I’ve been a runner since I was young. From cross-country meets in school to big city marathons including New York, Paris and Boston, I’ve covered a lot of ground. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself drawn to wilder places. In 2012, I moved from Vancouver to Helsinki to complete my Masters in Media Studies. Somewhat unexpectedly, I found in Finland’s vast wilderness, an inspiring companion for exploring.
Running has taken me to wonderful places, and is often the impetus for travel. While living in Finland I have run and raced through some of the most iconic scenery in the country, through vast, untrodden and uncluttered fells and forests. I have come to know that there is nothing more invigorating than being able to experience a wondrous natural place without the interference of technological distraction. Whether it’s called “unplugging” or “reconnecting,” it serves as a reminder to focus and invest in what matters the most.
Recently I spent a week trekking through the most remote part of northern Finland, the Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area. This stunningly quiet and beautiful place is entirely devoid of conveniences and contrivances. Even reindeer-herder cabins, the only human constructions in the area, are hundreds of kilometres apart.
I traveled with my Finnish father-in-law who regularly makes the 1000 km trip north to live more simply, more intentionally. I get the impression that in the wild he is most comfortable; fishing, trekking, contemplating. While we shared only a few words during our time together, we came to understand each other better. It was as though the wilderness facilitated our connection with each other.
It is a rare thing today to truly leave the frenetic pace of life behind and enter a world unconcerned and unencumbered with expectation, simply moving as it does, as it always has. This is why I explore, to replenish my soul.
Words and images by Icebreaker Fan, Matt Mitchell
Check out more of Matthew’s adventures on instagram, @hamiltonguevara