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Bog Walking in Estonia
It soon becomes easy to understand why the unusual outdoors here become like a religion to the locals. For #nature lovers, this part of #Estonia is fabulous. The area is home to bears, boars, beavers, birds and more. So why not take an #active bog walk and see for yourself.
Quiet and still on a drizzly Wednesday morning in mid-spring, the bog spread out to the horizon painted in shades of yellowish-green, deep orange, and brown. Occasionally, the sponge-like earth was interrupted by deep pools of water. How deep, we didn’t really know…and preferred not to find out.
We had walked about 20 minutes on a boardwalk platform to reach this spot where we could step out onto the soft ground. The peat, algae, and moss matted together were darker here than in other spots in the bog – an indication that the plants were older and more stable for us to explore the unusual scenery of this part of northern Estonia.
Only about 80 kilometers from Tallinn, the Konnu Suursoo bog is part of the Pohja-Korvemaa Nature Reserve. The landscape here was formed at the end of the last Ice Age when the glacier retreated, leaving plains full of sediment that are now mostly covered by bogs and forests.
This area is home to numerous animals, including brown bears, wild boar, beavers, and many types of birds. But we saw no real signs of life as we prepared for our walk.
Tentatively, we stepped off the platform onto the springy unknown. The first item of business was to strap ourselves in to our bog walking shoes. Essentially snow shoes, they are designed to spread your weight over a larger area than regular shoes and, thus, keep you from sinking. Once outfitted, we began our journey.
While not a physical challenge, the feeling of walking on spongy, wet turf took a few minutes to get used to. We quickly learned not to drag our feet and not – under any circumstances – to try to go backward. It just doesn’t end well.
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We walked our way across the soggy ground, gazing at the landscape. Small trees peeked through the bog in some places. Tart cranberries laced through the peat. Water seeped up through the mesh of our bog walking shoes every time we lingered a little too long.
After a while, we came to the watchtower. We climbed the flights of stairs, taking in the vastness of the bog, which was hard to appreciate from the ground. It spread as far as we could see. Nearly one-quarter of Estonia is covered in similar landscape. Standing there, it was easy to imagine that very little has changed about the bogs in thousands of years.
Soon, it was time to return to our starting point. We wandered our way back along the boardwalk platform, only a small piece of the 370-kilometer-long trail that stretches across Estonia. As before, we watched for birds (and bears) and kept our eyes out for the tiny sour berries that dot the bog.
We marveled again at the burnt colors of the landscape and returned with a greater understanding of why the unusual outdoors is so much like religion to the locals here.