I’ve reached my limit with the main trails in Nuuksio, and I needed to get away from the madding crowds as much as possible. It’s hard to get a true wilderness experience in Southern Finland, but I hatched a vague plan to explore the lesser known paths – one’s so rarely taken they barely registered on the map, just feint lines easily confused with contours, leading to small lakes in forgotten parts of the park.
I’d been talking with Tuukka about doing my first sea kayaking overnighter having earned my basic Euro paddle skills certificate last year. After a couple of last minute cancellations due to changing weather, we found a night with calm seas, and planned a trip to Pihlahjaluoto, a small island about 7.5 km to the east of Helsinki.
Nothing makes me happier than introducing someone to their first overnight outdoors experience. On this occasion, the inductee was my friend Antoine’s daughter, Lilja. As the weather here in Helsinki has been tentatively tip-toeing towards summer, we thought it would be nice to get the kids out camping on a trip to Nuuksio National Park, Helsinki.
I’d been promising Enni a camping trip for months. As usual, things had conspired against me delivering on my promise; too hot weather, too cold weather, flu, school… There always seemed to be a reason. Then, out of the blue, in mid October the weather turned all Indian summer on us. Coinciding as it did with the Autumn holidays, I couldn’t put it off any longer.
It's been fifteen months since my last backpacking trip, or, indeed, a single night spent outdoors. Plenty of time has been spent outdoors, though most if it was in the saddle or tethered to an ageing and increasingly blind dog. And certainly, it has been an incredibly active year – I can't think of a moment when it would have been possible to sneak off for a night, and on the few occasions where I had hatched a plan, a cold or other illness would magically appear to put an end to it.
So, what has happened?