Hike in the fabulous Finnish forest is an important part of a Finnish scout camp experience. Definitely something more than your average walk in a park, a hike can be a challenging but still a fun and rewarding experience. Without a doubt it will be an experience you'll mention in stories to your grandchildren...
On hike you will walk the given route usually in 3-5 person patrols. Often there are also some activities along the route. The patrol will carry all the equipment they need to survive overnight in the forest. In principle that means a storm cooker, food, tent or other shelter, water and your personal stuff. You should dole out the heavy stuff so that everyone gets an equal share to carry. At some point you may use also some other means of transport, for example canoes. There might be few difficulty levels on the hike so that you can choose the one that suits the capabilities of your patrol. It is a good idea to revise your orienteering and first aid skills (especially muscle and joint injuries) before the hike.
The food is given to hike patrol at the start or during the route. A typical Finnish hiking food can contain bread, pasta, porridge, small snacks, tea, cacao and juice concentrate. The food is usually prepared at given point on the way.
There are no dangerous animals in Finnish forests. The wild animals are usually afraid of human and will without a doubt be far away when a noisy groups of Guides and Scouts are on the move. The most dangerous thing you can meet is a cow. On very rare cases you can meet our only poisonous snake, the adder. It is not deadly for healthy people, but bite will cause a lot of pain and requires hospital treatment. There will also be quite a few mosquitoes (they do not spread any diseases though), so bringing an insect repellent is a good idea.
Shoes and clothes play a big role in your enjoyable hike experience. Be prepared!
The selection of the shoes depend on the weather. On rainy weather waterproof hiking shoes are the best option. Rubber boots will work too, but can easily cause blisters. The shoes should have at least a short leg as you might walk on a squashy swamp for short distances. The terrain is not very stony, so the sole does not have to be hard.
On good sunny weather a light walking shoes are most comfortable for road use. A sandal is not a good for a long walkings, but it is a comfortable footwear for longer stops.
Your shoes should be properly fitting and well tested before taking them into real action. Never take new shoes to a hike, have at least a 10 kilometers test walk before a real hike. Or use them in your daily actions for a week or so. It also is important to have many pairs of dry socks with you. Walking with wet socks is a number one cause for blisters and other leg problems.
The selection of clothes depend on weather too. On warm weather the selection of clothes is not that crucial. Shorts and a t-shirt will do the job. Though synthetic materials will be more comfortable, they dry fast and keep you cool. A hat will protect your head from the sun. The nights can be cold so take few dry clothes with you for night use. Bring at least one long sleeved shirt.
On cold rainy weather the three-layer clothing system is recommended. Follow these instructions:
- Outermost layer: On rainy weather it is important to keep your base layer dry. A rain jacket and trousers (the undergrowth will also be wet) are minimum. Naturally the modern wind/waterproof and breathable hiking wear will be more comfy and usable.
- Mid layer: The purpose of the mid layer is to keep you warm (and also to move the sweat away from you skin). Synthetic fibers (polyester, polypropylene) are optimal materials here. A fleece will keep you warm even when wet. A good old woolly (a sheep wool) is also a good material. Avoid cotton! If the weather gets hot reduce the mid layer.
- Base layer: The base layer is the one that gets next to your skin. A synthetic fiber is best. Avoid cotton again. Cotton will absorb all the sweat and will eventually become very cold
You need to carry your spare clothes, cutlery and other equipment with you all the way. For a few days hike a large (60-100 liter) bagpack is bit of an overkill. A firm 30-50 liters rucksack is enough. The bag should have few clamps to attach sleeping mattress/lean-to shelter/other large objects outside the bag. Wide shoulder-straps and hip strap will spread the weight evenly to your body and make the carrying easier. Pack everything in waterproof bags (plastic bags). It will also help finding things if they are in separated bags.
A good sleep is important on hike. The temperature at night at the end of summer can go below 5°C (41°F). Have a suitable sleeping bag and sleeping mattress with you and keep them dry. On cold weather you can wear some warm tight fitting clothes (long johns etc.) when in sleeping bag.