Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vigu Gathering and Orienteering Course

It was time for the second course in the Wilderness Guide education program. It started on Sunday morning and ended on Wednesday afternoon, but it was preceded by the annual Vigu (nick name for the Axxell Wilderness Guide education) gathering, in which present and past students participate. About 50 persons were expected for the gathering, but I don't think quite as many showed up.

I arrived just after noon on Saturday and went for a walk around the area in Tenala / Tenhola with Anna. This turned out to be a very nice place.

The sauna.

There were a number of possible sleeping places, but I pitched my own tent.

The dinner is being prepared.

Simo had his hammock again.

Some activities were offered, like slacklining...

... and basket climbing.

The dinner is coming on nicely.

Henrik takes care of coffee and tea.

Entrée. And yes, I forgot my spoon again. And my plate.

The main course was as excellent as the entrée.

And so a few hours went, talking and eating. The dessert was also delicious.

A little later it was time for the sauna, which was situated at the next lake a half kilometer away. The sauna was really excellent and the hottest one I've been in for quite a while. Fortunately the lake water was rather chilly, so things were in balance.

It was well after midnight before I got back to my tent. It rained quite a bit during the night, but stopped before I got up on Sunday morning.


A beautiful morning...

... and some advanced paddling.

Time for the actual orienteering course to start. Danni prepares the maps for the first exercise.

I've done some orienteering before, so the first exercises felt quite easy.

Emma found a control.

Meanwhile, the gear for the gathering was shipped out by canoe. The shelters, were the gathering was held, were not accessible by any kind of land vehicle.

Chilling around the camp between the exercises.

Making a fire with a modern fire steel is quite easy, since it generates so many hot sparks. The ancient way with a primitive fire steel, flint and amadou is an entirely different matter, though. Toni, who has studied experimental archaelogy and ancient techniques, shows how it is done.

Toni is also a blacksmith, and I bought a small knife blade from him, to complement my clumsier and bomb proof Mora Bushcraft Survival knife.

It was getting darker...
 ... making the night orienteering exercise possible. This was the first time for me. It was fun and a lot more difficult, but I think I did rather well.

Analyzing the night orientering results.

The dessert was once again delicious with apples, sugar, cinnamon, butter and probably oat meal.

The same sauna routine as on Saturday followed before it was time to sleep. The following morning was once again nice.

Henrik ships some last items from the camp.

We had now packed our stuff and drove to Solvalla to spend the rest of the course in the nice forests of Noux / Nuuksio. The first exercise was to get controls from an big orienteering competition out of the forest.

This is a very nice area.

After a late lunch in the afternoon we had a few hours of orienteering and GPS theory, followed by a night orienteering exercise and an even later dinner. This time we resided in a cottage with a big common room and a number of two person sleeping rooms.

The next morning was foggy.

We spent even more time with theory and exercises, transferring coordinates to and from maps, a task that isn't as straightforward as it sounds, since there are a number of coordinate systems to make mistakes with. Some GPS exercises outdoors also followed, before it was time for the annual Vigu night orienteering competition. I, and many others, made a mistake going to the third control and finished in the middle of the pack. The day ended with sauna and swimming.

The last day, Wednesday, provided a worthy final exercise. We were ready at 6.30 in the morning and were given the coordinates to our breakfast.
Some paddling...

... and one hour of walking in the rain...

... got us to the breakfast and morning coffee.

After the breakfast we got the coordinates to three more places to visit. It no longer rained and the walking was quite enjoyable in the fall weather.

Proof that we were at control 2. We moved in groups of three.

Planning the route to the next control. Photo by Simo.

Control three, where we waited for the others.

A short bit left.

After a late lunch we started to arrange transport home. I got on a car to the train station and arrived in Turku at seven in the evening.

I want to thank the participants of the course (and the Vigu gathering), as well as the instructors. We learned a lot while having a very good time again. I'm very much looking forward to the next course, a four day survival course, starting a few weeks from now.

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