How do you build snow caves or make snow shoes? How do you read animal tracks? We took a closer look in the district of Starnberg with survival trainer Tatjana Falk.
Survival Training in Winter
It’s cold, wet and a bit slippery. But the weather is not a problem for the participants of all ages taking part in the winter survival training. They are far too busy following a trail. It leads through the snowy landscape near Starnberg towards the forest. The paw prints of an animal are clear to see. Probably a fox on the prowl. The snow makes it much easier to identify paw and hoof prints.
Wilderness instructor Tatjana Falk immediately knows what animal has made these tracks. The forest has become her second home. She feels safe here, knows her way around and is happy. It is precisely this feeling that she together with her husband, Momme Torsten, passes on to participants in her nature and wilderness school, Waapiti.
The Forest in Winter – a Special Challenge
It takes a certain skill and knowledge to be out and about in the forest for any length of time in the winter: reading tracks is part of that. Participants also learn what dangers they may face in the cold months and how best to protect themselves against them.
They learn how to build a snow hole, how to start a life-saving fire in winter and what food the forest has to offer. In order to move more easily through the snow, they fashion snow shoes out of natural materials.
Tatjana and Momme Torsten Falk teach the course participants everything they need to know to feel safe out of doors. They help them push their boundaries in the cold and get out of their comfort zones.
“The participants learn which skills will save their lives outside in the winter and which animals there are in the surrounding forest. For our guests that’s always extremely exciting,” explains the wilderness instructor.
Back to the Wilderness, Back to Happiness
Even as a child, Tatjana Falk was always fascinated by nature. She used to spent lots of time in the forest, picking flowers and helping her grandmother in the garden.
“Today I’m still doing exactly the same things I was doing at the age of six: I always loved being out in the forest – and now I love it even more. At one stage I wanted to become a carpenter – now I make wooden bows and weave baskets,” says the wilderness instructor, her eyes shining.
For around 20 years she worked in an office. But she realised that this work was not good for her. “By training to be a wilderness instructor I found my way back to the forest – and to happiness. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Tatjana says.
Winter survival, bow making, mushroom seminars and basket weaving – the wilderness instructor and her husband offer a range of different courses for adults and children. They also go to a lot of seminars and training courses themselves. But most of all they learn in the forest itself, by observing the flora and fauna.
"You can’t get this knowledge from a book, you have to experience it yourself"
"You can’t get this knowledge from a book, you have to experience it yourself," asserts Tatjana Falk. Only in this way can she and all her participants really experience the forest with all their senses.
They smell the trees and the earth. They listen to the singing of the birds and the rustling of the bushes where the deer are hiding. They feel the fresh air and notice how they gradually gain a sense of inner peace and satisfaction. “When I get involved in the natural world around me, I also get to grips with my inner self,” explains the wilderness instructor.
Wilderness Courses: Feeling at Home in Nature
This sense of happiness that comes from being at one with nature in the forest is something that Tatjana Falk passes on to the participants in her courses. It moves her to see her guests getting close to nature, opening up their hearts and being overcome with emotion to the point of tears.
“It’s lovely to be able to accompany people on their journey back to nature,” explains Tatjana Falk. It’s a path full of thrilling moments involving intensive impressions and experiences on the way to inner peace.
More about Tatjana's wilderness school Waapiti at waapiti.com (only in German)