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Weekend hiking

Last weekend I went hiking together with my son. On Saturday noon we arrived at Seitseminen national park. At the park info centre we examined the park map. The network of paths was so arranged that there are different pre-planned tours, and different kinds of shelters and cooking places here and there. As we had planned to stay over a night, we chose the longest route which is about 26 km (a bit more than 16 miles). We laced our shoes, wore our backpacks and started walking.

The path crossed many kinds of terrain types - old forests growing mostly spruces, open mires, small lakes and brooks, and occasionally small rocky hillocks. All in all, nature and terrain typical for this area of Finland. Although, because of industrial forestry not that much of old-growth forest remains, and almost all of the old path networks have been both forgotten and destroyed as woodlands have been clear-cut. As I walked down a well-maintained path I was thinking how one or two generations ago most of the population needed wilderness skills in their ordinary daily lives. To make their living people needed to know how to best pack stuff in a backpack, how to best move around in different kinds of terrains and weathers, how to start a fire and to cook by open fire, how to spend a night or two in the woods. Nowadays these skills serve mostly a recreational function - and there is nothing wrong with it. In my mind I felt happy that I can share this weekend hiking with my son, so that we both carry on at least a little of these age-old wilderness skills.

After some six kilometres we felt like stopping for a coffee break. We headed to a lakeside location which had a fire ring and a shelter for ready-made firewood. When we got there it started to rain. And we found that there was already a group of twelve people or so, busy with all kind of preparations to cook food. We felt the place bit too crowded for us, so we spent a moment inside the firewood shelter waiting for the rain to ease. Soon we were back on the track, heading for a next destination some three kilometres away. Cross the mires, through a peaceful forest of pines, on and on we went. At this point we had already been walking for several hours, and I started to notice how it really helps the mind to relax. All that there is to do is to keep on walking, enjoying the scenery. Conceptual thoughts become loose and scattered, as the awareness is mostly concentrated on all kind of little sensory details; a distant sound of a bird, the sweet odour of mire plants, all the colours of mushrooms dotting the green moss of the land, the light glimmering on the surface of the water in a brook, a frog jumping.

We arrived at another beautiful lake-side location with a shelter and a fire ring. My son started a fire and we cooked a meal. Since it was only a few days after my son's birthday he had brought a bottle of special craft beer, and tasty food stuff. Soon we enjoyed a little birthday banquet in the woods.

After our meal it was still about three hours of daylight left. So we decided to go on walking. At first the path followed a small stream. We spotted several trees which had been cut down by a beaver. Further down the stream there was an old water-mill. It was not much of a rapids, but apparently enough so that the flowing water had once powered the mill. Also, this national park is not all about conserving pristine nature - it is also preserving the old signs of human - nature interaction, when the human technology was still less invasive. Like, for example, there was not an old road taking to the mill, but just a several hundred meters of a path winding down from the nearest old dirt road. Which means that the people who used the mill had been manually carrying sacks of grain and flour back and forth - assuming that they used a horse and a cart for transportation on the road.

On we went. There was a wooden bridge cross the stream. And soon after that there was a location with a fire ring, shelter, dry toilet and even spots suitable for tents. We decided to stay there for the night. My son set up his hammock with a rain cover. I had a tent. When we had our camp all set we went back to the stream to fill a kettle with water - so that it is ready for the morning. After all the physical strain of walking carrying the backpacks we both were sleepy and quickly fell asleep. At some point of night I woke up for a short while. I listened to the sounds of the nocturnal forest - and it was all peacefully silent. In a way, the silence felt deep and endless like a starry sky. I found that very comforting; like an infinite safety and tranquil which embraces all. With a smile on my face I fell back asleep.

In the morning I went to start a fire and to boil the water to make coffee. Some time after I had enjoyed a mug of coffee my son woke up. We cooked a meal and ate it for a brunch. We rolled up the camp and packed everything into our backpacks. (I was using my primitive backpack, and was pleased to see that after all the years it still fully serves its function.) It was about 12 km back to the info centre, so we went on hiking. We were out of bottled water, and this stretch of the trail didn't have a well with drinkable water. So we stopped at a pond by a mire. We filled our kettles with the water of the pond and boiled the water for several minutes to kill all the possible germs. That made us enough drinking water for the rest of the adventure.

For the last few kilometres we both started to feel the strain in our legs and feet. I had boots which are from the left-over stock of Swedish Army. The boots date back to 1960's, and seemed like they had never been used. I don't know of the outsole material ever was any flexible, but I definitely know that now it was stiff, clumsy and offered no grip whatsoever. I hope before the next hiking trip I can afford new boots better suited for long walks on uneven terrain. Oh well, but we made it back and there was a sense of accomplishment. Not that 26 kilometres split for two days is that long distance to walk, but more like just feeling our minds so refreshed. The weekend hiking sure had a proper anti-stress effect. Also, it felt like a transition ritual, as we say good bye to the summer season, entering the autumn. For both of us this autumn brings some changes in schedules and work routines.

Ah, and in case you want to see more than the pictures below, here is action-camera footage my son shot.

In the national park
My son at the lakeside shelter
The view from the shelter
We set a camp for the night
tags: 
diary
homesteading
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Comments

This was nice to read. I really like all of your entries, really. Keep it up, please. :)

Hee, thanks for the feedback! Sure, writing the blog has become a habit for me, so there are no thoughts on quitting. It is nice to keep on writing especially when there are real people out there reading and commenting. Good good =)

What a wonderful experience to share with your Dad. You guys are lucky! Thanks for the great post!

Clementine

Lucky days, no doubt =)

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