“Where did you come from?” two women walking a dog ask me as I pop on the trail from the woods.
“Just from there, walking my own paths,” I say.
“How long have you been walking and where are you going with so much stuff?” they ask referring to my backpack.
“I’m just spending one night in the woods.”
“Aren’t you afraid of the bears? I wouldn’t be able to stay for a night. Not alone!”
These women I met last weekend on my little walk in Salmi, the northern part of Nuuksio National Park in Finland, looked outdoorsy. Branded outdoor clothes and all, but they clearly were not keen campers.
I tried to explain to them that you can’t find mushrooms form the trail and that it is much prettier and more peaceful in the woods, off the main trails. And I did tell them that it is highly unlikely to run into a bear in Salmi, but they were not convinced. I also might have mentioned that it is probable that there are lynxes in the woods. And the lynxes are bigger than their dog…
I don’t often spend a night in the woods alone but I’m not really afraid of it. Of course imagination can start to run wild in the dark, but it doesn’t matter whether I’m inside a tent of a house if my mind just decides to stop being rational. However, meeting those two ladies, who thought spending a night outside alone was mad, made me feel good.
Don’t we all like it when other people think that we are brave? It makes us feel a bit chuffed even if we don’t think we are doing anything special. Let them think I’m adventurous!
Brave or not, I spent the night, seemingly, alone at the campsite. The wind shaking the trees around me kept me awake, but I must have fallen asleep a couple of times. Nevertheless, I was not aware that I wan’t alone in the tent.
Only when I started to pack my stuff in the morning, I noticed there had been an intruder in the tent.
It was no bear nor lynx but another one of those crazy critters that eat everything. (Recall the mice that ate silicone?) This time the mouse ate through the tent, canvas bag and a plastic bag to get to the dry oatmeal I had with me!
It is a bit bizarre that people are afraid of the big beasts when the little beasts like ticks and mice can cause more harm. And you are much more likely to encounter those out in the woods.
- What: Hiking and overnight camping
- Where: Salmi, outdoor recreational area, Nuuksio, Finland.
- Note: It is quiet in the autumn, but can be very busy on summer weekends.