A Mother-Daughter Hike: Part 3

Hi, everyone! We have arrived at the third and last stretch of the hike I did with Lilli two years ago. Living through this trip as I share it with you has gotten me all excited for this summer. Just looking at these photos coaxed that lovely memory cocktail of sounds, smells and sensations; the heat rising from rock, hovering between the trunks as we wandered, and the cool breeze sweeping in from the ocean–salt, seaweed, and minerals. Even the moss and lichen has its own distinct scent. And the pine trees. Oh, the smell of resin and pine needles is divine.

After leaving the beautiful tarn behind, the landscape soon began to rise. At one point I had to lift Lilli up by intertwining my fingers and letting her step on my palms, and at another climb I got up first, then pulled her up while she found purchase with the toes of her shoes. On the way back, though, she told me she would brave the drop herself and she sure did. I kept my camera stowed away during these moments, though, ready to pounce to the rescue. Once the trail leveled out, I got my camera out again.

Lilli didn’t get tired of me taking photos, either. She was happy stopping and taking it slow, but at a particular moment after posing for a dozen photos in a row, she turned away and pretended I wasn’t there. Hah.

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“Ugh. No more, Mom.”
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Lilli?

My steadfast little girl might not have said anything about getting tired, but hiking across a shifting landscape like this does wring the juice out of you. In a nice way, I think. In such a way that makes taking a break feel so good. So we found a spot with a great view and sat down to take many long breaths. And to refresh ourselves with water.

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This sky used to be littered with those Unidentified Flying Objects – aka dust speckles on the sensor.
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Taking a moment to just be.

As I am sure shows and seeps through my words as I write, wandering nature and adventuring through all that it has to offer fills my heart and soul with joy. Getting to do this with my daughter–I count myself so blessed and lucky to have been given this wonderful human being to guide and nurture. And to be part of, whether close by or from afar, her very own journey in this life.

I may have this sneaky old habit of being very hard on myself, one I do many battles with still, but I only hope that by the time my little girl wants to try her own wings, I have given her a solid foundation to push off from.

On the last stretch, before reaching our turning point, and that preciously needed coffee and picnic smörgåsbord, we both kept our eyes all but glued to the horizon. The views from up here were absolutely breathtaking.

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And this almost concludes our trek through Skuleskogen–for now. At the end of June, Lilli and I will get in the car–Loke will be joining us, too–to begin our road trip. Our first stop is Terranova, a natural science exhibition which presents Kvarken archipelago, elected as Finland’s first natural heritage site in 2006. It is a permanent part of the Ostrobothnian Museum in Vaasa. After that we will travel straight to Svedjehamn on Björkö in Kvarken archipelago, about 40 kilometers from Vaasa, and do a little exploring. I will talk more about that later in another post, since I have exciting plans to document our adventures this summer. In other words, there will be more mother-daughter hikes to come. And then some.

Some Last Words

The famous last words–no, not really. That just popped into my head when I wrote the heading text. I do want to get a little nerdy, though, and I have saved a little for the end credits. In every post I have written I have edited out my tendencies to transform my storytelling into information dumps. So, here we go. Short but sweet.

Did you know that twenty thousand years ago Skuleskogen National Park was covered by a 3 kilometre thick layer of ice? Can you imagine the weight of it? That pressure? Now, think of that melting, moving, sliding. The High Coast in Sweden, in which this park we have ventured through is situated, and Kvarken archipelago in Finland, forms a unique area. Together they are one of the few places in the world where traces of post-glacial rebound are so clearly visible. Flads and gloe lakes, deep crevices, vast rock fields, caves and tunnels carved by Mother Nature’s able hands. And watch that ancient rock rise up, still, at the pace of 8 mm per year. Skuleberget–Skule Mountain–which is right across route E4 from the National Park is impressive and definitely worth a visit. If you are into climbing, they have Via Ferrata facilities.

Lastly, did you also know that this post-glacial rebound process creates around one square kilometer of new land every year? In a couple of thousand years our descendants will be able to hike across Kvarken. It is just too fascinating and powerful to imagine. And too cool information to not add as an afterword.

If you have read this far, I want to thank you for joining us. I have honestly enjoyed writing about this and going through these photos so much, and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see your likes and follows. Thank you! As always, I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you. Until next time, and see you soon!

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Here you can not only see a gorgeous example of that–if I am not mistaken, do correct me if I am–ancient rock, but also stark traces of my newbie photography skills. Blurr-blurr-blurr.

 

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A Mother-Daughter Hike: Part 2

Hello, everyone! First I would just like to say that I am seriously so excited so many of you liked joining us on the mother-daughter hike. Today, before we continue, I have a (sort of silly) confession to make. My daughter was born in 2008, which means I did a slight miscalculation. She wasn’t eight the summer of 2015, she was seven. As I write this, I have to pause and count on my fingers, just once more, to be certain. Yep. Seven years old. What a little champion. Additionally, we had a little talk about that I am sharing this hike with you, which she thinks is pretty cool, but she wants me to refer to her as Lilli when I talk about her.

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Here she is, my Lilli, dancing on top of these ancient mountains.

If you only just now dropped in, then you can find part one here. Alternatively, stay till the end and read part one once you’re finished. Whichever works for you!

Okay. Let’s Do This

After Lilli and I had walked for what seemed like hours–in reality much less–we breached a clearing. We had reached a tarn connected to a mire, only one of several. A wooden walkway had been laid out to enable crossing. My camera was out all the time, so when Lilli found some leaves and told me I had gotten muddy, then decided she would clean it, I had to capture the moment. She is so sweet.

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You know, I often stop and think about how different it is out here, walking among creaking trees, the faint whisper of water as it makes its way through pathways it has found over the years. The echo of an owl, eerie yet so beautiful. This place is full of life and movement but not in the same way as a city or even a small town. It has its own pulse, though. A beating heart to which my own answers. The pace varies, but the baseline changes. A rhythm more in tune with the precious life we truly hold in our hands.

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Out here, I learn to listen–really listen. Our inner voice is so important, but it’s not the sound, not the words, not the volume that counts. It’s the bond, the trust. I acknowledge I know so little and it’s all right. I open myself to taking it all in, to learn and grow.

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Every time I have stepped into the wilderness I have come back revived and at peace. And every time my belief that nature is the best therapy grows stronger. There are even scientific studies on the benefits of getting out into the wild. I read an article recently; they measured what actually happens in some parts of the brain, and the conclusion was it lowers the production of stress hormones. I found that fascinating.

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Okay. Confession time, again. When I first talked to Lilli about going hiking, she wasn’t overly enthused. She loves spending time with me, this is true, and she enjoys picnics and doing things with us, her parents, but when it comes to trying new things she has been wary and reluctant. Some coaxing and time to think it over is required. What enticed her initially was the true fact that a movie made of Astrid Lindgren’s Ronja Rövardotter was partly filmed here in Skuleskogen. There is a big crevice Ronja jumps across at one point and it exists for real. Slottdalsskrevan. (The Castle Valley Crevice.) This kept Lilli going, but by the time I realised we wouldn’t make it and told Lilli so, she shrugged and said it was all right. She had gotten to do so many cool things already and was happy with our very own adventure, wherever or however far it would take us.

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As we continued our journey I did see changes in her. Of course it was a long hike, and kids ask are we there yet? (Adults, too, actually. Ahem.) But she didn’t ask are we going home soon? Honestly, she didn’t tell me she was tired until I started packing up our picnic and told her it was time to return home. I saw she was, though, but I also recognised that peacefulness, that serenity in her when we sat on top of a mountain and looked out over the ocean, forests, and peered down at our destination that would have to wait until another time. And since then, at the mention of a hike, her eyes have lit up. I know that belief is a powerful force in our world, but could it be, when even her teacher has said Lilli has really transformed over the past two years–more courageous, more secure in herself, and is among the first to jump up to make presentations in front of the class–could it have at least some connection? I don’t know, but I can honestly say I believe so.

And so, my lovelies, what will also have to wait until another time–next time–is the conclusion of this adventure of ours. As Lilli and I left the second tarn we came across, I turned and saw what looked like a magical gateway. I tried and failed to capture the mystique in the contrast of light and shadow. With a little help of Lightroom I managed to tweak the photo, although not at all to my satisfaction (there is so much stuff you can do though!). I actually ordered a book on photography and how to move from point and shoot to the magic of the manual settings. So maybe I will be ready for my second chance at that perfect shot this summer. Either way, I will keep on snapping photos. And I will keep sharing them with you.

Thank you for coming along on this adventure, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

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A Mother-Daughter Hike: Part 1

Whenever I look back on the hike I did with my daughter almost two years ago now, apart from being filled with wonder anew, I end up saying we have to go back there. Not only because we truly had such a great time, or the fact that we got to see only a fraction of all there is to explore, but the one thing that kept my daughter going, the place I promised her we would see we didn’t reach. We simply ran out of time and would have run out of daylight if we had continued. So this summer we will return; at the end of June we embark on a road trip that will take us up through Finland and then down through Sweden. More on that in another post, though.

Today my daughter and I will take you through a portion of the 19 kilometer long hike we did on the 25th of July, 2015. I was 34 and one hiking experience richer than having no idea. In other words, I still had no idea what I was doing. My daughter had turned eight some months before. But we had food. We had sandwiches, apples, carrots, hot chocolate, coffee and lots of water. Our destination: Slottdalsskrevan in Skule-forest National Park. We started at Entré Väst–the western entry. As far away from Slottdalsskrevan you can possibly start. But what is an adventure without challenges, right?

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Let’s begin!

While far from all of Skule-forest National Park is accessible to you who for any reason are reliant on a wheelchair or similar, it is quite awesome they have built ramps and constructed pathways to make some areas more attainable for everyone.

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Also, before getting deeper into the park, the trail consisted of wooden walkways, which my daughter very much appreciated. Especially on our way back. She kept asking when we would reach those wooden planks. Still, she remained in good spirits the whole time.  She continues to impress me with her valiance.

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While walking, we talked about all kinds of things. Often my daughter would ask me questions I had a hard time answering, due to a lacking vocabulary in the Finnish language. I would say I am satisfactory fluent in Finnish–so long as the topics are on every day things. I don’t believe in regrets, but if I would count one, it would be that I did not speak Swedish with my daughter as much as I should have during her first years. And my partner and I speak English at home, so the only times I practiced speaking Finnish was at work or when we would go visit my partner’s parents. In any case, with the rich and vivid beauty that surrounded us on our journey, words were soon forgotten and we settled into a slow pace, taking in and investigating whatever took our fancy.

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Compared to my hike with Loke, this adventure was much less challenging, that I must admit. On the other hand, for my daughter, it was most definitely the toughest thing she has ever done. And still she hiked those whole 19 kilometers like a pro.

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She volunteered to be my assistant and carried that camera bag all the way…
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All along the trail winding upwards…
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…and down. And back up again.
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Moss, lichen and vibrant greens wherever we turned.

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And blåbärsris! (Blueberries? Dictionary also tells me whortleberry and bilberry. Gah. Confusion galore.)

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These forests–I just love these old forests. They are like taken out of fairy tales from my childhood. My all-time favourites were the stories illustrated by John Bauer. I urge you wholeheartedly to Google him. There is such mystery in his images. Also I simply adore trees. Especially those found in primeval forests (wild-woods?). To think of the ages they have borne witness to, all they have seen and survived, endured. The feeling is equally humbling and… I can’t find a word. Mäktigt. It’s silly, right? A word in the mother tongue has a distinct emotion tied to it, and even after browsing what seems like a hundred synonyms in English I can’t find a word to which I get that same connection. Strengthening and encompassing, vast and powerful. All in the same word. What would be that word? Majestic? Vastness?

Anyway. Mäktigt can also be used to describe something that is too much. Which this post would be if I took you through the full 19 kilometers. So I will stop here and wish you who are celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend a wonderful day. I will be spending at least the first part of it in bed, as ordered by the man and the daughter. As commanded, I say! (The man also added “Prepare yourself for tomorrow now. Bring your laptop with you to the bedroom before you go to bed so you have something to do.” He sure knows me well–I have a hard time staying in bed once my eyes are open, or even only half-open. So I also decided on a precautionary Night Owl Session. You know, to force myself to sleep longer. Just in case.)

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Flowers for all the mothers out there. We passed a pond full of these beauties on our journey.