Sunday, December 15, 2013

IWG week 7 & 8 - Excursion to Russia (The guiding day)

As mentioned on the previous post, every one in the group had a "The guiding day" and the day 6 was the day for me to take guide position...

This was our rout plan.
As can be expected from just by looking at the map, this guiding is not going to easy. I have expected to be tricky to navigate, tough to walk through.

I have started the day as on guide on tail. keeping track of where we are and my partner was taking lead. The morning part, was also not so easy walking as had quite many up and down and by time time for the lunch break, some people were dragging them feet.

changing the lead guide after the lunch, I started to lead the group and followed the contour line towards the point where change the bearing to go over the lowest point of the mountain.

the plan seemed good at that time, but in reality, because of the large rocks along the line plan to take, it was not possible to go as planed. Resulting in descending quite a bit and made it even harder later on....

However, I have managed to change the bearing in good place and head up the mountain.

it was harder than expected. Long way up with constant 45 degree ascend.

when reached the high point, we were reworded by wonderful view. Lifting everyone's spirits.

descending in the valley. Very rocky and was a bad choice of the route. 
Route I took for descent was a bad bad choice. It was just lucky that all those rocks were not as slippy as it could have. if it was, we could have had some injury in the group.

little before the sun down, I have managed to get the group to the planned camp site, but there was the situation awaiting us and that made my day a "Hell"....

because it was very up stream of the water, the expected water sauce was dry. So decided to go towards the lake till find the more suitable location. worst case, it was only about 2km to the lake, so estimated DO-able before dark.... well. read the map wrong. it was much more than 2km to the lake and when reached the lake, it was almost dark.
reached the lake, and start to look for the suitable ground.
The last bit of looking for the camp site was truly tough for me. As every one in the group,  I was tired. and top of that, I had huge pressure of getting people to the camp site. This combination is dangerous, the mind trick you and I start to doubt myself on every steps.

but on the end, everyone was happy of the day. had tough walk rewarded by beautiful view and the camp site we picked also had fantastic view.

next day was the break day.  slow morning and drying everything that is wet.

It was like mountain weather. shower was constantly coming and going, creating extraordinary scene. 

The legendary "Jungle King II" survival knife. one of the class mate took this with him as his back up knife. 

Lots of wood washed out on shore. This lake is a back water of a power plant so the water level changes quite big.

 The trip continue to wards the last day. stopping by at the north end of Paana Lake. lunch break with this view was great time.

on the lake bank, found the bare track and was still fresh. see how large it is.

the only bridge connecting east and west side of the lake.

Kilometers of reindeer moss bed.  

Typical look of esker. trick to plot the easy walk rout is to follow the ride.

The last night in the forest. the task of this night was to set up perfect camp. 

This trip was constant learning experience. I did use up all the trick and knowledge I have on my sleeve. On some area, pushed my limit to new height.
It was not easy but have enjoined every bit of this trip. perhaps some day, will go back there again all by myself or with real customer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

IWG week 7 & 8 - Excursion to Russia (Wilderness of Paanajärvi)

It was an Amazing trip to Russian wilderness. The location of this excussion was the NE area of Paanajärvi National park. I say NE area, because we did not spent much time in actual national park. it is because of the usage cost and the biggest reason being, there are too much restriction in the park that will not be educational for us.

orange line is the planned route. the circles are planed camp location.
Leaving Kuru 23rd September in the morning, then over night at hostel in Kuusamo. crossing Fin - Russia border on following morning then trecking and camping from 24th Sept to 2nd Oct. Back to Kuru on 3rd Oct.

Basically 2 days of trekking and every 3rd day was a break day. In distance, about 60km of walk. Mostly off the trail, many kilometers of bog walking and lots of up and down hill climbing.

Crossing the border about 10:00 then reached the Paana village around 1:00. After submitting all the paper work at the parks' visitor center in the village, drove to the entrance of the national park.
Unload the car and gear up for the hike at parking area of ranger station, we headed up quickest way out of the national park.
we did not have much day light time left, but was only 5km walk on the road, should not have any problem getting to the planned camp site.

On this trip, we have had daily guides. Means each day, 2 of the students are taking the guide role to practice our guiding skill. and the lest of the group is the customer, so what ever happens, the customer do not interfere to the guiding work, unless if you want to play the "problematic customer":) and this goes same to the teachers. They have pointed on the beginning of the trip that "They will not interfere unless real shit hits the fan".
You do not realize this till you experience it, but it is quite a pressure to have 14 people relying on you in wilderness.

However, the day started quite cold day and by the time of setting up camp, we started to have snow falling. it was comes and goes type of falling, but on the following morning, it left some mount of snow on our shelter.

The day 2. I would like to say that it was nice and easy day.... or it was suppose to be according to the plan. in reality, we ended up being lost. for about half of the day, just wondering around trying to find the location where makes some sense, some hint of finding out where we were. but on the end of the day, decided to make camp by the river we came across without knowing of our location. Teachers are keeping cool and just said "No worries, we still have enough food!".
This day we walked cross several large bog area. bog is kind of high-way that you can walk through really fast if you know how to walk. If not, it is just a trap sucking your feet in and graves to it. Many of us have experienced that trap, some almost lost them boots...
on the dry land by the bog, we have spotted a den, appears to be an ald wolf den. Somewhat similar to the hole dog makes but the size is much bigger.

the 3rd day of the trip was a resting day. not moving camp, so everyone are free to do what ever interests. some went up stream to find where we were, some stayed on camp for gear maintenance, relaxing or fixing camp.
I decided to take day off to rest but sometime in the afternoon, got idea of trying out the gap fire, "Rakovalkea".

I have fell a dead standing Scots pine for fire wood on previous night, but still had good section unprocessed, so decided to make good use out of it.

Sectioned it in 2 logs about 1m each and started to prepare them for the expected cold night.

Made shallow V groove on 2 large logs. not wasting the wood chips comes out, as those are good kindling.

2 tapered stick on log are the made from flesh wood. It should works as for adjusting the distance of gap.

long stick will be nailed to the one log, which goes on top. so the it will not fall out and roll as it burns.

The log goes on bottom is placed on 2 pillow wood. so it is lifted from ground and also the pillow stops it from rolling.

once all the parts are set in position, lite up all the kindling placed between the logs. the trick here is to try to light entire length at same time, which I failed a bit by making kindling wet while waiting the sun to go downe...

But more or less it was success. I have had very nice sleep and the fire was still smoldering in the morning.

Day 4 was quite easy hike. No hustle, no problem.

The forest is consists of several different spices of trees, making different shads of beautiful autumn colors. Do not see much of forest coloring like this in Finland because of the forest works.

Huge birch burl. it was not rear to see such burl on this trip. there was so many of birch burl in different sizes.

Through out this trip, the shelter set up of this way in the picture was most common. One reason was that we all have worked as a pare and everyone was using open shelter... actually, everyone but me was using Luoe shelter from Vihe. I was the only one using Erätoveri. There are so many of advantage on setting up shelter this way.  For the heat, fire, comfort and so on and on.

The 6th day was my guiding day. morning was my partner and the afternoon was I. but, this story needs a separate post, so will talk about it on the next one...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

IWG week 7 & 8 - Excursion to Russia (Introduction)

It has been a long time since last posting. It was not my intention to keep this blog not updated for such a long time, but because of this excursion to Russian wilderness, I have been very busy and simply did not have time to do any thing on blog.

The excursion  took place in Paanajärvi National park area in from 23rd of September - 3rd of October. But for me the excursion as started already from beginning of August because I have volunteered to take part in the Planning Group.

IWG has several small and large trips included in the course as part of skill training. The small ones are duration of about few day and large ones are about week to two. As usual, the large trips takes more planning, so the course members are assigned to at least one trip to form a Planning group.
Food planning sheet
The Russian trip was the one of the biggest excursion we have and is not in Finland, There was stressful mount of planning needed to be done.

Briefly what included in the planning:
Destination study
Correcting materials (Maps, contact information, background of destination...)
Risk assessment
Document arrangements (Permissions and visa)
Rout planing
Time table of trip
Daily time table
Guide assignment (will talk about this later...)
Gear planning
Food planning
 and so on and on and on....

The point is to practice the situation of as if I would have business of organizing the trip like this. Try to plan everything so that the trip goes smooth and fun.

On the planning process, One tool I found very use full was "how to plan the food". Planing of food has been a little bit of problem for me for quite some time. I use to plan it by experience and what would be nice to eat and carry, means pick up the things whatever way I feel like.
It is OK that way, if the trip is few days and I am alone. But it gets problematic when taking longer trip or need to plan food for several stomachs.
The tool is simple as to calculate how much calories would I need in a day when trekking. Then come up with then menu that fills the need. But there is a problem on actually doing this, which is also need to take in account the weight of food, nutritious value and balance. so, I came up with a excel sheet which automatically calculate those. With this, all I need to do is input the serving wight, Cal/100g and nutritious value. Once all data are in, just juggle around to come up with menu to get daily menu plan, the excel sheet will automatically generate the shopping list and approximate packing weight :)

All food I have took for the trip. each item is laveled 

As a result, I have got very satisfactory food plan for this excursion.  Every day, I have had just enough food which is not board me and kept my energy level well. Also it helped rationing the  food well that I had exact mount of food consumed as planed and not needed to carry anything back home, except the emergency food part.

Even thaw, I say it was satisfactory, there are few items I would like to add to next rip.
- butter
- ginger or some kind of flavoring
- salty snacks (i.e. beef jerky)
- more rice in the menu
- more self made dry food. (I had self made dried pork and rice this time.)

Here is the list of food I have planed for this trip. Some items, I swap it with alternative on the last minute because of availability or weight issue, but more or less the list is what I took with me.

Total (g) Shopping list
720 Elovena Pikapuuro 2 boxes
180 AXA Glorious premium musli 1 pack 
735 Butter cracker 98 pieces
800 Fazer Hazelnuts chocolate
 4 packs
880 Rainbow Pähkinäcocktail
5 packs
696 Expedition meal
Thai Chicken with rice
6 packs
336 Lammin kuppi Tomatti-basilika
12 packes or  4 box
200 Makaroni
350 Fresh Pork ulko file
300 900 g of cooked rice
446 Expedition meal
Pasta Mediterranean
4 packs
336 Lammin kuppi Kantarelli
16 packes or  5 box
632 Blå band Carbonara
4 packs

Flora and Fauna 5/day - Day 12

LA: Pleurozium schreberi
EN: Red-stemmed feather moss
FI: seinäsammal
Location: Kuru
Surrounding: Spruce forest. Moist ground.
Note: often mistaken with sphagnum because it grows in same type of condition and often next to each other. But the stem of this moss is distinctive red color and stiff.

LA: Dicranum
EN: Fork moss (family)
FI: kynsisammalet (sukuna)
JP: カモジゴケ類
Location: Kuru
Surrounding: Needle leave forest. Moist ground.
Note: The stem looks similar to Red-stemmed feather moss, but the leaves are very different. the tip resembles fork or blown by wind. other English common name is “Wind-Blown Mosses”.

LA: Ptilium crista-castrensis
EN: Ostrich-plume feather moss
FI: Sulkasammal
Location: Kuru
Surrounding: mixed forest. Moist ground.
Note: Easy to ID, and remember the name as EN name has describing the characteristic of the moss well.

LA: Hylocomium splendens
EN: Glittering feather moss
FI: Kerrossammal
JP: イワダレゴケ
Location: Kuru
Surrounding: Shadowy and moist ground.
Note: The leaves are opening horizontally wide and forming layers.
Has antibacterial property and used for storing vegetables.  


Monday, September 9, 2013

IWG week 3 & 4 - Cooking Week

The week 3 was little slow week. I say slow, but still there was lots of study works needed to be done.

Starting with flora and fauna study then we have had meadow clearing work then game bird counting on the end of week 3. the works was done using traditional tools like sickle and bill hooks. and the works was done to protect rear species of flora in he area.



It was my first time using tool like this and was very difficult tool to use. on the end of the day, my back was screaming...

The game counting was part of our navigation practice. need to navigate through forest as straight line as possible and hope to see some game birds takes off, so we can count the population. I took the first lead on first 2 km to navigate and happy to say, I managed to go very straight. When got to the first target spot, we are dead on. 


Week 4 was a super busy week. basically we all cook as much different food as possible and eat them all!:) but of cause, it was guided by teacher and we have had wonder full guest instructor for this week. His name is Turkka Aaltonen. He is the most respected survival and wild food instructor in Finland There cant be any better instructor for this week's topic.

he is like wilderness encyclopedia and I had hard time keeping up to pick up all the knowledge he had to share with us. It was a most intense learning week and I lucky to spend as much time as I could to talk, ask, share of our knowledge.
We will have one more week with him in later time, and I am very much looking forward to it.


Week 4 started with how to process sheep.

Skinning. Everyone tries at least once.
Parting the sections. I managed to cut through ribs.

Surprisingly, not much blood.

Build a smoke tipi, using parachute.
Pork slices, hanged to smoke.

one of many ways learned to cook fish.
you probably have seen this style.

Learning to use Dutch oven.
Week 5, I will have some GPS lesson, FA1 causes, and the first test of Navigation. the test is part of becoming Guide, so wish me luck!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

IWG week 2 - Forest Week

Week 1 at IWG was quite rush. getting familiar with school and surroundings, study and planning for the Forest week, which was on week 2.
One thing I promised to shear in here was the book for studying Floras and Faunas.
I have picked up 3 books from school library.


Wild Flowers (ISBN 0-7513-1024-7) Good clear detailed photos. not only Finnish flora, but contains all I need to study.

Trees of Britain & Northern Europe (ISBN 0-00-219213-6) Good illustration and has good mount of information you need to ID trees.

Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe (ISBN 0-00-219994-7) This book covers all I want to ID. Color Photo is used and have good information, but detail of mushroom is not seen well on some, and quite many have common names are missing. Book is easy to use and small enough to carry in pocket or bag.


一週目のまとめビデオ(Video is only in JPN. I am talking about the summery of week 1 and pack contents for week 2 )

Then The week 2 was spent in forest. learning basic camp skill with open shelter, fire making, use of cutting tools. The school teaches traditional skill, so the policy is "NO Tent!". well, that is the reason I am happy attending this school :)
The major part of week was spent learning how to navigate on off the trail with map and compass. It was really lots to learn there and had good practice to better my navigation skill.
Have posted some videos from the camp. The first one is only in JPN but hope you enjoy! (second part has ENG sub!)