With new energies from a rich breakfast and our clothes clean and dry, we started day 4 of our hike. This time, we could walk on the beach for almost 8 km, sun shining all the time. As the stretch of sand grew more and more narrow and the rocks to our left started to become higher, we thought we had walked into a dead end. Hikers hate nothing more than having to return on the same way. Suddenly, stairs came into sight and they didn’t lead to a private property, but to the road we needed to take!
We followed the very dusty and busy road for a bit, but were able to leave it soon, turning to a much calmer dirt road. In about 2 km we should find a picnic place, that’s what our GPS promised. Great, because we needed a break before heading to our camping site for the evening.
2 km and nothing, another 2 km there should be the next one. But instead of picnic tables and a fire place, we encountered an eerie area, with muddy puddles in tracks of heavy vehicles and remainders of military installations. Not too inviting, so despite of hunger and tiredness we walked on.
Less than 1 km downhill and the scene changed completely: We were back at the beach and found an RMK picnic site! Under the pine trees, there was a picnic table, a place for campfire, firewood under a protective roof and a dry toilet. This was our campsite for the night; we even had a barbecue dinner.
In four days, we have walked 73 km and started to feel the continuous effort. In Switzerland, we would walk two days in a row with much lighter baggage and be back in our office chairs for the next week. Here, we have to make sure our bodies get some rest to recover for the next stages.
Day 5 was our first rest day. We had reserved a hotel room in a nearby town (we have learned our lesson!) and walked the 6 km in the morning. We arrived there at 10 AM and were very happy when the owner showed us straight to our room. Ah! A shower and some sleep and we were ready to explore the town. Getting to know Paldiski took us about two hours, including lunch and grocery shopping for the next day. We were told it’s a good place in summer due to the nearby beaches and a ferry connection to Pakri, a cute, butterfly-shaped island. Other than that, there are two industrial ports, a refinery, and many buildings from Soviet times. Anyway, we wanted to rest, so we spent the afternoon drinking coffee in the comfortable sofas in the lobby.
Our next stop was Padise, about 22 km from Paldiski. If any of you check the location on the map, you will notice that this place is way inside the country. Remember that there are few hiking trails close to the coastline? Sometimes, there is no possibility at all to walk on or along the shore. A river or swamp would cut the path and to get back to a hikeable trail one would have to return most of the way. We learned this the hard way when we chose to follow some car tracks at the beach instead of walking on the busy road. This went well for quite a stretch and we felt like the smartest of all hikers. Suddenly, the car tracks ended and we were in the middle of a swampy area. To return or not to return? You already know the answer. We ended up wading through the swamp for about half an hour before we reached the road again. We had walked a longer way nevertheless, were tired from walking on this strange terrain and still had 16 km to go. Good thing we just had had a rest day.
Of course we did not leave the road anymore until we reached our destination. Road hiking is a bit like driving on the motorway: You make more distance in less time, you have signs and infrastructure, but you miss what is special about your surroundings and it is incredibly boring. Finally, we saw the signs indicating our sleeping place for the night: Fortunately, we had booked a hut in a holiday park in the forest. It had been drizzling all day and sleeping in the tent was not our favorite option.
There was a shared kitchen to prepare our dinner, so we could have some warm food in the evening. Most of our meals consist of bread (they have very tasty rye bread in Estonia), cheese and/or ham or fish (smoke or canned), and vegetables. There is not a huge choice of vegetables one can eat raw, so we often have cucumber and tomatoes. We try to eat two pieces of fruit per day and we spoil ourselves (and restore our energies in between meals) with chocolate, nuts or cereal bars. We eat warm food at least every second day.
We usually can tell by the way we feel at km 5, how hard the hiking day is going to be. If we can’t wait to put the backpacks down and rest before we reach that point, it means we haven’t fully recovered from the previous day’s hike and it’s going to be a hard and painful day. If we don’t even notice the watch announcing 5 km and we have to convince ourselves to have a quick break by km 7, it’s going to be a rather easy hike. Day 7 belonged to the first category – hard and painful. Shortly after leaving the holiday park, we reached Padise’s beautiful monastery. Preserved enough to distinguish the different rooms and floors, yet crumbled enough to make your imagination work: “How might life have been between these walls when the building was in full bloom?” Sadly, we couldn’t really enjoy this visit as we were already tired and felt every muscle of our body.
The backpacks seemed to weigh much more than usual and our shoulders and back hurt terribly. We did a lot of long breaks that day and tried out different adjustments of the backpack straps, so we managed to walk the 20 km until Vihterpalu. We were more than relieved when our B&B finally came in sight and even happier when we could put our backpacks down for the day.
The first post in which we don’t mention the word “backpack” should be the one that marks the day when our muscles have grown so strong that we don’t notice the load on our backs anymore. We are far from that stage now. On the other hand, you might have noticed the absence of the word “blisters”. That is because, you guessed it, we didn’t have any serious problems with this so far. Fingers crossed that it continues like this!
The B&B made us feel comfortable the minute we entered. Located in a green area and not too far from the beach; the rooms with private bathroom, painted in friendly colors and extremely clean and cozy. There is a common area in the house with a shared kitchen which is so clean and well-equipped that you immediately feel like cooking. On a sunny day (like the one we were there), one can sit on the terrace and there is even a barbecue. There was only one downside: There is no shop close by and for self catering hikers this is quite a problem. However, the problem was solved quickly when the owner came by and offered us a ride to the next supermarket. In a few minutes, he drove us to a town, which we had past on our hike three hours earlier, and back to the B&B after we finished our shopping. Thanks to him, instead of us nibbling on dry energy bars, José prepared a delicious pasta dish with tuna and we had local beer. To round up the experience, the owner came in early the next morning and set the breakfast table with everything you can wish for, only for us.