This adventure spontaneously jumped out of nowhere and grabbed me – sometimes the best trips are last minute decisions. Last week I was doing some work experience as an assistant skiing guide along the Finnish – Russian border and on this particular night our group happened to be staying at an old border control station. After arriving at our accommodation we ascended the adjoining watchtower and gazed dreamily over Russian and Finnish forests as the setting sun gently robbed the land of light. A while after this whilst eating dinner I suddenly remembered the year of microadventures challenge I was doing and had the (genius?) idea of spending a night up there!
I felt a bid giddy with child-like excitement at the thought of sleeping in an old rickety watchtower so high above the ground. So, after dinner, I got my stuff together: A summer sleeping bag (ridiculous I know, but originally I planned to sleep inside) some weird fake fur blankets (for hopefully some extra warmth and obviously extra style), a roll mat to sleep on, my camera with tripod and lots of clothes (that I was wearing). Although the tower did offer a watertight room, there was no heating up there, and the thought of spending a night in the predicted -10°C, in my summer sleeping bag was a tad daunting. So to combat this I basically wore all of my clothes I had with me, resembling some kind of winter themed michelin man. I climbed my way up and made my make shift bed on top of some foam strips, the tower swaying gently with my movements, luxury!
Once the makeshift bed was in position I had a go in the rotating lookout chair. The sentrys up here used to work in shifts, taking turns slowly rotating around a fixed map and looking out over the border for signs of infiltration. After this I popped open the hatch on the roof, propped up the small metal ladder and clambered out for a better view. To the north the auroras were lighting the horizon, starting as a big dome of light, glowing from north west to north east. Then gradually tentacles of bluey green majestically grew up and out of the dome, coyly dancing with one another.
I sat here for several hours watching the night sky, the subtle auroras, finding satellites, counting shooting stars and listening to distant hoots of an owl before eventually retiring inside for the hopeful warmth of my sleeping bag and stylish blankets. The temperature dropped to -9°C during the night, but I was just about warm enough. I woke up at 4am a bit chilly, and noticed my hat had fallen off. So to warm up I got up and did some quick pushups of course (I tried a bit of running on the spot first, but it was so noisy and made the tower wobble a lot so decided to settle for pushups). I then woke up again a bit cold at 6am, 30 mins before my alarm, so decided to get up, watch the sunrise and start my day with a spring in my step.