About Me & The Blog
Hi there! How nice that you have found your way to my blog.
I’m Aino, a happy Finnish woman living in Finland. The land of endless forests, lakes and mosquitos. And the land of the happiest people in the world. I'm a solo hiker, a trail runner, a creative, a pilgrim, a mother, a dreamer, a doer, a nature lover from the bottom of my heart. I'm also a highly sensitive introvert. I try to find the best in each and every day, enjoy the small things in life, and be grateful.
I write about my outdoor adventures and trail running in Finland and other Nordic countries, exploring the deep forests, the quiet wilderness, the mighty fells and mountains. My goal is to inspire you with Nordic nature and outdoor sports that help with sensory overload and support holistic wellbeing. A little bit of love and slow living. I help you to find the magic of nature and give the best tips for outdoor adventures.
What is the story?
Well, you know what happened during the spring 2020 all over the globe.
Back then, I had my daily urban outdoors routines focusing on stairs training in my local nature area. Suddenly the shops and gyms closed their doors and people rushed into city parks and nature. The stairs became crowded too. I looked at the new sign to keep 2m distance on the 1m wide stairs and sighed. In my pursuit of avoiding people, I accidentally found myself from local woods, in dense bushes and unknown trails. It was a refreshing feeling.
I don’t know why, but I started running on those trails, and it felt great. And I have been trail running ever since.
I’m originally a small town girl. I grew up next to vast forests and mires. I sucked at running (except on 100m sprint I was fast as a wind, haha) but my winters included lots of cross-country skiing. When I grew up, I still sucked at running, but I jogged every now and then. Mostly I was at the gym. I also practiced martial arts and scuba diving for many years. And hiking too. And cycling. Some kayaking. Rock climbing. Like anything but running. Later, when I developed some nasty chronic foot pain, I even gave up the lousy jogging efforts.
And yet, I got hooked in trail running.
My feet still hurt but I felt weird happiness on trails, and when I came back home from running, I was still smiling. I loved the silence, the fresh air and the scent of the forest. The raw bark when I laid my cheek alongside of it when I secretly hugged the trees.
At that time my stress levels had been all time high, and it had started to take its toll on my physical and mental health. It felt like the world was going too fast and I had to run to keep up with the pace. I had meltdowns and cognitive problems, difficulties to focus on tasks that required thinking and executive functioning, which then led to sleeping problems too. I was gradually losing my self-esteem and my sense of purpose. I had also suffered from many kinds of irrational fears for years, such as walking alone in nature if it was dark outside (in Finland, one of the safest countries in the world!). Little by little, the fear started fading away, and I could run in a forest at night with a headlamp. What a feeling of freedom!
When I was running on trails, surrounded by green trees, moss and ferns, I felt that I could breathe again. That the heavy baggage was gone from my shoulders. That I am enough, and I belong. That everything was OK.
After running less than four months, I headed to the border of Finnish Lapland with a trekking backpack and hiked the classic 82 km Bear’s Trail in three days. I had been hiking before, but that was my very first overnight solo hike ever. It was tough, painful, rewarding and an amazing life changing experience. Soon after, I went conquering solo the highest mountain in Scandinavia because I felt like climbing a mountain. And then I made a 55 km nature pilgrimage hike from Hetta to Pallas in Lapland. I discovered running adventures and ultrarunning too. And it didn't take long until I was in the middle of a dark forest on my first winter hike snowshoeing in Syöte.
Now I’ve got an Excel file full of plans to do, such as a solo fell skiing tour, a multi-day running adventure, and exploring all the national parks in Finland that are still waiting for me. Not to mention all the wilderness to explore in the other Nordic countries. (I’ve also got a DIY camper van project on that list. I’ll get back to that if it ever gets closer to actualization!)
I love writing and photography, but somehow, I've always managed to keep myself too busy to give enough time for the things that I truly love. I believe that the discovery of trail running and the amazing solo outdoor adventures that have taught me so much about myself and brought so much wellbeing and happiness to my life, was something I had been unconsciously calling for. This blog is my channel to do the things that I love, and hopefully bring joy and happiness to your life too.
In a short period of time, I have learned so many amazing things just by myself. Reading a map, identifying different types of bogs, safety on the mountains, wading and crossing rivers, skiing with a pulk sled, hiking in winter, and I'm pretty good at setting up a fire too. I’m so very grateful for people who write about their outdoor experiences and give advice for novice adventurers. I want to give my two cents too.
My mission is to share outdoor stories from the Nordic region and tips for new solo adventurers, starring an ordinary chick just enjoying nature. The great outdoors is for everybody (Free style, free pace! Run, walk, or if it hurts to walk, roll down the hill or just meditate! Weight may fluctuate but you can always fit in the woods! Old farts can go too! Etc!)
I’m addicted to the beauty of my homeland Finland and the Nordic countries, which means a flood of pictures and stories of the northern parts of Europe. Sometimes I may focus more on the spiritual aspects of the journey, sometimes more on the destination, sometimes more on the sports. I usually run and hike just by myself. The pics in my blog and Instagram are all taken by me. Usually, it’s a pic of me or a pic of trails, trees or flowers. Sometimes all-in-one.
If you are looking for support to start hiking solo and tips for lightweight backpacking, need inspiration for Nordic nature destinations, or wonder what is the thing with ultra running and running adventures - you have come to the right place!
Welcome to the trails and beyond with me - I quarantee that nature is an awesome experience!
I write about shorter and longer hiking, trekking and trail running adventures in exciting destinations (exciting being a relative concept). I’m definitely an autumn person (August-September is the peak time of my year) but I've bought myself a pair of snowshoes and fell skis and a pulk sled to adventure throughout the year.
I love mountains (which we don’t have in Finland) but even more fells (which we do have, yay!), and my heart bursts with joy in the forests (which we have even in the Southern Finland, double yay!). I value my local nature, and though I've left a piece of my heart to Lapland, I think there are so many amazing places below the reindeer zone as well. I go trail running and backpacking on marked trails and routes as well as in untouched wilderness.
I run for happiness, health, and for the love of being in nature. I also run to keep myself fit for the adventures - it's so much more fun when you can count on your body and legs to take you to beautiful sceneries from dusk till dawn. I write about trail running and training in general and about my struggles and trail running plans. I go to trails almost every day for shorter runs, and I run also ultra distances (+42 km) on trails.
I'm trail running with asthma which slows things down during the cold season and I suffer from winter blues that puts me on the bench during the dark season - a bit of an annoying combo! My approach to sports is embracing what a body can do with its given structure and limitations, and I’m interested in things like developing endurance for running over 100K challenging trails. The question is not how fast I can run it, but can I run it. My own style and my own pace, no competition.
If I'm not on an adventure or trail running, I'm probably just enjoying nature by walking, fishing, hammocking, kayaking, biking, cross-country skiing, wildswimming, sitting by a fire or warming up a sauna at a wilderness hut. Here you can find all those things, general tips and tricks for great time in Nordic nature, and tried and tested outdoor equipment reviews.
When I buy new equipment, I use a lot of time for research, reading everything I can find on the topic, skimming reviews, and comparing prices. I seek the best deal for me: quality-price ratio, CSR and sustainability (including animal welfare), and fit to my needs. Buy once, keep it forever. I share my experiences on my equipment when I have used them enough to be able to actually evaluate them. I'm also shaving weight with lightweight backpacking.
Our fascinating, powerful minds! Would you be scared to go alone into wilderness? Do you think you don't have the courage? Yes, it's normal to be scared, and yes, you can find the courage! Nature is an amazing source and place for self-reflection and getting to know yourself. I love thinking and reflecting, and I love exploring the boundaries of mind.
I believe your mind is really the key to extending the boundaries of the body, discovering the potential of ourselves as human beings, and also getting what you need in life. I write about happiness, gratefulness, mind coaching, self-love, overcoming fears, sensitivity, and anything and everything. Basically, things I chew in my head while in the woods. I will also tell you sometimes something about my life here.
My camera equipment & philosophy
I carry a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and my favorite lens Canon EF 25-70 mm f/2.8 L II USM plus a tripod from PEAK Design on my trips. (Yeah, a dream come true for an UL running adventure!) I’ve also got a couple of filters and gadgets, but when I’m out there in the middle of a strenuous trail (especially if it includes bloodthirsty mosquitos and horseflies or 26m/s icy wind) I’m usually not giving a shit for elegance and aesthetics, sorry for that! And while bokeh looks great, I usually want to show the whole wide scenery the way I actually saw it myself.
I don’t stage my tent to a mountain summit if I’m not actually camping there (so, if you see one, that's me up there for real!), and oftentimes the weather and scenery can be just dull (and not Insta-friendly not to mention adventure-friendly). But that's just the way it is in nature. I don't consider myself a photographer chasing the perfect light, but a documentarist and storyteller doing my best to describe the destinations and experiences as they really were.
Please, do not borrow my photos without permission. They all have Copyright information and my watermark. If you find a photo you like, you can possibly buy it from me. Just send me an email and I'll get back to you!
Please share your thoughts by commenting the blog posts, or drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And a small disclaimer
My mother tongue is Finnish, but I write in English so that you who don’t speak Finnish could also discover the amazing Nordic outdoors. My apologies for any incorrect grammar or funny word choices (though I’d write some odd stuff in Finnish too)!