The Story of A Backwoodsman

Wilderness Guide Teijo Haapakoski and his Drum by Kapeenkoski rapid.
Photo: Mikko Suutala

How did I come to be a nature and wilderness guide and a paddling instructor? Let me tell you.

As a little boy scout I was about to embark on my first real trek to Skibotn, Norway in 1975. I had earned the trip by winning the troop championship in scouting skills. I was a little excited, but a glorious future lied ahead.

My time in boy scouts taught me both wilderness skills and responsibility. We always looked after our buddies. Little did I know that those buddies would become my clients later in life. And being able to lead treks successfully with those clients means everything to me as a wilderness guide.

Before becoming a wilderness guide I worked in the Finnish Air Force as an aircraft mechanic. My sense of responsibility and customer service skills helped me to take care of both the planes and the passengers. We also learned how to survive in case of an emergency: In a simulated scenario, we had to use our skills and the equipment at hand to get from a crashed plane to the road in all conditions – even in Lapland. We foraged our food from nature, in which the teachings of my uncle came handy.

My final turning point in life was when I was studying for my degree in forestry entrepreneurship. A group of wilderness and nature guide students stood on the schoolyard, ready to go into the woods to learn.

I decided that I wanted to be part of that group. When my career in the Air Force was over, that desire became a reality. I applied for the education, and got in.

Later on, I also began my studies for a degree in entrepreneurship. In the spring of 2017 I was finally both a graduated wilderness and nature guide and an entrepreneur. At that time, I also founded my own company.

During my studies, I realized that many of the things I had learned were quite handy: scouting and first aid skills, language skills, being able to get around in nature, customer skills and so on.

Although my metaphorical backpack had already many things in it, I still felt that it wasn’t enough. I wanted to learn more about wild herbs and plant life. As a drift boat operator, I could take my clients to the rapids safely, and as a rental boat operator to other waters as well.

My journey as a wilderness and nature guide entrepreneur has begun. You are most welcome to join me on my trips!

Yours Truly, Teijo