– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Category Archives: Wilderness Guide School

Excuses, explanations and lifestyle changes

It’s been a while since the last post. A bit too long time to be honest but as I’ve tweeted, some things have kept me occupied. This post is about those things.

The main reason for the radio silence...

As most of you know, about three weeks ago I started a one-year-program to become a qualified wilderness guide. In addition I’m trying to finish my master’s thesis and retain some sort of social life outside the school. The school has been way more intense than I first thought. This is partly because of the school and teaching itself but mostly because of my cool classmates and quite a change in lifestyle.

The school started with a five-day canoeing trip to Kolovesi national park.

My bivy spot near to an edge of a high cliff at Kolovesi. Great views!

Evenings were spent sitting and cooking by the fire.

Taking a shortcut.

We saw a very rare Saimaa ringed seal during the last evening! Only about 260 individuals excist. In the picture the seal is diving.

A few months ago I still had a nice job at the university and it kept my ass in front of a keyboard about eight hours a day. The way from home to university was only a short walk and thus I had a good amount of time to spent in front of a keyboard also when at home. Of course I did some hiking trips, occasional weekenders, some overnighters, 3-5 runs or long walks a week etc. But still I had quite a lot of time to spent surfing the web and writing things for my blog.

This has changed.

As the school is about 230km from my home, there is no point to commute the distance daily, so at school days I live at the school dorm. A partial reason for the previous radio silence was that for the first two weeks we didn’t have user accounts for school’s computers and I didn’t have a web subscription for my own laptop. But now that I have an access to school’s computers, I don’t still spent much time sitting on my ass.

A normal day at the school starts when I wake up at 06:45 (instead of something past 10 am), I go for a morning run and swim (instead of hot shower), eat breakfast at the school cafeteria (instead of doing that at home while reading a newspaper) and after that I start my school day (instead of a day at the office). For example yesterday we had first aid training. Yes, occasionally we have school also during the weekends.

Yours truly in a truly splinted state during the first aid training.

After lunch followed with more lessons or training and a dinner I might take a short nap or something and then it’s time for some extra physical excercise (instead of sitting in front of a computer) with my cool classmates. We might go for a run, do weight training at the gym or maybe go kayaking like we did on Friday as the weather was so great.

A kayaking trip at Pyhäselkä. The weather is tolerable.


At the evening there is some good time to learn to identify all the plants, bugs, mushrooms, birds, etc. that are required for the degree (instead of surfing the web). Then I try to get some seven hours of sleep or so and the thing starts all over the next morning.

It seems that the major difference to my previous lifestyle is the lack of down time, relaxed sitting by the computer or with a newspaper. Instead for the most of the day I’m doing something and often it’s something quite physical. Naturally all the exercise isn’t necessary (though e.g. we have quite a lot of orienteering in our schedule) but I like it. Despite the fact most of the muscles in my body hurt at the moment (thus I had a resting day today and time to write this blog post), I like it.

During the weekends I’ve been busy with social life or other outdoor-related activities. For example a week ago I attended to military reserves marching and skill competition called Jukajärven jotos. We walked about 45km during the weekend and me and my mates managed well enough to win the competition (there were 10 patrols attending). But once again, during that weekend I found myself too busy to write the blog. Despite the fact that I like my lifestyle, be it demanding and intense, I try to keep the blog running.

During the march we found a piece of road missing...

The morning of the second marching day saw us on the second place...

... but in the end we were victorious!

In the future I’m planning to write at least one post a week as I did before and maybe two on good weeks, except if I’ll spent the whole week in the bush off the grid (like we will be doing next week). Every month I’ll write a post  called “Monthly highlights” that will mostly concentrate on guide school related things highlighting the best parts of the past month. In addition I try to finish the missing trip reports from the summer and when the winter closes in after a month or two, I’ll publish the rest of my Svalbard skiing expedition (the Ultima Thule 2011 expedition) related posts.

For example a "lessons learned" post about winter expedition gear is coming up later on...

I’m also putting up a new collective blog for our wilderness guide course (I’ll be editing the blog but everyone will be creating content equally) but as the teaching is (mostly) in Finnish and aimed for Finnish speaking students, the blog will also be (at least mostly) in Finnish. The blog will be published next week, so more to come soon…

What tomorrow brings…

This is a shortish update post about my future plans as what the tomorrow brings will also affect the blog quite a bit.

The midsummer is now gone and it's time to see what the tomorrow brings...

At the moment I am working in a university and among other things I am doing my master’s thesis in industrial management. The thesis work will be completed in some point in autumn but I’ll quit my work at the faculty already at the end of July to start something new and different because at the moment I’m not too interested in the typical career possibilities of M.Sc (tech).

The Student's Guide for 2011-2012

As I already told in Twitter, I have got admitted to a Wilderness Guide school program last week. In the spring I applied in the school, had entrance interview on June 13th and some time ago got the information about being accepted in the program. The school is located in the Northern Karelia about 250 kilometers from Lappeenranta where I live now and I will be spending the weeks in the school’s rooming house. The program is arranged by Pohjois-Karjalan Koulutusyhtymä in Niittylahti near Joensuu. I will be taking a 10 months long basic training (Erä- ja luonto-opas koulutus) to become a qualified wilderness guide. It is the same degree that Hendrik took in Kuru’s IWG program. But there are differences between schools and programs and Niittylahti seemed like the most interesting option for me as there is bunch of interesting courses that give additional qualifications on top of the guide qualifications e.g. white water rafting, rope climbing and the very interesting WAFA course.

The school will start in the beginning of August – a week after the two one-week-long packrafting trips in Lapland – and we will be spending the first week of the school in the bush so I expect to be quite busy for that time… And the schools schedule in general looks quite tight and in addition I am planning to squeeze in one long winter trip at some point so I will be probably busy for the whole year. In addition I will lose my sweet 100 MB internet connection so the school will probably have some affect on my blog too. But I have no plans to quit blogging, there just might be occasionally some longer periods or radio silence. But hopefully there will be also more interesting stuff to write about during the year…