Trip 32 -- Hiiumaa Walk
Day 4: Day 4: Külaküla to Poama
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Today: 31530 steps/23.00 km/14.29 mi/4h 46m
Total: 142253 steps/109.45 km/68.01 mi/20h 40m
On the sloping bathroom ceiling of my stuffy cabin attic, I killed the last mosquito. It was the size of an F-15, and when I rapped it with my knuckles it dropped to the floor with a thud that sent shock waves all the way to Saaremaa.
With the bugs out of my mind, maybe I could sleep. I never properly made the bed. I thrust down one of the sheets and covered it with a damp towel. I lay down and put my head on the stacked pillow and comforter.
It was still too hot. I wondered what the threshold was for suffocation in an overheated room, although I knew this situation couldn't be anywhere close. I closed my eyes and almost drifted off, and then the sweat tickled me awake again.
"This is ridiculous," I said to the empty room.
I poured more water all over the towel and lay down again. This time the coolness was sufficient, and I slept through the night, save for a couple of minutes here and there during which I shifted to a new damp place on the towel.
I woke up just before seven, packed everything, and opened the door. "Ooh," I said as the cool air hit me. A pair of gray foxes scampered away, terrified of my threatening sigh.
The cool air lasted for the five seconds it took me to get downstairs. It was 7:40, and the day was already warming up. A few late-partying flies surrounded me with their love, but not so many as yesterday. Don't flies sleep? Or go to school?
The narrow lane from Külaküla took me to the main road, where I turned left, to the north. Today was not going to be particularly long, only about 23 kilometers: around half of yesterday's distance. After 20 there would be a restaurant serving lunch, I was sure of it -- they even posted daily hours on their Facebook page recently.
The road north was almost featureless: the same forest on both sides, few turns or houses, occasional cattle. My early departure made for shade for the first couple of hours, but the heat and direct sunshine took over. I plodded along, much more slowly than usual: No need to rush and no scheduled attractions. And yesterday's unexpectedly long walk, with the failed shortcut gamble, had made my feet tired. I rarely broke 12 minutes a kilometer today, and I had none faster than 11.
I've upgraded my footwear since my sore conclusion to the Isle of Wight circuit. The Welsh hill walker had mentioned Hokas ("the ugliest shoes you'll ever see"), and my partner, Wabi, had connected me with a specialist in athletic orthopedics who also recommended them and fitted me for insoles. After trying one pair that matched the Welsh woman's description and was so wide I felt like I was standing on a tractor, I found a comfortable blue pair that wasn't so unsightly. Great traction and I never feel anything sharp underneath. Having them on the Wight would have made such a difference.
The traffic was so light that I often walked straight down the middle of the road, for more than ten minutes at a time. I'd fix my eyes on shimmering circular leaves as I made my way forward. I reached the village of Õngu, where the Alar sailboat was built. An orange butterfly joined me briefly, and then it was back to the bugs.
All the water I had was the second of two 500-milliliter bottles my host had provided in the attic. The tap water had smelled of sulfur and put me off, but I should have refilled my other bottles just in case. Instead I carried them empty. I rationed, taking a sip every couple of kilometers.
I took a brief detour to the Vanajõe Org or Old River Valley. Here were the first hills I'd seen on Hiiumaa. A small canyon and a snaking river were formed just over 1,000 years ago by water seeping through rising land. Or, more traditionally, they were formed because of a man going home from work after harsh treatment by his boss. He paused to rest and, still angry, plunged his shovel into the earth. He tried to remove it, but it wouldn't budge. When he finally wriggled it free, it opened a flow of water.
Wabi called me toward the end of the morning walk; she was finishing up her Pineapple Day celebration with friends (you observed, right?) and I was feeling particularly weary. Why was today hitting me so hard? Maybe because the walk was monotonous except for the Vanajõe Org, maybe because I hadn't gotten to shower, maybe because of the bugs, maybe because of lack of water. It was far from my longest or most strenuous day. The call concluded with my grunting my way up to the Meite Möte restaurant -- talking became an excessive exertion. The place was open indeed, and popular with families and people camping. I started by swigging a few glasses of self-serve water and then settling in at one of the picnic tables outside.
I enjoyed fried European flounder and another brand of that wonderful mustard. I also picked up a meal of breaded chicken for dinner: My lodging was about 35 minutes away, and I didn't feel like coming back and walking the stretch twice more. This was the only food around unless I fancied taking a boat out to fish in the Baltic Sea.
An unpaved road took me to Pauka Puhkemaja (Pauka Holiday House). It felt like a rural road in Maine, with driveways leading to summer camps. Each turnoff was marked by a Y-shaped tree stump holding a sign bearing the name of the lodging. Several of these were called Eravaldus. (It means "private property.")
Pauka Puhkemaja felt like the grounds of a summer camp, but with more comfort and privacy. There was a main house with a sauna, a living room with leather sofas, and laundry machines they let me use for €5. It was the first paper money I've spent on Hiiumaa.
Scattered around the large lawn were maybe 15 cabins; I was assigned number 2. I prepared myself for an onslaught of heat, but a window and a window screen allowed for air without bugs, and a small electric fan was attached to the windowsill. The property also contained a volleyball court, a pond, and climbing fixtures for kids. I had the use of a full kitchen.
I saw no one when I arrived and took a rest in the living room, but by the end of the day people had returned, nearly all the cabins were occupied, and one group was making use of their grill. The bugs were not excessive and the air smelled sweet. While my laundry churned, I sat at my picnic table for breaded chicken and Kassari beer.
I have two nights here, but tomorrow is not a day of relaxation; rather, I'll walk the length of the Kõpu peninsula and visit two of Hiiumaa's most important lighthouses. Having showered and properly eaten, I predict a happy journey.
Go on to day 5