Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

International Wilderness Guide - Professional Examination

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Four weeks ago, right after we came back from the canoe trip, we had our Professional Examination. As I know that many readers are following this story of my IWG education, I thought to share it with you - also future students certainly will appreciate to know what is in store for them!

The Professional Examination has three evaluators: A teacher from the school (non of our own teachers, obviously), an entrepreneur who has his own guiding business and a wilderness guide. All three where really cool guys, friendly, funny and with plenty of experience between them.


Nature knowledge session.

So, the story starts on Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock. We each get a map, and will be told later on with whom and to where we need to guide. They went in alphabetical order, which meant I was somewhere in the middle. Our Aussie and Belgian classmates had the honours of going first and setting the benchmark. We jumped in the cars and drove off into the forest, where our two teachers would drop us and take the cars back.

The task was to navigate to a point on the map, off-trail of course, and en route disclose some nature knowledge - be it about birds, trees, mosses or any other flora & fauna is up to oneself. The rest of the class was instructed to be "good clients" and don't make trouble, and to top things of we were also seriously lucky with the weather - the thermometer was upwards of the 20°C mark and it was nice sunny.



Onwards through the woods.

The navigation & nature knowledge part was done fine by everyone, and the last part of the journey was to be traveled via canoe, paddling some three to four kilometer over the lake to our final destination. Once we arrived there, we loaded the seven canoes back to the trailer and immediately got our next tasks.


Arrived at the canoes!


Task I.


Task II.


My camp.

We had three hours to build our camp, the fireplace & toilet, and start carving; while at the same time we were called in for additional tasks. It really was very fast paced, and the time flew by. I was testing the sharpness of my Gransförs Bruks axe and found out that it is sharp enough of to cut a good piece of skin of my hand, and thus made use of first my own First Aid kit and then consulted my classmate who's a nurse, who did a superior job than me. Continue with a bit of a dressing =)

The "in-between" tasks were to explain fishing laws in Finland and setting up a rod & reel for pike fishing, followed by demonstrating your knowledge about sharpening your puukko and knots, and finally using a GPS. The first three were no problem, and while I was able to use the GPS to get the location coordinates, I misunderstood the second part of the task and did poorly in it. In hindsight I found out what was wanted: We were giving coordinates and needed to locate these on a map. I was able to do this, but because I misunderstood and thought we should locate our current location, I failed this part (Future exam takers probably want to know that the coordinates given are not the coordinates of the current position, but of another place. If you know how to read GPS coordinates on a map it should be no problem to find the right spot =).

This took a bit longer as expected (11 students doing all of the above), so at 21 o'clock we gathered around to hear the final task of the day: Prepare your own dinner with the given ingredients, on a wood fire, time is 90 minutes, evaluators will come by to sample your dish. Ingredients at our disposal: A complete perch which you needed to prepare, potatoes, onions, turnip, carrots, dill, half a lemon, some butter, oil and creme as well as several spices. As much as possible needed to be used, and I used all except the creme; and you needed to start your fire not before you had collected your ingredients.



Cooking & the finished meal.

I opted to filet & fry the perch, boil the veggies in water, salt & butter and garnish the whole thing with a slice of lemon and some dill. I was the first to finish cooking and got good marks for my dish - it was a tad to salty they said, though I need to point out that Finns & Central Europeans are on different saltiness levels. So all in all I was happy, and yes, it tasted fab - it was a smart move on my side to loan a frying pan from the school, as without that cooking would have been slightly more difficult!


Eating dinner with a fine view.

After cooking and eating I continued to carve a bit, though as dusk was setting in, as did my tiredness - I got up at 5 o'clock that morning - I decided around midnight to go to sleep. I went into my lovely LAUFBURSCHE tyvek bivy, said good night to the army of mosquitos sitting on the no-see-um mesh and went dreaming.

At six thirty I got up again, the sun already was shining since a few hours and at seven o'clock we needed to be ready for the next tasks. Yeps, more tasks, more cooking! Eggs, bacon, bread, salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, needed to be transformed into a palatable breakfast.



I opted for a rather basic fried bacon & eggs with veggies sandwich, which was well received. The evaluators came to check our camp, while we again went one-for-one through the task of explaining a Optimus Multifuel stove. After I successfully went through that I explained the teacher how my BushBuddy Ultra worked =)

The next task was to break up camp. An evaluator came by to check if we were able to break camp and "Leave No Trace" - I was so good in hiding my fireplace that he didn't find it =) Then I needed to explain how to pack my rucksack, and show how and what I packed. No problem, though the evaluator looked and listened with interest as I was explaining about ultralight gear, frameless backpacks, sleep systems et al.

The final half an hour I spent carving:

Not pretty but OK. Spoons are a pain if you don't have a lot of time or a curved knife.

That were all tasks done, and being the first one packed and ready I was also the first to go and have the personal talk with two of the evaluators. They asked me how I think it went, and after I briefly stated how it was in my opinion, they gave me feedback on the different tasks. Everything was very good to excellent, except my GPS failure. We then had a short talk about why I wasn't on the Bear Ski, and after we had sorted that we shook hands and I walked off, having passed the practical part of the Wilderness Guide examination.


Guess which one is mine ;) !

The Week in Review

A new week, a new Week In Review. Last week distinguished itself by me getting my papers from the Wilderness Guide school I have been doing in the last ten months, so now I can call myself a Wilderness Guide and take clients out into the beautiful Nordic forests and fjells!



News & Various:

Mike is Beach Bound with the Eric, Roman, Doom, and Dylan. Fat tire bikes, packrafts, wilderness.

Adam explains how to get climbing legs.

Go climb Mt. Whitney!

Kupilka swag up for grabs. For free.

Torjus lets us know how his forest garden project comes along and discloses some tips & tricks.

Manifesto of a solo mountaineer on One Hundred Mountains.

Chris lets us know the latest backpack design which Ryan has been working on, in conjunction with HMG, in his Monday Meditation post.

I wrote a review of the LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK for Backpacking Light.

The Pig-Monkey moved to Django.

Steven's Mapping (R)evolution post is a recommended read for all map and tech nerds.

Chad goes hiking for 4 days on the AT - with a 20 pound pack. Check his gear list =)

Maz takes a first look at his new La Sportiva Raptor Trail Runners.

Mike has a superb guide up on his blog how to make cheap & easy fire starters. Recommended read for all pyromaniacs.

Jim asks if you "Have No Time To Hike?"

Jill gives a book away.



Gearaholics confess:

Brian has a 17g 1-Micron Water Filter.

Chris shares his first impressions of the Jetboil Flash with us.

The Jolly Green Giant discloses his secret piece of gear with us.

Sheila moved away from boots and is now sporting a pair of Salomon Vega GTX shoes.

David is going to walk two months in the Pyrenees, and his Haute Gear List shows what he takes.

John sheds light on different Solid Fuel Tables.

Jack reviews the Power Grip Pedals.

Ross reviews the Brasslite Turbo II-D Alcohol Stove, a nice little stove.



Trip Reports:

Ben Collins is a photographer. His latest trip report, "Ancient citadels of the North West Highlands" is a highly recommended read, it is spectacular.

Weather & Time = Pen y Fan for Dave.

Other Dave, other country. Bikes, balancing, bear fur.

Jobiwan tried to traverse the Presidential Mountain Range.

Spring Course Loop via Mountain Bike.

Bison, bridges, snow banks, dark clouds, rock windows. Dondo's adventure.

Yosemite NP through the eyes of an ultralight backpacker from Germany.

Gavin traverses the Cairngorms from Aviemore to Blair Atholl via Mountain Bike.

Appalachian Trail. John. Liz. Four Day Challenge.

24h trips? Bollocks. Nick does it in 19 hours 22 minutes. Overnighters, that is. Time to take lovely photos he, too.

Sabine went packrafting on the Thaya and March rivers. Some spectacular wildlife shots (the young fox has to be my favourite) mean you should check this out.

Aaron was on another fine skiing, pedaling, climbing & hiking trip.

Greg is afloat. With a fat tire bike. And a dog.

Other Greg. Australia. Caves. Canyons. Karate.

John & Kelley on Sears Island.

The Denver Tenkara addicts went fishing together. Cool.

Mountain camps in Bosnia with beautiful sunsets and flowers.

Kupilka News & Raffle

It has been a loooong time since my Kupilka post, and a lot has happened in the Kupilka-verse. Time to let ya know what has happened and to celebrate, raffle off some fine Kupilka swag!


Some brand-spanking new Kupilka gear is up for grabs, including...

Well, Kupilka has expanded. Was it last October available from Finland, Germany and a few other countries, you now can get it from all around the world, and the company is expanding as you're reading this! I know there are a lot of readers from the USA, so you will be really happy to hear that you now can get it from US vendors! Also Japanese, Dutch and British readers will be delighted to hear that you can buy Kupilka at home, with your local currency and lower shipping costs than sending it from Finland! Quick links to countries which now have Kupilka locally + choose country; and some links to especially noteworthy ones:

USA: Backpacking Light
Japan: Moonlight Gear and Locus Gear (The Japanese certainly know how to make superb product photos!)
Sweden: Outnet
Spain: FerreHogar
South Africa: proVenture
United Kingdom: Lakeland Bushcraft

If you want a shop in your country to carry Kupilka gear, are a shop owner who wants to get it in your store or life in a country where Kupilka ain't available yet, please contact Michael at Kupilka to sort things out.


one Kupilka 21 kuksa, ...

Then Kupilka launched the Kupilka Companeros, an (Gossamer Gear-like) Ambassador kinda thing. Check it out and become an Ambassador for your country, free Kupilka goodies are waiting for you!

Finally, rumours have it that Kupilka is coming out with a new lightweight piece of awesomeness! Sadly the transmission was interrupted and I was not able to decipher the code, but I am confident that soon we will hear more about it. What could it be...?


one Kupilka 5 shot glass, ...

You did well, reading till here. Time to reward thee. With swag. Kupilka swag. Pick your item of choice, up for grabs are

- a Kupilka 5 shot glass
- a Kupilka 21 kuksa cup
- a Kupilka 44 plate & a Kupilka Cutlery Set


as well as a Kupilka 44 and a Kupilka Cutlery Set. Woohoo!

What you need to do? Start by liking Kupilka on Facebook - so you can stay up-to-date with the new gear coming, news and raffles like these. You also should follow Kupilka on Twitter for similar reasons, as well as quick responses to questions and interesting conversations. Not on Facebook or Twitter? No problem. It just gives you extra points in the raffle.

So, to participate in the raffle, leave a comment underneath, telling me

1. What you'd like to get (you only have one pick, choose wisely!)
2. What you'd eat or drink with your win
3. Did you follow Kupilka on Twitter and/ or liked them on Facebook? This gives you an extra point or two in the raffle.

The raffles runs till Sunday, the 26th of June, noon Finnish time. I then will use magic to determine the winners, and announce them in "The Week In Review" that day. As usually, it is open to everyone around the world, and as in the past, some little surprises might make it into the package to help you enjoy your new swag in style =)

I'm looking forward to read what you like to eat and drink, and wish thee a mighty fine weekend!