Outdoor is like chocolate
Summer holidays are over and autumn is here now with its morning chill and rainy days. While organizing the photographs and thinking where to go next year, images of the first time we went upnorth, into the Scandinavian wilderness, come into mind. I have learned a lot ever since.
First of all about myself, that I love to be outdoors, especially where nature is still an environment to explore off the beaten track. Also did I discover that there do exist some principal rules regarding clothing, equipment and skills. Those basics make for good preparation or at least will enable you to do the things you wanted to. Knowing this now, looking back at that first outdoor experience brings a bright smile to my face. Outdoor is like chocolate: once tasted you’ll end up only wanting more of it. However, the outdoors will overrule the chocolate by far given the simple fact that it’s good for your health, even when taken up to high levels.
The big sky and hidden beavers
According to the travel guides we were about to submit ourselves to something described as the ‘unique experience’. The rented holiday cottage, amidst the vast surroundings of Scandinavian woods and lakes, promised to be our cosy and welcoming home after long adventurous days. But first we had to get there, so we embarked on the ferry which took us from the German city of Kiel to Gothenburg in Sweden.
The long drive up north which followed on the next day, revealed the beauty of the Swedish countryside. And with every more mile the sky seemed to be more spacious and blue. Finally, at arrival, we found our cottage to be nice beyond expectation and went to a comfortable sleep. Soon a nice routine of walking, swimming and fishing in the nearby lakes became ours. The not-to-miss so called beaver safari, a must for every newcomer, came up with no more than obvious signs of beaver presence but the bumpy ride across a rugged, desolate landscape absolutely made up for this. Twilight grants this environment a silent, almost surrealistic character. It makes you aware of the fact that here it is nature that reigns. We are intensely happy.
Pouring rain, pine needle tea and outdoor basics
However, these beautiful summer days did not last because the weather changed overnight. Temperatures dropped and rain swept over the area. Now the packed raincoats came in handy. We went off for a beautiful day-trip, only to experience that after walking a few hours, I was so wet and cold that keeping up a good spirit now became the biggest challenge. Meanwhile my beloved walked whistling in front of us, not bothered at all. Feeling sorry for us a shelter was set up by means of a tarp. This provided protection against the pouring rain, and a warming fire brought relief for those cold hands. My soaking wet boots and trousers, completed with dripping wet hair left me feeling not amused at all. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Sipping hot tea made from pine needles, we discussed for a while the first steps into outdoor basics, especially clothing. Well, so came the answer, there were some principal rules regarding what to wear indeed. To be more specific, these should be your first to apply: fast drying synthetics or garments made of the material G-1000, and maybe above all: wool. Furthermore no jeans, less cotton shirts and a coat that is absolutely waterproof, not only water repellent. Fortunately I did buy the children those kind of jackets. And please get used to dressing in layers.
Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær
Now this Scandinavian saying, meaning “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” (attributed to Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer of arctic regions), suddenly had become significant and worth taking serious. It has been my eye-opener. As has been the importance of knowing how to make a fire.
Subsequently, there and then, sitting under the tarp at the shore of this idyllic lake surrounded by tall trees, I decided to do three things. First of all: returning to wilderness places as often as I could. Second: building myself an appropriate outdoor wardrobe, and last but not least: getting acquainted with the basic outdoor skills. These promises have been kept, granting pleasure, comfort and satisfaction along the way. Just like good quality chocolate.