– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: Kymijoki

Opastettuja packraft-reissuja! / Guided packrafting activities!

This blog post about guiding services I am offering for summer 2015 is  in Finnish as the packrafting courses and tours I’m offering with set dates will be guided in Finnish as default. But if you’re interested in a course or a guided tour in English, feel free to contact me with e-mail and we’ll arrange something great together!

This post serves also as a “commenting area” as the comments on pages are disabled. / Tämä tiedote palvelee myös kommentointi- ja keskustelualueena, sillä info-sivuilla ei voi kommentoida.

Kesä 2015 packraft-kurssit ja -vaellukset

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Vuodelle 2015 tarjoan seuraavia packraft-kursseja ja -vaelluksia:

Packraft-melonnan peruskurssit
– 22.-23.8.2015, Kymijoki, Etelä-Suomi: 22.8. perusosa, 23.8. jatko-osa
– 29.-30.8.2015, Kymijoki, Etelä-Suomi: 29.8. perusosa, 30.8. jatko-osa

– 27.6.-5.7.2015, Ivalojoki, Pohjois-Suomi:  Hammastunturista löytyy rauhallista erämaata ja Ivalojoen legendaarisilta kultamailta taas vauhdikkaita koskia. Nämä on mahdollista yhdistää packraftin avulla. Kalastusmahdollisuus kiinnostuneille.
– 5.9.-13.9.2015, Nordreisa, Pohjois-Norja: Pohjois-Norjassa Reisadalenin mahtavassa rotkolaaksossa virtaava Reisaelva on kuin luotu packraft-melontaan. Parhaaseen ruska-aikaan, jolloin luonto on kauneimmillaan.

Lisätietoja kursseista ja vaelluksista täältä!

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PS. Myös räätälöityjä kokeiluja, kursseja, retkiä ja vaelluksia on tarjolla sopimuksen mukaan. Räätälöityjen retkien saatavuutta ja hintoja voit tiedustella sähköpostilla!

(Ja jos mietit, että mikä ihmeen packraft niin vilkaisehan “Mikä packraft?” -sivua saadaksesi vastauksen.)


Packrafting at Kymijoki

A couple of weeks ago I was guiding a packrafting course at Kymijoki and had great time first alone and then with a nice group. Packrafting seems to be almost always great fun.

I went to the river a day ahead to check the water level and scout the rapids I’d been paddling only with considerably higher water level. I got at Kuovinkallio shelter, my starting point and shelter for the night, little late but was on the waters in 15 minutes after parking the car. I paddled around the area wondering the low water level and polishing plans for the days to come. Except for the roar of the water it was silent and even the roar was somehow soothing.

During the hasty start I had forgotten to take my headlamp and had decided I should stop after the sunset to have enough light for the short walk back to the shelter and to set the camp. Paddling alone in the maze of islands was so fun I ended up getting out an hour after the sunset and took an adventurous shortcut back to the shelter through the dark forest without my headlamp…

I met a local fishing supervisor and outdoors man at the shelter and had a great chat with him about the life by the river, local hunting and fishing and so on. After he left I started preparing late dinner and enjoyed the dark and silent surroundings under the stars. I fell asleep on my packraft thinking I should probably do solo trips more often…

The next morning I met the group on a breakfast at Aholan Lomalaidun and soon we were on the shore getting to know the tools for the weekend. The plan was to paddle to the nearby lake for starters but the headwind made our upstream paddling efforts useless. But as everybody had some previous paddling experience we changed the course and headed downstream for some swifter water. The day was spent learning basic techniques for moving water and at the end of the day we walked and paddled upstream back to Ahola for dinner and some self-rescue training with sauna as a reward.

The next day we paddled and floated again down the river, doing some training on the way towards bigger rapids. Despite the very low water level (it apparently hit the all time record low on Sunday) there was still plenty of waves and excitement on the Martinkoski rapids. There is sort of a “water guarantee” on Kymijoki, there’s always something for almost everyone, even enough to cause an involuntary swim…

On the way back we had the wind on our back and one of the group got a chance to try his Windpaddle Cruiser sail. Even with very light wind he was as fast as I was paddling an Explorer 42 as a solo boat with quite some effort. Sails do make sense and Packrafting-Store is now stocking them as well! After the hard paddle against the current it was time for good-byes.

It was a good course with a nice group. And at least one new packrafter was born on the currents of Kymijoki which makes me super happy. You can find Erkki’s blog post (in Finnish) here and some videos here and here. There will be more courses in 2015 for sure.

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As usual, some more photos in my gallery.

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PS. Remember the First Finnish Packraft Gathering!

It’s turning into an international event with participants coming also from abroad. It’s turning out to be quite popular event and if you have even slightest interest in packrafting I think it’ll be a blast! So, if you have the time on 3.-5.10.2014 and have or can get a raft, make sure to be there! With only one portage the route we’re planning is doable even with a PVC pool toy but for th best experience I’d recommend a real packraft. If you don’t have one, you can rent one from Backpacking North or Packrafting Store.

Guided packrafting activities! / Opastettuja packraft-reissuja!

This is again a bilingual blog post about guiding services I am offering. / Tämä on taas kerran kaksikielinen tiedote tarjoamistani opaspalveluista.

This post serves also as a “commenting area” as the comments on pages are disabled. / Tämä tiedote palvelee myös kommentointi- ja keskustelualueena, sillä info-sivuilla ei voi kommentoida.


Guided packrafting activities, autumn 2013 – English

In autumn 2013 I offer two guided packrafting programs. The first one is an introduction course to packrafting, which is available in English on request. The other is a one-week packrafting tour to Reisadalen in Northern Norway and is a bilingual tour guided in Finnish and English.

(If you’re wondering what is a packraft take a look at the “What is a packraft?” page for an answer.)

Packrafting course – Introduction to packrafting; 24.-25.8.2013; Kymijoki, Southern Finland.
Learn the basics of packrafting for still and swift water: gear, safety, technique and useful tips and tricks. Makes also a great introduction for future packrafting tours in Northern Scandinavia and Arctic regions beyond the seas! The course on the set dates will be held in Finnish but similar courses are available in English on request due the demand similar course will be arrange later in the autumn at Kymijoki. E-mail for possible dates!
Packraft tour 2013 – Reisadalen; 7.-15.9.2013; Nordreisa, Norway.
Experience the hills and valleys of Northern Norway, the mighty valley of Reisadalen and float down the Reisaelva – and learn packrafting on the way in the awesome scenery and good company!
Tailor-made courses and tours on packrafting, (lightweight) hiking and kayaking/canoeing are also available on request and can be arranged anywhere in mainland Scandinavia for individuals or groups.

For tailor-made tours please inquire availability and prices via e-mail!

Edit: Update on the “Packrafting course – Introduction to packrafting”, it will be arranged in English too!


Opastettuja packraft-reissuja, syksy 2013 – Suomeksi

Syksyllä 2013 tarjoan kolmea opastettua kurssia/vaellusta  kiinteillä päivämäärillä: “Packraft-kurssi – perusteet”, “Packraft-vaellus 2013 – Reisadalen – Kalottireitin helmi” ja “Vaeltamisen ABC”. Lisäksi saatavilla räätälöityjä ohjelma- ja opastuspalveluita.

(Ja jos mietit, että mikä ihmeen packraft niin vilkaisehan “Mikä packraft?” -sivua saadaksesi vastauksen.)

Packraft-kurssi – Perusteet; 24.-25.8.2013; Kymijoki, Suomi.
Opi packraft-lautan käytön perusteet järvillä ja joilla. Tutuksi tulevat kalusto, turvallisuus, tekniikat sekä käytännön niksit ja vinkit. Kurssi toimii myös erinomaisena ponnahduslautana tuleville packraft-retkille Lappiin ja Arktisille alueille.
Packraft-vaellus – Reisadalen – Kalottireitin helmi; 7.-15.9.2013; Nordreisa, Norja.
Koe Pohjois-Norjan tunturit ja laaksot, Reisadalenin mahtava rotkolaakso ja kellu alas Reisaelva-jokea – ja samalla opit packraftin käytön salat upeissa maisemissa ja hyvässä seurassa.
Vaeltamisen ABC; 28.-29.9.2013; Repovesi, Etelä-Suomi.
Yleisön pyynnöstä vaeltamisen peruskurssi, jolla opit sulanmaan vaelluksilla tarvittavat tiedot ja taidot, pääset kokeilemaan erilaisia varusteita ja välineitä käytännössä ja yövyt ulkona valitsemassasi majoitteessa. Samalla tustumme Repoveden kansallispuiston mahtaviin maisemiin !
Räätälöidyt ohjelma- ja opastuspalvelut liittyen packraft-lauttoihin, (kevyt)retkeilyyn ja kajakki- sekä kanoottimelontaan ja vaikka mihin muuhun! Toteutettavissa eripuolille Skandinaviaa niin yksilöille kuin ryhmillekin.

Räätälöityjen retkien saatavuutta ja hintoja voit tiedustella sähköpostilla!

Flippin’ the llama

The title of the post emerged from conversation in Mark’s post about Testing the Waters with borrowed Alpacka Denali Llama packraft and it’s very appropriate title for the post as this is about getting my new packraft wet and flipped around. That’s what I did the last weekend.

Friday evening in a pond

Tuomas loading his rucksack with water for some "pool training".

Mostly for the sheer fun of it but also as a training for the upcoming FPE2011 trip me and my good mate (and newly graduated wilderness guide – congratulations!) Tuomas spent the Friday evening in a pond flipping packrafts with and without load and learning to manoeuver them. Big thanks for Hendrik of Hiking in Finland for borrowing his little red Alpacka raft for Tuomas!

A freestyle kayaker playing in the Torminvirta rapid.

Pernoonkosket rapids

Of Saturday we got our rafts in the fun staff: white water at Pernoonkosket rapids in the Kymijoki river near Kotka, a bit over one hour drive from Lappeenranta where I live. I had never visited the Pernoonkosket but I think I’ll be returning there regularly from now on. There is a good description of Pernoonkosket here but it’s in Finnish so I’ll give a short summary in English.

Pernoonkosket is a 1,1 kilometer long stretch of rapids in three stages:

– The uppermost rapid is class II Torminvirta (1,4m/150m) which is also the funniest part of the system.  In the beginning there is a small stopper on the river left (visible in the picture above) and smooth fast current on the right. These are followed by two big breaking waves, followed by smaller breaking cross waves from the front and left and a longish wave train in the end. There are some stones under the waves but nothing especially dangerous. The rapid is easy to portage on the gravel/stone bar on the river right.

– The second rapid is Karkuuskoski (0,8m/100m) with one big surfable wave in the beginning followed by a wave train. There is a big rock just beneath the surface so this is a bad place for a swim! This is a bit hard to portage as the small island in the middle is full of bush and there is some private property on the river right bank but a packraft can be first paddled upstream in the eddy on the right and then walked by the rocks at the neck of the rapid. After the rapid there is reasonably strong current that makes paddling a packraft upstream a bit hard but it’s still possible.

– The lowest rapids flow in three canals with the left canal, Sittaränni (1,3m/200m), is quite enjoyable with big V style wave on the right, a very firm stopper wave in the middle and a good eddy in the left, all followed by smaller waves and a bit rocky bottom. The middle canal of the lowest rapids is called Tukkiränni and there is dangerously powerful hydraulics in the end so it’s best avoided with small boats.Beneath these rapids there is a sandy beach on the river left and some good eddies before it.

– In addition to the rapids I mentioned there are smaller parallel rapids (see the map at the end of the link above). There is a free to use shed for shelter and parking area next to the Sittaränni rapid.

Saturday in the white water

So, we arrived at the rapids around midday and after changing into our wetsuits, pfds and bicycle helmets and inflating the rafts we hit the water. We paddled upstream to Karkuuskoski with some detours, rode the rapid once and played in the eddy for awhile accompanied by some freestyle kayakers. We must have been a weird sight in our rubber boats and bicycle helmets! Tuomas had a near bander snatching in the big sharp stopper wave of the Karkuuskoski but managed it with a quick high brace.

Tuomas surfing in the Sittaränni rapid.

After this we rode the Sittaränni and started to play in the stopper wave. The wave has some real power in it and hold packraft so well that it’s hard to get off from the surf! So we decided to avoid the stopper as it would have been also hard to swim out of it if capsized. We noticed that packrafts can catch and surf even small standing waves very easily – often unintended while ferrying thru the wave trains. We tried to surf the left side of the river but it was hard because of the currents (strong eddy, some rock and strong main current) and lead into what the title of the post suggests: I flipped the Llama three times there and Tuomas capsized twice. On the first times we swam a shore with the paddle and raft but in the end we managed to self-rescue with ease.

Tuomas taking a closer look at the bottom of Sittaränni.

After of playing in the Sittaränni we had a coffee break at the car parked next to the rapid and then we headed up to Torminvirta rapid. There was a group of freestyle kayakers at Torminvirta with some of them very interested about our rafts. They though packrafts would make good training tools for beginners who are afraid of capsizing in kayaks. Well, sport paddlers are likely to miss the biggest advantage of the packraft: the packability and the adventures it enables! We did several runs in the Torminvirta and some ferrying and wave catching in the wave train below it. The rapid was surprisingly easy to paddle despite the big waves. On the last run we both capsized while fooling around. I got stuck for a while in the second big wave and Tuomas was surprised by the breaking cross waves. We both managed to do quick self-rescues. It started to be a routine after playing in the Sittaränni.

Yours truly riding down the wave train below the Torminvirta rapid.

After getting enough we paddled thru Karkuuskoski and Sittaränni back to the car for a quick snack. I capsized in the Sittaräni while trying to catch a big river with too aggressive ferrying in wrong place and hitting my left hip to rocks in the bottom.

My hip after making some contact with the rocks of the Sittaränni.

After few meat pastries and coffee in the shed sheltered from the rain, we loaded our packrafts with about 15 kilo rucksacks and paddled back to Torminvirta. We did several runs and some ferrying in the waves. As predicted the packrafts tracked better with the load on the bow. Tuomas said that the older model Alpacka was much more stable in the rapids with the front load but I didn’t feel major difference in my 2011 model Llama. This is mostly because of the big butt that adds stability. We both noticed that the rafts were more sluggish and slower to respond.

Tuomas riding down the Torminvirta with rucksack on the bow.

At some point we noticed that the clock was around 6:00 pm and it was time to get back home after six hours of nearly constant white water fun. We rode down all the three rapids with no problems,  catched an eddy after Sittaränni and took out. We packed the wet gear in rain, shared a last chocolate bar and started the drive back home. It was a good day: learning new things and having great time! I’m not still too confident about the big drops and long class III stretches that wait us in Lapland but I think we’ll manage. At least our self-rescue routine is already quite good.

Yours truly riding the waves in Torminvirta with rucksack keeping the bow down.

Few words about gear

– As is widely known the 2011 Llama is veeery cool boat. The new hull makes it a lot more stable. I don’t think this is very big deal in class I or II but the difference will be likely remarkable in more challenging white water. But luckily Tuomas is more experienced paddler than I am… The standard spray deck doesn’t work with “leisure boating” style pfds. It might work better with high riding white water kayaking pfds but I think I’ll be adding some velcro to the deck or getting the “Beefy spray deck” upgrade from Alpacka later. I am 186cm long and the Llama is okay for me but for playing in white water I might move the seat forward and swap the backrest into dry sack to move it along with the seat. The seat is attached with cord threaded through four tabs (two on each side) and I think that the seat would be just fine threaded more forward with just one pair of tabs. Then a bottom tab of a dry sack (e.g. Ortlieb PS17, size M or so) could be threaded to the tabs in the back of the boat and the top of the dry sack could be attached to the tie-down plates used to attach the removable backrest. This would move the paddler more forward and create a 20-30 liters of dry space for gear near the center of the gravity.

The two part aluminum paddle from Welhonpesä performed well enough and is a good pick for the price.

Cheap wetsuits from Motonet are very useful in colder water. The suit is not especially designed for paddling but works well enough, gives some protection from rocks while swimming and is very reasonably priced. I think I’ll add a relief zipper to mine for conveniency. Cheap neoprene socks (Snow Fox brand) work also very well and have even sealed seams! But the gloves from the same brand don’t work too well for paddling as the seams chafe.

– All the pictures are taken with Olympus Though-3000 waterproof compact camera. I don’t like it too much as a camera but it can take hits and be submerged so it fits the job well. It also takes 720p video, which will likely follow later.

Next time I’ll be trying the Llama in still water with two people and two rucksacks…