lördag 21 februari 2015

Living with the forest

A trip to the forest is pretty much the same as visiting another country. You could book an all inclusive trip to a southern warm country, eat nice food, sleep in a luxury hotel and go swimming at the beach. Then when you get home you can tell everyone what the country looks like.
But that's all, you haven't talked to the locals, you haven't tried their food, you don't know how they live, how their homes smell, what they do in their free time. All you know is what you have seen through a window made by the travel agency.
If you instead go there with no plans, maybe couch surfing, speaking to the locals, rent a bike, leave the tourist streets in the cities. You will get a much deeper connection to the country. You will experience it with all your senses.
In a similar manner we make a choice when we visit the forest. Do we want to go there and look at it, or do we want to experience it?

The rythm of nature

When I was younger I always slept in tent on trips. I felt safe inside the tent-walls, keeping the scary night outside. It took a long time before I realized that I don't need to be afraid of the night. It is part of nature. So if I do a trip and hide from the night, I miss a part of the experience, a part of the nature I'm there to experience. Nowadays I prefer to just sleep under a cotton tarp. There's no walls so I can hear all the sounds, smell the air and watch the stars when I fall asleep. And then wake up to the sunrise, completely following the rhythm of nature.
An amazing sunrise, easily missed if you sleep in a tent, disconnected from the world around you.
On early winter trips it's not uncommon to go to bed at 5 pm, and then sleep for 16 hours. It may sound crazy now when you read this by your computer. But when you're out there it feels completely natural. The sun sets at 3 pm, then you make dinner and then it's too dark to do anything else. You could bring a flashlight. But then you disturb the rhythm and lose a part of the experience.
A camp that is part of nature.

The forests burning energy

Gathering stones. Building a tripod. Sawing and chopping wood. Carefully preparing the fireplace. And finally, the magical act of starting the fire. Watching it burn is like hypnosis. It's the forests energy turning to light and heat. It's quiet and relaxing and will let you cook your food, dry your clothes and keep you warm for the night. The forest is giving you all this for free.
Now, imagine if you had brought a gas stove instead. It makes a lot of sound, don't give any warmth and your food will be done in seconds. Are you not here for a relaxing experience?
Take your time to build a nice fireplace, even for a lunch during travel. It makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

Connecting through your gear and tools

I'm out paddling with a wooden paddle, one which I made myself. I know every part of it. I chose the material and formed it after my body and paddling style. I can feel it moving in the water, it tells me what is happening under the surface. Is it deep or shallow? Are there any currents? Seaweed? It's like an extension of my body, just like the canoe which I also made myself. And I know, if I lose my paddle or canoe, they will go back to nature, back to the circle of life.
I don't need an ultra light carbon fiber paddle or a bent shaft super fast paddle. I'm not out here to race. And I don't want gear which is made on the cost of the very nature I visit.
How could you be in a hurry away from here?
For me the material creates a flow. A gore-tex jacket is just like the tent walls, cutting me off from nature, while a cotton jacket lets it flow trough. The cotton also gets along better with the fire. A piece of ember usually won't even make a hole, unlike the synthetic jacket which melts right away. By wearing fast drying instead of waterproof clothes you get to experience the rain and river much closer and you don't need to worry about getting wet.
The moment you learn to not fear and take cover from the nature is the moment you will really feel freedom on your trips.
Take your time, relax, make a pizza!
Or anything else delicious!

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