Week 3 – Orienteering, Clearing Meadows and Thumbing Lifts

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Started the week with a walk in a nearby forest to observe birds and plants. Got introduced to some more mushrooms – some edible and some deadly. One that I will definitely remember was the destroying angel, the name says it all, eat this mushroom and you’re probably going to die. Symptoms do not appear for 5 to 24 hours, when the toxins may already be absorbed and the damage (destruction of liver and kidney tissues) irreversible. As little as half a mushroom cap can be fatal if the victim is not treated quickly enough! On a lighter note we the also found many brittle gill (pictured below) and gypsy mushrooms – which are both edible, and very tasty.

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Week 2 – Forest Trip

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We spent week 2 camping in the college forest, a short drive away. It was a great week and a good opportunity for the group to bond whilst still in our ‘Honey Moon’ period, as Mikko, our tutor put it. Throughout the week a range of skills we taught, including orienteering, fire making, whittling, fishing, proper use of an axe and also local plants and wildlife knowledge.

On Monday morning, the first thing we did was to organise all the equipment and pack it into the trailer of one of the vans. Again, much more to do than initially thought – we collecting the vans and trailers from the school garage, 2 of the guys collected the shopping lists from the others and did the food shop for everyone, only going 7 euros over for the whole group – their efficiency could be down to the fact that they were both German. Continue reading

Week 1 – Introductions

Seitseminen National Park

The first week was a combination of classroom based work, trips to local camping spots and Seitseminen national park, with a bit of camping, foraging and wild swimming thrown in for good measure.

We were also split into our expedition planning groups – I am in the group planning the trip to Russia. So much more to do than I initially thought, from car route plans, to the walking route, sorting visas, daily timetables, food plans for the week, driver rotas, safety plan, risk assessment, summary of safety plan for local rescue stations, gear plan and budget. It’s going to be a busy month.

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Day 01

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First day of the International Wilderness Guide program started today!

Arrived at the college on Saturday evening and settled into the huge yellow house where all of us will be staying for the next 10 months when not on expeditions. Went for a run on Sunday through the surrounding woods of pine and birch, got a little over excited at the sight of 2 red squirrels, a rare sight in the UK, but, as my Finnish coursemates told me (in a much less excited voice than me), a pretty common sight in Finland.

We had a walk around the college and went swimming in the nearest lake – Yläisjärvi. Which apparently by Finnish standards is a dirty pond… if this is the case the other lakes must be flippin incredible! It was an absolute beaute of a lake. Continue reading