As you may have read on my last update, I’m currently on holiday and have been visiting Finland. Despite basing myself in Helsinki, I was keen to get lost in nature and enjoy the scenery. I wanted to get myself outdoors, despite the sub zero temperatures. And travelling alone, this would be a solo hiking trail adventure. Sounds like a risky pursuit? Hell, yeah. A little bit of risk adds to the adventure in my opinion. And you know what? I also apply this approach to my investments. I need to take some risks to get better outcomes both in adventure and my investments. Cause yes, even a fun day out can be related to investing.
Nature trail near Helsinki?
My journey from Helsinki airport confirmed what I expected. The Finnish countryside is covered in snow, and thus is absolutely stunning. And the pretty pine trees are everywhere. So where to go for my hiking day? Some research indicated a clear winner. Nuuskio national park fits the bill perfectly. Photos indicate pine trees and lakes abound, in a serene setting with marked hiking trails. And it’s easily day-tripable from Helsinki. Which leads me to comment that Helsinki has awesome public transport. Like seriously amazing. It’s reasonably priced, abundant and reliable despite the snow, ice and subzero temperatures. And you can even choose which side of the park to get to by public transport, options abound!
Hiking is one of my favourite hobbies. I love day hikes, exploring new areas, and have done a few long distance multi-day trails. Walking for hours and hours and hours is fun for me. I have well broken in winter hiking boots. (OK several pairs at home). And I’m in good physical shape, having run a marathon a few weeks ago, So, I’m personally well prepared in body.
The next step of being prepared is supplies. I favour the kitchen sink approach, and have everything with me just in case. Given the temperatures, this included many multiple layers, gloves, coats, socks etc. And enough food to feed a small army, sandwiches, cereal bars, chocolate galore. And flasks for water (given the subzero possibility, don’t want frozen water). A good hiking trip always starts with good supplies.
Sometimes I feel the journey is as much fun as the place you visit. You can learn so much from observing people on public transport and gazing out the window. From my journey to Nuuskio, I observed how the Finnish city living differs from country living. And was impressed with simple things like snow removal – all roads and pavements and cycle paths were cleared of snow and ice and gritted. Even in the National Park. And people were out enjoying the day, despite the cold.
This is easy
Navigating to the right bus stop to get off in the park was easy, the bus displays the stop name. I felt kinda badass getting off in the middle of nowhere (ok on a bus route) in the forest. There was snow everywhere, except the well plowed main road, and a pine tree forest all around. I took the track up to the trailhead, and enjoyed the fresh air. As this track was a road, it was flat and easy to walk on. Podcasts playing, I took it slow and steady the mile or so until I reached the trailhead. And then I found the marked trails, and naturally picked the longest one, at only 7km. As I move onto the trails, the going gets a bit rougher underfoot. In particular ice. Just as I started there was an uphill section that was all ice. I kept sliding and fell. Twice. All my enthusiasm was now dented, and fear came out. Why was I hiking alone on icy paths? Was I mad? Would anyone find me if I died out here?
Ouch I fell – should I go back?
So these thoughts raced through my head, after I fell the second time. But this time I decided the best approach would be to crawl up the hill on all fours, getting a bit more traction. And crawl I did. Getting to the top, and rising to my feet again, I evaluated. Was I mad for doing this? Taking unnecessary risks? My inner voices of fear and reason argued and reason won. Helped no doubt by someone passing me the other way, as comfort I wasn’t all alone in the woods really. I switched my thinking to badass hiker again, and went on.
This is easy again
The beauty and tranquillity of a pine forest in the snow again amazed me. The going was much easier underfoot, and I was so pumped that I kept going and overcame the difficulties. This is what I dreamt of, and what I wanted out of my trip. Although, what I didn’t expect was the pine needles. The perfect pure white snow was littered with pine needles, giving it a strange look up close. Another thing I didn’t expect was the bathroom situation. They have compost toilets along the trails. With Toilet paper. And some even have elevated positions with a good view – you need to avoid exposing yourself to the trees outside. Wow, the Finns sure think of everything. And all was going well, a toilet appeared magically at just the time I needed one, all was good. Until I realised I lost my way.
Lost the trail
Minor panic ensued, and I couldn’t work out why I lost the path. So I did circles, went back and forwards and went off piste into the deep snow. Not really sure why I did that, but it was fun to walk in foot deep snow. Rationality finally won, and I traced my route back along the trail I. And then I found a side trail, which was actually the main route. Relief came over me, and I trudged along the real path again, happy I was back on track. Soon I was back at the main trailhead I started at.
At the trailhead I had a few options. Should I go back to the bus stop, or try another trail, or perhaps walk to another bus stop? As the trail was only 7km, I fancied a bit more walking. So I took the path to the other bus stop, only 5km long. I was feeling overconfident and happy to be in nature, so this was an easy choice. All was going well, until the absolutely worst thing appeared in front of me.
The deathtrap icy staircase
Yes, there was a wooden staircase to help with a descent in the woods, absolutely covered in ice. Like a good inch of each along the full length of each and every step. I have never been so horrified at seeing such a sight in front of me. But, as a saving grace there was a handrail, on both sides. So mad person that I am, I attempt it. Down I go. Holding on to the handrail for dear life, one step at a time. As once I get to the bottom, all will be ok.
And round the corner
The icy staircase continues again. And this is the point I realised I had committed myself. After taking a minute to brace myself, I grasped the handrails tightly and began my descent. I’ve never been so happy to see the end of a staircase as this one. Luckily after this the going became uneventful underfoot and more pleasurable. So after a good few hours of cold weather hiking and ice navigation, I was so glad to see the visitor centre at the bus stop.
Finishing with coffee and cake
Every good hike should be rounded off with coffee and cakes in my view. I had enough time to enjoy a snack before the next bus, and reflect on my experiences. Happy was my main emotion, I was so glad I overcame the barriers and persevered out in the cold. Now is the point where I admit I knew I took risks, but I was comfortable with them. I feel life is an adventure that needs a few risks. It’s only by putting yourself in these situations you can see if you will sink or swim. Whilst I love my comfort zone, getting out of it is nice occasionally.
Applying to Investing
Do you know what? All these ideas can also be applied to investing.
- Be prepared – Do your homework, read, read and read more until you fully understand and can explain different investing approaches and their pros and cons
- Make decisions – Once you have prepared, you have to make a decision. Choose an investing approach that suits your personal circumstance
- Understand and take risks – investing in the stock market always involves risk. You will not see good returns without taking risks.
Over to you
- Are you also a hiking fan?
- Are you a fan of risky activities?
- Would you have carried on in the ice?