Thursday, November 27, 2008

Scared of the outdoors

Finns like to see themselves as an outdoor people - berry picking, cross country skiing, hiking and hunting - all that jazz. But the most popular outdoor areas, the national parks, which are often amongst the most scenic and interesting, then to be rather "suburbanised" as well. Paths, well maintained and easy to follow anyway, are usually marked by colour signs on trees every 30 mtrs or so. There are numerous Laavus - lean to shelters with built fire places outside them, normally with pre-cut wood to use. This is all very civilised and probably good for the trees in that people don't just hack down the ones around the Laavu - but it is very civilised - not much of a wilderness experience at all.

There is of course plenty of untracked wilder areas - but this is normally commercial forest, which can be quite boring, and not in the most scenic areas. Now Helsingin Sanomat reports that there is an increase of interest in using 'emergency markers' along recreation trails allowing anyone in difficulty to be able to pin-point their position almost instantly when they phone for rescue. Hesari reports:
Hence the undertaking does not bother with geographical coordinates with minutes and degrees, which would be needlessly confusing for those unacquainted with them.
This suburbanisation of the wilderness means that it seems the idea that people could actually take the time to aquaint themselves with "
geographical coordinates" (i.e. learn to read a map) seems to have entirely passed them by. No - perish the thought, we couldn't "needlessly confuse" the lazy and the thick could we?

If you want to go hiking in the woods, which is a lovely thing to do, you should be prepared to figure out for yourself what to do if you have a mishap. If the great outdoors is so scary that you require a bloody great orange pole stuck next to any possible danger, perhaps it is better if you just stay home and watch telly instead.


Anonymous said...

Toby, your link to the HS report isn't working. It just connects you to more laavus.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Thanks! Now fixed. Must have not copied the link properly before hitting paste and just pasted in the previous address again.


Fabien said...

I would guess the marks on the trees is for winter, when the path is under the snow and it can be quite tricky to know if you are still on track?!