Woman and Snow

Growth comes from taking risks – a snowy trail adventure

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!

Be prepared

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.

Getting There

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

Snowy pathNavigating 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

More snow

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.

Decision point

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?

9 comments on “Growth comes from taking risks – a snowy trail adventure

  1. What gorgeous photos. I’m a little more cautious on the hiking side (by having a buddy to go with me), but I’d definitely hike those trails. I love taking public transit in new places, and I so wish everywhere had such a great system!

    1. Sadly they are stock photos, but they look exactly like it did there. I do need to get a camera, my phone camera is pants and I usually borrow my mums although she does live 300 miles away!

      It was an epic adventure, I still can’t believe how easy it was to get there. You know the bus goes somewhere cool when people get on with their skis.

  2. Wow, go you ms solo! I love hiking as well although not nearly as fit as you due to a health condition but would definitely be up for one of those hikes albeit with my hubby, don’t think I could do solo. Totally not a risk fan at all – too institutionalised as a lifetime civil servant 🙁

    However when it comes to investing, having done loads of research in earlier years I identified that I just wasn’t up for the job of researching individual stocks so went the Vanguard Lifestrategy route. It suits our needs and my risk tolerances. Have also dipped a big toe in P2P and am taking more risk with this by not going the Zopa route but the higher asset backed lenders without provision funds. Mainly as a way to diversify and give us a little passive income.

    Staircase sounds awful but a challenge that had to be done – I would have done it but had the panic mid way same as you!

    1. Thanks timeinthemarket, they aren’t my photos but they are a good representation of what it really looked like. That’s great you also love hiking, it’s a fab hobby all round in my opinion.

  3. HUGE Hiking fan here. I try to go every weekend and find a new trail to explore. Everything from snow to ice…it makes it a bit more exciting.

    I really enjoyed reading your breakdown of the journey. So relatable and spot on. Especially the coffee and cake. 😉 Although I always crave a burger after a major hike. If you ever head to the PNW I will have some recommendations for hiking and snowshoeing.

    1. Hi Bethany, yeah, more hiking fans. I’m amazed you get out every weekend, I need to start upping my hiking game – I’m much more fair weather than you. I should take inspiration from Mr Wainwright and get the right kit for horrendous rain.

      Ah, I want to try snowshoeing – was going to for this trip, but decided on the trails instead as snowshoeing would need to go off piste, and I like adventure, but not getting lost.

What do you think?