Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hiking in the Wetlands of Lithuania

Thursday, November 28, 2013
For those who are non-native speakers of English it is not necessary to point out that blogging in the English language can be a pain. English can be difficult in it's simplicity, for example, the word "go" has about ten equivalents in my language, but at the same time English can be annoying with its close or nearly close synonyms. Just like now, to write the correct headline for this post I need to research which is the correct term to use: wetland, marsh, fen, swamp or bog.

Wetland seems to be a generic term to mean just exactly what needs to be conveyed: it is a piece of land that is wet. The other terms are used according to the vegetation and fauna that is typical to the place, in addition to other factors like the soil type or the salinity of water.

  • Marsh is dominated by grass and is common at the mouth of rivers. They often form around the edges of lakes and streams and are characterized by grass. 
  • Swamp is dominated by trees. They are often found in low-lying regions with poor drainage next to rivers which supply swamps with water. important to note: some swamps develop from marshes.
Both marshes and bogs develop in mineral soil.
  • Bog is dominated by mosses and heaths. Bogs are usually acid areas and frequently surround a body of open water. Bogs receive water exclusively from rainfall. 
  • Fen is dominated by grasslike plants, grasses, sedges and reeds. They receive water from surface or underwater sources. 
Both bogs and fens develop in organic soil. It's important to notice that bogs and ferns often occur side by side and often there is no strict division line between the two types. 

You can read in greater detail about the different types of wetlands at Wetlands Types and Classifications (which does include an example from my home country Lithuania-see, we are important in the world of wetlands!) But imagine my shock when I discovered that, based on the definitions above, my latest hike in the wetlands covered all four types of them. Can this really be so???? On the other hand, in my life normal things don't happen (very often).

On the plus side, I needed to go shopping.

Rubber boots for wetland hikes.
Hardly Manolo Blahnic :-(

Map of the Location.
In the above map we started our hike in the red spot and went straight ahead nearly to the place marked as Alionys II and back to the red spot, roughly speaking. The distance we covered was about 20 km.

My very First Steps in the Wetland. Drums in the Background.

Further I will just display the photos of this glorious hike.

The most difficult thing was walking almost non-stop, not being able to hurry up or have anything to grab for support. Sometimes there was water up to the brim of my rubber boots. Any serious pause in the hike resulted sinking into black water quite seriously and it was difficult to remove the feet from the mud underwater. The end of the hike seemed to be moving away from us and the final steps were made wading in the black water for a serious experience. Inexperienced hikers happen to get into the water up to their waists, so I wouldn't recommend to anyone to go to wetlands unprepared-this may attempt at your life, seriously.

Other than that, it was an amazing experience but I'm not sure I'd like to repeat it anytime soon- my body ached for several days after the hike and for the first time ever did I have to take painkillers because my head was killing me (but that might be attributed to certain wetland plants that emit specific scents).

Have you ever done anything extreme like that?

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