Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: Lappeenranta

Microadventure with Northern Lights

I’ve heard that routine is deadly so this time, I didn’t go for an overnighter. I went for one these very fashionable microadventures as this time my trip meet the five-to-nine and other criteria. Or it could’ve been a Browernighter as well… But it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is just to get out!

A friend of mine, visited me on Sunday evening to borrow an electronic blinking and beeping super high-tech torque wrench for attaching some accessories to my bike and we decided to go for an overnighter. And soon a plan emerged: leave Monday evening, cycle to nearby lean-to shelter for fire, food, beer and so on and get back home to catch work on Tuesday morning.

I managed to pack everything on the bike and could ride without a backpack! Maybe not big news for established bikepackers with special kit but I only had straps and roll-top bags (and a 9,90 euros beam rack to help). And maybe not big news for UL enthusiasts but I had my winter sleeping bag, three beers, bag of buns, a family size bottle of bbq sauce and so on… I thought all of it was very essential, unlike the Gorillapod I left at home.

Riding was quite chilly but good on the dirt roads in the moon light, and with little help from my new improvised bikelight (Fenix HP10 headlamp strapped to the bike with some p-cord). The ride took only about an hour so I should really do this more often…

At the lean-to we chopped the one-meter logs to smaller pieces, hard work which warmed us a lot more than the fire meters away from the lean-to, as it often is on established shelters…

Sausages were grilled, beers were enjoyed and muffins (this time from a local bakery) with minttu-kaakao followed. The beer of the trip was Founders’ All Day IPA which I saw Mark, the father of Browernighters, mentioning in one of his tweets so I had to give it a try. It comes in lightweight bikepacking-friendly glass bottles (pack inside woollen socks and stuff bottles in the middle of you sleeping bag and fear for the worst…) I also had to drink the beer straight from the bottle as I saved some weight by leaving my cup at home… But it was still very good: crisp and light with hoppy and bitter (in a good way) aftertaste. Recommended, but maybe not for bikepacking on bumpy trails.

Later in the evening I was on the platform trying some moonlit long-exposure shots with the little Canon S90 I had for this trip when I noticed something weird in the horizon…

And yes! Sometimes you don’t have to go all the way to the North to get lucky. Auroras on the sky in South-East Finland!

The light show was quite short, maybe 10-15 minutes but quite intense and lively for one this fas South. It was mostly grey and green but the lights moved vividly and occasionally pillars rose all the way to the zenith. I was, once gain, quite sorry for not bringing a tripod. And also little sorry for not having my EOS 550D. But happy that I had something more appropriate than the camera-mimicking function of my phone.

After the light show it was time to hit the sack. My bag was very warm which was welcome after the long and quite chilly evening. It also helped to balance the lack of full length sleeping pad, although the cushioning on biking shorts also works as a micro-pad under your heels during the night…

In the morning the friend of mine had to bolt to the work and I enjoyed the grey morning with more relaxed pace having breakfast and coffee before heading back home. I checked a couple of pieces of local history (a re-built wooden chute used back in the days to float logs from lake to another, and piece of anti-tank obstacle of the Salpa Line). It was a grey morning but riding was nice as I could choose the smaller and more bumpy trails now that I didn’t have to fear for my beers and sleeping bag.

The autumn is coming to the end again. It’s still lingering there in the form of thick carpets of dry leaves on the trail and in the silhouettes of bright yellow maples but winter… Winter is coming. But I hope to squeeze in few more of these little overnighter before I get on the skis again.

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Barbecue Doesn’t Fit in a Kayak

For the last two weeks or so it has been a full on summer here in Finland. Temperatures have been close to +30C, there hasn’t been much rain (at least in the South-East) and everything is green and blooming. Well, mosquitoes are not green but they seem to be booming as well… This all means it’s about the time to start summer outdoor activities and that’s what I did. Here’s a trip report from the season’s first kayaking trip.

Usually I don’t do that much overnight trips, I prefer longer periods spend in more remote places than overnighters enable. But when the weather and company are good there’s absolutely no reason to turn down an overnighter. So I went for one, and later for another and now I’m planning a third one… But this post is about the season’s first overnighter.

I haven’t been kayaking for a while. I actually like kayaking a lot and happen to be a qualified kayaking instructor and even live at the shore of the largest lake in Finland with little wild land but plenty of water… So I guess I should do more kayaking but as I have a packraft I can’t afford a kayak at the moment. But when a friend bought himself a kayak and asked me to join him for a test trip I decided quickly to rent one. In addition to businesses, in Finland many clubs of Suomen Latu rent canoes, kayaks and equipment and also offer guiding services. I rented the kayak from local Saimaan Latu.

We started the trip from Myllysaari in Lappeenranta where I picked up the rental kayak from the club’s fine kayak shed. The plan was to circumnavigate a largish island called Kirkkosaari, spend a night in a shelter on the way and return back to Myllysaari the next day.

We started late in the afternoon in good weather: warm, sunny but windy enough to keep it cool and add a little extra challenge for crossing the more exposed areas. Water was probably around +18C so there was no need for a drysuit, which would’ve probably caused a heat stroke anyway. Short underwear, nice button-up shirt and cap was all that was needed – and of course a PFD.

There were also nice shores without summer houses, with a wilderness like feeling.

We paddled, paddled some more and then kept paddling. After some three hours in the boats we had very late lunch break on rocks sheltered behind a nice island. No bugs, no wind, warm sun shine. Could it get any better?

The wind was slowly dying and the going was getting better with air cooling and lake calming down. After the break we soon reached the lean-to we had originally planned to use but decided to go for another hour as the conditions were so nice. It was perfect on the lake: warm, sun low in the horizon, no wind, calm waters, tranquil atmosphere.

I guess we could have kept paddling for quite a long time in the lovely conditions but we had agreed a meeting at the next lean-to. We had a problem as we wanted to have some quality grilled food but open fires were banned due the dryness and we couldn’t fit a proper barbecue in the kayaks… As a solution we called cavalry to the rescue – with a barbecue!

After some 25km of kayaking we met N at a lean-to shelter easily accessible from a road. And she had brought barbecue with her! Evenings’ program was mostly grilling, eating and trying to not mind the mosquitoes. The lean-to is located in a nice spot on a riverside near the lake shore and the area was populated with birds and mosquitoes and we even saw a beaver in the river.

Exploring the river upstream past the shelter.

The big lump under the bridge is actually a beaver!

Around midnight N left as she had work the next morning and we pitched my Hilleberg Anjan 3 to shelter us from the bugs. I slept well trough the night and to my surprise didn’t wake up being too hot in the morning. Rolling up both ends of the tent makes it quite well suited for hot weather as well. My friend Tuomas was traveling light without a sleeping pad and said the night had been somewhat restless…

After breakfast and coffee cooked on Bush Buddy wood burning stove it was time to set on the waters again. The conditions weren’t bad but not as good as the previous evening: it was warm but cloudy, there was a headwind and forecast was threatening us with rain. The stiffness in my upper body reminded me that I hadn’t been kayaking for a while before yesterday but the headwind helped to warm up the sore muscles.

Because of the headwind we decided to take some 5km shorter route and do a little portage. After a few hours we reached the portage in rain (Notice the photos missing as it was raining?) and easily carried our kayaks on the other side. Mosquitoes and rain didn’t encourage to have a longer pause so we just continued paddling untill the rain ended and we could have a lunch break on the waters without the bugs.

Later we had a proper break on a small island enjoying snacks and watching train of barges sail past us. We paddled past islands crowded with summer houses of varying size and shape.

The town silhoutte was visible in the horizon for the latter half of the day but it took some time to get there… As we closed the town and harbour area we zig zagged trough the archipelago and found an interesting shipwreck before finishing the trip. The second day turned out to be some 27km and took little under six hours with breaks.

The trip reminded me that it would make a lot sense to own a kayak when living next to lake Saimaa but I guess I’ll stick with the rentals for now but I’ll be definitely kayaking more this summer!