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An October Adventure

Did I say that I got the house painted on Thursday, and that there was half a litre of paint left? Well, that is just partially true. When writing that, the north wall still lacked the final layer of siding boards - but I decided not to write about each and every detail. So, what happened after that was that Friday morning I went to finish the siding on the highest part of the north wall. I got that done just before I had to leave for work. And, luckily, all of the customers for Friday were close to my home, and I happened to have an one hour break between customers. So I quickly drove home, changed clothes, took the last half a litre of paint, mixed it with some warm water, and finished the painting. Using every last drop of the paint I got it completed. Then, quickly changing back to tidy clothes and driving to work.

On Saturday I was tired. Yes, I remember I thought about coding for money, and / or writing a story for Tarupaja. But the whole day was spent with doing household work which was left undone during the painting project. Washing a heap of dishes, treshing broad beans, tidying up here and there.

Sunday morning my son came for a visit. I packed my stuff, fed the horses, and we drove to a nearby national park. The park is called Helvetinjärvi, which means Hell's Lake. It was about 30 minutes of driving to get there. The parking area was filled with dozens of cars - the weather was fine, so it seemed that many families had gone hiking. Well, that's the problem with national parks - the nature is great, the trails are good, but seasonally they might feel slightly crowded - a part of the wilderness atmosphere is easily lost, if hiking down a trail you meet as many people as walking down the village main street... Well, but let's see. We walked for two kilometres and reached a scenery place where a cliff drops almost vertically down to the Hell's Lake. And some ancient movements of the Earth's crust have caused the cliff to crack, so that there is a 2 metre wide gorge, which leads from the cliff top to the lake. The gorge is called Helvetinkolu, Hell's Hole. We paused there for a while to enjoy the view. There was a handful of other families, but it didn't feel too crowded. From that on there were two alternative main routes, one going roughly to the east and the other more to south. We chose the trail to east, it seemed to be smaller and less frequently used.

We hiked the trail for four kilometres, enjoying the varying terrains as we went. There was a small pine mire, uphills and downhills, old spruce forest, a tiny brook, boulders bigger taller than a man. And it was all silent and peaceful, we didn't meet any fellow hikers. It was still couple of hours daylight left when we got to a place where the trail forks. It said that the other trail takes to a nearby place suitable for camping, and that one kilometre further along the other trail there will be a next such place. We decided to check the nearby place first, and in case we don't find it attractive, there would still be time to walk to the next place. But the first place was about perfect - there was a pretty lake, and a small roundish rocky nose of a cape growing pines. Among the pines there were several places where people have had tents, and there was a shed with firewood, and benches around a place for camp-fire. We decided to settle there for a night.

While I was still exploring the place, my son inspected the place for a camp-fire. He realized that the ashes were still hot, he found a red glowing amber, placed tinder next to it and blew air, which made the amber to glow hotter, igniting the tinder. Soon we had a fire going. We filled a kettle with water from the lake, boiled the water and left it to cool down. We cooked pasta and broad beans. My son fried chopped onion with sliced tomato and mozzarella. I added some pumpkin seeds, sea salt and the boiled beans to the pan, and the meal was ready. Yum it was good. My son placed a cotton scarf on top of the mouth of an empty bottle, and poured the boiled water through the scarf into the bottle. So, boiling the lake water makes all the possible germs to die, and sieving stops all visible dirt. So we got a bottle full of fresh drinking water ready for tomorrow.

My son has a hammock, and earlier in the summer my mother sent me one, too. So, we chose suitable trees, and suspended our hammocks between the trees. My son had made an extra cover out of a spare sleeping bag - he had already learned that in colder temperatures it is essential to have an extra layer at least under the bottom of the hammock - otherwise the cold air will make your back uncomfortably cold. I relied on gear I've been using when sleeping outdoors without a tent - a foam camping mattress under me, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants and a warm jumpsuit designed for winter use, and an ordinary sleeping bag. When we got our sleeping places ready set, it was still evening dusk. We went back to the camp-fire and added some firewood. There we sat watching the night fall. It was clear sky with some stars - it seemed like the night temperature will be nearly freezing but hopefully not much colder. Which should be survivable with our gear. We went to sleep, and both of us fell asleep rather quick. That is what fresh outdoor air does.

Unluckily, my sleep was interrupted couple of times by vaguely uneasy feelings. I wasn't exactly sure if I'm hot or cold, I had sore throat and little headache. Oh no, maybe I'm catching a flu? Thinking of it, I remember that earlier in the week couple of mornings it felt like a throat bug is trying to start an inflammation, and I just downed a heavy dose of ibuprofen. The good thing with ibuprofen is that it is not just a painkiller, but it also actually inhibits the chemical reactions involved in any inflammation. So, a good dose early enough might suppress the inflammation, so that the natural immune system can fight down a flu before it goes all wild. Uh oh. I adjusted my sleeping bag and fell back to slumber. At one point, when I again woke with sore throat, I was thinking of possible natural remedies - I remember seeing willows growing next to the lake, so if needed I can simmer a strong tea out of willow bark. Willow bark contains acetylsalicylic acid - which is often sold with a name Aspirin. Well, I finally got up when I saw the first hint of morning dawn. I started a fire and made coffee. Two cups of strong black coffee, together with the warmth of the fire, and I felt my soreness mostly remedied. Good!

I sat watching and listening the nature waking up to a new morning. First there were woodpeckers calling, then little birds started chirping as they were busy foraging for food. My son was still asleep, and I made myself a third cup of coffee. After a while my son got up and joined me for a coffee and breakfast. While eating sandwiches we discussed how it was to sleep the night in a hammock, and planned some future improvements. (Typically I use a tent, and a tent has it's good sides. But the downside is finding a dry, even location - but the forest terrain tends to be both rough and often moist. So, with a hammock you only need two trees. A hammock is easier to carry and faster to set up than a tent. The downside with a hammock is that it doesn't provide any extra protection, you need to carry a mosquito net, a rain shelter, or an extra sleeping bag, depending on the conditions.) After an unhurried morning we packed our stuff and put out the fire. We went back to the trails, and wanted to see if there would be another path taking back to the Hell's Lake - we explored a bit, and took a look at map. But it seemed that all the alternative routes are almost two times longer than the one we came. So we decided just to take the same trail back. After two kilometres we paused to rest, to drink water and to explore the terrain there. We were on top of a small hill, and one side of the hill was a vertical cliff. So, there are a lot of that kind of steep cliff formations here and there around this area.

We continued our hiking, and just a bit before the scenery place at Hell's Lake we saw a smaller side-trail branching to the left, down towards the lake. We decided to explore that, and we followed the path which took us down a rather steep rocky hillside. We arrived at the main trail of the park. We went a bit further, and found another small side-trail, which seemed more interesting that the main trail. Following the side trail we soon found ourselves standing on the shore of the Hell's Lake. Now what? Without a boat we can't cross the lake, we are not able to walk on water, and in the direction where we wanted to go there was another of those horizontal cliffs right next to the lake. But we found a small path taking to the cliff, and taking a close look it seemed like it could be possible to climb the cliff, zigzagging right and left, level by level upwards, always finding a passable place. Couple of times the wall to be climbed was so challenging that we had to take off our backpacks, toss them first up to the next level, and then using hands and feet climbing up. We realized that the cliff we were climbing was next to the Hell's Hole - which means that to the west there always was a vertical cliff wall dropping down - four, six, eight, twelve, twenty metres as we climbed higher and higher. Finally we reached the top of the cliff, almost at the same location where we first paused to enjoy the scenery. After resting for a while we walked back to the car and drove home.

It was such a nice October adventure! My son left back to Tampere. I guess I'm going to heat up the sauna.

A clifftop view over Hell's Lake
A clifftop view over Hell's Lake
Crossing a pine mire
Crossing a pine mire
Testing my hammock
Testing my hammock
Climbing up that cliff
Climbing up that cliff
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Comments

What a beautiful trip. It makes me a little sad that I never had any children to share such experiences with. :) Perhaps someday I will find a woman who can deal with my weirdness and produce a couple, hehe.

I also like camping with a hammock, but I do not have a good setup for the wintertime. I use one with a 'skeeter net built in, and hang a thin tarp over top as a fly to keep the rain and dew off. But by this time of year it is most too cold without some kind of underquilt. I must find an old sleeping bag to modify so that I can pull it over the hammock like some sort of sock-thing, so as to have the insulation underneath, or something. As I grow older, the hammock is so much more comfortable than sleeping on the rocks and roots, hehe!

For the deep winter camping, I usually set up a very small dome tent, and then bury it in leaves or snow to insulate it, and put a plastic sheet over top to keep it all together.

How soon will the snow start to pile up there? Our weather has been strange the past couple of years. We used to have snow on the ground by the end of Oct, but the past couple of years it has been into Dec before any has stayed. The rivers don't freeze over very much any more, either. I guess that is the global warming or something.... But on the bright side, the growing season is longer now, heh.

We have two grand themes here: one is global warming, and the other is children / family. I've been pondering about writing about both of these, but I'm afraid they would make lengthy posts, so I've stayed on easier-to-write diary-entries. But maybe some other day =) For now, I try to comment briefly;

Personally, I'm very happy about being 41 years old and a father to an adult son. As a father, I tried to avoid force-feeding my own values to my son, or at least, not to mock him if he was not interested in the things I'm interested in. I thought that as a father my mission is to support my son when he grows up, explores the world and his own personality, help him to find and to pursue things he is himself interested in. And after that kind of liberal raising my adult son comes up with suggestions like "hey dad, what if I come visit you and we go camping in the Hell's Lake natural park?"

I forgot to tell one little detail: before he left back to Tampere, I asked my son to help with cleaning the processor fan of my laptop. One of those tasks I've been postponing, just listening the increasing noise of the fan, imagining a growing layer of dust building up, and then thinking that "well, someday I have to clean the fan..." - my son agreed to help. And while he was opening the laptop, we noticed that two of my neighbours are standing on the yard. I went to talk with them, they had come to take a closer look at my house now when it is painted red. As I was answering their questions, my son got most of the work done, I returned in and helped him with holding a spotlight so that he can see what he is doing. Hmm, it is things like these which give a very fundamental sense of peaceful happiness; after the long adult - child phase we have switched to adult - adult relationship; there are things my son knows better than I do, and we can share our experiences and we can both learn from each other.

Ah, and my son has that kind of sock-like thing made of an old sleeping bag. But he said that the problem is that a sleeping bag is too short when worn around the hammock - it is not convenient to sleep in the reduced space. So, the extra insulation layer under / over the hammock should be nearly as long as the hammock itself, loose enough not to restrict the position and movement of the person sleeping. Maybe just a big enough piece of felt, either sewn to a form of tube, or some other system to wrap it around the hammock?

Yeah, when I was kid, the first snow was in late October or during November. Around Christmas we always had a proper winter with a lot of snow. But it is not like that anymore - nowadays everything is much more unpredictable. The global climate change here has the effect of local climate change. Or, yes, the yearly average temperatures have been rising, but here it doesn't necessarily mean longer growing season. For example, we have had extremely rainy springs, which turns the fields to mud - the temperature might be warmer than usual, but still the farmers get to sow later than usual. Or, if the winters are dramatically warmer than usual, then the summers can be less warm and more rainy - it still makes the yearly average temperature higher than usual, but the summer less favourable for growing anything. Things like that.

Erkka, I have recently started reading/following your blog here at EnormousElk and really enjoy your content. What a great story of adventure with your son! I'm glad for you that you had this time. I'm a simple but deep-thinking person raised in a very rural setting and after living urban life for many years have returned to rural living. Everyone seems to chase more and more money and before they know it their life and families have passed them by. I find your sense of importance to being connected to nature and your closest friends and family inspirational. I too have kids but they are still kids although I am 42. Some day I hope to experience my son fixing a bit of technology for me but for the time being, it's me reformatting his hard drive, etc. as I am in IT work. I think it's very important for dads to teach their kids and set a positive and traditional example for them. Clearly your son has grabbed onto your values and traditions which speaks volumes. Excellent and heartwarming dad work!

Hehe - for me becoming a father at the age of 19 was about the best thing in my life, but I really can't recommend it to anyone =) So, it is lot more typical to have small kids at the age of fortysomething, and that's fine.

I think a lot of good parenting comes down to the difference between telling and showing. I often felt that my own parents told us kids a thing "X" but in the daily life with their own actions our parents always showed us an example of "non-X", and that was a contradiction. And the daily example has a lot more impact than mere verbal teachings. In my own fatherhood I tried to do that differently, always asking myself what kind of example I'm showing with my own behaviour. So, yup, just like you say - to set a positive example.

UNITY IN WINTER LIKE MR. SQUEENTER..HO HO HO....

ACAR THIS IS THE MIRREOR...SEE HEE HEE HA HA HO

Oh, Internet - the home of puzzling stuff =)

I have no idea what to think about these comments - on the other hand they seem to be just spam, without any recognizable connection to the blog text. But, typically, the idea of any spam is to post links to commercial web sites. So, it makes me wonder =) I tried to google around a bit, and found a thread in Yahoo answers, someone asks: "What religious and philosophical ideas affected the 1920's?", and among the replies there is
"hi HI hi HI HI hi HiHi ..." posted by user maria napierala - 5 years ago.

Hehe - this reminds me of René Descartes looking at the people walking in the street, wondering if he can be absolutely sure that those are other people, instead of just mere automats made of strings and levers, covered with hats and cloaks. It is pretty much the same here in the Internet =)

Lol. I only pretend to be a human on the internet. In real life, I am an ancient elder elemental evil that sleeps in the void between space, waiting for my time to awaken and devour the souls and sanity of humankind, while raining fire upon the earth until the oceans boil and the mountains burn. :3 The internet speeds suck out here in the void, though. :3

Beautiful trip indeed. Reminds me of the one time my late father and I went hiking for a few days in Lapland. I enjoy the wilderness but it's sad that I would need a car or something to really get to the wilderness. I would enjoy that more than to walk on ready-made walking paths.

The forest takes your thoughts away, looks at them and gives only the happy thoughts back.

Unhurried good times spent together with ones family - those are invaluable.

I'm glad to have a good forest area right next to my yard, but sure - it is not actual wilderness. There is totally different atmosphere to it when you know and feel that it is a long distance to any nearest human settlement.

And, yes, a good hike in the forest works like having a sauna - the negative thoughts get washed away and you return refreshed and renewed.

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