Ascension Day and the following Mother’s Day weekend gave a business woman and her office ninja of a husband (that’s us) a beautiful Summer day. We got the Friday off, so a weekend turned into a mini vacation. Our newly purchased hammocks were already tried and tested, so we grabbed them along. Helvetinjärvi (Hell’s Lake) National Park in Ruovesi was chosen as a destination. Last Autumn it barely lost the vote to Salamajärvi in the Hiking and Camping Class weekend trip. We stayed the night at Haukanhieta (Hawk’s Sand) which is located on the West side of the Park. We also went on a day trip to the more well-known attraction in the Park, Helvetinkolu.
I’ll be telling all about our weekend in a few parts because, well…there are so many photos! Which is why the walk to feels longer than the walk from – Heikki takes all the pictures he can on the way and none on the way back.
The Park is about a two-hour drive away from Jyväskylä. Granted, we took a detour via Jämsä because we needed to borrow some rain covers and rope, just in case. We typed in Haukanhieta into our GPS and found our way there with ease. A word of warning, though: the last few kilometers are on unpaved roads that are fairly worn out. The parking lot was packed thanks to the beautiful weather but we managed to squeeze our car in there. Haukanhieta camp site with its wide sandy shores is about 200 meters from the parking lot. There are several spots specifically for tents but as previously mentioned, we used trees to hang our hammocks. We did pack a tent as well but decided to leave it in the car, as a backup.
We set up our camp in about 20 minutes. The rain covers served more as a way to shield our stuff from prying eyes when we were out and about. I took a quick afternoon nap after we set everything up. It’s the main reason I wanted a hammock in the fisrt place!
An evening walk heading East – and then North
Our evening walk (part 1) was towards Heinälahti. We walked into what can only be called a tree graveyard. A plethora of fallen giants everywhere. They’d been there since the big storm of 2010. The idea was to leave them for insects to feed on. So we needed to circle around the wreckage in wet moss here and there. But beyond them opened up beautiful cliffs and boardwalks. And a whole lot of croaking – frogs were ”getting it on” all over the marshes and riverbeds. You could hear them a mile away and they didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence.
Heikki called me a frog hater but I wasn’t trying to step on them and I didn’t actually step on any but seriously, they were practically suicidal! You’re allowed to walk on the trail as much as you want but landing is prohibited on the shores of Haukanjärvi from April 15th to July 31st. Birds need their privacy, you know.
As it turns out, we didn’t go all the way to Heinälahti. We took a wrong turn to Pirkan Taival route and that lead us away from the Park. As soon as we saw the sign, we turned back and headed towards our camp site. There’s a vista point about 1,5 kilometers down the trail to Helvetinkolu, so that’s where we went after a nice, hot meal. They’d built wooden structures and staircases on the cliffs, along with a table and some benches. But as a stonehugger, I chose to sit on top of the cliffs.
As we arrived back to camp, the sun was gradually setting. There we were, enjoying the spectacular view when a few mosquitos joines us. First they occupied the shore but not before too long they found our hammocks as well. So we zipped up and continued to watch the sunset behind the bugnets. Haukanhieta is a fairly popular camping ground, so in addition to bugs, we had human company as well. There was a group of kayakers who had a sauna tent with them and lots and lots of families in their respective tents. After sundown we didn’t have anything special plannes and everyone else seemed to call it a day, so we followed suit.
So how did we sleep? I’ll tell you soon enough!
P.S. As per usual, driving instructions, maps and such can be found from the National Park’s website.