Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Week One at the Wilderness Guide School

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A hectic week is over, and I realize that the next ten months will be super super busy, more than I previously thought. Working and studying at the same time is not easy, I saw that this week - especially as I am currently still commuting between the school and home, losing nearly three hours of working time. I now need to decide if I move to the "Lad Pad" in Kuru and only go home over the weekends, or commute.

Monday morning I was packed up and arrived early in Kuru - school started at ten. It was basic introduction stuff that day, getting to know the other students - a great group, very international with nine different nationalities among thirteen students - and the school, and an introduction to what we will learn in the next ten months. Great, exciting stuff ahead - four two week expeditions, four smaller events and all of them we need to plan and execute - and at least six weeks of practical training. As we can go anywhere we fancy, I am tempted to go to Bozeman, Montana, or Iceland...

The school building on a beautiful Monday morning.

Tuesday saw us getting to know the school grounds - we have over 1000 ha of forest as a playground, three (!) saunas and a lake next to the school, and so much more that there won't be any boring time. While Kuru is a tiny village it still has all what one could need (pub, supermarket, healthcare services, library, etc.), and for more: Tampere is just an hour bus ride away.

Starting my studies of birds.

The next day we got more into the thick of things, learning more of what needs to be done for a trip, how to plan it, and more. Thursday was visiting Tampere and different shops - I didn't buy anything, tough the visit at a Finnish cottage manufacturer who builds traditional shelters had me tempted. They were really nice, and to see that we have a cottage manufacturer practically on my door step is fascinating.

Drosera rotundifolia in Seitseminen National Park.

Friday we did a field trip to Seitseminen NP, and while I have been there plenty of times it was very interesting to go around there with our teachers and learn more than I would one my own. We also visited the old Kovero croft, which was very beautiful and it is a life I reckon which is much better than what we have nowadays.

Kovero croft from the inside.

The next week we will spend the complete time in the forest. We will build our own shelters, cook over fires, learn what we can eat from the forest, go fishing, do orienteering and much more. The week after we'll butcher sheep and learn to cook, as well as canoe and kayak lessons. It is a lot of fun to look forward to, but besides that we also need to start to write our essays on different topics, develop a business plan, learn to identify pretty much the complete Finnish flora and fauna (we have a list of over six hundred birds, mammals, fungi, lichen, trees, plants, reptiles, amphibians, etc). So it is not only "playing" but also studying - a lot. Lessons are every day from 8 till 16 o'clock with a couple of coffee breaks and a one hour lunch break. And after that studying, and for me also working.

If this is getting you excited and ready for a career change, the programme is called International Wilderness Guide, more info and applications can be found from the link. There are plenty of people applying, so the earlier you start to plan and apply for this the better. I'll once in a while report about the studies and how they're going, though if you have more questions please feel free to ask in the comments.