Daytrip to Birgitan Polku (Birgitta’s Trail)

A week ago, I met up with Scandic Woodsman and OZme from Bush n’ Blade for a little woods time on Birgitan Polku (Birgitta’s Trail) near Tampere, Finland. It had been a few months since I took to the woods with either of the chaps, and with the weather getting colder, the time was right for some early-winter woods wandering.

After driving a short distance to SW’s house, he drove us northward for about 1.5 hours to the designated meeting point. From there, we followed OZme to the trail head, parked the cars and decided to shoot a few arrows and sling a few rocks before hitting the trail.

We took turns shooting SW’s Estonian-made Falco bow at a target he made, and tried our hand at OZme’s homemade slingshot. Here I am giving the bow a go. (The “fat belly” is my heavy old camera weighing down the front of my jacket…really!)

Next up was a short hike to a fire pit, where we would be warming up near the fire and cooking some grub. We chose to hike the shorter of two possible trails due to our arriving later than anticipated, the limited daylight of this time of year and our growling stomachs!

There was a light dusting of snow in the forest on the way.

We spotted a moose feeder-type thingamajig.

This stream wasn’t frozen over yet.

Upon our arrival at the site, I snapped a pic of what has to be the coolest outhouse I’ve ever seen.

This shelter was nearby as well. It’s kind of like two laavus facing one another and connected to one another. You could also see it as a small hut with a hole in the roof. Depends on your perspective, I guess. In any case, it looks like it’d be warm in the winter!

Since the nearby pond was frozen over, we had to break the ice to get water.

Here’s OZme checking out the scene with two of his three ladies who accompanied us that day.

I dropped my German army alpine rucksack on a bench near the fire area. Over the past 4 years or so I have alternated back and forth between this pack and the Swedish army rucksack. Just can’t make up my mind!

After OZme and SW brought some wood from the shed, SW and I started splitting it up. SW used his hukari (a large Finnish chopping knife), and I used my Wetterlings axe. Here’s SW getting the fire started with his ferro rod.

It didn’t take long until it was going full-blast!

OZme and SW lined up split logs outside the fire pit to act as a wind break, which worked well.

Our first course for the afternoon meal would be campfire pork ala Scandic Woodsman. I lent him my frying pan and gave him some olive oil, salt and pepper to get the job done. He had decided it was time for something a little finer than the old standby of sausages. After tasting the first round of juicy-on-the-inside, slightly-crispy-on-the-outside pork seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper, we agreed. πŸ™‚

Next up was my secret-recipe bannock (camp bread). OK, the recipe is no secret. It’s bog-standard bannock. πŸ™‚ I use 4.7 dl/2 cups of flour, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of baking powder, “some butter” (several tablespoons) and enough water to make a dry dough. I mixed the ingredients, kneaded the dough a little and threw it in the pan. The secret to good bannock is to let it bake slowly. Make sure it’s not too close to the fire. Give it time to rise. Rushing it will just ruin it. The burn marks on the bannock in the picture below are not from the baking process, but rather from my attempt at the end to brown the exterior a little. Guess I left the pan on the coals one second too long!

By this time, it was totally dark out and felt pretty cold. The air temperature was 3*C/37.5*F, which isn’t cold at all, but the constant wind coming off the lake, coupled with the on-and-off drizzling rain made it feel chilly. We let our fire burn down to coals and then finally extinguished the dying embers.

A short hike later, we were back at our cars, ready to head home. This trip was a great chance to get out and shoot the breeze with the guys while enjoying some fresh air and early winter scenery as well. Thanks for the great company, Scandic Woodsman and OZme! (and thanks for letting me use some of your pictures, as well :))


33 comments on “Daytrip to Birgitan Polku (Birgitta’s Trail)

  1. That’s an interesting shelter.

  2. Chris Major says:

    Great images,

    Archery holds some kind of primal attraction to me, whilst on a bushcraft retreat in the summer I was able to see some handmade Old-English longbows in action. I am now keen to make one of my own, I just wish my garden was large enough to use it!

    • I feel the same way. I’m kicking myself for forgetting my bow at home (I didn’t know they’d be bringing their implements that day), but I will start shooting with it soon. It is a long bow/self bow made of one piece of hickory. One day I hope to make my own bow as well. πŸ™‚

      Don’t feel bad. I don’t even have a garden at all! πŸ˜‰

  3. kev Alviti says:

    Looks like a great night in the woods. I love that shelter with the hole in the roof. I guess it would be good as it lets in light in the daytime and driving wind can’t get in. Nice blog by the way.

    • Thanks for the comments, Kev!

      Yep, that shelter does let in light during the day and keeps most wind out as well. Scandic Woodsman told me that there’s another version where one roof is a bit higher and extends over the lower roof, keeping out most snow and rain because the opening is “vertical” rather than horizontal. Ingenious!

  4. Looks like a nice outing for you all.

  5. OutdoorEnvy says:

    Awesome stuff! That looked like a great time. That’s a pretty slick cabin/shelter. I think we all switch packs or have a hard time picking one. It’s like the holy grail of gear. Finding “THE” pack seems to be a life pursuit. That swedish pack is good, but I won’t say perfect.

    Nice report and pics. Enjoyed it πŸ™‚

  6. Ron says:

    I am so overdue for some greentime and this makes me long for the woods even more……
    Love the double laavu. Really should make a great place to spent the night with a few people in winter.

  7. Sam says:

    Great looking trip! I like the German rucksack, it’s nice to have two or three backpacks to choose from. I like the look of the shelter, it would be great for a winter camp.

  8. That shelter looks awesome. I’d love to have something like that on my acreage back east. Loved this report. Thanks for posting!

  9. Gary says:

    Great read – love that shelter what a cool idea …………. still unable to decide between the german and Swedish sack eh …….. question can you get your entire weekend camp out kit in the german one??

    • Thanks for the comment, Gary! Great to see you commenting here. πŸ™‚

      In July 2011, I did a 6-day backpacking trip in Finnish Lapland with the German pack. πŸ˜€ No, I didn’t go ultralight. πŸ˜‰ I used my standard bushcraft/camping gear. My tent and sleeping bag were secured to the outside of my pack, and I was carrying a possibles bag on my side. I think the total weight of my gear was about 17 or 18 kg, including food and water.

  10. OZme says:

    Looking at that steak again, I am getting hungry….

    I did not realize at that time that the back pack you used was German not Swedish…

    Thanks for posting this as I really enjoy your story telling!

  11. Very nice shelter idea- Great looking meal!

  12. Shane Walsh - LeinsterBushcraft says:

    Looks like a very beautiful place, especially the log cabin!

  13. operationalextras says:

    Great Stuff just found the Blog and cant wait to see more Take care

  14. Hendrik says:

    Oh, that was a nice day out, for sure! I have hiked past the Double-Laavu and also thought it was rather interesting looking, a good design! Seen a couple of these around the country, too.

    Anyway, great day out!

  15. HenLan says:

    Great report. You obviously had a good day. Do you still use the german rucksack on occasion? Is it not smaller than the swedish LK35? Is it as good or are the for different type of outings? That was a lot of questions… πŸ™‚

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