Pyhä-Häkki National Park covers an area of 1,300 hectares, and it’s located only about 20km from Saarijärvi. It was officially established in 1956 along with six other National Parks, and it has remained well preserved, with the old-growth forest dominating the area, including a tree over 400 years old. I had been here once before, some 30 years ago, though now it felt like a literal blink of an eye. I could barely remember any of it, but it did feel fantastic to get the chance to experience it once again. Ahead of me was the classic 6.5km long Kotajärvi circuit, which would take me through the old growth forests, the navigation of swamps over wooden duckboards, and, of course, reaching the shoreline of Kotajärvi.
Being in nature is such an amazing antidote to all the craziness and chaos of the modern world. These few hours that I spent here, walking in solitude, blessed me with a much needed, and immediate reset of my psyche, back to a state that I plan on caring for, and holding on to, for the rest of my life.
After leaving Pyhä-Häkki, my next point of call was Jyväskylä, the main city in Central Finland; and it’s a university town where I lived and studied in the 1990s. I’ve still held on to some very strong memories from that time, both good and not so good, and returning to rewalk down this memory lane in the student village had them all flooding back in an instant. If I’m to be totally open about the experience, just seeing the old student housing tower blocks actually made me feel kinda sad, maybe even some regret as well, for some of the decisions I’d had made at the time. However, since none of that can obviously be changed, this revisiting of the old stomping grounds of my mid to late 20s was an extremely cathartic experience.
I headed to the 24hr ABC Service Centre in Vaajakoski to once again spend the night in a carpark. I had a good meal and a great sleep, with plans to return to Jyväskylä the next morning, to continue my walk down memory lane. I’ll catch you then in the next one, when I visit the university precinct, the town centre and adjacent Harju park, as well as the Jyväsjärvi harbour area.