Dear Finland,

You welcomed me in my mother’s tongue, celebrated my twenty-second birthday with fervor as if you were the patient matron witness to the previous twenty-one, enveloped me in stoic bonds of silent solidarity, fed me and housed me. You revealed to me a most incredible and harsh beauty, an unfathomable stillness that left the breath meant to swirl within my lungs frozen.

al lake

Crossing Alempi Akujärvi

This trip, this adventure planned to traverse your frigid shoulders has only managed to graze one singly. We suffered at your mercy, fumbling with our stiff  fingers, stinging from pink and tender skins  for days until we grew calloused to your climate. You froze our breath in our nostrils, our sweat in our boots, our dinner on our spoons. We pressed until we crested, able to wake a thrilled audience to your deliberate blue transition, your slow drag of morning. We became efficient, swift. Melding ourselves into you, we woke with you, slept with you, experienced you as silently as you us, and we accepted contentedly all that you had to offer up of your surreal heart.

The view from our door.

The view from our door

After completing 9 short days and 120 KM of our proposed 40 and 400 KM, I watch your fells and frozen lakes and shivering leafless birches whip by from an expensive bus seat with the ache that something, someone, beloved is growing perceptibly unreachable. Snow gleams clinging to the high branches of stiff pines.  It is as if we have discovered the existence of a magnificent secret, as if we have just glimpsed the heart of something too great for words, too large for us to wholly comprehend, something that we have been subconsciously lacking from our beings all this time. We watch this environment that has been our home pass away, destined for lesser parallels.

Breaking down camp

Breaking down camp

It is bittersweet. It feels as if  this thing slowly drains through the cracks between my cupped fingers. It has left its taste on my palate, an awareness of a brilliance that I knew not before, something to hunger for. A new appetite for another adventure.

Please note there is an in depth trip report and more photographs pending.

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