– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Packrafting with Autumn Colors and Auroras

Less words, more photos.

Packrafting the Reisaelva in Reisadalen. The last day of the one-week tour.

The last week I was guiding a one-week packrafting tour from Kilpisjärvi (Finland) to Reisadalen (Norway). Unlike the last time I was there, we had good luck with really good weather, nice autumnal colours (ruska) and auroras almost every night.

The trip started from Kilpisjärvi where we followed the Nordkalottleden near the Kuonjarjohka hut for our first night. There were some footwear problems that lead two of the clients do most of the tour in more or less improvised footwear. But apparently neoprene diving booties with double socks are good enough for hiking with heavy rucksack over the mountains to Norway… I had some though clients with great moral.

After a cold night we continued with perfect weather to Meekonjärvi where we inflated the packrafts and got on the waters. This is the most packrafts in one place in Finland that I’ve ever seen. Scenery was beautiful and water level very low.

The little clouds we had the previous evening quickly made way the sunrise and a cloud inversion over the lakes. We continued with rafting going down the Poroeno river which had very, very low water level. After enough of the rocky rapids we decided to switch to walking and headed towards North-East off-trail. Still perfect weather all day.

The fourth day started with thick pea-soup mist that quickly changed to blue skies and just as quickly turned into cold drizzle with wind and thick cloud cover. Luckily the clouds broke and the sun returned in the afternoon once little further on the Norwegian side of the border. Even though I say it myself, the navigation on this off-trail sections went very smoothly. We decided to push little longer than planned and ended up camping in the tree line on the slopes of Jierta fjell.

The fifth day was short: traverse the slopes of Jierta, descent down into the Reisadalen canyon/valley/ravine and follow a trail to Nedrefosshytta hut. A luxurious hut on Finnish standards with sauna and everything. Long afternoon and evening to relax after the initial longer days: good food, a bit of reading, sauna and swim in the river with auroras later in the night.

The next day we did a day-hike up the Reisaelva river to Imofossen waterfall. The trail up to the waterfall was interesting but easy enough without backpacks. The river looks great further up from the hut except for the narrow canyon closer to the (definitely not boatable) waterfall. I think the canyon might be packraftable… I would just need skilled company, some climbing gear to descent in and then a big commitment to run it down… After the day trip we tidied the cabin, lashed rucksacks on the packrafts and headed down stream in search of a perfect gravel bar camp site. And we found one.

Later in the evening it turned into even more of a perfect spot with good company, camp fire and auroras dancing above the canyon walls.

The last day was an enjoyable, lazy rafting down the river with good flow and enough water despite the almost record-low water level. We visited Mollifossen on the way, admired eagles flying above us and finally arrived to our pick-up point just to find out the road was closed due a damaged bridge. But luckily, packrafts are easy to carry that extra mile…

It was simply a splendid tour. On tours like this it’s easy to love my job.

This was the last guided packraft tour I’ll be doing this year but if you’re interested, I will be offering more the next year!

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And if you would like to see more photos, there are plenty more in my gallery.

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Packrafts for the tour were from Backpacking North. If you need a packraft, support a local business and rent one from here.

And if you need a guide or just good company, you know who to ask from. 😉


8 responses to “Packrafting with Autumn Colors and Auroras

  1. nielsenbrownoutdoors 25/09/2013 at 13:10

    A very enjoyable report and great photos. It is pleasing to see the area in autumn colours, having been there in summer I would love to revisit at this time of the year to see the colour and the aurora.

  2. korpijaakko 25/09/2013 at 14:49

    Thanks! I’ve been on the Finnish side in early summer, summer and autumn (and winter) and have to say that autumn might be test season up there, especially if you are lucky with the weather as we were: no bugs, warm and clear. 🙂

  3. Harald Igesund 28/09/2013 at 04:20

    Thank you for a very nice article!
    I have also for many years wanted to packraft the upper part of Reisa River, and have found some information on the net. It seems that it is doable, also without climbing gear. Here are some links to articles and galleries:
    With Pakboat canoes, article and gallery
    With kayaks, article (in norwgian) and pictures.
    2 guys paddling Reisa river with packrafts.

  4. surfnslide 28/09/2013 at 22:53

    Excellent trip! Packrafting seems to be gaining popularity in the UK although, another outdoor activity for me to try 🙂

  5. korpijaakko 30/09/2013 at 11:52

    Thanks for you comment Harald! I was already aware of the Pakboat canoe trip and it seems that the kayakers skipped the canyon part immediately after Imofossen*, which I’d like to try padling. I think that requires some climbing gear as I’d judge running the Imofossen waterfall safely to be impossible so you’d have to lower yourself and gear into the canyon below the waterfall. In the canyon there are some quite scary looking sections of big boulders but with reasonable waterlevel parts could be paddled and parts climbed over. It’s a difficult balancing with the right waterlevel. Interesting but intimidating idea.

    * “Imofossen representerer starten på et parti i elva hvor landskapet er vilt og vakkert, og ikke padlebart. Vi forberedte derfor den lengste bæringa på turen, om lag tre kilometer.” And so apparently did the Pakboats crew as the canyon immediately below Imofossen is far from class I: “Below Imo Falls, the largely Class I river featured excellent canoeing.”

  6. korpijaakko 30/09/2013 at 11:53

    Thanks! I find packrafts best as a tools for wilderness travel, or for whtie water fun. And of coruse preferably combining the two in a remtoe place. But there are many other ways to use packrafts. I recommend giving it a try. It’s fun! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Outdoor year 2013 in pictures | Korpijaakko

  8. Pingback: Opastettu packraft-vaellus! / Guided packrafting tour! | Korpijaakko

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