What was that mystical Winter trek destination, the name of which came clear to us after arriving? Hitonhauta (directly translates to Heck’s Tomb), that’s what. Where does it get its name? Possibly from the reactions it conjures up in people, including Heikki, who couldn’t help but throw around impressed cursewords.

There are plenty of guideposts, starting off from Valkolantie, taking you to the parking lot. We typed in Valkolantie 865, Laukaa into our GPS and found our way there with ease. You can find some helpful tips from Viivi’s blog Valkoinen Soihtu, which has a drawn map. You could’ve fit a bunch of cars in the parking lot and we did run into a hiking couple when closing in on the gorge. Right next to the parking lot you can find a lea. We didn’t check the wood situation but at least Viivi and her family brought their own. In the gorge itself, fire-making of any kind is prohibited, because the resulting smoke would harm the moss on the gorge. Because we’re talking about a Natura destination, there are certain rules: no littering, no fire, nothing is allowed to be taken from the gorge and no motorized vehicles within the Natura area. And no dogs! With the support of an EU Project, the trail and guideposts were originally renovated but have since been slowly deteriorating and the trail is no longer maintained by anyone. So in other words, tread at your own risk!

The trail is very well marked and it’s about 1,5 kms away from the parking lot. The road to the lot was plowed, so the drive there was easy. The gorge is also partially a family destination on the account of the short distances and you can always simply turn back if it looks too demanding for the younglings.

Hitonhauta is about 800 meters long. When approaching from the parking lot, the first thing you notice are the piranha-like icicles hanging from the stone. We just had to take pictures, not to mention the small leaves frozen in what looked like bubbles. There we were, two Sulanders on our knees before this frozen beauty. You could hear the water flowing within the icy walls, heralding the approaching Spring.

The details pale in comparison to the big picture that awaited us, though. The giant, overwhelming cascades of ice. I swear it looked like it was going to flow on top of us. I couldn’t help but laugh and even shed a tear, staring at this amazing scenery. I was impressed by the icicles and the leaf-bubbles, can you imagine what this did to me? I was breathless. Heikki slipped out more than a few f**k me’s.

I hear that underneath this giant rock, with the frozen waterfall covering it in Winter, there’s a small pond during Summertime (I’m sorry but I think they mean a puddle. Water needs to have a certain level of cubic meters to be called a pond, right?). The rock itself emphasizes the scale of the gorge, since it alone is gigantic, with trees growing on top and trails on each side. I highly recommend taking the right hand path, it has a little surprise gateway. After all this, the trail continued on to another frozen waterfall.

The next valley has this magnificent work of art. The small cave-like trench looked like a chapel for whoever dares to stand underneath the looming fangs of ice. On the opposing side there was a real cave, in the rock, shallow as it is but this time around covered in icy prison bars. The water flowing from the cave had formed a small river that appeared to be moving but was, in reality, frozen solid. You could hear the water bubbling inside the ice, like a percolator and it’ll only get stronger come Spring. I can’t even imagine what all this looks like when it’s negative 30 degrees Celsius, let alone when the ice starts to collapse in the sunlight.

We took the high road back, against our better judgement. There were two sets of footprints going up, so we followed them. A word of advice: take the low road unless you feel like exercising. I started to lose faith when two pairs of footprints turned into one and started heading towards the deep snow. About five meters away from the main road I started to lose my temper: we’ll never find our way back, we have no food and I’m sweating like a pig! Needless to say, I didn’t know the main road was that close. Before we knew it, we were at the car changing into not-so-sweaty clothes. The frozen waterfalls did look impressive from above, too.

Hitonhauta is a beautiful family destination and we’ll definitely go back there when Spring hits. This time around we left our swimming attire at home but maybe next time we’ll visit the Peurunka spa and sauna on the way back.

~ Anne

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