Adventurers Are Not Ordinary People
Ordinary people go hiking in the Swedish mountains to regain energy and to enjoy nature as a contrast to their everyday life in the city. Nothing beats sleeping outdoors and cooking your dinner over the camp stove. But(!) we are not ordinary people, we are studying to become adventurers This last weekend we had our final exam at Haglöfs Adventure Academy. It consisted of three full days trekking, camping, canoeing, navigating, mountain biking and working together as a full group or in small teams. We were 14 students and 3 instructors.
I have to add that the instructors, Ola Skinnarmo, Carl Hård af Segerstad and Glenn Mattsing had made sure that all was done in a secure manner even if the challenges we encountered were tough. The exercise kicked off with a briefing where we were given the objectives and the outline of the weekend ahead. Little did we know that one of the main points for us to practice was to adapt to ever changing circumstances and improvise while maintaining our good mood and always finding a way forward. We were divided into seven teams and I was teamed up with Fredrik Eklund, good guy!
Stones Instead of Food
We had planned to start the excursion on Friday, then Ola Skinnarmo, our principal told us to get ready, we are leaving now (Thursday evening). Off we went to pick up our rations for the expedition. However, there were no rations, only cobble stones to carry as a substitute for the weight of the rations.
No Sleep and No Food, Why Not?
36 hours of no food and little sleep commenced. ”It is always better to practice these things in a safe environment so you know how you will react if it happens when you our out on a real expedition”, Ola beamed. He was right and we knew it. Now, we thought it was going to be 72 hours, but as it turned out, they had planned for 36. The next 36 hours we walked, navigated, slept (a little), woke up in the middle of the night, walked some more, saw a glorious sunrise, then set camp at 06:00am on Saturday morning. Up with the tents and two hours of the sweetest sleep ever!
A Surprise and a Canoe
After this we were briefed that we would go canoeing and that we had a gift from them. Food! Hard to explain the feeling. I wasn’t hungry, but I got very emotional to see the two bags for me with five meals and snacks. I just shouted out ”YEESSS!”. Then we went by canoes to Sälen. Beautiful and very relaxing. Then we had lunch before the next surprise… ”In thirty minutes we will start the practicing on how to rescue your friends in case a canoe tips over.” We all got ready and then we took turns in tipping our canoes over and then with the aid of another canoe, emptying the water before we could climb up into it again. Afterwards we all swam across the river as another challenge. We dried up, changed clothes, got our gear together and hiked up to the road. Next surprise, mountain bikes! I like running up and down hills, but I must say that I wished so much that I had practiced some more on biking uphill prior to sitting on that bike last week-end. Actually I wish I had biked at least once before! So up we went with our backpacks and together we made it to the top. My thighs were burning but I made it! A quick rest and then we left our backpacks and went downhill to return the bikes before walking up the ski slope again.
My team mate Fredrik fell on his bike when we went downhill and had an injury on his collar bone. He went with Carl to the hospital to have it attended. We would then meet up the next day at the dinner celebrating that we had all completed the exercise and completed all the challenges. He is a strong guy Fredrik, and we had lots of fun while we completed task after task prior to his accident.
Next day I teamed up with another good friend, Frida. Her team mate had to leave so we were paired together for the last day. We practiced navigating with map, compass and with the GPS. Great day and then even better when we reached our final destination and were greeted with a cold beer and then a shower before dinner! The dinner was to die for, and after a good night’s sleep we had a great breakfast. Then we packed up, hugged and made our way back home. All in different directions. Next stop is for us to perform our own expeditions and to report back.
What an experience, what a group and great instructors. Everything was planned so that we would be challenged all the way. At the same time Ola, Carl and Glenn kept encouraging us and keeping our spirits high at all times. I want to be like you when I grow up, that is for certain! Thank you for a great experience and now I can’t wait to embark on my own adventure, Crossing Borders!