Friday, September 22, 2017

Can't find the Österbacken Quarry

There's supposed to be an old quarry in Juvanmalmi. But I kept going up and down near the coordinates, but found nothing. Wrong coordinates? As the darkness came, I did manage however to put my painful foot to a hole in the ground, have it get twisted, and stuck.

Fortunately, I was able to get it out after moving around a bit. And the foot seems fine now, but I really didn't need any more damage on the foot.

Anyway, about the old quarry. I wasn't 100% sure that I was able to correctly translate the coordinates that the book gave me (6685,00; 2542,60) to google maps coordinates.

But, I found a very nice excel sheet of the old quarries and mines from the GTK website, including WGS84 coordinates: database. They seem to point to the same place, on the Österbacken hill in Vantaa, just across the Espoo border in Juvanmalmi. There's no indication if the file was made by converting from the coordinates in older research, or if the researchers actually visited this site. Well, at least I know my rusty coordinate conversion skills produced the right result.

The book did indicate that the coordinates for the quarries in this area somewhat imprecise because they have been recorded on old maps while surveying. The coordinates come from a 1954 master thesis.

So what is it? Did I miss the quarry on my walk in the darkening forest? Or has the nature covered it too well? But according to the book the quarry operated all the way until 1993. Seems improbable that I could miss something like that. Or was there a mistake in the 1954 thesis, and since then the coordinates have just been copied in new publications? Has anybody actually been here and seen the Österbacken quarry? Or am I making a conversion error somewhere, and by accident others have made the same error?

I did however find a possibly man-made rectangular depression at the top of the rocky hill. I'm not sure if the site really was used to extract granite blocks, but it is quite rectangular. Yet, it is also deeply covered by vegetation, so if there was a quarry here, it must have been hundreds of years ago. The depth of the walls is roughly half a meter on the higher side, less on the other side. The coordinates of this place are: N 60.27328554 E 24.76570917.

Update: found a report about the protected area from the Internet, and they have picture of the quarry wall on page 21 of the report. It is there, but it is still unclear exactly where or if the rock walls I saw were the quarry.

This is what I found at the original coordinates, moss covered rock walls, but they did not seem to be man-made.

I parked here, on a nearby industry area:

Here is the potential old quarry at the top of the rocky hill:

The industry area once I returned to the car:

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dalsvik Limestone Quarry

Since my foot didn't like the walk I did few days ago, an obvious thing to do was to go try more quarries, and this time climb a fence. Without noticing that the fence would have ended if we had walked 10 meters further.

Once again the book on Helsinki area mines and quarries proved worthwhile. Jarmo and I visited the limestone quarry in Laaksolahti (Dalsvik).

The old quarry is on an empty lot between houses, and was at first hard to find, because my GPS coordinates were off for some reason. And I thought that the fence belonged to a house, but it was actually the protective fence to prevent people from falling to the quarry.

An interesting place. This quarry was larger than any of the individual quarries in Elfvik, not huge, but sizeable. And maybe 5 meters deep at the highest end.

The quarry may have been started as early in the 1400s, but definitely latest in the 1500s. It has been used apparently until early 1900s.

In later times the quarry had been used as a dumping ground, but has since then been cleared up. The ground is full of broken glass, however.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko and Jarmo Ruuth. All rights reserved.

Ruins of the Dalsvik Mansion Gazebo

Today we visited the ruins of a gazebo in Laaksolahti (Dalsvik). The gazebo, or pavilion belonged to the Dalsvik Mansion. If all this sounds funny, in Finnish place was called "Laaksolahden kartanon huvimaja".

Jarmo and I found out about this from Tony Hagerlund's blog on local interesting sites in Espoo.

The gazebo must have been interesting, the ruins are huge! And while the surrounding areas don't really lead you to believe this, the views are magnificent. The ruins are on top of a cliff, and you can see the Long Lake (Pitkäjärvi) quite well.

I wonder what happened to the gazebo... I remember reading about its fate, but for the life of me can't remember where.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko and Jarmo Ruuth. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dragon's Den - Smocza Jama

Smocza Jama. Or Dragon's Den, an ancient cave. Despite the puffing, fire-breathing dragon, there's nothing to be afraid of, as long the dragon is fed enough cattle every week. Either cattle .... or equivalent number of humans.

That is, until King Cracus killed the dragon. Nowadays there's a fire breathing statue of dragon that comes to life every few minutes. You should be more afraid of the ticket machine at the entrance, for this machine is your only way to enter this legendary cave. It might also be the world's only cave with a ticket machine in the entrance.

Dragon's Den is at the centre of Krakow, Poland, under the Wawel Royal Castle, going through the rocky Wawel hill and exiting near the river bank. The cave is altogether 270 meters long, and 85 meters of it are open to the public. The entrance is at the top of the hill, on the yard of the castle, where one descends through a tower to the cave. There are a number of other entrances to different parts of the castle as well. Those entrances are primarily on the long side tunnel that is closed off from the area open to the tourists. But there are a number of small holes in the porous limestone, so fun to explore. Read more about the history of the cave from Wikipedia. A map of the cave can be found here.

Entrance is 3 złoty or about 75 cents.

The dragon statue is in front of the cave exit on the public area. It breathes fire about every 4 minutes, and is best observed during the evenings. There's usually a collection of small kids crawling on top of the rock that the dragon stands on. The cave itself closes though before the evening, the exact time depends on the season. I was in Krakow for a meeting, so had trouble making it to the cave in time. On the first day I missed the closing time by 30 seconds.


More pictures from the dragon:

Signs, Wawel buildings, ticket machine, and the entrance stairs to the cave:

Inside the cave:


Photos and videos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. This blog is also available at the TGR site. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.

Krakow Sauna

I had an opportunity to visit a sauna in Poland. Obviously I took the opportunity!

This was again another Hilton sauna, at the DoubleTree (Hilton) Krakow, as I was in Krakow for a meeting.

The sauna was again quite nice indeed. A nice big pool, and three different saunas. I was a bit pressed on time though, so didn't have too much time to spend except in the hottest Finnish sauna.

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko. As always, the photos from swimming pools and saunas have been taken when the facilities were closed or closing, and there were no other customers present.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Elfvik Quarries

I've been sick, and with painful feet problems for a long time. I wanted to get out today, to test if I can move around. Or breathe outside air. I chose to visit the Elfvik Quarries in Espoo, near Villa Elfvik.

The idea to visit these places came from the excellent book on mines in Helsinki and nearby: Saltikoff, Laitakari, Kinnunen, Oivanen: Helsingin seudun vanhat kaivokset ja louhokset, available conveniently in PDF!

It is surprising how much mining activity there has been here in the last 400-500 years. Small mines, mostly, except in the Kaivoksela area where you have mine shafts running down 60 meters. In Elfvik, the quarries are for making granite blocks for construction. The quarries are recent, as the operations only begun in the early 1900s and ended in 1960s.

On page 57 of the book there's a quote about the Elfvik quarries from Hannes Lae (some kind of financial director, but what do they know?), where he criticises the "party lifestyle" of the quarry men. But I'm sure they worked pretty hard, splitting blocks of granite is hard work... and living on the rock hill as they did, must not have been easy either.

There's a lot of small quarries in the area, I didn't count all of them, but here are the main ones that I visited:

I also wonder why the book uses the spelling "Elvvik", whereas the current place names around are always in the form "Elfvik". Anybody know?

Oh, and what about my illness and foot? They didn't get any better, in fact my foot started to hurt a lot, and I started coughing. Maybe it is too early for even these kinds of small excursions. Back to resting :-(

Bolts in the rock face:

Quarry 2, barely visible:

Quarry 4:

Quarry 5:

Quarry 6:

Quarry 7:

Photos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Map of the Nepperi Cave

Nepperi is at the center of the big controversy: is the largest cave inside Ring III in Vantaa as currently believed, or perhaps in Espoo?

I'm trying to recover from multiple problems in my feet, and a cough, so excessive sports was not in the program today. But, I did want to go out somewhere nearby and see something interesting. And Jarmo was also interested in joining. We ended up visiting the Nepperi cave in Espoo. The weather was sunny and cave site was dry and ice-less. (On Jarmo's previous visit here he hurt his leg by slipping on the ice.)

I draw a map of the cave with some basic measurements. This isn't a proper cave map, but will give you an idea of what's on site (3 separate caves) and the overall shape and size of the caves.

I had previously visited the Nepperi cave but not explored it fully. I had also visited the Kalkkikallio ("Limestone hill") caves in Vantaa, and taken some measurements. Those measurements indicated that the main cave there was six meters (!) long, and that there might be a squeeze through another cave in the area that would total eight meters.

The Retkipaikka article concludes that the Kalkkikallio caves are the biggest one inside Ring III, though partially based on how cave-like they are. It is certainly true that Nepperi is not overall as cave-like. However, even Nepperi has a tight squeeze in darkness behind the larger open horizontal crack area.

I won't answer the original question about which city takes the win, because these matters are more about interpretation than measurement. However, I have now drawn a map of both cave sites (PDF and JPG), and there are even some numbers.

You could go under a rock roof or tunnel in Nepperi for at least 15-20 meters, whereas in Kalkkikallio you can do that for at most 8 meters, or at least in the cave parts that I found.

The dark, cave-like part is shorter in Nepperi (something like 4-5 meters) than in Kalkkikallio (6 meters). But to get to the dark part in Nepperi you need to traverse under the rock roofs on both ends for several meters.

Furthermore, while the entrance to the main cave in Kalkkikallio is very tight, at Nepperi the tightness follows almost throughout the cave, as the vertical crack / roof area is for the most part very low. Finally, most roof caves in Finland are at ground level, which makes them feel easy. At Nepperi the crack is half way up the cliff, and is quite exciting.

But of course, both caves are interesting, and different. Happy that we have those caves in so near the densely populated city areas.

Cave locations:

Main cave:

Corner cave:

Sidehole cave:

Pictures from Jarmo:

Photos and maps (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko and Jarmo Ruuth. Tämä artikkeli löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Black Snow Apocalypse. Now.

Imagine bright, white snow, gently covering a mountain. Now imagine all that snow black, dirty. Melting hard ice, covered by an accumulation of pollution and dust from air. This is reality.

End of August is not great time to ski in the northern hemisphere. One of the few open places is Hintertux Gletscher in Austria. But even they have mostly melting ice and accumulation of dirt. Black snow.

In other news, my right leg feels finally OK to ski a bit on. However, I fell on top of my camera on the slopes, and now the left leg is very painful. I was unable to ski the next day. I succeeded in getting out of bed and sitting in a car seat, but it wasn't easy.

By the way, I can recommend once again the Spa Neu-Hintertux hotel. It is such a friendly place. Their pool are is wonderful, on the top floor with large windows giving a view to the forest-covered mountains around. And the saunas are even nicer: four different saunas, including a very hot Finnish-style sauna.

Further down in the slopes there's really only dark ice underneath. And it is difficult to distinguish the slope from the equally grey rock fields next to it.

Snow is stored under white plastic, and every night some of it is used to maintain the lower slopes:

Holding my leg after falling on top my camera on the top of the slope:

Further down in the valley, it was very nice!

The pool area at the spa hotel:

Photos and videos (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko. This blog is also available at TGR. Time blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.