The truth is out there… in Äkäslompolo village and it seems like the seemingly simple things tend to be the hardest ones.
Emmi-Lotta Ojaranta and Aleksi Raaska
The Adventure Education class of 2019 started preparing for the two-week excursion in Lapland on the second week of the semester at the Nurmijärvi campus. The week consisted of learning what to pack and how to pack, orienteering and map reading and how to create a safe social environment. We were advised to maintain a healthy mixture of rest and exercise before the hike.
The truth is out there…in Äkäslompolo village and it seems like the seemingly simple things tend to be the hardest ones. The constant packing and re-packing of the backpacks will break even the toughest students. Meal planning is surprisingly hard with more than one hungry mouth to be filled. Co-living 24/7 is always a challenge no matter the circumstances- even when practicing it in the warm and cozy atmosphere of the 7 fells hostel.
Having a packing list next to you while you pack is a handy tool.
On the positive side, the clean fresh air, the new experiences and getting hyped up about the upcoming adventure overpowers some of the stress factors. The nowadays very unpredictable weather was clearly on our side providing us with the whole variety: sun shine, crispy coldness and just occasional snowy rain showers.
Most of us didn´t have any experience with fat bikes beforehand so the steep uphill to Kellokas nature center was a nice way to start. While letting the sweat dry, we gained some information about how things work in Lapland. We listened to speakers from tourist industry, the developer of tourism in the area, Visit Ylläs, and from Metsähallitus, who manages the national parks in Finland. We mulled over the contradictions between economic growth and ecological sustainability and it seems that there is no easy way of maintaining both at the same time.
Tent pitching practise at Tahkokuru
The tent pitching, putting up the tarps and preparing meals outside with the gas stoves were the gradual steps on creating a space for confidence and mental and physical safety. Controlling the fears of unknown social threats within the group boosted up our expectations for the hike. However, the forming of the meal and tent groups was a small nightmare with all possible negative aspects of group dynamics. The solution took us to the edge of our comfort zone. And so after applying some hard-core professional packing skills, we entered the bus that would take us to Ketomella, the starting point of the hike.
(all photos: Emmi-Lotta Ojaranta)