The area has an old mill which is still in use at times. What’s missing from the area today is the old manor and most of the old sawmills and such. In the 19 century the area was mainly owned by N. L. Arppe, who brought the first steamship to the Finnish lakes. And a connection to Ramin’s background comes from the fact that most of the area was bought in the early 1900s by Oy Kaukas Ab, a pulp and paper mill in the shadow of which Ramin was born and grown.

Signposts The old mill

The old mill is a great example of Finnish wood buildings. Unfortuantely it was closed when we visited the area and we couldn’t see the inside of it for details of the structure. Next to the mill is a small power station creating electricity from the three meter height difference in the water. Because the mill and power station dam up the river, the logs that were transported through the water had to be carted over a land bridge. To take care of this, a cart was lowered into the water and logs were loaded on it. After this the cart was pulled over the land bridge on tracks.

Log handling equipment Anna, Flippe and Kassu

The cache itself is near the mill in quite an interesting place. Or at least that is where it is supposed to be. We couldn’t find it even if we did come back the next day to look for it… At least we had a change to get some of the Nightwish beer bottles from Kitee on our second visit there. Based on the communication we had with the cache owner, it seems that the cache has gone AWOL. (Update: The cache was missing for a while, but has been found since.) Flippe did try to help us even if we did have him tied up to a tree.

Flippe peeking

After an hour or two of futile searching we decided to head towards the next caches of the day, Aconitum Tohmajärvi and Öllölä.

An old barn

Cache visited 13.8.2004. View cache details.

13.08.2004 Orivirran saarto, GCJPM4

It’s interesting how the 35 kilometers of distance to the cache given by your GPS can change to 85 km just because of Finnish lakes. But this was the case when we visited Orivirran saarto. Since the cache description only has the background of the site in Finnish, we’ll give a short introduction to the site here.

Orivirta monumentA view of the lake

The cache is located in the ruins (odd piles of rock) of an old Swedish fortress that was built sometime in the early half of the 16th century. At its peak it was manned by 300-400 men. It’s unknown when it was abandonded, but conversion work was done in the mid-17th century. The road to the cache is an old road to where the ferry across Orivirta used dock.

An old bridge

The road to the old ferry needed a bridge that has been preserved and is still in use. On the way to the cache we saw a rescue department boat heading for the docks. The boat ended up at a pier close to the cache, over the old bridge. This made us wonder, because often the crew of the boats take the fire engines to the pier with them and the old bridge didn’t have enough carrying capacity for such heavy equipment. However, our sighting was wrong and the boat wasn’t a rescue vessel, which solved that problem. The cache itself was hidden in the ruins (odd boulders lying about) of the fortress. This time it was Kassu who helped locate the cache.

Kassu and Ramin looking for the cache

Once the cache was found we decided to amuse Flippe by throwing a stick all over the place. At times he didn’t see where the stick flew and had to look for it. One of those times gave us this shot of him, standing tall and proud.

Flippe standing proud

Anna picking blueberriesWhile Flippe was chasing the stick, Anna started hunting for blueberries. While the blueberry season hasn’t been all that good (blame the weather), she found enough to sweeten our mouths. And no, the boys didn’t get any.

The modern bridge over Orivirta was built in 1965. It lets vessels with a maximum height of 12 meters to pass under it, so the bridge offers beatiful views of the surrounding lakeside to those driving over it. We just had to stop on the bridge to get a shot of the lake. Luckily there wasn’t any other traffic crossing the bridge at the time. The Finnish countryside is quite quiet on a Friday evening. On the way back, we had two tired retrievers sleeping peacufully in the back…

A view from the bridge Two tired retrievers

Cache visited 13.8.2004. View cache details.

12.08.2004 Kolvananuuro, GCJH3H

An abandoned farm

The Kolvananuuro cache is located just outside of the nature reserve. The nature reserve has been created to preserve a geological formation that is evidence of moving land masses and the latest ice age. Unfortunately we were running out of light so we didn’t have time to go wander around. More on Kolvananuuro sometime later when we have the time to go there.

An abandoned farm

The cache itself is in an abandoned farmyard. The Finnish countryside, especially in North Karelia and other poorer areas, has many old farms that have been abandoned and left to ruin. We didn’t even see any evidence of fields near this old farm, so it must be decades since it has last been farmed. Our inquisitive natures lead us to explore inside the house. The old newspapers were dated to 1968. While it seems unlikely that the house would have been abandoned for almost 40 years, it certainly hasn’t been lived in for quite some time.

Ramin and Kassu investigating the farmhouseWhen we see, let alone visit, an abandoned house, we can’t help but wonder who was the last person to live here and what caused them to leave. Was it lovingly taken care of by an (older) couple until the realities of life and age forced them to move into town, or did it fall into disuse and ruin while the owner was somewhere drinking? Either way, it’s always sad to see an abandoned house – an enduring symbol of dead hopes and lost dreams…

Just so we finish off without such heavy thoughts on our minds, nature again offered us a spectacular show of clouds and the setting sun.

The evening clouds

We visited the cache on 12.8.2004. View cache details.

Eno One, GCJG9D

Canal viewEno One is near one of Eno’s canals. The river Pielisjoki was canaled in the latter half of the 19 century and three of the canals are located in Eno. While the dam of Kaltimo later made some of the canals unnecessary, their earthworks, and in some cases locks, still exist. We’ll start with a view of the end of the canal to the south (west ?).

The right side of the picture is a land barrier between the canal part of the river and the naturally flowing one. The water levels around the Kaltimo canal have risen somewhat after the dam was built, creating interesting little islands.

Canal islands

Ramin and Flippe searchingFlippe proved to be a great help in looking for the caches. Or at least he kept thinking that he’d be a great help. Ramin took care of the looking for the cache, leaving Anna to concentrate on what she’d write in the log :).

Anna entering our log

Even though there is a large paper and pulp mill 20 kilometers or so to the northeast of Eno, the air here is quite clean. A good indicator of the air quality here is the moss shown in the picture below. It only grows in areas where the air is good. In fact, in many Finnish cities and towns this moss has gained more ground in the last decade as the amount of pollution emitted by industry and vehicles has been reduced.

Lichen Canal view

Lockkeeper’s houseIt’s odd how even though Anna has rowed through the canal twice and Ramin has driven around in that area quite a bit, neither one of us remembered the southernmost lock of the Kaltimo canal. Next to the site of the lock is an old building that the county of Eno uses and rents for various occasions.

Today the land barrier between the canal and the river is a walkpath and accessway to the lockkeepers house. Again, the higher water levels (especially now after all of our rains) are clearly visible by how low the causeway is. In fact, at one point there was about 20 cm of water on it. Walking along it Flippe got his first taste of what a real current in the water does. The sticks he had to fetch moved in novel ways…

Causeway

We visited the cache on 12.8.2004. View cache details.

09.08.2004 Swamp1, GC320A

Swamp1 is located in the northeastern parts of Joensuu, quite close to habitation. It’s a nice and easy one to look find as a first cache. It’s located in a fairly typical dried swamp. The idea with a dried swamp is that ditches are dug in the swamp to let the water of the swamp seep out while still leaving the ground moist and fertile and thus a great location to grow trees in. And Finland is the promised land of forestry.

Blueberries

While this summer isn’t going to be all that good when it comes to blueberries (it’s been too cold), the route we took had quite a few. At least enough to keep us stopping and eating them every now and then. The afore mentioned ditches were mostly small and narrow so that we could easily jump over them. However, no ditch is ever too small for Flippe to go for a swim.

Flippe in a ditch

But not all of the ditches were small. This one was wide enough that jumping over it didn’t seem like a good idea. Luckily someone had been chopping down some small trees along the ditches bank that we used to build a bridge. Finally after some wandering (and coaxing to get Kassu across the ditch), we found the cache.

Kassu and Anna crossing a ditch Anna, Kassu and Flippe near the cache

On the way back we found a better route back that didn’t include quite that many ditches. And a much better bridge than the one we made…

A log bridge crossing a ditch

While driving home, nature offered us with some nice clouds over the lake (Pyhäselkä) and the odd light effects around the sun. All in all, it was a very enjoyable couple of hours spent in the forest and wandering near recent urban developments looking at all of the new homes being built.

Stormclouds over the lake The sun and halos

Cache visited 9.8.2004. View cache details.