Part II: Finland
So there I was, after 14 hours on the bus, sitting on my bed in a hostel room in the middle of
nowhere Finland. And somehow, I was not scared anymore. There was only this feeling of curiosity, wondering how this whole thing would turn out, where I would go, who I would meet, and which stories I would get to tell afterwards.
The next morning I (unsuccessfully) tried to buy a map of the area, but western Finland does not seem to be big in hiking. Fortunately they bike a lot, so I was able to follow the bike lane north in the direction of Haukipudas. And already on this first day, I was able to establish the first of The Rules of Hiking:
1. You never "just" get lost. As soon as you get lost, it will also start to rain.
But fate took pity in me and made up for it. After I got back to the road and the rain had stopped, I met the guy again who was responsible for my getting lost (I didn't tell him) and he offered me to camp in his backyard. Yay, no pooping in the woods and maybe even a shower in the morning! But fate was not yet finished. Long story short, I spent the night on a proper mattress in their daughters' playroom because the weather forecast had a storm coming and the guy's wife had asked me if I'd rather want to come inside.
Let me tell you, Finnish people are officially the nicest in the world.
After arriving in Haukipudas. Please note the packed lunch Signe gave me.
This meeting nice Finns continued on the next day, when I was walking on the side of the road towards Ii. A random woman pulled up her car next to me and gave me a ride that I had not asked for. She even gave me tips on which bus stop in town was best for hitchhiking, completely ignoring (in a very nice, polite and motherly way) everything I said about wanting to walk and this being a hiking trip after all. I (nice and polite as I am) waited until she was out of sight, and marched on.
The second night I spent on a river island just north of Iin Hamina, where I could finally pitch the tent and have some real camping experiences.
Which leads me to the first of The Facts about Camping:
1. As soon as everything (yourself included) is inside the tent, it will start to rain.
So if you want to have a wee before bedtime, do that before entering the tent.
But fate was either still making up for things or it was really impressed with how well I was doing. On the next day it sent me another ride, this time a German. Jens from Zwickau was on his way to Norway and could have taken me all the way, but we decided that Merihelmi Camping was far enough. It was only 12:30 when we arrived and my day's work was already done. I could get used to that.
Not included in the picture: The pain my feet caused me when I tried to walk. Which is why I avoided walking for the rest of the day.
The sun was shining, I did some knitting, washed my clothes, ate, and was generally lazy. And in these two hours of quiet contemplation between 1 o'clock and 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I discovered the next Rule of Hiking on the list:
2. When hiking, you will spend most of your time not hiking.
So the rest of the day consisted of napping, taking pictures of the campsite owner's dog, sorting my stuff, trying not to use my feet too much, admiring the beautiful sunset, and most importantly, being exactly where I wanted to be.