Jouni Laaksonen 20.12.2017
Muikkupuro lean-to is one of the 40 campfire sites or lean-tos in Hossa. The picturesque stream in front of the lean-to is crystal clear and drinkable clean.
Celebrating new Hossa NP (June)
In contrast to two December tales let’s see what the opposite corner of year looks like. In June the temperature is usually nice, like +15…+20°C, and there aren’t mosquitoes until the end of the month. Perfect time for hiking in many ways!
Hossa is a remote area in the north-eastern corner of Kainuu county and Suomussalmi municipality. Finland chose to give Hossa to itself as a 100 year birthday present, by establishing the newest National Park in Finland to Hossa. Hossa got plenty of international attention.
Hossa already was a National Hiking Area since 1979. What changed when it was converted to a National Park?
Hossa was and is a paradise for hikers, fishermen, paddlers, skiers, mountain bikers. The super clear lakes, imposing eskers, dry pine forests with easy paths and Värikallio rock paintings are just the same as they used to be. The network of trails and campfire sites, lean-tos and huts was very large and dense and it still is.
Värikallio rock paintings are the most important historic relic in Hossa, but far from being the only one. Alonf the trails you can see traces of history concerning fishing and hunting in the previous centuries, many-faced history of reindeer husbandry, history of logging (at the era before harvesters and lorries), and for example a charming old water mill.
In addition to the added attention there are two major changes.
There are seven National Hiking Areas in Finland. (There are 40 National Parks in Finland, BTW.) The wide network of paths and ski tracks are well maintained and it is a pleasure to hike in these areas.
However, the status of National Hiking Area does not totally protect the area from logging. In recent years there were many conflicts between forestry use and protecting the landscapes in Hossa, and the status of national park ended this quarrel totally. There will never be logging in Hossa any more, full stop.
Julma-Ölkky, a lake in an impressive gorge.
Another change is how the new NP includes a bit more than NHA did. Just north of the former Hossa National Hiking Area is Julma-Ölkky, a formidable gorge with a narrow and long lake at the bottom of it. Julma-Ölkky was not part of the National Hiking Area, but it is part of Hossa NP.
Julma-Ölkky is surrounded by steep cliffs and the views are totally different than in other parts of Hossa. Also the spruce forests around Julma-Ölkky are a contrast to the pine forests of Hossa.
I attended the opening ceremony of Hossa National Park 17th June 2017. I was a bit dubious when I drove to Hossa, as I knew the program would be scattered around Huosilampi pond, along a three kilometer nature trail.
I live in the neighboring municipality and it is 2,5 hours of driving from my home to Hossa. Also from the main population center of Suomussalmi driving to Hossa takes an hour. Hossa is far from everywhere, and I thought there maybe would not be too many people attending the opening ceremony.
How delightfully wrong I was!
The President of Finland, Minister of Environment, and many other big names were present, great, but above all, thousands of ordinary citizen had arrived to Hossa! It was amazing to see how many people found a new nature conservation area important, how many were happy for Hossa getting a status of national park.
The Minister of Environment is giving an opening speech down beside Huosilampi pond, and us, the audience fill all of the slope.
There were a dozen activity points along the above mentioned nature trail. By one campfire an author of many outdoors books told how his first book got started, beside a fire on the opposite side of the pond a historian told about old times in Hossa area for his own audience. On one shore an ethno musician gave a concert, on another shore there was a fishing competition for juniors. There was arts and activities in many, many forms, and everyone wore a big smile.
One of the activity points was situated on a narrow neck of land between Keihäslampi pond and Hossanjärvi lake. On the lake and on the pond, just 30 meters apart, the activity was delightfully different and similar at the same time. In Hossanjärvi lake an association preserving lumberjack skills performed a show on those skills. These lumberjack-looking men are standing on a floating log and they both try to make the log roll so unexpectedly that the other one falls to water…
…and at the same time in Keihäslampi pond a local entrepreneur gave the opening ceremony audience a possibility to try stand-up paddling. SUPping is very new activity in Finland, but presenting it alongside lumberjack log rolling gave it almost a historic aspect! 🙂
Late in the afternoon when I finally started my journey back home I felt hugely empowered. I am a big fan of tranquility and quietness and often head to hiking destinations with less popularity, or when I go to the super destinations I avoid the high seasons, or at least the most used trails. But this time I was only and totally glad there were so many people!
Hiking in Hossa
I lived one year within a few kilometers of Hossa twenty years ago. During that year we walked, paddled and skied a lot in Hossa. Also after that I have hiked, paddled and skied numerous times in Hossa, both day hiking and multi-day expeditions. For example two years ago I paddled for a week in Hossa with two friends of mine.
Hossa definitively is worth NP status. A typical Hossa scenery is the kind of scenery we Finns love most: Imagine a narrow, high and steep-sloped esker. A needle-covered, springy path winds on top of the esker, through pine forest. On both sides of the ridge there is a lake, which mirrors the blue of the sky. Or from a canoe on a lake or a river you see a beautiful silhouette of a high esker.
Typical Hossa scenery and typical Hossa path.
Silhouettes of eskers are a constant companion when you are paddling in Hossa.
Hossa is a place where you can walk leisurely a few hunders of meters to the nearest campfire site or lean-to, make a fire and enjoy a hearty lunch in a breathtaking lake scenery. Or you can pack your gear and head for a week long trek. Or you can buy a fishing permit and try your luck with graylings, whitefish, perchs, pikes and trouts, in lakes and at rapids. Or rent a canoe and paddle for a few hours or many days. Or rent a mountain bike and enjoy the great marked trails.
In winter you can ski on maintained ski tracks, or if you know what you are doing, you can head off the tracks.
There are almost 100 km of hiking trails, about same amount of canoeing routes and mountain biking trails, and 60 km of ski tracks in Hossa. Along these there are a huge total of 40 campfire sites or lean-tos in this 111 km² area. And in addition to these there are 5 wilderness huts and 12 rental huts. Find out more: Nationalparks.fi.
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I’ll delve deeper into this terminology (National Park, National Hiking Area, Wilderness Area, Strict Nature Reserve etc.). So that (and also months long treks) will be the topic on 1.1.2018. Relaxing Christmas time to everyone!