Love at first sight. Punkaharju Esker

March 3, 2022

The Starting Point of the Punkaharju Esker Pedestrian Path
A Late Autumn View of Lake Saimaa from the Esker

A view that surrounded and sped by me was stunning, sparkling, calm, and ever-expanding on both sides of an esker which spans 4.4 miles (seven kilometers). 

A car I was riding felt like gliding on Lake Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland, instead of driving on the ridge. My soul sisters from North Karelia Martha Organization and I were on our way to visit the gorgeous, historical Hotelli Punkaharju on one summer day in 2017. 

Ever since that day, I longed to return to the esker, possibly on foot, for the sight of Puruvesi and Pihlajavesi, the two large basins of Lake Saimaa. I longed to return and stay overnight at Hotelli Punkaharju. You see, it was love at first sight. 

Last November I finally returned.

I had an expert guide from LUSTO (The Finnish Forest Museum) take me for a hike in the area. The knowledgeable and eloquent guide told me about the surrounding nature and history. We walked on a pedestrian portion of the old route built on the esker which merged into an automobile road. Soon we reached the highest point of the ridge.

Late autumn landscapes were icy, muted shades of white, gray, brown and dark green — very different from the bright glittering blue and silver expanse of that summer day four years ago. Still the views were breath-taking. The beauty of Punkaharju transcends seasons, weather conditions and passing of time.

Curious about Hotelli Punkaharju or Saimaa? You can find out more by read the chapter “The Lakeland” in “The Sisterhood of the Enchanted Forest: Sustenance, Wisdom, and Awakening in Finland’s Karelia” / “Lumotun metsän sisaret: Elämää Pohjois-Karjalassa amerikkalaisin silmin.”