Evo National Park
Thanks to Jere who works as a photographer for Metsähallitus (they manage the national parks) we got a lovely cabin for the weekend in Evo. It's one of the biggest forest areas in Southern Finland, and about a 2.5 hour drive from Kuru. The cabin was perfect, this quaint little red cottage set alongside the lake with a private sauna, and fire pit. I have stayed in a few different rentable huts up in Lapland but this one was quite luxurious compared to those. It had 4 beds but we easily fit the 7 of us in.
After spending the past few weekends in Kuru it was nice to get out and explore a new area and practise some of the skills we've been learning in school.
Russia Practice Hike
With our first expedition looming closer we thought it would be good idea to do some training. So we loaded our packs, I had a great idea to add some of our 3l water bottles to make our packs weigh even more....an idea that I resented just a few hours later. Evo has over 70km worth of trailed paths so our plan was to do a nice 16/17km loop and back in time for the boys to have caught a few fish and got the sauna ready.
The first hour went really well, we had a good pace and everyone was feeling good. Cue karma. We had somehow deviated off the track and just followed a random road for quite a while...When we worked out just how far wrong we went suddenly the packs felt heavier and my boots weren't as comfy as before. We decided to at least make it to the lake which was the half way marker for our route. After a couple more detours we found the trail and we were back on track. It's the classic case of putting a group of 'guides' together for the day and no one takes the lead, your all too busy chatting to do the job you normally lead.
We did however make it to the lake, a bit later than intended but hey it's all good practise. With our bellies rumbling and the light starting to fade we decided to take the easy 6km road option than the winding 8km trail option. I started imagining toasting my bag of marshmallows on the fire after a nice hot sauna, it definitely helped the pace.
Despite not doing the intended route I still think we hiked about 20/21km at a fairly fast pace with a 15/16kg pack. It was good to test out my rucksack, my boots and my physical capabilities. The result being....all the above could be improved.
We returned to find Euginio and Jere had caught 4 pikes, and as promised had the sauna warmed and ready to go. Since being in Finland this time I'd have no where near the same amount of saunas but I was looking forward to this one. We spent the evening enjoying time in and out of the sauna, having a cold dip in the lake then running back to the sauna to warm up. Its a great way to relax and after the hike we'd had it was just perfect. The achy limbs were slowly melting away with each stint in the 70 degree heat.
Every time I have a sauna I reminded how much I love them. They are great place to relax, to get to know people and to relieve aching limbs. The pro's are endless and it's such a nice way to spend an evening. Fire lit, moving between the sauna, the lake and the fire - beer in hand. It's the environment it creates and its just a chilled way for a group of people to spend an evening together. We ended our night by cooking around the fire before heading to bed in our cute cabin.
After waking up a bit earlier than the rest of the group Olga and I decided to head to the lake to try out hand at a bit of fishing. We took the rowing boat that was tied up on the jeti and set off. I decided to take the first stint rowing so headed towards a small island so we could fish by there. We learnt that a good place to cast is just off the shore of the lake where the current is heading, so we set up there and hoped for the best.
After no time at all Olga (after initially getting the line tangled in the weeds) was reeling in something that definitely wasn't a lily pad. Both of us being complete novices backed away from the flapping fish, until it was jumping all over the base of our boat. Trying to recall what out tutor had told us the previous week about how to kill the fish I couldn't get the scene in the 'Inbetweeners' out of my head... If you haven't seen it its pretty much a teenage boy having to punch the fish dead. Thankfully one lesson that had stuck was to always carry your pukko so thankfully no punching was involved.
We rowed rather distraught but triumphant back to the cabin. As Olga had caught the fish thankfully it was up to her to deal with gutting it and prepping it ready for lunch. I'm still not sure what I make of fishing. I enjoy the act itself but actually catching the pike made me think more about the ethics of it all. I personally don't really like eating fish that much/I don't often opt for it and as we'd already had 4 pikes the day before I was in no rush to eat anymore. Part of me wanted to go back in the boat and continue fishing but on the other hand I didn't want to catch anything...so that kind of defeats the object.
Saying that I have since the trip brought a cheap fishing rod, as its required for us to know how to set it up and use it. I will go fishing, and not because I have to. Food is expensive here and since living here I haven't brought any meat as I simply can afford it. Fishing offers me the chance to practise a skill required for my course but also a chance to feed myself cheaply.
But I throughly enjoyed out weekend in Evo. Its felt very Finnish, a basic relaxing few days spent enjoying the nature with my new friends. The skills I'm learning are all becoming relevant and practising them is good fun.