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Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Month at Northern Savonia in Finland

Sometimes you just need some time off. I spent my August at the northern part of Savonia. I wasn't particularly productive although I did release a library, setjs. As you might expect based on the name, setjs provides an implementation of a set data structure for JavaScript. It is immutable by design and mimics Python's API functionality-wise.

The library grew out of an article I wrote about data structures and published over at Originally I meant to use set as an example but it started to feel like something bigger, an entire library. I released a library dealing with zip data structures while at it. They are handy for processing data and simplify code sometimes.

Besides coding a bit and reading I spent a lot of time in the nature. The weather was in my favor this time. There were only four days of rain or so. Otherwise the weather was fine (between 15-22 C each day). Just perfect before the dark, cold Winter.

Foraging in Finland

This time it was a very good foraging season. In addition to the usual blueberries, raspberries and lingonberries some of the mushrooms had popped up. Chanterelle, a favorite of mine, was particularly bountiful this year.

Especially the early part of the month was excellent. The chanterelle harvest continues for still unless the weather gets below zero at nights. Lingonberries don't mind getting cold.

Speaking of lingonberries we made around 11 liters of lingonberry juice concentrate. Half of that has apples mixed in. Apparently it costs around 20 euros per liter so it is definitely worth something.

Even though the taste is somewhat tangy the juice is somewhat good particularly when mixed with mineral water. And it is very healthy too. Not all health benefits are yet known.

I recall reading that only twenty percent of the berries get harvested. The figure for mushrooms was mere two. Finland has nice freedom to roam. There are some limitations but generally speaking the law is very permissive. You can pick berries and mushrooms all you want. And even better should you sell them, the income is tax free! You might not get rich this way but it complements other income quite well. And you save in the food expenses during the harsh Winter should you stash them.

Sightseeing in Savonia

Weird mushrooms at a fallen trunk in Kalaja
Even though I've spent most of my summers at Savonia, there were still some places left to visit. The most spectacular one of these Kalajanvuori, a hill that rises 115 meters above lake Konnevesi.

There's a small, clear pond next to it (30 meters deep) and forest that has been left to its natural state. Unfortunately much of the forest in Finland has been dedicated for industrial purposes and places such as this are rare. Mainly conversation areas have these left.

In addition to trails Kalaja region offers shelters and places in which to set up a campfire. Particularly the climb up can be somewhat steep although there is an easier route available.

The Kalaja region will become a part of a national park that will be established within a few years to the area. It is already a part of the Natura 2000 network and has been noted for its beauty. In fact there have been tourists on the area since the 1800s. No wonder. Just take a look at the imagery.

Konnevesi and Siikakoski

Around 50 kilometers to west at the village Konnevesi (yup, same name), there's a rapid known as Siikakoski. There are multiple of these rapids along the route but this one is likely the best known one.

Even Kekkonen fished here so it can't be that bad! This area contains some trails but at least during this Summer there was some work in progress. Particularly one section wasn't in a good shape. It might be better next year, though.

There are shelters and areas for campfires in the area. No doubt the area will continue to develop further as the national park becomes established.


Myllykoski at Suonenjoki
We also visited Suonenjoki, a city with around 7000 residents east of Rautalampi. There is a trail right next to the river that passes through the city. It looks like not much people use it, though, as it was filled with nettles at least partly. Nothing a good stick cannot handle.

The route begins right next to a sewage plant. It doesn't surprise me they want to do something about it and perhaps move it elsewhere. That said the route isn't all bad but it could be made better.

There was some hidden beauty in the route. Small idyllic streams, such as Myllykoski, were nice to see.


It was somewhat pleasant to spend a month away from home. Apparently you can have a good holiday even on a very strict budget. You just have to look closer. Perhaps there is still something to discover. Nothing is easier than fail to see what's right under your nose.