The trials of Salamajärvi National Park

Last week I took part in a school winter hike in Salamajärvi National Park.

These are beginning to be the last days to safely ski on the ice, unless we experience some sort of a winter miracle.

Thankfully I’ve managed to practice a lot this winter. I’ve fallen for it, hard.

Because of all the activities, I didn’t take that many photos. I was too busy taking it all in.

It’s all fun and games…

Four teams were responsible for the daily activities.

On the first day we did a stretching exercise (thanks, Tapani!) on the account of the navigation test we’d take part in after sunset. We had to circle around a few holes in the ice but thanks to my new headlamp, I saw them a mile away. Which was good, since I didn’t want to add a swimming exercise in the to-do list.

My team was responsible for the second day’s program: ice fishing, Yoga 101 and a species identification quiz.

We made some of the species up to test if our teachers were paying attention.

Our ice fishing bounty was a light one. The idea was to catch the smallest fish possible and the end result was seven perches! We skinned and cooked them.

The evening program consisted of making a campfire with damp logs and learning how to tie knots. We even crossed a stream by using said knot knowledge for ropes.

On the last day we stretched some more and played a game of species identification charades.

The point of the winter hike is to show our survival and leadership skills as a part of a mandatory graduation test.

Are we capable enough with fire making, pitching a tent in harsh winds or outdoor cooking that we could handle a whole team of people on our own?

I self-evaluated my performance but have yet to hear back from the committee. I personally found lots of room for improvement: after only four winter hikes, it became clear that I still need practice, practice, practice.

I’m quick at making a camp and all my food items are neatly packed and organized, which leaves me more time to help others.

I also noticed advancement in my fitness when skiing. The only reason I was sweating was the rising temperature, not my poor physique.

This, too, needs more work, though. I want to be in better shape than my future clients and I could do without the spare tire in front.

Species identification needs more practice and it won’t end after I graduate.

If you ever visit the Middle Finland Nature Museum, you might run into me. I’ll be the gal staring at the stuffed fishes and birds.

I still feel insecure as a team leader. I need to visualize the goal for several hours before I feel confident enough to tackle it. I also have a slight fear of public speaking, even when the crowd consists of people I know.

I have my demons. Demons who constantly whisper things like this isn’t going to work out or you don’t know what you’re doing. For some reason the fact that I don’t have a scout background or that I don’t know things instantly, makes me really nervous.

I’ve decided to make a smaller deal out of it and lead an event in Swedish. Maybe by learning all the necessary outdoor words and phrases takes my mind out of the rest of it.

The fun part is that no one in my class knows Swedish so I’ll have to take two translators with me. One to speak English, one to speak Finnish.

There was plenty of food

Me and my tent buddy Elina had enough food to feed the both of us even if the other had dropped all of theirs into a lake.


All this winter’s ski hikes can be found under the tag “ski hiking”.

We had the pleasure of having Minna Jakosuo, wilderness guide and an entrepreneur, to evaluate and grade our performances.



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