Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: overnighter

Update on the #twonights Challenge

Some time ago I challenged everyone (who dares) to try to spend two nights out every month through the year 2015. As the challenge was published in mid-January some people are/were not able to get their #twonights done in January so I decided it would be fair to offer also a February start for the challenge. After all, the idea is just to encourage more people (myself included) to get out more regularly.

IMG_8747_600So, one less excuse to get out and sleep under the nylon/stars/snow/whateveryoufancy. You can start getting your two nights each month on February and continue to the end of January 2016. Total of 24 nights at the minimum and two nights each month.

Also to be clear, it’s okay to spent the night in tent, in lean-to or even in an open wilderness log cabin. The idea is just to get our more regularly through the year. No strict rules as long as you get out in the nature and spent two nights out each month.

2013_04_12_9999_108_600If you want to participate take a look at the original challenge here. And if you want me to share your online content about your two nights of each month, follow the directions and notify me and I’ll share your nights through the whole year!

I also noticed that the father of microadventure, Alistair Humpreys, is running a similar challenge in 2015. It’s little easier as it requires only one night a month but you should be bivying (as it’s a microadventure, not just any overnighter) so no tents or cabins. If you can’t make two nights a month, at least try one night a month!

2013_06_21_9999_84_600To repeat myself: Now you have one less excuse! Start planning and make the 2015 one of the best outdoor years you’ve had!

That’s what I’ll be doing!

Outdoor Challenge for 2015: #twonights

Here’s a nice little challenge for you to give you some extra motivation to get outdoors also this year! 2013_06_11_9999_55_900 What?

The challenge is pretty simple:

1) Get out, do something “outdoorsy” and sleep outside. (Just sleeping on the backyard doesn’t really count.)
2) Do it twice a month through the whole year 2015. *

The idea is by no means original and I found it originally on Finnish outdoor forum Vaellusnet back in 2013.

I thought this would a nice idea and I’m sure all but the most enthusiastic outdoor folks usually have at least month or two each year when they don’t reach this target. For example I’ve been sleeping outdoors 60 or more nights a year over the past half a decade but still I have a month or two each year when I don’t sleep outdoors at all. There are the depressing shoulder season months, months busy with mundane responsibilities, the too cold winter months and many other excuses not to go out. But I’m sure that a public challenge and some peer pressure would fix this, so here we go! IMG_9097_900 Why?

The main motivation is naturally going outdoors and getting more nights under the canvas or stars. Also when “having to go” around the year you will hopefully experience new seasons and conditions and while squeezing in a night or two during the busy times you’ll find new ways and places to go for an overnighter trip. This should be already interesting on its own but to motivate you further… 2013_10_30_9999_10_900 If you are blogging or otherwise sharing your outdoor activities online I’ll promise to share your posts thru the whole year 2015! I hope this will motivate you and others to get outdoors more regularly and will probably get some extra attention and traffic for your online content.

There are no prizes set for participating but if this turns out to be popular I’ll arrange a nice prize and it’ll be raffled between those who make it through the whole year, all the way from January to December. Two nights a month. 2013_07_10_9999_16_900 How?

Rules are that you should get a minimum of two nights outdoors every month through the whole year, from January to December. * Edit: Due to several requests I added a February start option, so 12 months from February 2015 to January 2016 counts too.

So, a minimum of 24 nights out during the year. It’s far from impossible but will hopefully provide a nice challenge and plenty of great experiences. As said, only sleeping outside (backyard, camping area, parking area, etc.) is not enough but you should do something “outdoorsy” in addition. Walking or cycling to your camping spot or preparing dinner on a fire is enough for me. But maybe you could try something new? Go for a swimhike? The trip can be anything from a five-to-nine microadventure to a multi-month expedition, as long as you’ll get your two nights out every month through the whole year. 2013_07_09_9999_10_900 If you share your outings online and want me to help sharing them:

1) Comment on this post sharing the link to your blog or other online platform. I’ll include a list of participants with every post.
2) Post reports/proof of your two nights a month by the 7th day of the following month. If you are lucky to get more outdoor time in a month, choose any two nights you want.
3) Post links to the reports/proofs you’d like to share by commenting this or any of the #twonights posts in my blog. I hope to be in the outdoors enough not to have the time to go through all of the great content, so this will make sure your posts/reports will be shared.
4) At some point during each month I’ll gather and publish all the posts from the previous month into a single blog post linking to your trip reports. If you don’t blog or otherwise share your trips you can also comment directly on the summary post of each months, sharing the trips you did the past month.

Any language or media. Anywhere in the world. No limits for creativity. The outdoor experience is a universal thing.

Feel free to share the idea! It’s great to go out in the wild and sleep under the stars. I firmly believe more people should do it so the more “noise” there is online, the better. You can use hashtag #twonights for you reports. IMG_3322_900 I challenge you, and myself, to get outdoors more regularly,
starting with two nights a month through the whole year 2015!

Do you pick up the gauntlet?

Helsinki Adventure Night Adventure Night

Last Saturday it was once again time for the annual Helsinki Adventure Night, an adventure and climbing oriented movie evening. This year offered an interesting documentary about research work on Antarctica in the form of Antarctica: A Year On Ice, excellent keynote speech from Ueli Steck himself and Valley Uprising, a documentary about the history of modern rock climbing in Yosemite valley.

But for some this wasn’t quite enough of an adventure, despite the long queues to the restroom and bar during the intermissions.

HAN-Marko-Takanen

Photo by Marko Takanen. See the rest of his set by clicking the pic!

Before the big night Marko suggested on Twitter a proper follow-up adventure for the event and we ended up with a plan involving camping in an island and ferrying ourselves there with couple of small inflatable boats in the middle of the night after the show. Plan was good but my preparations were pretty sloppy: I forgot to take my shell clothing despite the forecasted rain and sleet, I forgot to pack beer and forgot to buy food while shops were still open so only had a bag of marshmallows… But that’s no reason not to go for a little adventure!

After the movies a group of five jolly adventurers met outside the theater ready for a little adventure. On the way to the sea-shore I stopped at a fast food restaurant to fill an empty soda bottle at the toilet and buy some sandwiches to grill over fire. Missing water and food covered. The weather was better than expected: around zero and no rain so I was okay without the hardshell. And I also had a little flask of whiskey in my HMG pack so that made up the lack of beer. All covered and ready to go!

We met at the shore in Kaivopuisto little after midnight. The party people waiting for a taxi didn’t believe that we were about to ferry ourselves into an island and sleep there under a tarp just for fun. Well, we are all different. If I can choose between an evening in a nightclub or an evening by a camp fire… It’s a no brainer!

The first crossing to Uunisaari was ruined with a temporary bridge but we decided to take advantage of it anyway as it was already late. The next crossing was a real deal and we crossed it ferrying a little Packboat canoe and an Alpackraft packraft back and forth. After little exploration we found a great camp site with level rock platform for sleeping and an old fireplace. Soon we had a big tarp rigged to shelter us from the cold wind blowing from the sea and a crackling to keep us warm. (Thanks Alpo!)

Very early in the morning we retired side by side under the big tarp. During the night the temperature dropped a bit below zero and some of us had slightly chilly night in their summer bags, me included. Morning was gorgeous with the sun visible for the first time for a couple of weeks. We had coffee and breakfast by the fire and walked around the island to get a good view of it, the sea and the city on the background before ferrying ourselves back to Uunisaari and to the mainland.

It was a great little adventure. A proper ending for the Helsinki Adventure Night. I hope there will be a sequel next year!

– – –

See also Joni’s report and Marko’s photos.

One Raft, Two Bikes and an Ancient Campsite

The last weekend N and I had a rare overlapping weekend without other projects and an overnighter was soon planned…

I wanted to do some more packrafting and found the Ruokolahden melontareitti, a 110km paddling route with some shelters and fireplaces along the way. As is the case in South-East Finland the route is mostly on the waters of lake Saimaa. But there was also a short river section, Lieviskänjoki, which was of interest for me as a packrafter.

The plan was simple: drop bikes to a shelter at Hiekkaniemi cape, drive to Pieni Jukajärvi lake and paddle 18km along the river and lakes to the shelter, spend the night at the shelter and cycle back to the car on Sunday.

We started the Saturday by dropping the bikes near the shelter and happened to meet some amateur archaeologists who had been searching the area as people have lived and traveled there also on the ancient times some 6000 years ago as the ice sheet had given up the area. The waterways were the natural routes before the time of roads that nowadays, sadly, reach almost every corner of Southern Finland. It was nice to think that we were about to follow an ancient waterway and sleep next to ancient campsite or settlement. There would be also some rock paintings on the way and we planned to take a look, but things don’t always go as planned.

After some more driving we were at the Pieni-Jukajärvi lake and found a good put in to start paddling. Thanks to sleeping in and spending some time chatting with the archaeology enthusiasts we were about two hours behind the planned schedule. But it was only 18 kilometers and we had nearly six hours before sunset and good possibility for a back-wind on the lake so we were confident…

To keep things interesting we had chosen to share an Alpackraft Explorer 42 instead of having separate boats. We hadn’t tried that ever before but it seemed possible. With the two of us and the gear we were probably close to the recommended maximum load of 200 kg and despite being quite big people we did fit in surprisingly comfortably. (We’ve also paddled sections of rivers in a single Alpackraft Llama with plenty of gear but that was far from comfortable…)

The river started as a small ditch but had enough room for the packraft and even a little flow to help us. We passed the first lean-to on our route, populated by a friendly group of men spending quality time in the woods with plenty of booze and car camping equipment. As we were on tight schedule we soon continued on the river taking breaks one at a time while the other was using the paddle as a two-bladed kayak paddle instead of two canoe paddles.

The flow was low and the river was quite densely vegetated, especially under the surface, which slowed us down and instead of the planned 4km/h our speed was around 2km/h and thus the 6 kilometer river took us some three hours leaving less than three to the sunset. As the wind had died we had no hope for packsailing across the lakes so it seemed we’d have to paddle in the dark… It was sort of “all in” situation as the waterway was the shortest route available because of the broken shoreline that was protected and thus without summer houses and roads. And to be honest, a long walk on the gravel wasn’t very inspiring idea either.

So we kept on paddling. 2,7 kilometers across the Lieviskänjärvi lake followed by a short and late lunch break at the mandatory portage around the ruins of an old mill. Then 4 kilometers along the narrow Lieviskänlahti sound. We passed the site of rock paintings in the sunset not having time to stop to search for them and rushed to cross the 6 kilometers of open waters at Muikunselkä and Rajakivenselkä. “Rushed” at what seemed to be 3 km/h as we started to be little tired and uncomfortable in our tiny raft.

It got dark and we had to navigate by the close-by shorelines and the horizon lines against the darkening night sky where stars started to appear. I was cursing myself not checking the time of the moon rise as I had been counting on some moonlight to help us but there wasn’t any available yet. We followed a marked boating lane as it would lead us by the little sandy cape we were aiming for. We paddled without headlamps to preserve our nightvision and to better see the little of the surroundings visible in the distance.

I was getting cold and N wasn’t too keen on paddling on the open lake in the dark.

The latter wasn’t helped by a boat heading to the opposite direction on the lane. We hadn’t seen any boats earlier the day but now heard a boat from the distance and then saw its lights and paddled out from the way towards a nearby island. We continued again, until we heard a second boat approaching. This time we didn’t see any light but heard the boat closing in fast and hastily paddled again out from the way. The boat passed us from a safe distance with high-speed – and without any lights. We decided to take the headlamps at hand to signal our existence and location in case of more boats.

Luckily, there were no more boats and we soon saw the horizon line dropping against a more distant horizon line marking the cape and the end of our night-time paddling. Seven and half hours after the start we had covered the 18 kilometers and were happily ashore on our planned campsite. We wobbled out from the boat with numb toes and stiff feet. To be fair, it wasn’t too bad taking into concideration the time we’d spend paddling in the tiny boat.

We put on more clothes and changed the wet and cold neoprene socks to dry woollen socks and trail runners and started a fire to get warm. Proper packrafting stuff. I noticed I was actually more cold than I had thought while paddling. Something you don’t think too much while you’re concentrated on navigation and making progress… +5 C night-time temps were forecasted and I had been only wearing two thin layers and Anfibio Buoy Boy vest which is not as warm as a typical foam filled PFDs. No wonder I was cold.

About immediately after we got on the shore the moon rose behind our back lighting the scenery. Soup, toasted sandwiches and hot chocolate tasted very good. Actually, even better than the cold beer. I spend some time taking photos of the moonlit mist on the lake before retiring to the warmth of my sleeping bag, once again sleeping on the thickest airbed I’ve ever taken on a trip: the packraft.

I woke occasionally to admire the misty moonlit lake and later the sunrise over the waters but always fell asleep after a short glimpse at the scenery. No ghosts of ancient travelers or hunters bothered our sleep. After sleeping in late the day was started with porridge and local lingon berries, smores (we were too tired to eat them the previous evening) and grower’s cup coffee (Quick verdict: Good coffee but little pricey and the trash would be a problem on longer trips.)

I hadn’t spent much time planning on lashing the gear on my bike and thus ended up with just some gear on the beam rack and most of the odd but lightish kit in my trusty HMG Porter pack. After some iterations and re-lashing I was good to go for the 30+ kilometers back to the car. I had sketched the route roughly on map by following the smallest continuous roads back to the car. I hadn’t payed any attention on the contours and was surprised by the amount of hills on our route. There were plenty. It made good training but would’ve been more fun with less equipment on the back… No surprise there.

We took it easy admiring the forest, rocks and ponds on the way following small winding gravel and sand roads up and down towards East. After a lunch break and couple of hours of pedaling we were back at the car and soon on our way back home for pizzas and beverages. A weekend well spent, though not exactly in the way we I had planned.

The small river provided an interesting adventure and the scenery on the lakes was good with plenty of rocky shores without summer houses or forestry roads, thanks to the conservation areas. The paddling route is worth another visit but next time I’ll take a kayak or canoe and paddle most or all of it. In my opinion packrafts just aren’t much fun on long lake crossings, though this time the darkness gave it a special twist keeping it interesting. But if I have to do extended lake paddling with a packraft the two person variant is a viable option: it’s little faster, you can take breaks in turns and easily socialize while paddling. I’d love to try the Alpackraft Gnu for trips like this. Maybe I’ll just have to buy one…

Special thanks for the Packrafting Store for the equipment I had in for testing!

– – –

Footnote on photos: In addition to my trusted combination of Canon EOS 6D body and the EF 24-105 4 L IS lens I also took my old and nearly forgotten EF 50 1,8 lens and it was great fun to use it in the dark with a Gorillapod. I should keep in mind that DSLRs are systems as the name says and not get stucked using one lens only. It’s not good for inspiration. Now I found myself looking for reasonably priced high aperture lenses around the 24-35mm range. Any suggestions?

Rowernighter – Trip Report and Competition

You know all these fancy names for simple trip that includes spending the night in the woods, hills or other wild(ish) place? S24h, microadventure, extreme sleeps, Browernighter and the like. Well, last week I decided to go for a one as I needed to treat my chronic post-trip hangover.

The summer in Finland is at its best with blue skies, sunshine and warm days and nights. And as I happen to live by a big lake (just nominated as one of the five most beautiful lakes in the world by WSJ) a trip to the lake was the way to go. The summer is always best by the proximity of water. At the moment my packraft is in good use somewhere in Lapland and I don’t own a kayak or canoe but that didn’t even slow me… I had an access to a simple rowboat and a friend willing to take up a pair of oars!

Rowernighter to Riutanniemi

We started in the afternoon with the most important thing: shopping. The food seems to always play a major role on the short overnighter near home and this time wasn’t an exception. Well stocked with equipment and food we headed to the shores of Western parts of Lake Saimaa and found the boat we were looking for. A boat, two sets of oars, a bailer but no PFDs. I highly recommend wearing PFDs when on the waters but we decided the lack of floatation devices would not stop us the weather was quite good, water was warm, there were two of us and the boat would float even if filled with water.

We cleaned and loaded the boat and set of around 6 pm.

The plan was to row to Mielakanranta, which was new to us, and spend the night there. We rowed the little under 10 kilometers in little over two hours, mostly into head wind, fueling ourselves with chocolate bars and beers on the go. The place at Mielakanranta was nice but judging from the amount of cars and boats we thought it might be little too busy for our taste and decided to continue into old and familiar lean-to shelter at Riutanniemi.

Even though rowing is quite easy we really felt the last kilometers as neither of us has ever done any serious rowing,or any rowing during this year. We took frequent photo and snack breaks admiring the sunset on the lake. I took photos with my Canon EOS 6D while my friend was shooting with his new Samsung Galaxy S5 which had incredibly good built-in HDR function: no candy shop colour horrors, just a great dynamic range with resolution higher than in my full frame camera! Very reasonable camera for shorter adventures which made me feel the need to upgrade my phone…

Finally we arrived at the shore, unloaded the gear and pulled the boat up high on the rocks. There were no people at the lean-to, only few mosquitoes and even those didn’t bother us untill late in the evening. We were hungry and had loads of food so we set up the kitchen and started with beers. In the spirit of Brovernighter we had brought some quality brews from Brewdog – of course in an insulated box with ice to keep them cold. Along with a barbecue and coals as open fires were restricted at the time. And fresh food and wine. The weights don’t really matter when you’re out with a boat.

Beers, tapas with toasted ciabatta, grilled pork and chicken with red bell peppers and vegetables, red wine, grilled peaches with whipped cream for dessert followed with irish coffee and some more irish coffee and whiskey when we ran out of coffee… We were spoilt, and properly stuffed.

The moon was shining bright and the night was beautiful and tranquil but the increasing bug density made relaxing in the hammock difficult so we pitched a tent for a good nights sleep and slipped inside. Sleeping bags weren’t really necessary in that weather but helped cushioning the ground.

After good but short night’s sleep the sun woke us up early but we decided to ignore it covering our heads with clothes and continued sleeping little longer. Quite a lot longer actually.

After lazy morning and late breakfast it was time to pack up, load the boat once again and head back home. And this time with a nice tailwind! We covered the 13 kilometers back home in 2 hours 20 minutes with little breaks, mostly rowing and occasionally trying to use a hammock as a sail. The latter didn’t work too well so I guess I’ll have to invest in a proper sail. We  managed to dodge a rumbling thunder front with our fast pace and before we even noticed the trip was over.

It was a nice trip with an old friend but, as I was afraid, it didn’t really help with the post-trip hangover. It’s chronic now. Rowing was fun and I’d like to try a “proper rowboat” with gliding seat and all. That should be a lot faster and maybe even more fun. Maybe next summer… And I definitely need to get a hammock with a bug net. And maybe a sail. And I need to get out on a trip again…

Reader Competition

Rowing has been traditionally very important mean of travel in the land of thousand lakes and big rowing events are still very popular but I’ve never encountered anyone on a longer trip with a rowboat or hadn’t done one myself, not even an overnighter. But this is time to change! Rowboats are (at least in Finland) readily available and underrated resource that can take you on a nice trip. about everybody know somebody who has a rowboat. So maybe you should also find a boat you can use and go for a little trip? It’s summer out there and it’s very beautiful.

 

To further encourage people to go for a Rowernighter I’m giving away a little price for the first three to report their Rowernighter online. I don’t have much to give away but the first three to report their trips will get a pouch of BlåBand Expedition Meal breakfast delivered to their mail box for free, and in addition you get to go on a nice trip! The rules are quite simple:

1. You have to go for a trip using a rowboat. Trip must last at least overnight but longer trips are also fine. Any trip during the year 2014 will do.
2. You must report the trip online with at least one photo and some text. Any language will do.
3. Post a link to your report or the report itself as a comment to this post.
4. THe first three people to submit their Rowernighter trip reports will get a free meal. (I’ll start sending these out on Monday 11.08.14).
5. Competition is valid untill the three meals are gone or by the end on 2014. Naturally trip reports are always welcome!

Please, wear PFDs and take care of ourself, fellow outdoor adventurers and the nature!