I was presented a unique opportunity to shadow a proper ranger in Päijänne National Park this July.
Pekka, who also works at Isojärvi National Park, was no stranger to me, thanks to my internship last winter. The agenda was to check the condition of all the campsites on the islands.
We took off from Padasjoki harbor towards the islands. The weather was nice and sunny and for a land dweller like me just being on a boat was an experience on itself.
We first hit land at Liesaari, where we had a talk with a kayaking couple. Our little talk really put a kayaking fire under my butt. I’d love to go to the largest island, Kelvenne, on a kayak.
You can also reach Kelvenne on a ferry and has a lovely long hike trail across it. They also have loads of campsites and firepits.
Päijänne is popular amongst boaters in general and on a hot summer day you can really spend time looking for a spot to tie your boat.
People had a lot to say about the area and about Finnish national parks in general. The chats were intriguing and you could really see how much nature means to us Finns. We appreciate our parks and as trekking becomes increasingly more popular, so does the need for more areas. There are a lot of requests but Metsähallitus has limited resources.
The discussion sparked a lot of questions in my mind.
What would I be willing to do to make sure we all can enjoy our nature in the future as well? The subject of voluntary work came up often and I’d like to ask you: would you take part in voluntary work?
Anne and Heikki have both shown us great volunteering spirit in Pallas and this was what inspired me to sign up for Metsähallitus Ranger Voluntery Registery. Why don’t you sign up as well?
Ranger’s work isn’t all fun and games however. On our walks we came across a plethora of illegal campfire spots and other structures that we needed to tear down. As trekking spreads and becomes more popular, there are bound to be people who aren’t so familiar with what you can and cannot do. Which is why it’s important to school them every now and then.
At the end of the tour Pekka took me to a hermit island where a lonely fisherman had lived in the 1970’s. It was beautiful and mindblowing place.
After shadowing Pekka my appreciation for his work increased tenfold. Most of what he does is hard physical labor but equally importantly he informs hikers of all the rules and regulations.
A devoted ranger is the best person to assist and inspire people.