Quiet life of winter in Geopark – On skis to the mire

The mystical mires are easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. The skis provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground.

On skis to Huidankeidas

The mystical nature of mire is easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. They provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground – partly because they cannot be reached and because many wetlands are nesting areas for birds where you are not allowed to go. So is Huidankeidas.

Huidankeidas is located in Honkajoki, and there is a guided route from Siikaistentie via Haukantie. The road leading to the parking area of Huidankeidas is kept open in winter. I drove there and skied first along the path to the observation tower.

Cross-country skiing

The trail had not been walked since the previous snowfall, so I got to ski in thick unbroken snow. The landscape was really beautiful, the sun was shining low, how it can shine in January, and painted warm shades on top of the trees.

Birch grove

On the edge of Huidankeidas, there is a magnificent birch grove where the trees curved from the weight of the snow. In 1959, there was a conflagration in the area of the municipalities of Honkajoki and Isojoki, and the birch grove was born after that. In summer, it is a paradise for small birds.

Peaceful mire

The mire opened bold and calm, clean crust shining in the sun. There was no sound. I continued southeast of the tower near the edge of the mire, sometimes over the pools on solid ice and over the hummocks, sometimes diving between stunted pines. Gradually, traces of life began to appear.

Traces on the snow

An ermine had wandered on the surface of the snow purposefully. Small pairs of traces ran across the hummocks as a regular ribbon. The ermine keeps the little rodents in check, but it can also catch rabbits by biting its prey into its neck. The ermine has also been seen caught in the throat of a capercaillie.

Soon I found myself in the middle of a suburb of the black grouse. There were numerous hollows and corridors here and there, and there were also droppings in the pits, revealing to whom the beds belonged. Sufficient amount of soft snow means a favorable winter for the black grouse. It gets to rest out of reach of birds of prey and the cold.

To Huidansalo

At the edge of the mire, traces of a hare crisscrossed. They didn’t seem to lead anywhere, they just ended. The hare is a cunning guy, as it makes a comeback by walking its own footprints a little further back and then jumping to the side. Thus, it misleads potential predators.

The rabbit had dug up the snow to the ground to find something to eat. Fortunately, the snow was soft, so it had gotten in easily.

I skied to Huidansalo, which seemed interesting on the map. It is a “foreland” at the edge of a mire, gentle undulating terrain with ridges of dunes and ancient embankments. There were several elegant deadwoods on the edge of the mire, and on the dry land side began a magnificent, spacious pine forest. Immediately at the edge of the pine forest, the capercaillie had scampered back and forth. I followed its traces a little way if I had seen it, but I soon gave up the chase.

Quiet pine forest

In the pine forest I heard only a woodpecker tapping, all the little birds were conspicuously absent. The weather was quite cold, it was over ten degrees below zero and it started to get a little windy, so the smaller birds were definitely in more sheltered woods.

Surprise on top of a tree

After enjoying a packed lunch I returned and still admired the peace of the mire and the fine colors of the sky. On the way back between Honkajoki and Siikainen, I noticed a capercaillie eating at the top of a pine tree. It uses the needles of weak and old pines for food, as they contain less resin substances that impair digestion. The capercaillie cock  on top of a frosty tree is called “frost capercaillie”. It is a term especially familiar to hunters.

Although the mire looks quiet in winter, there are plenty of traces and signs of biodiversity in the harsh conditions. The stories are written on the surface of the snow, and passing slowly you may see the ones who have made the traces. The sparse soundscape also speaks its own language. Welcome to the mystical mires of the Geopark on bright winter days – and moonlit nights!

Text and photos: Terttu Hermansson

LOCAL NATURE AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE MADE INTO A MOVIE

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” ("these lands, these places - our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature.

These lands, these places

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” (“these lands, these places – our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura premiered in Bio Marlon in autumn 2021. The movie is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature. The filmmakers were happy when the audience found the film and new showings needed to be added, one after another. The popularity of the film also contributed to their biggest wish: that the experiences shown in the film would inspire to cherish our ancient heritage and go explore the diverse environment of our home region.

The film is based on Kauhajoki’s exceptionally extensive local heritage literature that covers over 100 titles. In particular, its nature and the cultural landscape are described thoroughly in a series of five books: Kauhajoen luonnonkirja (“The book of Kauhajoki nature”, 1983); Kauhajoen vesien kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki waters”, 1991); Kauhajoen metsien ja soiden kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki forests and mires”, 1999); Hämes-Havunen (2006); and Kauhajoen kulttuurimaisemien kirja (“The book of the cultural landscapes of Kauhajoki”, 2012). The books were also a marvel of volunteer efforts: every one of the approximately 100 authors wrote articles about their area of expertise without compensation. The same applied to the dozens of photographers. The books were also published and the editions of 2,000-3,000 books were sold as volunteer work by the Lions clubs.

The books are a source of many wonderful discoveries. What the bedrock tells about the history of our entire planet and the soil about the many glacial periods; What the brown trout in headwaters and the herb-rich forests by the brooks reveal about the groundwaters. The list could go on and on: the power of erosion, the breathtaking grand mires, the cultural landscapes of the Hyypänlaakso valley and the open terrain…

Over the decades, the books have provided a lot of information. Some of them only exist as archive copies now. Suddenly, there was a need to preserve them for younger generations and open the treasure trove of knowledge to the communal use of all interested parties using digital methods, both as a traditional reading experience and through editing from substantial data material. This work received Leader support from the Suupohja Development Association. The work was also motivated by the Geopark project, which is a joint project between local authorities and Metsähallitus, which presents the unique characteristics of our nature to an international audience. Maybe we could support that too.

In spring 2019, the Kauhajoki tutuksi (“Get to know Kauhajoki”) website was completed at www.kauhajoki.net. At the heart of the website are the digitized local heritage books with featured photos and videos. The videos were considered important from the start of the digital project. The goal of creating about ten videos seemed to be very ambitious at first but as the enthusiasm of the participants grew, the efforts resulted in 11 videos. The videos were created by 20 active filmmakers, screenwriters, cinematographers, editors, narrators and recorders. Some of the music was written specifically for them. As the videos were starting to take shape, the filmmaking team got the idea to also create a movie that audiences could see on the large cinema screen.

It was time to return to the roots of local heritage work – volunteering. Compiling the videos into a film required an interesting beginning, narration leading from one subject to another, new video material, more music and an emotional ending. At the same time, it had to be accepted that there would be some repetition, as it was not in the plans to re-edit the independent videos. Pentti Kakkori, an expert in photography and film, took the responsibility for this work. The many creations of the previous cinematographers also helped add to the new imagery.  Pentti also received the support he needed for narrations and music from other friends of the region. All names appear in the end credits. Pentti says he’s very grateful to all of them.

So, what do movie audiences think after 70 minutes? It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences, and they were focused and interested when watching the movie based on the familiar landscapes. Even the repetitions were welcomed. Practice makes perfect, and so does repetition!

 

The article is written by Liisa Ruismäki, Chairperson of Kauhajoki-Seura (Kauhajoki Association) and Jussi Kleemola (in the photo), Chair of the admin group of the “Kauhajoki tutuksi” website (“Get to know Kauhajoki”)

Photos: Pentti Kakkori

Photo at the top: Mirja Koivisto

Photo beneath: Terttu Hermansson

"It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences."

4-H Forest Days for the youngsters

Schoolchildren have learned about the Geopark and the use and values of forests on 4-H Forest Days in Niiniharju, Hämeenkangas.

The Geopark Rangers have told young people about the Geopark and the excursion destination during the 4-H association’s Forest Days in Niiniharju in Jämi. The Forest Days have been organized by the 4-H of Satakunta area, and the Forestry Association Karhu and the Geopark have been involved in offering the program for the days. The Finnish Forest Foundation finances a considerable part of the transport costs of the schoolchildren.

Photo: Annukka Pörsti

In the 4-H Forest Days, which are held every year all over Finland, young people get information about the forest, learn the skills of being in forest and together observe the forest nature. In addition, the information provided in the Forest Days include work in forest sector, fire handling, every man’s rights, recycling etc.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

At the Forest Days in autumn 2021 in Niiniharju, Hämeenkangas, Geopark Ranger Kristiina Peltomaa told the schoolchildren about Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark. UNESCO status indicates that the area is geologically valuable and unique.

Kristiina explained to the youngsters how certain events in history, such as the Ice Age, have affected the area and how its signs are visible around the feet and in local traditions. The stories told on the particular place made the events of history alive. Schoolchildren ran down and up the kettle hole. The exercise made the youngsters familiar with the landforms and the landscape of the area.

Photo: Annukka Pörsti

After the Geopark introduction, the images attached to the trees of the forests were searched. In the images, flora and fauna typical to the area were presented. The species in the images were identified and it was discussed together how the species relate to this particular environment and to each other and why this habitat is important to them.

Photo: Päivi Lindfors

Kristiina had also hidden buckets in the terrain, in which she had collected various samples for the participants to examine. There were various lichens in one bucket, mosses in another, cones in the third, and differnt kind of seeds in the fourth. Especially the characteristics and dispersal strategies of different seeds seemed to be a particularly interesting topic among young people as completely new things were learned about them.

Photo: Annukka Pörsti

During the Geopark session, the dry leaves of Tilia cordata were also examined. The name of the place, Niiniharju, refers to the tree species. Kristiina told about the Atlantic period, when deciduous forests were common further north in Finland. The effects of the warmer climate period are still visible in the tree species of Niiniharju. In the past, the locals made ropes out of Tilia cordata to pay taxes to the Kingdom of Sweden, in which the area of Finland was a part.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

Of course, the highlights of the trip include lunch. Pupils enjoyed the snacks provided by their own schools. In addition to that, 4-H provided delicious sausages by a campfire.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

During the 4-H Forest Days, numerous schoolchildren in the Geopark and surrounding areas have got information about the Geopark and about forests and their values and use. At the Forest Days, young people have learned important things during a happy time spent together in nature and through practical activities. The 4-H Forest Days are a great opportunity for Geopark to pass on valuable information to young people in collaboration with partner organisations.

Photo: Anna-Kaisa Valaja

The Geopark has piloted environmental education measures at the 4-H Forest Days as part of rural-funded projects. Parkanon Säästöpankkisäätiö Foundation has supported the Geopark’s participation in the Forest Days. We are grateful for the good cooperation!

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #geopark #globalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks #unesco #lauhanvuoriregion #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #hyvinvointialuonnosta #sdgs2030 #geoeducation

Text: Laura Koivumäki

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Main photo: Pasi Talvitie, Hämeenkangas

Last photo: Terttu Hermansson 

In the 4-H Forest Days, young people learn by being and doing in nature

Nature gave strength to the elderly

This year the theme of the National Elderly Week in early October was “Nature Gives Strength”. Geopark, in cooperation with the municipality of Jämijärvi, took the elderly on excursions to Geopark sites.

The municipality of Jämijärvi, together with partners, organized a diverse program for each day of the Elderly Week. The aim of the Geopark excursions was to encourage older people from Jämijärvi to get to know Geopark and its destinations and enjoy the well-being effects of nature.

Photo: Pekka Kauraharju, Kauhalammi, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Wellness trail in Niiniharju

On Monday morning, October 4, 2021, people gathered in Niiniharju, Hämeenkangas, where the municipality’s welfare manager Toni Ojala guided easy exsercises at the beginning. The locals were already familiar with the destination, but Geopark Ranger Kristiina Peltomaa brought a new kind of content and depth to the trip with her knowledge of Geopark and nature. In the landscapes of Niiniharju people walked a route along which Suomen Latu’s question boards about wellbeing (in Finnish) were attached.

Photo: Pasi talvitie, Niiniharju, Hämeenkangas

By the question boards with beautiful nature photos they stopped to consider the factors that affect one’s own well-being. The questions challenged hikers, for example, to think about what brings joy to everyday life, what is good in life and what beautiful can be seen at that moment.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

After the walk, the snacks offered by Geopark were eaten by the campfire. Lomahotelli Jämi delivered mouth-watering offerings to the lean-to, where the representatives of the municipality took care of the campfire, atmosphere and serving. There were thirty participants in the trip.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

A trip to Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

On Wednesday morning, 6 October 2021, the hikers left Jämijärvi towards Kauhanevan-Pohjankangas National Park on a charter bus financed by the municipality. Geopark Ranger Kristiina Peltomaa got the hikers to the atmosphere during the trip by telling about Geopark and the day’s excursion destination, Kauhaneva. The representative of the municipality on the trip was Pekka Kauraharju.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhalammi, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

In Kauhaneva people divided into three groups. Kristiina took the group, who moved at a calm pace, on a short route, whose recently renovated structures make the mire nature easily accessible. On the way, they watched birds with binoculars and Kristiina also told about other inhabitants of the mires. Participants were happy with what they got to see and experience in the mire thanks to the wide plank trail and other structures.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Kauhalammi, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Geopark Ranger Päivi Nummijoki continued with another group to the beautiful Kauhalammi and to the Nummikangas observation tower, where they admired the unique mire landscapes that open from the tower. During the trip, Päivi told stories, among other things from the medieval Kyrönkangas road along which hikers hike in the national park.

Photo: Päivi Nummijoki, Nummikangas observation tower, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Some of the hikers went on their own to go along the Kauhalammi trail. The Rangers’ spouses kept a campfire at Salomaa, where the hikers had snacks offered by Geopark. Delicious snacks were prepared by Kotipata Karvia. After the coffee, Kristiina led the crowd to the edge of the mire, and told about it. Before going home, Kristiina guided some exercise, which the participants approached with humor. There were forty participants on the trip.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhalammi, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Joy and gratitude from nature

The Geopark excursions for the Elderly Week clearly brought joy to the participants and humor was present all the time. The weather favored the hikers, and the atmosphere was sunny among the participants as well.

“It is very good that Geopark was involved in providing experiences for the elderly in Geopark’s nature. The hikers exuded positivity and gratitude. It’s great that the Geopark flag is fluttering in such a positive situations. Geopark is a gift for the residents of the area.”, Kristiina summed up the feelings after the excursions.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #geopark #globalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks #unesco #lauhanvuoriregion #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #hyvinvointialuonnosta #sdgs2030

The excursions were organized as part of the rural-funded Kestävää kehitystä Geoparkissa project.

 

Text: Laura Koivumäki

Main photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhalammi, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Last photo: Pasi Talvitie

Nature gives strength and joy

Nature experiences and exercise for upper secondary school students in Jämi

Before the summer vacation, the students of the upper secondary school of Kankaanpää spent a sporty day exploring the best natural attractions in the Jämi region.

By the unique springs of Hämeenkangas

The teachers of the upper secondary school of Kankaanpää organized a sporty nature day for their students in Jämi, in which the experts of Geopark also got to participate. The first destination of the day was the magnificent Kylmänmyllynlähde located next to Hämeenkangas, a gift of the ridges for the nature lovers. The charter buses brought the students to the springs in the morning, from where the journey continued on foot to other spectacular natural sites in the area.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

With her stories, Geopark Ranger Kristiina Peltomaa took the students on a time travel to the past. The springs were ever-pulping water sources that run the mill. There have also been many beliefs associated with the springs.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

By the spring, Kristiina told the students about the valuable biota of the area, such as the diverse forest and birds, which benefit from the abundant mosquito population and even rarer insects in the surrounding area. The participants of the environmental education course were able to increase their digital herbarium with, among others, Myosotis scorpioides and Callitriche hermaphroditica. The springs, which are ice free even in winter, are a fascinating and popular place to visit in all seasons.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

In Koivistonvati information about hiking facilities and instructions

From the springs the students hiked to Koivistonvati which is the largest kettle hole of the area. By the kettle hole Tero Lähteenmäki, the entrepreneur responsible for the maintenance of the camping services, told about his work. Hämeenkangas has a dozen resting places of Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, all of which are commonly used. Resting places are repaired and developed, for example, from the point of view of accessibility. Routes in the area are also being developed and re-marked.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Tero visits the resting places weekly and makes sure there is firewood in the sheds and the surroundings of the resting places stay clean. Visitors get to chop firewood from long trunks themselves, as ready-made firewood would be burned much more. Although the use of rest areas has increased in recent years, littering is fortunately no longer common in most sites.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

The biggest problem in Hämeenkangas is illegal off-road traffic. The area’s dense network of trails and easy-to-reach terrain can attract, for example, moped or quad riders. However, in accordance with the Road Traffic Act, driving motor vehicles outside the public roads crossing the area is strictly prohibited. Wilderness police and police officers patrolling Hämeenkangas intervene in unauthorized off-road traffic.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

Beach volley and a dive into a groundwater pond

From Koivistonvati, the students walked along the needle paths on the ridge to the Niiniharju tepee, where a camp lunch was served. From Niiniharju, they continued to Perhepuisto, where the hot day of the excursion was crowned by the beach volley match on the hot ridge sand and a refreshing dip in the groundwater pond.

Photo: Kankaanpää upper secondary school

Text: Laura Koivumäki

Photo: Kankaanpään Upper Secondary School 

Main photo: Terttu Hermansson

Last photo: Terttu Hermansson

Hämeenkangas offers diverse opportunities for sports in nature and learning outdoors

Inspiring school trips in the Geopark

The Geopark offers diverse and inspiring opportunities for schoolchildren’s excursion days and longer camp schools. At the end of May, schoolchildren from Kihniö spent a nice spring day in Jämi, Hämeenkangas.

Get to know the Gepark on an excursion

At Geopark excursions you get to know the Geopark’s natural and cultural attractions and at the same time learn to be in nature. In the Geopark you can make a day trip to one destination or organize a longer camp school and visit several places. The companies in the area offer school groups quality services from equipment rental to guided tours and from meals to accommodation. Read more about excursion tips by destination.

Photo: Sofia Sillanpää

Schoolchildren on a Geopark excursion in Jämi

As part of the European Geopark Week, schoolchildren from the municipality of Kihniö made a spring day trip to Jämi located in Hämeenkangas. Pupils were introduced in advance to the diverse range of activities in the area, from which they selected their favorite ones together. The excursion day was based on sporty activities. At the same time, the aim was to learn about the Geopark and the unique nature of the area.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

By mountain bikes to number one nature attractions

Mountain biking was chosen as the activity before noon. The electric fat bikes were rented by Jämi Maat. The kids were surprised how funny the bikes are, and the cycling aroused great enthusiasm already in the testing phase of the bikes before the actual bicycling. The easy-going and comfortable trail network of Hämeenkangas enables successful mountain bike trips even for first-timers.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

The inspiring cycling guide of Jämi Maat led the group to the top of Soininharju, where they admired the scenery that opened from above the high ridge. The queue of bicyclers then headed along the needle trails to the most popular natural attractions in the area. The group passed the valuable forest area of Niiniharju towards Koivistonvati, the largest kettle hole in Hämeenkangas.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki

Uhrilähde and Kylmänmyllynlähde springs, which are one of the finest springs in Finland, are located in Hämeenkangas. By the springs the kids heard stories related to the place and refreshed themselves by drinking the water. On the way back to Jämi, you can choose steep uphills to test how electrical assistance affects pedaling. The group considered mountain biking to be the best part of the day.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Climbing and golfing

After cycling the group had a tasty lunch at Lomahotelli Jämi. In the afternoon the kids climbed high among the canopies of the trees in the Jämi Maat Adventure Park. The park has five different levels of tracks, each of which you can choose the most suitable for you. The longest cable track in Finland is located in the Adventure Park. Schoolchildren loved climbing and tracks, too. In addition to climbing, the pupils played casually mini golf and frisbee golf. In the afternoon, an hour’s drive back home folded comfortably on a local charter ride.

Photo: Jämi Maat

The whole group, both the students and the teacher and the assistant, considered the trip very successful. In addition to the nice day, the kids learned about their own Geopark and its uniqueness.

The Geopark excursion day was piloted in a Leader-funded project. The project paid part of the cost of the excursion.

Text: Laura Koivumäki

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Main photo: Terttu Hermansson

Last photo: Terttu Hermansson

The Geopark offers diverse trip opportunities for school groups

Visiting a mire with children

The Geopark has several excursion sites that provide you with easy access to mire nature. Duckboards lead tiny explorers to the curious creatures and wonderous details of the mires.

Did you know that wetlands are home to sundews, nature’s plant oddities that eat insects? Searching for sundews and catching insects to feed them with is exciting. It is worth paying close attention to the things around you as there is life among the moss, and the most wonderful insects are flying between the gnarly pine trees.

In late summer, visitors can find delicious cloudberries to taste on tufts of peat moss. In the autumn, visitors can pick tangy cranberries full of vitamin.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

The easily accessed excursion sites in the Geopark mires and useful excursion tips have been compiled in a brochure. The sites have services that make excursions go more easily, such as places to rest. There are campfire sites, where you can build a fire unless there is an active forest fire warning.

Lengths of the routes:

  • Aitoneva peat museum, nature trail 2 km
  • Kammi-kylä duckboard trail, 1 km back and forth
  • Katselmankallio – Haapajärvi farm duckboard trail, 7,2 km back and forth
  • Kauhalammin kierros duckboard trail 2,7 km
  • Kustaa the Elk’s nature trail 2 km
  • Peräkorpi, trail between Spitaalijärvi and Kivijata 4 km
  • Vaarinneva duckboard trail 2 km from the parking lot and back

Eating a packed meal is often the highlight of the excursion. Children can carry packed meals in their backpacks and sit down to eat on any wood stump.

You should favour durable and lightweight dishes on excursions. Litter can be prevented in advance, and you must take any rubbish generated during the excursion with you out of the wilderness.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Katikankanjoni, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

You might sometimes get your socks wet or be surprised by rain when spending time on a mire. Packing an extra set of clothes in a watertight compartment ensures that even if you get wet, you can continue your excursion without a care.

If you stay on clearly marked routes, a general map is all you need for instructions during your excursion. Adventures outside marked routes require orienteering skills and using a more detailed map and compass.

When you prepare well, you will get fun experiences and memories from exploring the Geopark and make memories that stay with you for a long time.

Photo: Hanna Tuuri, Kustaa the Elk’s nature trail, Parkano

Main photo: Terttu Hermansson, Kauhaneva, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park