Korpijaakko

- my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Rowernighter – Trip Report and Competition

You know all these fancy names for simple trip that includes spending the night in the woods, hills or other wild(ish) place? S24h, microadventure, extreme sleeps, Browernighter and the like. Well, last week I decided to go for a one as I needed to treat my chronic post-trip hangover.

The summer in Finland is at its best with blue skies, sunshine and warm days and nights. And as I happen to live by a big lake (just nominated as one of the five most beautiful lakes in the world by WSJ) a trip to the lake was the way to go. The summer is always best by the proximity of water. At the moment my packraft is in good use somewhere in Lapland and I don’t own a kayak or canoe but that didn’t even slow me… I had an access to a simple rowboat and a friend willing to take up a pair of oars!

Rowernighter to Riutanniemi

We started in the afternoon with the most important thing: shopping. The food seems to always play a major role on the short overnighter near home and this time wasn’t an exception. Well stocked with equipment and food we headed to the shores of Western parts of Lake Saimaa and found the boat we were looking for. A boat, two sets of oars, a bailer but no PFDs. I highly recommend wearing PFDs when on the waters but we decided the lack of floatation devices would not stop us the weather was quite good, water was warm, there were two of us and the boat would float even if filled with water.

We cleaned and loaded the boat and set of around 6 pm.

The plan was to row to Mielakanranta, which was new to us, and spend the night there. We rowed the little under 10 kilometers in little over two hours, mostly into head wind, fueling ourselves with chocolate bars and beers on the go. The place at Mielakanranta was nice but judging from the amount of cars and boats we thought it might be little too busy for our taste and decided to continue into old and familiar lean-to shelter at Riutanniemi.

Even though rowing is quite easy we really felt the last kilometers as neither of us has ever done any serious rowing,or any rowing during this year. We took frequent photo and snack breaks admiring the sunset on the lake. I took photos with my Canon EOS 6D while my friend was shooting with his new Samsung Galaxy S5 which had incredibly good built-in HDR function: no candy shop colour horrors, just a great dynamic range with resolution higher than in my full frame camera! Very reasonable camera for shorter adventures which made me feel the need to upgrade my phone…

Finally we arrived at the shore, unloaded the gear and pulled the boat up high on the rocks. There were no people at the lean-to, only few mosquitoes and even those didn’t bother us untill late in the evening. We were hungry and had loads of food so we set up the kitchen and started with beers. In the spirit of Brovernighter we had brought some quality brews from Brewdog – of course in an insulated box with ice to keep them cold. Along with a barbecue and coals as open fires were restricted at the time. And fresh food and wine. The weights don’t really matter when you’re out with a boat.

Beers, tapas with toasted ciabatta, grilled pork and chicken with red bell peppers and vegetables, red wine, grilled peaches with whipped cream for dessert followed with irish coffee and some more irish coffee and whiskey when we ran out of coffee… We were spoilt, and properly stuffed.

The moon was shining bright and the night was beautiful and tranquil but the increasing bug density made relaxing in the hammock difficult so we pitched a tent for a good nights sleep and slipped inside. Sleeping bags weren’t really necessary in that weather but helped cushioning the ground.

After good but short night’s sleep the sun woke us up early but we decided to ignore it covering our heads with clothes and continued sleeping little longer. Quite a lot longer actually.

After lazy morning and late breakfast it was time to pack up, load the boat once again and head back home. And this time with a nice tailwind! We covered the 13 kilometers back home in 2 hours 20 minutes with little breaks, mostly rowing and occasionally trying to use a hammock as a sail. The latter didn’t work too well so I guess I’ll have to invest in a proper sail. We  managed to dodge a rumbling thunder front with our fast pace and before we even noticed the trip was over.

It was a nice trip with an old friend but, as I was afraid, it didn’t really help with the post-trip hangover. It’s chronic now. Rowing was fun and I’d like to try a “proper rowboat” with gliding seat and all. That should be a lot faster and maybe even more fun. Maybe next summer… And I definitely need to get a hammock with a bug net. And maybe a sail. And I need to get out on a trip again…

Reader Competition

Rowing has been traditionally very important mean of travel in the land of thousand lakes and big rowing events are still very popular but I’ve never encountered anyone on a longer trip with a rowboat or hadn’t done one myself, not even an overnighter. But this is time to change! Rowboats are (at least in Finland) readily available and underrated resource that can take you on a nice trip. about everybody know somebody who has a rowboat. So maybe you should also find a boat you can use and go for a little trip? It’s summer out there and it’s very beautiful.

 

To further encourage people to go for a Rowernighter I’m giving away a little price for the first three to report their Rowernighter online. I don’t have much to give away but the first three to report their trips will get a pouch of BlåBand Expedition Meal breakfast delivered to their mail box for free, and in addition you get to go on a nice trip! The rules are quite simple:

1. You have to go for a trip using a rowboat. Trip must last at least overnight but longer trips are also fine. Any trip during the year 2014 will do.
2. You must report the trip online with at least one photo and some text. Any language will do.
3. Post a link to your report or the report itself as a comment to this post.
4. THe first three people to submit their Rowernighter trip reports will get a free meal. (I’ll start sending these out on Monday 11.08.14).
5. Competition is valid untill the three meals are gone or by the end on 2014. Naturally trip reports are always welcome!

Please, wear PFDs and take care of ourself, fellow outdoor adventurers and the nature!

 

 

Quality kit for sale

As usual big expedition are not good for your bank account. And to avoid personal bankruptcy I’m selling some kit I’m not using enough to justify owning it. Most of it is winter kit but as you know, the winter is right around the corner and now is a good time to stock for the colder season.

Unrelated scenery photo from the Greenland crossing expedition.

I can send items to anywhere in Europe but buyer pays the shipping (unless you buy in bulk, then we can negotiate). Payment preferably by bank transfer but Paypal works also. Questions and reservations via comments or e-mail to jaakko_heikka@hotmail.com.

Photos of each item can be found from my gallery.

Cumulus double sleeping bag

A tailor-made double sleeping bag system from Cumulus made of the top materials with great quality. Nothing unnecessary making it incredibly light for the warmth.
- Excusitic 1200 down sleeping bag, lengthened by 16cm making enough room to store kit in the footend for 180-190cm user. Slim fit, 186cm/100kg man still fits inside but there’s not much extra room. 1890 grams with 1280 g of down. Used for 6 nights.
- Tailor-made Climashield Apex filled synthetic overbag. Synthetic overbag with perfect fit over the down bag to add warmth and help control moisture. Pertex Endurance outer, 2x67g/sqm Climashield Apex filling ans Pertex Quantum inner. Full length two-way YKK zipper. 980 g making it nice stand-alone summer bag. New & unused with tags.
- Prices for new bags 580 euros + 205 euros. My price for the set 600 euros.

BC ski boots

Alpina BC1550, size 41. Used for about 100km, great conditions. 80 eur.

BC ski boots

Madshus Glittertind, size 48. New & unused with tags. Good fit for size 46-47 feet with warm double socks creating very warm combination. 120 eur.

Sold! Sole insoles

New & unused Sole insoles, sizes 41 and 46. 10 euros per pair.

Sold!  Down trousers

Nahanny Down Trousers, sixe XL, yellow&black. Used a few times, good as new. Tailor made super warm down trousers suitable for serious Arctic expedition or high mountains, or just for the dead of winter in Lapland. Waterproof/breathable fabric both on the outside and inside. Zipped kangaroo pocket, separating two-way side zips (i.e. drop seat function), etc. 150 eur.

Insulated skirt

“The Manly Red Skirt”, orange. Used a few times, good as new. Tailor made insulated skirt with light windproof nylon and 60g/sqm Primaloft Sport. Separating #5 YKK zipper and draw-cords on both ends. Only 173 grams! Great easy-to-use extra warmth for colder trips. Little too small for 186cm/100kg man, should fit slender users. 60 eur.

Insulated jacket

Rab Generator Jacket, size XL, black. Couple of years old but hasn’t seen much use. Small hole in the lining inside one of the pockets (not compromising the insulation). Great as standalone from late Nordic winter to late autumn but works also in deep winter when combined with thick fleece or insulated vest.  70 eur.

Merino wool shirt & pants

Guahoo Outdoor Heavy merinowool shirt & pants. New & unused, still in the box.
- turtleneck shirt, black, size XL, closer to normal size L. 30e ur.
- pants, black, size XXL, closer to normal size XL. 30 eur.
- pants, black, size XXXL, closer to normal size XL/XXL. 30 eur.

Sold! Coldavenger mask (reserved)

Coldavenger Snow Hunter Balaclava. New & unused, still in the box. It actually works! I have the black version in use so selling this. 40 eur.

Sold! Backpack

Golite Odyssey Womens, 78 liters, size M, blue. New & used but tags not attached.  78 liters and 1420 g. 120 eur.

Freezedried breakfasts

Blå Band Expedition meal “Mixed Flakes with Fruit” breakfast i.e. müesli with fruit.
- 1 bag, 4 eur
- 5 bags, 17,50 eur
- 20 bags, 60 eur

Sold! Headlamp

Petzl Tikka 2 headlamp, purple. New & unused, still in the box. COmes with Duracel AAA batteries. 25 eur.

Wide angle lens for Canon

Samyang 14mm F2,8 ED AS IF UMC for Canon. From 2011 but in great condition. Served me well with the crop frame but after moving to full frame camera I haven’t been happy with the image quality in the far corners so selling this. Comes with original packaging and accessories. 240 eur. I may consider Canon EF 16-35 2,8 II or EF 70-200 4 L (IS) in exchange.

Sompio Kiilopää Outdoor map

Sompio Kiilopää Outdoor Map, 1:50000 scale, from 2002 byt WSOY/Genimap. In excellent condition and comes with the original plastic cover. Good map for the Kiilopää and Nattaset area with all the trails, shelters, huts, etc. 10 eur including postage.

 

Getting over the expedition hangover

The blog has been quiet for about two months. That’s a long time. Of that time I’ve spent about five weeks on my longest expedition yet, skiing 27 days across the Greenland icecap. It was a wonderful tour and I had great time. But the price to pay seems to be the worst expedition hangover I’ve ever had. Some sort of post-trip torpor is typical to me but this time it feels exceptionally bad.

Yours truly enjoying life at the Greenland icecap. Photo by Matias Utriainen.

Yours truly enjoying life at the Greenland icecap. Photo by Matias Utriainen.

I was physically fine after the trip. I had to catch some sleep and took it easy for the first couple of weeks after the skiing but I lost only 2 kg of weight and it was solely fat so my body was fine. I didn’t have any bigger aches except for minor cold damage on the tips of my middle fingers and big toes but basically after a week of rest I was ready to go and ski cross the thing again.

And actually, I was also mentally more than eager to return to the simple life on the icecap. Back home I was initially interested mostly in sleeping and eating. After some time reading, sauna by the lake, sitting by a fire and walking and biking in the forests also started to appeal but most other things felt repulsive. And they still do. I’d rather be in some remote and wild place than back home with the myriad everyday responsibilities. This is what I call expedition hangover and that has also kept me away from the blog…

But in addition to longing for another expedition I’ve been also going through the huge amount of photos and video we shot on the expedition. I alone took over 1800 stills and nearly 50 GB of video. And I wasn’t the only one with a camera.

The first patch of photos is now ready and published and you can find them from my gallery. The photos are accompanied by short captions and I think they are best browsed in full screen view (click the icon on top right when browsing the photos) by clicking through the photos one by one. But you can watch them also as a slide show and also hide the texts if you want. You can get to the gallery by clicking any of the photos in the post.

Oh, and if you know cure for the post-trip hangover feel free to share it! ;)

PS. I also gave some interviews about the expedition. You can find the list from a post in the expedition blog but the only one in English is on Explorer’s Web and can be found from here.

Skiing across Greenland

I’ve mentioned once every now and then that my main tour of the winter will be a ski expedition across the Greenland ice cap – and it’s about to start right now!

We will leave Finland behind on April 13th and arrive to Greenland the next day. And if all goes as planned we will start skiing from the West coast on April 16th and get to enjoy little over four weeks of white horizon, simple life and solitude before arriving to the East coast. Ski, eat, sleep, repeat. My idea of a great holiday!

Into the white in Svalbard in 2011.

White horizon, simple life and solitude on Vatnajökull in 2012.

The beauty of vast ice fields from Vatnajökull in 2013.

The beauty of vast ice fields from Vatnajökull in 2013.

All the little trips, longer journeys and previous expeditions have got me here and now I just hope I can get across the ice cap and enjoy the upcoming weeks. I have to admit, I’m little nervous but at the ame time also relieved that it’s about to start and the preparations are finally over!

I wished to write a lot about all the preparations and the countless myriad things needed to be done in order to get to the ice’s edge with a good chance to ski some 600 kilometers in four weeks without resupplies or other outside help… But, the preparations (and the little life I have in addition) kept me so busy I didn’t find time to write about them. But once on the ice we will have time for daily blog posts so at least you have chance to follow our tour if you are interested.

The daily updates will be post to our blog acrossgreenland2014.com. The updates will be in Finnish but will always include a summary in English.

You can also track our progress on the map.

For tweets (Finnish and English) from the ice cap follow Pohjoisemmas on Twitter and if you like this project, feel free to like us also on Facebook.

While I’m searching for the winter, you enjoy the spring and have good time outdoors!

In search of the place where sky and ice become one. (Vatnajökull 2013)

In search of the place where sky and ice become one. (Vatnajökull 2013)

 

 

 

 

Wet Winter Tour in Sarek

When a one-week winter ski tour starts with heavy wind-driven rain you have to remind yourself why you like that stuff. This far I’ve always managed to convince myself that I’m doing what I really like and, fortunately, this time wasn’t an exception. In early March I was in Sarek National Park guiding the Advanced Course in Arctic Ski Expeditions with a great group of nine people. The tour was good but conditions were very unusual and quite challenging.

Rock Ptarmigans (Lagopus muta) in storm on the second day of the tour.

The conditions got interesting already on the approach to Ritsem. While we were enjoying a late hamburger-based dinner at Gällivare one participant, driving ahead to Ritsem, called on the way to report some serious winds and banks of spindrift. Little bit later he called again reporting flying gravel, wind ripping apart the ski box on top of his car and that he decided to bail and wait for us… Wise decision as the close-by weather station measured 35m/s average and 47m/s gusts!

A couple of hours and one serious heart-to-throat spindrift bank push-through later we met at the Stora Sjöfallet hotel, ditched the broken ski box, repacked and headed towards Ritsem. The wind had calmed down a bit and we managed to push to Ritsem were it was eerily calm as the big valley protected the area from the stormy winds.

The next morning we got our gear organized and started to ski across the lake Ahkkajaure.  A local couple on snowscooters had ventured out early in the morning and returned before we left all soaking wet reporting “terrible weather”. What a great start for a course in demanding ski expeditions! And an hour later the weather hit us on the open lake ice: high winds and heavy rain. SKiing in slush getting soaked by rain. Very Arctic indeed. But the fantastic group just soldiered through in marvellous manner despite some of them being dripping wet down to their base layers.

Towards the evening the weather got better for a little while with moments of sunshine and it all felt right again. Once we were pitching camp in the cover of the birch forest showers of wet snow and gusts returned. But by that time we were camped and sheltered, wet but happy.

The next day dawned in reasonable conditions as we broke camp and headed towards the big uphill push. It looked windy higher on the fjells and once we got further up on the shoulder of the Ahkka fjell then wind and snow really hit us. The steep bank requires a push with the heavy loads even in good weather and now we got a little extra challenge on top of that. But once again the group did great. The terrain got easier and we got little protection from the worst of the weather by taking a route down in a ravine. After one more push up from the ravine it was time to set up camp.

The third day was probably the best day of the tour weather-wise. We made good progress but some health issues in the group and a forecasted storm loomed in the back of my head. When we arrived to the point were we had to choose whether we try to do a longer tour and take the shortcut the answer was quite obvious as the latest forecasts warned us about serious storm with wind speeds over 30m/s.

Shortcut it was.

At the end of the day we set up camp and fortified it with some unusually robust snow walls (I rarely bother…)  to protect our tents from the predicted high winds. As a bonus I managed to break the leeward main zipper from the Hilleberg Kaitum 3 I was using and after several repair attempts I had to sew the door shut and turn the tent around in the wind and snow… Later in the evening the wind grew into a proper storm and our tents played us the characteristic lullabies of flapping silnylon.

In the morning the weather was still bad and the forecasts predicted even worse weather towards the end of the tour. We waited for couple of hours and as the wind died down we broke camp and skied a short stint to a place suitable for digging snow caves. We arrived little late and the group really worked hard to get the snow shelters ready before the dark and soon we were sheltered behind half-a-meter of snow, sipping Jägermeister and trying to get warm in our damp clothing.

As the forecasts threatened us with no-go weather (loads and loads of snow with over 30m/s winds) for the next day we decided to ski out from the high fjells a day early for a sheltered camp spot at the birch forest at the shores of lake Ahkkajaure. Skiing was good with reasonable visibility, warm temps and no wind, though we did get again some rain on the lower elevations. There hasn’t been anyone on the snowscooter trail before but the wind had packed the snow reasonably well so going was easy but rather monotonic. During the week Luc Mehl’s recipe of dance music on iPod and yellow lenses became known as the “Alaska prescription” and turned out to be quite popular. It really helps to cope with sub-optimal conditions. Add some hard candies and you become invincible to the elements…

Our last camp was well protected from the winds but the serious gusts still shooked our tents in the evening and it looked like serious weather up on the fjells as you could hear the wind howling even while camped on the low ground and the fjell tops were all covered in a thick veil of snow rushing through the air. We got our part of the snowfall with about 60 cm of fresh snow covering our tents overnight. I woke up around 5 a.m. as it was too quiet and noticed my tent was mostly buried under snow muting the characteristic flapping the tent fabric makes in high winds. I was too lazy to get up in the dark and waited until the dawn before getting out for some serious shoveling.

As the weather was supposed to get better in the evening we spent the last day mostly resting in camp wondering the constantly changing weather swinging from sun shine to full-on blizzard every five minutes. It was important to time the calls of nature accordingly. It turned out to be nice and relaxed day fixing equipment, frying bacon and pancakes, listening to iPods, etc. It’s not for everyone but it’s part of the game.

Towards the evening the weather got better and after late evening nap we woke in a frost covered tent for the first time during the tour. Even though the last stretch towards the lights of Ritsem  is always a long one the conditions made it more tolerable: calm, little below zero and partially cloudy letting in some moonlight painting the scenery we didn’t really get to see on the tour.

After such an ending  it’s always easy to convince yourself that you actually liked it and want to go for another round. Especially after a sauna, dinner and some quality beer in good company.

- – -

More photos from the tour can be found from my gallery.

Antti’s trip report from the climate change simulator is also worth reading and can be found from his blog. Highly recommended blog anyway. As is his photography work from the Arctic and sub-Arctic at anttihaataja.kuvat.fi.

Marko took also great photos on the tour and you can find the photos with captions here. The creative man also shot a short video from the stormy night at camp number three:

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