Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sarkasvuori rock painting, Juva

The ice-covered, winding roads force me to drive extremely carefully to my destination at Juva, southern Savo, Finland. I take a free mini-cruise on on ferry (1-2 minutes, there is no bridge) to Hirvensalo before reaching Uimasalo and Ristilampi lake. The spring hasn't arrived here just yet although it is on its way; it is still the ice age of winter 2013 and the lakes are frozen which means that I don't need to follow the marked path to the rock paintings. I pick up my snowshoes...
Or should have bothered to take the snowshoes with me at all? There seems to be so little snow left on the ice that I really don't need to wear them when walking on Ristilampi lake. Oh well, they might come in handy later.
I wonder if that rock has something to do with the rock paintings?
As soon as I leave the lake the snowshoes come in handy. There is still plenty of snow on the ground. I walk up to the rocks by Ristilampi lake and find out that this is a prehistoric quartz quarry, not yet a place to discover rock paintings.
In this distant place there have been people hard at work such a long time ago! Just imagine - quartz from this very rock has been used for knives or arrow heads in the Stone, Bronze or Iron Age and the tools used in the excavation weren't exactly modern.
I follow the arrow sign and the occasional red ribbons tied on trees to head for the rock paintings. The ravine between the rocks offers plenty to see around me: there are gorgeous icicle formations both on my right and left. I keep following the red ribbons as long as I can but when there are no further ribbons, keep on walking, in the hopes of arriving at the right place. However, when I reach a lake, I quickly realize that it is a whole lot bigger than the one I have memorized on the map before arriving here so I'd better head back and try again.
Yes, it is indeed interesting to be out walking without a printed map, trying to memorize the map from an online service that doesn't seem to be available when I'm on the spot. Wonder why I prefer to carry a printed map with me whenever I can instead of relying always on my cell phone? But no, it isn't really a problem because this is such a small area and I remember which way the right lake was supposed to be. Very soon I am walking on Sarkaslampi lake and start scanning the rocks for a rock painting. It goes on for a while... without success. I should probably have followed the trail (that is somewhere high up) instead of walking on the ice because there might be a sign leading me to the rock painting at this end of the lake.
I keep on walking slowly on the ice and lose my hope of spotting the first rock painting. However, as soon as I have passed the group of guys who have been winter fishing on the lake (and who are enjoying their break by an open fire) I spot an interesting looking rock and a sign beneath it. Once I'm there, it doesn't take long to find the  Sarkasvuori rock painting - it is clearly an elk! The rock painting is a couple of metres from the ground - the water level was much higher earlier - and the elk dates probably back to 3300-3700 B.C.
This is how long-lived artwork was made before spray cans took over. The red paint has survived surprisingly well over the years, telling its greetings from the days gone by so long ago. It is very easy to see the elk but the shape above it could be whatever. A human? I'm glad that the water level in lake Saimaa is exactly where it is now so that it is not possible to reach the elk painting and it can stay as it is, protected by law but unguarded here by a small lake in the middle of nothing. Almost.

The fishermen return back to the ice and sit down on their stools to continue fishing on this beautiful, sunny day. I wave a hello and walk past them to find my way back to Ristilampi. I feel a pang of sadness; this may well be my last snowshoeing trip this winter that is clearly turning to spring.

Map of Ristilampi - Sarkasvuori, Juva


  1. Such a beautiful place. Your pictures are fantastic I have just found your Blog. I hope you enjoy mine too...

  2. Such a beautiful place. Your pictures are fantastic I have just found your Blog. I hope you enjoy mine too...