Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ode to Finland!

Backpacking and nearly anything outdoors is a hobby of mine, one which quite literally keeps me sane from otherwise long work weeks and stresses of life that would otherwise likely swallow me whole. Because it is a hobby, it means I have limited time to devote to it. For the time I do have, I strive to use my time wisely.

One of the ways I supplement my interest is through online resources such as blogs or backpacking forums. I'm always very appreciative when I stumble across a site that brings with it clarity of thought, conciseness of language, a sense of humor, and content consisting of original thought. It is this assessment that led me to be a regular lurker to Hiking In Finland ( run by Hendrik Morkel, a self-described entrepreneur of an environmental management consulting company. Aside from his top notch website with the features I already mentioned, he supplements his content with excellent pictures, trip reports, and comments on first-hand gear choices which I personally appreciate. And let's face it, the guy can grow an impressive beard. Hendrik must be on to something considering Forbes magazine rated Finland just behind Norway and Denmark as the "World's Happiest Countries".

Late in 2010, Hendrik was kind enough to offer up a couple of Kupilka cups to his readers. The Kupilka, to my understanding, is a mainstay in the pack of many bearded guys living in Finland. I personally love these kinds of traditions for many reasons. I think the world scoots along at a pace which often leaves many unable to reflect on the past and appreciate the present. Much of life has become disposable and each generation seems to push further and further away from fundamental ethical boundaries and the practices of their ancestors. In some cases this is necessary and welcomed, in others - it's a shame. Aside from the inherent functionality, carrying the Kupilka expresses a nice nostalgic and respectful sentiment while perhaps introspectively acknowledging the simplicity of nature and those that came before us.

Much to the surprise of someone who quite literally has never "won" anything (me), Hendrik informed me that I had won one of the Kupilka cups. Within a few weeks, sure enough it was on my doorstep complete with a Finnish postcard, Swedish hot chocolate, and a peppermint liqueur made in Finland. In as much as I appreciate the generosity to ship something like this across the pond, I more greatly appreciate the sentiment that came with it and the education of the cup, the culture, and the tradition.

So publicly - thanks Hendrik! I used the Kupilka for the first time in a late December snow. Not being a regular snow camper nor one to bring anything other than a single cooking cup, it was quite welcoming to have a secondary cup which enabled me to forgo the use of freezer bags to scoop my meal. About 10pm that night, shortly before bed, I raised the Kupilka in a north easternly direction to pay homage to a good man, with a good blog, in an intriguing country.

Visit Hendrik at Thanks Hendrik.

1 comment:

Hendrik Morkel said...

I'm a bit late, though not less thankful for this wonderful post! I shall hurry, brew a hot chocolate with Minttu and raise my cup in a south-western direction and have a toast on the original, impeccable lightweight and ultralight backpacking blog! Cheers =)