Summer Wilderness Skills School

Our summer course is a complex mixture of skill acquisition and true survival. Participants rely almost solely on food that they can find from nature and they sleep in self-made shelters without sleeping bags (apart from on the pre-and post-course nights, which are spent in a traditional farm kota.)

Whilst at the start and end of the course, you will enjoy the full bounty of what the area has to offer in terms of local cuisine, during the course itself you will follow the model of the Finnish survival guild courses and you will literally live off the land, eating only that which you manage to hunt, fish or forage.

During the course, therefore, you will no doubt go hungry and linked to this, experience the discomfort of your body's personal adjustment in terms of lightheadedness, headaches and hunger pangs. At the same time, you will be acquiring core survival skills like making shelters the traditional Lappish way, accessing safe water, making fire from different materials and in different ways, and finding food.

Your nutritional needs are not likely to be adequately met during this week and the nights are likely to be cold. Hence, you need to be healthy going into this and not require regular medication or regular meals.

Clothing:
Underwear
Thermal top and bottoms
Warm hat
Cap or hat
Gloves
Pullover or fleece
Outdoor jacket
Outdoor trousers
Hiking boots or wellingtons
Socks and thick socks
(If your jacket and trousers are not waterproof you can take separate rain coat and pants)
 

Equipment:
Compass
Pencil and notebook
Insect repellent
 

Toiletries:
Tooth brush and paste
Toilet paper
Sanitary pads (for females)
 

Any other equipment, food etc. is forbidden


Palojoki - Kultima - Salvastunturi - Galdotievo

DAY 1 – INTO THE WILD

We will be dropped off at the end of a trail head to hike into the remote Palojoki cabin. This evening will provide a gentle introduction to being out in the wild. There, by a glistering river, golden eagles may glide above you and elk disappear in the distance, you’ll come across with flora surprisingly rich in edible plants.

Although this is an ecosystem in which the Arctic Big 5 rule - brown beer, wolf, lynx, wolverine and elk - game, in terms of willow grouse, elk and mountain hare, can be challenging to find. FYI: reindeer are never 'wild' since all are privately owned, so these can not be considered game.

The waters, however, are both pure and rich in salmon, trout, perch, pike, grayling and white fish. Similarly, the swamps and backwoods are the home of vitamin-rich superfoods like blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and cranberries. Later on in the season, the forests are filled with wild herbs and mushrooms.

Life here is very season and completely ruled by Mother Nature. This is a world far from television, smart phones, and other electronic devices, (although the instructors will carry sat phones in case of emergency). You won't cover a great deal of distance during this course, but you will still discover an ever-changing landscape as you hike out of the primeval boreal spruce forests of the far north into areas of open arctic tundra.

Navigation is crutial for survival in any ecosystem. Two checkpoints will take you to pre-made forest shelters / snow-shelters so we will also have a chance to talk through the tools which Finns take with them into the wilderness in case they are caught out and need to make an emergency shelter quickly.

DAY 2 – SURVIVING IN THE ARCTIC

Since this product is build around one of the great wilderness rivers of the north, we will spend a little time preparing fishing equipment the traditional way and then using it to (hopefully) source the ingredients for that evening's meal. This day's lesson on the art of building fires will be the first of many and we will also work together on cleaning and cooking the fish and collecting some wild herbs to eat with it. For those with energy to spare, an evening hike to find a desert of natural superfoods, will be on the menu.

DAY 3 – NEVER ENDING WILDERNESS

Today will be a day of getting to grip with the fundamentals of navigation using both modern tools (compasses and GPS units) and natural signs and clues. Some of the rapids en-route require earlier experience, and we may have to be prepared to carry our rafts and kayaks.

DAY 4 – REACHING THE PEAKS AND CROSSING THE BORDERS

As you weren’t far out already in the latitudes of 68’ North, today we take our journey even further, all the way to the Barent’s Sea on top of Norway. En-route we`ll learn basics about compass and reading terrain maps. The Arctic Ocean, separating Europe from the North Pole, contains the world largest cod population, and is well-stocked with haddock and capelin, making it incredible popular place among shermen. We’ll get on the mountain bikes and conquer some of the Norway’s most picturesque, yet demanding tracks. In the valleys in between Alpine peaks, there are many trails, old forest tracks and construction roads which you can use, and the regions is scattered with hiking trails in the mountains. Thus it can be di cult to navigate on these unmarked trails, and the obstacles on the narrow paths won’t make it any easier. You are surely to appreciate having your newly acquired orienteering skills at hand.

DAY 5 – NIGHT IN THE BILLION STARS HOTEL

The day has come to put your survival skills into action. We’ll set o for a hike until we join the local herdsmen, and follow their footsteps by participating in the eldest occupation in Lapland – reindeer husbandry. Currently, reindeer are the only semi-domesticated animal which naturally belongs to the north. Reindeer need extensive, undisturbed areas around the year, hence you can be assured, where the reindeer is, there’s tranquillity. It takes little to realise how important it is for this wonderful animal and his herder engaged into this lifestyle, to keep the wilderness quiet and unspoilt. It is their land we wander on, without wanting to leave a track behind. After nding a perfect spot for the night, and learning how to make a shelter against rain, sun, wind and insects for the night, we surely know to take everything with us the day after. While catching some food for the night and enjoying the sunlit nal night, it’s easy to understand the herdsmen. This is their home that has remained unchanged for the centuries, and so it should stay. The skills you have acquired are the ones inherited from the herders, and still come at hand in order to survive in the Arctic.

DAY 6 – BACK INTO CIVILISATION

As we reach our van waiting for us by the road we left it some days before, you may feel that while all looks familiar, the world is no longer the same place. It’s the connection you made with the nature, and the disconnection with the civilization. Much later you realize your smart phone is still o, and it may as well stay so.