A meaningful journey!
We are very proud and happy to have recently purchased our first fleet of canoes and the day after they arrived we started our 95k journey south from Rovaniemi to Kemi on the Kemijoki.
This journey was very exciting and emotional as it was the first time that we felt our long-term goals coming to life. As over the next few years, we are turning our sight to working with individuals who suffer from issues like PTSD. This is because when you’re out here in the wilderness moving on the water under your own steam you get a sense of freedom that you don’t get anywhere else.
On this trip, I took a family member with me who has suffered from PTSD for 14 years after the loss of his son. Yes, the trip was extremely demanding physically but also what we found was that after the first 2 days paddling 8-10hrs a day we had found a rhythm which was hard yet healthy. It excluded the day to day TV screen and telephone scanning and added physicality, routine, fresh air and breathtaking views.
By day 3 we had complete control over our little biting friends and had the ability to set up camp together in 10 minutes, this included tent up, dinner on and beds made. This was a huge change to day one, where we spent the first ten minutes cursing the mosquitoes while trying to walk faster to keep them away (which didn’t work).
During the trip, we also saw the most heartwarming hospitality from complete strangers. The first experience came when we stopped for lunch in a local Laavu (a log lean-to built for making fire). We had been paddling in a storm for 3 hours, wet, cold and tired we were making a fire in the torrential rain when a woman came up to us looking for her cat. she then left but returned 20 minutes later with a hot flask of juice and some sweet buns for us to have. Telling us through suggestive hand signals to just leave the flask under the log structure.
On the evening of day 4, had had the kindest couple, Thomas and Anna-Liisa, invite us into their home. We thought that they were allowing us to camp on their bit of river bank, but in fact, they took us into their house, gave us the sauna room to sleep in and even layed the table for us for both dinner and breakfast. This type of hospitality is one that you don’t see in many places but these lovely Finnish people really warmed our hearts.
On day 5 we reached our final Dam in Kemi, this is where we stopped and felt a sense of achievement as we basked in the afternoon sun. However, the real moment of happiness came for me when Luke gently slipped into the conversation about how he had felt his first sense of peace for a long time.