Into the Ruska – a Magical Learning Experience


A group of adventure education students form a semi-circle around the entrance to the Hannukuru Hut in autumnal Lapland.

We left for Lapland as basically strangers and came back full of shared experiences, memories and friendships. We embraced it all, now it’s your turn to read about it.

Saskia Huebschle & Inka Jokinen

Day of Arrival

It’s the first big trip of the Adventure and Outdoor Education Programme and since the start of our studies in September, most of us first years could hardly wait. On Friday, 18th of September our class left Äkäslompolo for a five-day hike in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. What followed were five days full of excitement, beautiful landscapes, interesting lessons in authentic environments, camping in nearly freezing conditions and a lot of bonding with our classmates.

With all the preparations done we left our warm and cozy hostel and set out on our adventure. We started the hike from Ketomella and had an easy but entertaining hike to our first campsite at Hietajärvi.

The walking part of the day was not long, but the day was still educational. We learned how to use an axe and a knife safely and also got some information about national park rules and everyman’s rights. At the end of the day, we all sat around a campfire discussing what we learned that day and what to expect for the days to come.

Two trees on Hietajärvi beach. Every tree around has autumn foliage.
Hietajärvi Campsite. Photo: Saskia Huebschle

The First Full Day on Trail

After a more or less warm night in the tents, we start the day with a morning swim in the lake which is great for waking up and bonding with our classmates!

The school programme starts with a workshop on how to navigate using a map and a compass, great skills for anyone who wants to head into the nature, no matter how big the adventure. After some practice, we start hiking, all the while still using a map and a compass to confirm our location and the way to go. We take turns leading the group to ease us into the attitude and responsibilities of a leader and take several breaks on the way, some to recover and stay hydrated, some educational and some mainly to eat delicious lingon- and blueberries.

The evening’s campsite welcomes us with even more beautiful colours, some more interesting and short lessons, and northern lights in the evening. Altogether a perfect day full of great experiences and authentic learning environments!

Northern lights over a Lapland fell with the silhouettes of a few stunted spruces.
Northern lights at Sioskuru Campsite. Photo: Inka Jokinen

A Leadership Experience

We woke up in our humid and frosty tents around 6:30 to a beautiful sunrise. Today is the day we are supposed to lead our own group with just little assistance from our lecturers.

But power always comes with responsibility. As a leader of the group, you have to take everyone and everything into consideration.  Safety, hiking pace, orienteering and breaks. The biggest lesson is that you have to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the decisions you make. You can’t push anyone out of their comfort zone too much.

Seven people hiking on a vast level surface of a Lapland fell covered in autumn foliage. In the distance you can see snow-covered hills.
Hiking in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Photo: Saskia Huebschle

We apply all the knowledge we learned during the last few days on trail to make it a successful and safe day in smaller independent groups. All areas from planning to the actual hike are covered and all the groups have a great time reaching their own goals.

The afternoon brings a cultural touch into our hike: We are all experiencing a traditional Finnish wood sauna! For some of the international students, this is first and we all enjoy this little bit of luxury on our hike. The lake right next to the sauna is a perfect place to cool off again as well. What else could we wish for!

A True Nature Experience

The last morning of our expedition in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is all about connecting with nature. We get the task to walk the first two kilometres alone and in complete silence. It is magical. All the colors of ruska, the sounds of the trees in the wind and the birds force us to get down-to-earth and observe our surroundings in a completely different way. This is also the day we walk alone without the lecturers which gives us the freedom to take in the landscape in our own way and choose our own break spots. We hike back to Hietajärvi where we meet our whole AdEd group and have lunch together.

A scenic view from the top of a Lapland fell covered in autumn foliage colours of red and orange as well as rock.
Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Photo: Saskia Huebschle

Last modified: January 7, 2022