This is a slightly delayd story of my first bikepacking overnighter… The story form the second trip with auroras and everything can be found from here.
I’ve been interested in bikepacking for quite some time and I’ve been planning to buy a decent bike for over a year now. At the end of the summer I stumbled upon a heavily discounted 29er hardtail bike at the local shop and before I even noticed it I was a happy owner of a Ghost SE 2920.
After few tours around the local trails I had a great chance to go for an overnighter bikepacking trip at Turku with the bikepacking gurus and fellow outdoor bloggers Toni Lund and Peter Nylund. After the trip I was busy guiding so Toni and Peter got the advantage and have already published their trip reports. But those reports seem to be missing some killer duckboards, several stumbles and occasional OTB… (See, I’m not complete newbie as I’m very familiar with the special terms!)
My trip started with a bike ride from home to catch the morning train from Lappeenranta to Turku. For the afternoon the trip was interrupted with non-wilderness related business with Ursuk but at the afternoon I was again on the bike on my way to shop some food for the overnighter. For schedule and logistical reasons Peter came to pick me from the shop and we took a car ride to Kurjenrahka National Park.
It was drizzling at the parking area when we arrived. But that didn’t really matter. I was eager to get going on my first bikepacking trip! We filled our water bottles and soon we were on the move on some very nice trails. Peter said getting to lean-to would take at least an hour. The trails were quite wide going through very green spruce forest with some rocks and roots but nothing too bad. But that was only the beginning…
Yours truly, photo by Peter Nylund.
When planning the trip Peter had asked if I could drive on duckboards. I promptly answered that I could and if not, I would learn. Back in the days I had driven duckboards with a 26″ MTB with 40mm tyres so I was quite confident with the matter. But that was 10-15 years ago and on dry and intact duckboards.
The duckboards at Kurjenrahka were different. They were wet, worn, decayed, sometimes broken and often offered 4 inch of driveable width, few inch gap and another 4 inch of drivable board. The gap was just big enough to fit my 52mm tyres and slow me down. Slow me down really fast. And the wet and broken duckboards made sure this also happened every now and then.
It shouldn’t go like that… Photo by Peter Nylund.
And there were plenty of these duckboards on the way. I’m sure Peter, who was driving ahead, didn’t see me faceplanting into the bog but I guess the going was slow enough that he offered to switch bikes and I could drive with his Surly fatty. And the fatbike was great! The extra rubber on the tyres was especially welcome on the duckboards but the ride was generally smoother and stable and the bike felt more capable, and maybe even more suitable for beginner than the 29er.
After one and half hours of pedaling and stumbling (I think I saw Peter also put his feet on the ground once so it must have been pretty demanding trail…) we arrived to the Vajosuo shelter in the twilight. Toni wasn’t there yet so we made a fire and got started with hot drinks.
Later Toni arrived and we had a great evening chatting, drinking and eating by the fire. It’s always awesome to meet with like-minded people and fellow bloggers in real life, and especially in wilderness settings. Peter had the gourmet food (and beers) you’d expect from a wilderness guide student and Toni had the minimalistic stove setup, some freeze-dried food and plenty of water, as you’d expect from a competing extreme cyclist… I had the proven Brovernighter combination of grilled sausages, buns and blue cheese. And naturally, a beer as well.
After midnight it was time to retire to our sleeping bags as we were going to have an early start. I slept in a Madtree Core hammock, sheltered from the drizzle under a Rae tarp. I’ve been testing this setup for a few nights now and it’s very light, very minimalistic but also functional setup. More of it later after some more testing.
After short but good night’s sleep I woke up to a blaze of fire that Peter had already lit (as you’d expect from an aspiring wilderness guide). After breakfast it was time to head back to the car the same way we came as Peter had to go to work and I had a train to catch. This time I drove all the way with my own 29er, scooting most of the deadly duckboards. The going felt actually little easier already so it really was a steep learning curve. And it still is. That’s the joy of adding new components to your outdoors hobbies!
Peter showing how it’s done.
After a while in the car listening to quality extreme metal I quickly found myself carrying my bike (and a full-sized Subway sandwich) into the train to return back to Lappeenranta.
Thanks for the great trip guys! And now I want a fatbike even more than before…