20.07.2012 - Morning - It wasn't raining. During the night the wind began to howl and for a while it felt like we would become airborne. The first time I saw this tent at the Riihimäen Erämessut, it was being put up in hurricane conditions - a huge fan just a meter from the back end and the guy doing the demonstration was barely able to stand. I knew it would take the wind, but couldn't figure out why the inner tent was dancing about wildly - at least the reason for that only became clear when we were packing up.
|Still standing - notice the back flap of the tent open to the wind!|
At some point in the morning, no matter how blustery the wind was we decided to get up and make some breakfast. Jetboils have warnings not to light them inside the tent and of course we did as they never would have ignited otherwise. A few scary moments with the flame on startup - but otherwise fine if you sit there and hold it steady. A watched kettle never boils - so the saying goes - but a watched Jetboil does and in less than 2 minutes.
After breakfast I wandered off to find some sheltered rocks in the valley to go to the toilet, and having found the perfect seat I gazed out across the windswept fell in that open minded manner that one develops in these moments of private enterprise. Extreme adventure holidays have become all the rage these days - I thought to myself - adding that compared to those impossible looking video clips of daredevil adventurers base jumping off the cliffs of Norwegian fiords, or wildly flapping wing suits plummeting like human jets down from mountain tops, our casual little hike across a few jumbled up rocks in Lapland was rather tame. Still, it was the ultimate experience if you want to be alone with nature - far off the beaten track and at one with the forces of the vast universe.
I was just thinking about the steps we had taken across land that few hikers had ever ventured into when I noticed in the far distance what appeared to be a couple of reindeer walking with sticks. Suddenly my moment of peace - those moments badly needed in the wilderness - was rudely interrupted by a vision - a mirage from the silver screen - two people walking toward me, as if their planned route was directly along the valley to my toilet. Had they spotted me? Would they see me pull my trousers up? Did they have binoculars? How could I casually extract myself from this place without giving myself and my purpose away?
I managed to perform my ablutions and fumbled out of my post glacial potty pretending to study the rocks as I headed back to the tent - excited that we were about to receive guests - the first human beings we had seen in - well - 4 days and could hardly believe my own enthusiasm. Was it because they probably had a better map than we and might benefit therefore by a consensus of directional opinion? Was it because we could discuss this crazy weather - like the English do when they first meet complete strangers? Or was it because I had a desperate need to welcome people into my home - no matter whether it was a solid wooden house on granite blocks or a precariously flapping tent?
In any case I rushed across the little streams shouting to Stuart above the white noise of the wind to put the kettle on in that overly excited way that socially deprived people who live in the countryside do when they are faced with the possibility of actual conversation. I turned and watched them slowly walking towards us, knowing that the liter of water would be boiled in time for their arrival. They had certainly come from the same place we had been the day before - a difficult climb down the hills in much the same conditions we had encountered.
|The visitors we nearly had.|
They did not stop. They barely raised a walking stick in acknowledgement as they hugged the side of the valley not 50 meters from our tent and proceeded to climb the snowy slope. I stood there in some disbelief - wondering as I do in cultures where habits are so different from my own - what on earth had given me the impression that they would? I am so Canadian. I am so English. I thought for a moment this must be a Finnish thing - you know - that privacy value that Finns hold so sacred. They did not stop to say hello - because they respected our privacy. Ok - I can accept that. Then someone said - they must be Norwegian!