Hundred hikes in 2019, part 3/3

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This is the third and final part of the article series on our 2019 hiking challenge. In the first part, we talked about the preparations and gear, and in the second part our adventures during the year. This time, we're going to go through what we learnt during the year and what happens next. There's also some good food!

Rewards and challenges

It wasn’t always easy to adapt our adventures to other responsibilities and occurrences. In the beginning, we managed to keep up with our goal of two outings per week, until both got sick for a couple of weeks each. This forced us to bundle the trips more tightly together at the end of the year. And the last couple of months were quite difficult because we had to really think about how to fit the rest of the trips into the program.

We made a weekly schedule for the rest of the year and didn’t slip. During some of the weeks, we were out on five days out of seven and got plenty of fresh air. This tends to be quite a feat on holidays but it really was tricky when working. However, we both are very stubborn and tend to stick to the promises we make, whether it is the South Karelian Military March or 100 hikes a year.

During this year it was clearly evident that we had to minimize regular household chores and other less important things to make more room for hiking. It wasn’t always that fun to go out in rain or sleet after a hard day at the office but when we did go out, the journey took away all the gloomy thoughts and we came back fully renewed and rejuvenated. Not once did we feel bad about going out.

The coast of Kopparnäs.

The coast of Kopparnäs.

Because we did this every week, we also got to spend some public holidays in nature. We enjoyed the traditional May 1 mead and donuts on the quieter side of the Nuuksio National Park. During Midsummer, we had an overnight road trip where we went skinnydipping at a quiet beach and visited the famous Paavola Oak Tree in Lohja. It is an amazingly beautiful place that we need to see during other seasons as well! We also spent the New Year’s in the forest by a campfire gazing at the starlit sky.

The Paavola Oak Tree in its Midsummer glory.

The Paavola Oak Tree in its Midsummer glory.

New Year’s campfire.

New Year’s campfire.

Sometimes, it took more time to plan the trips using maps, books, and online sources. In the end, we managed to find a big bunch of awesome new hiking destinations. Out of these 100 hikes, 70 were fully unique places. We didn’t limit this challenge to completely new places, but the plan was to visit the same spots during different seasons.

Live and learn

In addition to spending quality time in nature, our goal during this year was to learn new bushcrafting skills. Tero in particular wants to try out new ways of doing things, which manifested itself in, for example, different ways of building a fire. Sometimes we did it the easy way with matches but sometimes we tried making fire using flint and tinder.

Above everything, this year taught us to trust that we can survive in different kinds of conditions and exceed ourselves even when laziness is very appealing. Being able to trust one another in any situation binds us together better than any glue on the market. This year was very good for us both!

Building a fire.

Building a fire.

The prototype of the stainless steel Skrama.

The prototype of the stainless steel Skrama.

Proper camp cooking

We usually wanted cooking to be a bit more challenging than just grilling sausages on a stick. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for us that was just suitable for very short trips. When there was more time, we, for example, cooked salmon in various ways or grilled a whole butterflied chicken.

Salmon medallions with asparagus.

Salmon medallions with asparagus.

Butterflied chicken on an open fire, so delicious!

Butterflied chicken on an open fire, so delicious!

We also used a wood gas stove when cooking because it creates the same atmosphere as a campfire but it doesn’t damage the ground. This way we managed to cook on an open fire even when the campfire sites were full of people.

When we did use the campfire sites, we always left dry kindling and small firewood for other hikers when necessary. Our favorite camping foods were loimulohi (salmon cooked indirectly on an open fire), grilled cheese and fresh chili sandwiches, feta cheese bundles, butterflied chicken grilled on an open fire, and various vegetarian side dishes, such as asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower. And marshmallows and cocoa with whipped cream for dessert!

Feta cheese bundles for two

  • 200 g feta cheese
  • A fresh red chili (mild)
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • A small piece of bell pepper
  • Fresh or dried garlic
  • Dried herbs
  • Olive oil

Take a square 40 x 40 cm piece of aluminum foil (c. 16” x 16” ) and put the feta cheese in the middle. Chop the chili, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic in smaller chunks and sprinkle on top of the cheese. Add some dried herbs and some good olive oil. Wrap the foil in a bundle and put it on top of the fire or next to it, depending on whether you have a grill rack or not. The foil will protect the ingredients from too intense heat. In about ten minutes, the feta will be ready. Enjoy!

Feta cheese bundles and grilled sandwiches.

Feta cheese bundles and grilled sandwiches.

Vegetable side dish for two

  • Small cauliflower
  • Small broccoli
  • 100 g cream cheese (e.g. herb or garlic)
  • Butter or oil

Cut the cauliflower and broccoli in bite-sized bits already at home and wrap them in kitchen paper and put in the same bag as the pan. Heat the pan in the fire. When it is hot, add some butter or oil. Fry the veggies until they are cooked and nicely browned. Because they aren’t precooked, they don’t get too soft and mushy. Then add some cream cheese and let it melt among the vegetables. A tasty and easy side dish for steaks, for example.

Some steaks and veggies.

Some steaks and veggies.

No trash in nature

We packed the food smartly at home to minimize trash and we often carried a plastic bag to pick other people’s trash along the trail, because it is really infuriating that some people just don’t care about nature at all. And it is nice to leave the places in better shape than they were before you got there.

Cast iron chef

We nearly always bring along a cast iron pan and an open-fire coffee pot. We have bought a few cast iron pans at flea markets for a few euros each. Coffee pots are also quite easy to find at flea markets.

Cast iron pans and pots last forever if you take care of them. Wash them in just hot water and brush. Dry them properly for example by heating them on the campfire and then rub some oil on them. We usually use canola oil but unsalted lard also works. After oiling, you should heat them.

A nice snack by the seashore.

A nice snack by the seashore.

Testing the prototype of a bigger hobo stove.

Testing the prototype of a bigger hobo stove.

Breakfast eggs and bacon on a stick.

Breakfast eggs and bacon on a stick.

Noodle soup with some additional treats.

Noodle soup with some additional treats.

Pancakes with cloudberry jam on a wood gas stove.

Pancakes with cloudberry jam on a wood gas stove.

Rainy weather, best weather

During this year, we witnessed all sorts of weather conditions and didn’t shy away from lousy weather. Good merino wool underwear and good outer layers came in handy. We got to spend some quality time alone in rainy weather.

Different weather conditions during one-day hikes gave us brilliant opportunities to test the functionality of different equipment for our longer hikes. Whether it was because of the good equipment or testing them in advance or something else, but we made it through without any injuries.

Animals and wild food

The most amazing animal encounters were with an otter, some moose, sheep, siberian jays, and eagles. We also had a bit too intimate encounter in Lapland with a vole that chewed a hole in my backpack when trying to get to the trash bag. Sometimes you feel very tiny but also extremely grateful when meeting animals in their home. This is how it should go, respecting the animals’ homes and nature in general.

It is truly wonderful, that Finland still has wild nature where you can find stuff to eat and drink for free. We used to be quite bad at identifying edible mushrooms but now we at least know a few.

Some of our trips concentrated on mushroom picking, and when the mushroom mania hits you, it is quite difficult to leave the forest. We used mushrooms fresh as well but the majority we dried. They have tasted delicious throughout the winter in various dishes. We also picked some bilberries and wild herbs.

Finnish asparagus i.e. young fireweed.

Finnish asparagus i.e. young fireweed.

Funnel chantarelles.

Funnel chantarelles.

Future prospects

You might have guessed that we didn’t stop hiking after this challenge. However, we will not continue with a new quantity-based challenge but we do have other dreams and goals.

This year, we want to go on more adventures on a canoe and with snowshoes or skis since 2019 was more of a hiking year. I would also like to try tour skating but Tero still needs some convincing.

In 2020, we also want to spend more leisurely time in nature, for example, go fishing more often. And we will add more overnight trips in the picture. Also, the upcoming summer hike could contain days off without any ambitious distance goals.

The preliminary plan is to go to the Paistuntunturi wilderness area and the Kevo Nature Reserve. The Lemmenjoki National Park also sounds appealing so we shall see what kind of an adventure this all will be. We would also like to check out the Hossa and Helvetinjärvi National Parks at some point.

We both (especially me) are interested in learning to identify more animals and their tracks, wild herbs, and mushrooms. Tero is more interested in learning new skills and bushcrafting-related handicrafts, such as making traditional Finnish drinking cups from birch burls, known as "kuksa" and building lean-tos. In this field, we are still at the beginning!

Thank you for spending all this time with us! If you’re interested in our adventures or you want to find out more about our specific trips, you can find us on Instagram. Every trip is there separately.

Here are also the previous articles on our adventures:

The ascent of Halti in fall of 2018, part 1/2

The ascent of Halti in fall of 2018, part 2/2

Warmest regards, Essi and Tero

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