Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

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Outdoor Year 2014 in Pictures

/ A word of warning: As has been the case with the previous OYIP posts, also this post includes a lot of photos. They are nice and varied outdoors photos but there are many. You have been warned. /

It’s again the time annual OYIP post. The time to wrap up the past year in outdoors with a collection of chosen photos and a few words in between. (Just like I did in 2011, 2012 and 2013. It’s becoming a tradition…)

My year started by guiding husky tours in the Taivalkoski region. This time I wasn’t working there for the whole winter  but was happy to help with the busy weeks now and then. Winter wilderness, sled dogs, log cabins, great people… What’s not to like? And I even got help out a TV crew shooting dog sledding for the Erätulilla program.

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I will probably remember the winter 2014 as “the worst winter ever” as we were trying to prepare and train for the big Greenland expedition in the spring but we didn’t have enough snow for skiing or cold weather for testing gear or getting used to it. The winter was excellent for nordic skating but for some reason I wasn’t doing it… Luckily we got enough ice and a dusting of snow on top of it for the Arctic Ski Expedition course I guided in January.

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During the winter we did a lot of preparations for the upcoming Greenland expedition and after one of our training trips on icy lake Konnevesi I headed back to Taivalkoski for more husky tour guiding and then continued to Sweden to guide a ski tour in Sarek National Park. And also finally got some proper manhauling done before Greenland. This time the weather was pretty miserable: temps around and above 0°C, honest heavy rain, high winds and half a meter of snow in the end. But on the other hand it was also good training and I had again the privilege to be guiding a group of great people!

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The main trip of the year was my biggest trip yet: a ski expedition across the Greenland icecap  along the so-called “normal route” from Point 660 in the West to Isortoq in the East. With great imagination we named the expedition “Across Greenland 2014” (loads of photos in my gallery). The crossing took us 28 days and we skied around 560 kilometers unsupported and unassisted, on our own in the middle of the great white wilderness. It was my biggest trip yet and a great success in every way.To be honest, the expedition itself felt actually even too easy. But still, it was great. I hope to return to Greenland in 2016 and maybe one day I will do even bigger trip as this didn’t yet feel like “the big trip”. 😉

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After returning from Greenland I was having quite a serious case of expedition hangover. I was mostly interested in sleeping, eating, reading, walking and biking on the trails in the lush greenery of early summer and of course relaxing at a sauna by the lake Saimaa. The early summer offered mostly pretty crappy weather being cold, rainy and windy. But it got better on the second half of the summer, even to a point that we had to cut our Hammastunturi-Ivalojoki packrafting trip, the main trip of the summer, little short because of the intense heat and bad bugs.

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In the South I did a rowenighter, a rowboat overnighter, with a good old friend. An interesting way to travel in the land of thousand lakes but would be more enjoyable with faster boat with proper sliding seat and all that. But at least you can take all the kit you want to!14-07-15EOS 6D8054_1800

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The outdoor life in late summer and autumn consisted mostly of biking local trails and packrafting. I guided a packrafting course at Kymijoki in August. In September me and N tried again packrafting with a single packraft , but this time with a raft build for the purpose, an Alpackaraft EX 42. It was a success.

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In October I called for the First (Finnish) Packraft Gathering and met lots of great people at Kymijoki. I hope this will become an annual event and I see no reason why it wouldn’t. Packrafting is growing fast in Finland and the people involved are such a great and varied bunch it’s very inspiring to get together for some packrafting and good time outdoors.

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The late autumn didn’t see much trips, save an occasional overnighter but I spent quite some time in the outdoors having decided to get back to hunting and thus being out hunting moose with the local hunting club. In addition I did the usual foraging for berries and mushrooms and we had maybe the best year ever for porcini (Boletus edulis) and the cupboards and now full of dried goodness for the winter(s) to come. This is a part of outdoors activities that I’m getting more and more interested in: hunting, fishing, foraging, etc. Not just being out in the wild but to actually live from the nature. I hope to have more time for this in the future as there is so much to learn, more than enough for a lifetime or two…

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In early November I spent five days on excellent WMA first aid course upgrading my Wilderness Advanced First Aid certificate to WFR (Wilderness First Responder) which I feel to be better suited for guides. Great course again from WMA and Outwardbound Finland though I would’ve liked more and more challenging drills but with limited time… Despite not sleeping outdoors it was very useful way of spending the five days.14-11-06EOS 6D8962_900

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At the end of November me and N traveled to Helsinki for the annual Helsinki Adventure Night and Marko published an open invitation for people interested in an after party to come up with something outdoorsy and so the Helsinki Adventure Night Adventure Night was born. Hopefully this will become a tradition as well!

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Me year will end indoors at my cousin’s wedding and the next year will beginning, once again, by moving house as me and N will be relocating to Riihimäki. Despite the hustle we managed to squeeze in one more overnighter before the year ended. This time with kick-sleds on the recently frozen lake Saimaa! It was my first kick-sled overnighter ever but probably not the last one. Nordic skates would’ve been even better but still lacking them the kick-sleds worked fine too, and enabled quite load hauling too. And with all that carrying capacity I did take my spoon (the classic item to forget) but I forgot the pot (a stupid thing to forget) so we missed all the hot beverages…

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Just like in 2013 I spent some 50 nights under the nylon or stars. This year the great majority of those nights were in Greenland and rest mostly on packrafting trips. In addition I was out around 10 nights on the husky tours. Now that the year is closing to its end I’m happy for all the time I got to spent outdoors but also little sad I didn’t spend even more timeout there. I would’ve had the time and chances if I’d tried…

On other hand the next year looks excellent! I’m not making any resolutions here but… Now as I’m running my own guiding business and having lots of courses, tours and expedition planned I hope to hit the magical 100 nights out next year. But if I don’t I won’t be too sorry for that either. We will see, we will see…

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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.

Outdoor year 2013 in pictures

/ A word of warning: This post includes a lot of photos. They are nice and varied outdoors photos but there are many. You have been warned. /

Views from early 2014 at Taivalkoski.

Foggy views from early 2014 at Taivalkoski.

It’s time to look back on the past outdoor year and like in 2012 and 2011, photos are my media of choise.

The year 2013 started as it ended: with guiding work at Husky Center Kolmiloukko at Taivalkoski in North-East Finland. This is also the reason for this post being a week late. In early season the work consisted mostly of full-day safaris with nice lunch break by the fire but there were also overnight safaris with clients sleeping in log cabins and me sleeping in lean-to or quinzee or sometimes also indoors. I was working together with N which was great and I’m missing that this season as she’s in the South doing better paid academic work… But early 2013 was a blast with the cute huskies and great clients and I even wrote more about that in the blog.

In addition to guiding husky tours I was also arranging and guiding my own ski expedition courses and tours. As I wrote back in January I was prepping two ultra-runners for the Siberian Black Ice Race at lake Inari in Finnish Lapland. Later in January I was guiding Basics Course in Arctic Ski Expedition on frozen lake Saimaa in Southern Finland and in early March I guided the same group in Sarek Narional Park in Swedish Lapland on an Advanced Course. We had mostly good but cold weather in Sarek with temps constantly below -20C leading to one small frostbite but other than that the course was a great success.

Later in March and early April I was back at Kolmiloukko mostly guiding week-long husky tours. I really like guiding longer tours where groups of individuals turn into teams and you see people learning new skills and adapting to the new environment and challenges. Oh, and we also had some kick ass auroras!

In addition to work I also managed to squeeze in a short overnighter at the sea ice near Oulu and celebrated the end of the husky guiding season with N by doing an overnighter to a nearby log cabin with the dogs but without clients. After that we headed to Käsivarsi region in the very North-West of Finland for a five-day ski tour on the fjells. The weather was great the whole time and we enjoyed the spring sun and easy-going.

After the Käsivarsi ski tour we returned to South with car crammed completely full of stuff. It was spring in the South and I was mentally ready for summer and some holiday! But even though the snow was long gone in the South, there was one more expedition to guide for the winter. My main trip for winter 2013 was an 11-day crossing of the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland, this time from East to West via the Grimmsvötn volcano (1725m above sea level). Once on the edge of the glacier I didn’t regret at all having to postpone my summer for two more weeks. I had an awesome group to guide and we had a great expedition with proper 30+m/s storm, whiteouts and sunny days. There is a little story about the tour in Finnish in Outa online outdoors magazine.

For me the summer consisted mainly on kayaking and canoeing trips in the South-East Finland. It started with a three-day kayaking trip around the Kirkkosaari island (where I’ve spent first 18 years of my life) and continued with overnighters here and there with my good friends and even alone for the summer solstice. I also did a little  upstream packrafting overnighter with a friend swimming (!) along the way…

In addition to paddling me, N and Perttu also did a nice early summer overnighted to the wide trails of Repovesi National Park.

The main trip of the summer turned out to be a bike-hike-and-paddle tour to Pöyrisjoki in Finnish Lapland. I did the trip with Antti, a fellow wilderness guide and awesome outdoors person, who was paddling a big traditional raft with some friends at Lätäseno river in 2011 when I was packrafting the Valtijoki-Poroeno-Lätäseno with Tuomas. Now that Antti had his own packraft it was time to hit a remote and wild river and as we had already paddled the most remote and wild river of Finland we choose one of the other three big wilderness rivers and planned a nice multisport round-trip to Pöyrisjoki. There is even a trip report about it! On the way back I did a quick Brovernighter near Rovaniemi with Mark of Backpacking North.

In September I guided a packrafting tour from the village of Kilpsijärvi in the very North-West Finland to the magnificent valley of Reisadalen in Northern Norway. We were again lucky with the weather (Which seems to be the common nominator for my trips in 2013, or it’s my memory playing tricks on me?) and I had again a great group I’d be happy to go out again with. Autumn colours and auroras, and good packrafting on easy fast flowing river. There is not much more to ask.

Later in the autumn I did some overnighters with N and clients in South-East Finland. I also bought a bike, a 29er hardtail mountain bike, and did a lot of cycling and also couple of bikepacking overnighters also meeting the bikepacking specialist of South-West Finland: Toni Lund and Peter Nylund. There is still a lot for me to learn about bikepacking but it’s great fun already!

As October turned into November N had some holiday and we went for Shoulder Season Chill Out. The first trip was a two-day packragfting trip that had to be cut little short due the frozen section in the river but we had good time packrafting part of Savinajoki and breaking ice at Savilampi. The second trip was just a day trip along the classic trail of Pieni Karhunkierros which sparked a great urge to go packraft the Kitkajoki…

In December I headed again back to North to guide husky tours for a little while before concentrating on ski expeditions later in the winter. I spent the Christmas week in Ivalo with 20 of the Husky Center Kolmiloukko’s dogs, doing crazy long days filled with short loops and safaris to serve the well greased wheels of the tourism industry. The good thing was, once again, the great people of Extreme Huskies I had the chance to work with. As the end of the year approached I was back at Taivalkoski and getting for ready of one-week husky tour but that’s a different story as it happened in 2014. 😉

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All in all, 2013 was once again a good outdoor year. During the year I got only (?) little under 50 nights out (compared to the about 60 in 2011 and 2012) on tours, not counting the husky tours I was guiding. But when counting also the husky tours the number increases close to 70 which is not too bad after all and sets a good target for 2014.

Big thanks for the co-workers, the huskies, all my clients and friends, and especially for N for another great outdoor year. May the next one be even better for all of you too! 🙂

Auroras, snow shelters and husky tours

The blog has been little quiet, as has unfortunately been the way this winter. So, what have I been up to?

Mostly I’ve been busy guiding husky tours ranging from full-day safaris to over-night tours but there have also been other things…

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On the tours we spend the nights at huts but being out in the wild gives a good excuse to sleep outside and this week I decided to sleep in a quinzee as the night was expected to be a cold one. (The record low for this winter was recorded at Taivalkoski at the same week, -38,2C.) I was a little hasty building the quinzee and made the pile little too small and decided to go without the sticks to mark the wall thickness. The end product was livable but little too short with too big doorway and I had to patch one hole in a wall. But it still added apparently quite a lot of warmth as I managed to sleep most of the night comfortably in my sleeping bag rated to -18C (Tlim) and only woke up chilled a few times after 6.00 a.m. The cabin doesn’t have a thermometer but it’s in a cold place on low-lands next to big marsh so the temperature was likely colder than at the village of Taivalkoski… Snow shelters make sense! And there is still time to make some so don’t miss the chance!

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The little free time I’ve had, I’ve used for arranging the guided ski tours. The last week I was guiding a group in Sarek (along the route mapped on Social Hiking, though the distance listed there is little optimistic). We also made snow shelters in Sarek as a training and they were not bad choise as the night was cold. Snow caves are especially nice shelters if you happen to find pile enough pile of hard snow. It was an awesome tour with good group and well worth sitting in the car for 21 hours – each way.

Sarek. There’s a feeling of real wilderness. And beatiful mountains as well!

I’ll write a separate post about the tour in Sarek later as this post is about northern lights! As the winter has been unusually cloudy there hasn’t been much auroras to be seen at Taivalkoski. I saw a good show here on early December, little faint lights every now and then here and at lake Inari and nice but little grey light show at Sarek. But this evening was different. After several cold and cold nights without a trace of the northern lights the lights at the sky were on a big time! Here are some photos of the showon Sunday evening. Hope you enjoy the photos in case you missed the show!

For those interested in the techy stuff all photos taken with my trusty Canon 550D (with a battery grip with dual battery for the cold), the cheap but stellar Samyang 14mm 2,8 lens and of course utilizing a tripod (a heavy Manfrotto 055). The only problem with this setup is the Samyang lens being fully manual, which shouldn’t be much of a problem but the markings on the focus ring are all totally wrong andgetting it focused in the dark is not too easy. I think I should make some new marking on it…

On the weekend we also had the pre-expedition meeting with the Vantajökull 2013 expedition and I can’t wait to get on the ice for with the group as it’s likely to be a great little expedition… But before that I still have some weeks of husky safari guiding to be done, including two nice longer tours. I’ll try to get some nice photos to share from the tours.

Winter wonderland and working dogs

In addition to guiding during the last four weekends I’ve also work during the weekdays as well. Unfortunately this means very little time for blogging but here’s (again) a set of photos to make up the lack of words. The photos are from overnight and one-day husky tours at Taivalkoski region in North-East Finland. All dogs are hard-working (well, except a few lazy ones) huskies from Kolmiloukko.

For those interested in (camera) gear the photos are taken with Canon EOS 550D with Canon EF 24-105 4 L IS or Samyang 14 2,8 lens. Mostly it’s just fast’n’dirty point’n’shoot, often from moving snowscooter but when you shoot enough, you also get some hits. Especially the Samyang 14mm wide-angle has proven to be a very nice piece of glass and it’s also cheap for the quality. Downside is that it’s all manual lens and the markings on the focus ring are far from reality but when you learn that the infinity is around 0,7m focus it works like a charm.

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I have to say that even though I love my job, I’m really looking forward to having a day off on Sunday as I’ve now worked for 33 straight days! I need some time to wash clothing, repair gear and do some more preparations for the one-week ski tour to Sarek in early March. And maybe I also have time to write some more words for the blog as well…