March 2018
News from Norway

Dear lovers of the wilds, fellows, friends!

For the first time in months, the snow begins to thaw in the warm midday sun. Fresh snowfalls still add new layers to a long winter’s snow masses, and cover old animal tracks. However, more and more tracks show up and prove an increasing animal activity. The change of seasons has begun. Spring is near.

Today’s topics:

Forest camp Brother Bear : Sweden - Tracking and Nature Connection (picture)

FOREST CAMP Brother Bear : Sweden

At the time when Nordic spring reaches its high, the greens unfold, young animals explore the world, and the days don’t end, we will set up camp in the Swedish brown bears’ land. We’ll study the bears’ tracks with keen senses, get insights into their ways of life, and discover their wisdom for ourselves.

It is exactly the right place and time to find and study bears’ tracks: Since awakening from hibernation, a she-bear and her cubs will have lived in the surroundings of their winter den more than one month, and they’ll have made an abundance of tracks. The bears will have left the area and moved on shortly before our arrival. Thus we will not disturb the bears, and nevertheless be able to study their tracks and lives extensively.

Recently my curiosity about the bears has been fired up when I heard of the she-bears’ strategy to protect their cubs against enemies by searching proximity to human settlements. To form an alliance with the enemy of my enemy is a well-known survival means. But how do the bears succeed in raising their cubs so close to people, without being discovered by them?

This is one of the many fascinating questions which we’ll try to figure out during the week. Again we’ll get an introduction and temporary company by the researchers of the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project. We’ll go deep into a sensory awareness training, holistic tracking and animal imitation. And we’ll reflect our own lives in the light of the new-won knowledge and experiences.

‘Brother Bear’ will be held in German as communication language, but you’re welcome as an English speaker as well (translation can be provided, if agreed in advance). For detailed information in English please take contact here:

For additional information about the Scandinavian Brown Bears, browse the Newsletter-Archives.

Tracking in the snow: wolverine and red fox (picture)

Messages from the Predators (2)

The tracks of a big predator, let alone the animal itself, tell about a vibrant life energy which can lead us to our limits, and can help us grow beyond. This is what today’s part of the series is about. Moreover, there’s a tip about a unique wolf documentation from Switzerland.

Last month, on the ‘Nordic Winter Backcountry Skiing Tour’. We’ve just reached the tree line. In front of us a plateau opens out whose expanse is yet hidden behind the gently rising terrain. Between some last solitairy spruces a fresh animal trail runs along in the loose snow. Footprints, as big that my hand can just cover it. Long claws have dug into the snow, five in every paw. Pressing our hands just as deep into the snow gives us an impression of the remarkable weight of the animal. The track pattern is a bit irregular, the paws lie together in groups of three or four, while the groups are evenly spread in the trail’s course, about one big human step apart from each other.

So the trail winds its way in slight swings. Behind us it rises between the trees to the next hill, in front of us it comes down from another height. We follow it up there, to the latter height. Even if it doesn’t run straight ahead, the trail seems to be made with a determined mind, underlined by the steady rhythm of its course. Only once on this rather long stretch the rhythm is interrupted. Having stopped up suddenly, the animal’s paws have slided, the footprints are distorted and the loose snow pushed up in front of them. Then the animal seems to have ducked down on the ground – it has left a St Bernard-size imprint in the snow. Whatever had made it do so, the animal has immediately moved on without showing any confusion. Finally, we arrive on the hilltop, our look wanders unhindered about the softly dropping, open landscape. With the eyes we follow the trail into the distance, where it finally disappears between the trees.

A week later I am on a skiing tour for myself, lured by the weather and the mountains. I am climbing again, letting behind the fogs in the valley. On the horizon I can see the plateau on which I stood lately with the group. Once more I bump into fresh tracks, showing the same features like the one before. Again I keep close to the trail on a long stretch upwards, even if I cannot always follow it directly through gruff and rocky areas. No matter how precipitous and impassable the terrain is, the animal has moved nimbly and quickly, whether trotting, gallopig or jumping. From the summit I see the trail once more disappear in the distance between flattening hills.

Another week has passed. Again I am alone on a skiing tour. To the east and to the south I can make out the mountains of both earlier tours far away at the horizon. During the ascent I bump again into fresh tracks, obviously made by the same species as before. It might even have been the exact same animal, as the tracks are alike in all their details, and considering the huge size of these animals’ territories. At first the trail looks as straight and purposefully made as usual. Passing along a frayed edge of a forest, however, it starts dancing and circling around, so I hardly can keep an overview. I am not the only one interested in this play: two red foxes followed the trail already before me. This makes me entertain a suspicion. For about hundred steps on, the track runs straight again. Then suddenly it darts sideways, but immediately doubles back in to leaps under a young pine tree, with such an impact that broken pine shoots lie scattered on the ground. The space below the pine is trampled, and was also examined by the foxes. Behind the pine, the trail appears again, only to lead a few steps farther onto another trampled area. A few skin scraps interspersed in ball of fine, white hair is all what’s left of the meal which took place here. And there are some droppings, yellowish, hairy, twisted and pointed. The foxes were here, too, but it doesn’t look like they’d got a share. The trail of my – meanwhile I can say – new acquaintance winds further through the landscape, still followed by the foxes. Dusk is falling, hence, I give up the trail.

Returning the next day, I cross fresh tracks of my new friend several times already on the way in. I try to get an overview of the animals’ movements, and like I now examine the area, the animal seems to have done the same earlier that day. However, my efforts remain fragmentary, the animal’s trails stretch beyond my range of action again and again, and I see myself unable to tie the loose ends together. I can only sense how they are linked together, and I continously sense the presence of the animal.

The big predators push me to my limits and beyond, concerning perseverance, quickness, knowledge of place, local attachment, keenness of the senses and a lot more. What fascinates me most is the energy which still lies about the tracks even if the animal has passed long ago. Wolves, bears, wolverines or lynxes make us feel how vibrant life energy should be, and what it actually means to be alive. How much do we need this experience where we are about to atrophy behind our screens? I am deeply grateful for the challenges and teachings the big predators give us.

To learn from these animals, assumes to spend time, quality time, in their presence. One who has dedicated his life to the wolves is Peter Dettling. The nature photographer and filmmaker has documented the return of the wolves to Switzerland in a four-year project. If you’re interested, look here: peterdettling.com

Back to the Wild: Reconnect with nature, reconnect with yourself! (picture)

Back to the Wild

Without bringing it to notice earlier, I have developed a new offer in cooperation with international partners. ‘Back to the Wild’ is about self-awareness in the context of survival and living in the wilds. For the upcoming spring date my partners have now provided an English description.

Reconnect with nature, reconnect with yourself!

Back to the Wild is a journey into raw nature. No disturbance from WiFi, work or whatsapp. Nature guides us in the journey – when we catch something we eat fish, when it rains, we get wet. Nature may trigger new insights, provoke (disturbing) questions or could even transform you. What the impact will be for you, is something you can only find out for yourself.

Find out more:

Wilderness tours in Norway: hiking along a lake (picture)

Wilderness Tours in Summer


The wilderness tours during summer are the real classics in my programme. If you just want to experience the wilderness of the North, both the ‘Nordic Summer Canoeing Experience’ and the ‘Nordic Nature Trekking Experience’ are a good choice.

The summer season between July and September gives you the choice: you can enjoy the exuberant energy of midsummer with long days and bright nights, the time of the ripening berries, which is nourishing for body and mind, or the transition to autumn, when the land lights up in beautiful colours before dark time takes over.

Look out for more information in the Newsletter-Archives, there is a video clip about the canoeing tour and other interesting posts.

Detailed descriptions can be found here:

Winter in Norway: Skiing tours, ski trekking, winter camps (picture)

Winter 2018 – Winter 2019

A fantastic, snow-rich winter is going to come to an end. And here’s already a review about our experiences of hitting and moving limits, dependences and freedom. And an outlook on the next winter’s dates with three different programmes.

Dependence and Freedom
12.feb.2018 Back from this season’s first NORDIC WINTER Backcountry Skiing Tour. We still feel wind and cold in our bones, compensated by the cosy warmth of the fires, inside our lodge and outdoors at camp. The infinity of earth and sky, the security of a close fellowship. An experience which both shows how vulnerable and dependent we are, as how secure and free we still can be. May the forces of nature be raging, are there others to protect and support us. A wonderful and valuable experience!

Hitting limits, moving limits
25.feb.2018 Feather light powder snow, snowy forests, sunlit mountains, pure winter magic: this was the latest NORDIC WINTER Backcountry Skiing Tour. Even if this sounds like a carefree experience, we hit limits every now and then. Skiing with the heels free? On skis which go just straight on? Tour legs with a heavy backpack? How to rest in deep snow? Even gathering water and firewood on skis? Taking a shower in the snow? Sleeping outside in an icy night? Leaving a warm sleeping bag and meeting the biting cold? How to navigate in spite of perceptional gaps? Detecting animal tracks and memorizing them? What seemed to be merely impossible in the beginning, became the most natural things to do in no time. We’ve moved supposedly insurmountable limits and gained a lot more freedom. What could be more satisfying?

Winter dates 2019
The appointments for next winter are already made. If you’re tempted by winter experiences, here you can get them! Have a look at my schedule, or read the detailed tour and course descriptions:

Electronic Connections

More and more people are in contact with Wilderness Life. Building these connections was, and is a good piece of work which also you have contributed to with your recommendations. Now there are some innovations to make taking contact easier and to deepen existing connections.

The most important innovation is certainly the conversion of my website to ‘https’. It should now be easier to find and load faster. All data transfer is now encrypted. When taking contact or booking online, all input is secured, and can only be read by yourself and me. Even if these aren’t highly sensitive data, your e-mail address or eating habits aren’t any third party’s business. It might have happened that the site wasn’t available for some of you during the conversion process. I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Another innovation is about the newsletter. Up to now the issues weren’t available but through an e-mail link. Once deleted, you had to register anew, if you wanted to read it once more. Here is the good news: Shortly, I’ve installed a direct link to the newsletter archives in the main menu. Even many older posts are worth (re-)reading: Newsletter-Archives. Have fun!

Otherwise, the website is developing step by step. In the schedule you find now all the fixed dates, no matter which language. This makes things easier for the multilingual people among you, and if you want to book customized tours and courses outside the fixed programme, you can check my availability already in the schedule.

I’d like to thank you again for making Wilderness Life known to more people. My audience has grown steadily, thanks to all your contributions! Even if I now suspend my charity campaign* provisionally, I’m continously grateful for any recommendations. Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.

Everybody who’s interested can sign up for the newsletter here:

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I wish you a wonderful springtime full of nature connection! All the best!

Kind regards from Norway

Thoralf

Winter in Norway: Skiing tours, ski trekking tours, winter camps (picture)

* I provisionally suspend my charity campaign* in favour of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Perhaps you want to support their important work on your own. Here’s the internet address: ienearth.org/

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