I found Aivar Ruukel through his profile on afar.com . The calendar said it was August 31 the day we met up with Aivar but autumn arrives early in Estonia and it was a picture perfect fall day to spend a few hours in his favorite place, Soomaa National Park
We started with a short morning hike through the woods followed by a walk through one of the countless bogs that dot the landscape of this small Baltic nation. At the edge of where the forest meets the bog, there was a viewing platform where we could see the landscape from above – the fall colors of the bog flora were in full display; the beautiful yellow moss a stark contrast against the brilliant blue sky.
To minimize the impact of our footprints on the fragile bog flora, we donned plastic snowshoes! It took some adjusting to walking about in the snowshoes but we’re glad we had them as they protected us from inadvertently plunging a foot down through the moss and peat beneath. Aivar educated us on the different mosses, lichen and plants common to the bog accompanied us. The cranberries and lingonberries were in season and of course, we had to try them – so sour, they made us pucker up!
After a quick lunch break, we got into a canoe and rowed on one of the rivers that run through the park. It was amazing how little water current there was – it made the river look like a sheet of glass!
The autumnal landscape in Soomaa is spectacular. It was a very short visit to the park but a truly memorable one! Thanks Aivar!