Explorer of Nature Romet Vaino: Chaga is a bridge that connects people to nature

We are on a walk with nature explorer Romet Vaino, in September. We sometimes become acoustically aware of common buzzards or shy wild animals that, sensing our proximity, start running away. Romet represents most deeply what some more openly than others in today’s, superficiality yearn for – simple proximity to nature and the courage to move toward our true self and dreams.

We are just a few minutes into our walk on the most beautiful and colourful autumn morning, when Romet notices chaga or the sterile conk trunk rot of birch on a birch tree. “Some acquaintances send me messages that I found chaga in the forest. For the proof of which I ask for a picture. Usually, what I receive in response, is a picture of an ordinary bracket mushroom,” says Romet Vaino, an organiser of nature hikes. “Chaga is often confused with the birch polypore but they are not one and the same. There is the subject with the birch polypore that the folk name for it, is misleading. Chaga is the conk rot of birch,” adds Romet Vaino, a friend of nature and manager of Metaloodus.

Cooperation with Chaga Health elixirs

The reason why today we are talking about chaga among other topics, is his cooperation with the company Chaga OÜ that has specialised in the production of Estonian health products. The given domestic production located in Tõrva, produces Chaga Health elixirs, combining the wisdom of our forefathers with contemporary technology.

“This is a new subject for me, as I never have thought about myself as an influencer. I organise my hikes and take photos of nature as that is the lifestyle I want to follow. Any cooperation must match what I do on a daily basis and what I believe in,” Romet ponders.

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On the road

Put in the simplest way, Romet organises hikes into nature and shares his proximity to nature in words as well as pictures. Despite him today being able to describe being a hiking guide as his principal activity, it took a considerable amount of time to reach his calling.

The young man reached a point of internal confusion on how to move on with life, when the unexpected moment of finishing military service and university were upon him: “I felt that although I like nature very much, I must make the decision to leave my childhood. I remember my thoughts at that time, on how adult persons do not have time for going into nature. What I strongly sensed in some way was the fitting into the flow and pressure of society,” recalls Romet about the internal contradiction between his dreams and reality years ago.

It also happened quite soon that the work the man having studied environmental management did, in different positions became boring and routine: “I found myself thinking, is this really it? That I repeat it as if with infinity and so it is.”

The inner dissatisfaction of Romet kept growing and the feeling and suspicion deepened. “I did not realise at that time very well what was actually happening with me,” Romet discusses.

Sign language

Concerning the rest by briefly summarising, then involved were most classical burnout and anxiety attacks. Romet started from that moment on greatly changing his behaviour and thinking. Also began the recognition and growing into what he is doing today. “I felt that what I was doing professionally did not interest me at all. Of course, I did not start doing nature stuff overnight, I did, however, start going into nature more consciously. Initially in the evenings after work and on weekends, when there was spare time. My writings were from time to time praised at work. The thought emerged that although I had not studied writing, these ideas could also be written into a blog. Perhaps that would help gently getting used to the thought that at one point that is something that I will actually be doing?” recalls Romet those questions he asked himself.

Bungee jump and the required move

In January 2016 Romet started writing his blog. It took a year and a half until he organised the first hike. Such a hike as the ones he is doing today. “My story and way to reach nature is sort of comparable to a bungee jump, when you wait on the edge, but in the end, someone must give that friendly nudge. Life played the cards into my hand for that,” describes Romet the situation in which the employer of that time, very unexpectedly due to problems, had the need for redundancies. “I sensed that as the sign that it is now time for nature.”

“See, there too is a decent piece of conk rot,” stops Romet suddenly in the middle of the forest and indicates a birch towering in front of us. “See, up there is also. Quite many pieces. That is a good yield that is seen seldom. There is usually one piece on the tree, but something like this is found very rarely.”

Chaga as a mysterious mushroom

Romet has collected chaga himself when being in the woods. Especially in autumn and winter, when nights are long and dark. “It is a bit of a mysterious mushroom. Today we encountered the chaga, but that is not always the case. If there is luck while being on a hike and when preparing the meal, I keep it in warm water until the water turns pitch black. For me that is the meeting of the healthy and philosophical side. You are in that environment and chaga is a bridge that connects a person to nature. Especially in this world in which many products reach our table having grown in a closed system. It is refreshing when you can consume something that was just now found in the woods. I have a belief in chaga. I feel that I can show that from where in the world chaga reaches that bottle. Such a background story.”

Currently Romet visits bogs the most: “It still seems for many scary that you put on snowshoes and go alone into an unknown bog. It is for this reason that our bogs are still rare places.”

When at the time of starting to organise nature hikes, summer was the main season in which people observed nature and hiked with Romet, then by today corona has dislocated these cycles. There is a desire to go into nature at all times.

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The tundra awaits

The hikes of Romet are joined by young as well as old people, private persons as well as companies with their team events. One thing that Romet has noticed is that contemporary smart world people are no longer capable of sensing geographical space. “You type an address into the phone, there are signposts everywhere and when you come to the bog that is, for example, accompanied by 40 minutes of spare time, in which I prepare a meal, people no longer know what to do with this freedom,” tells Romet about how we have become increasingly more estranged from nature.

Currently at the beginning of October, Romet has gone alone to the tundra for two weeks. To meet the last primeval nature of Europe that is difficult to access and where there is no mobile coverage. As hiking companions are moose and bear, roaming the river valleys.

“I am not taking along any soft drinks there with me. The elixir of Chaga Health in the new innovative soft packaging is precisely the product to take along on such a trip and with which to give your body a boost,” says Romet.

The author of the nature photos is Romet Vaino.