Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Tag Archives: Saimaa

Farewell to winter?

Why are you leaving so early again, dear winter?

15-02-22EOS 6D9604_600It seems that it’s time to say farewell to the winter who is leaving the Southern Finland too early again. Way too early. The winter here was short but not as bad as the previous one either: We had a decent amount of snow and the lakes did freeze but the temperatures zig-zagged around zero… But it was still pretty good winter. Most of my time outdoors was spent on guiding and instructing the Ankarat avotunturit courses. The time in between was spent mostly doing administrative work and preparing for what is to come.

My outdoor year started with some hunting in early January and included spending a night in open (though not public, but still free to use if you find it!) wilderness hut. My friend got the fox and an hour later I shot the manged raccoon dog. Traditional sit and wait hunt with not-so-traditional tools. No luck with hare the following day but a great start for the year anyway!

15-01-09EOS 6D9250_600 15-01-10EOS 6D9263_600 15-01-10EOS 6D9265_600The first Ankarat avotunturit introduction course was held at the Syöte National Park. It’s a great location with open marsh plains and deep spruce forests framed by rolling hills. And with a guarantee of snow!

This time too, the snow was plenty but unfortunately the temps were around zero. I started with a solo overnighter to scout the conditions skiing with my OAC Kar 147s first from the visitor center to Ahmatupa hut (Great hut! Rent the key for the reservation hut to use the sauna if you visit it!). The next day I continued scouting the trails to and from Toraslampi doing a bit of bad orienteering as I forgot to take my map from the car the previous evening and thus missed the coffee and donuts at visitor center…

15-01-16EOS 6D9329_600 15-01-16EOS 6D9333_600On the course we skied from the visitor center to Toraslampi and back spending a rather wet night in tents. Thanks to Hotel Iso-Syöte for the course venue!

15-01-18EOS 6D9346_600 15-01-18EOS 6D9362_600The next weekend we had the training trip of the Svalbard expedition crew (Huippuvuoret 2015). This was held at Padasjoki at Päijänne National Park which offered awesome surface for skiing, mild temps and a cooling breeze that helped to keep our tents dry. The crew did really well and I’m sure we will have a great expedition in Svalbard! The Kelvene area also inspired me to plan some packrafting adventures for the closing summer…

15-01-24EOS 6D9374_600 15-01-24EOS 6D9387_600Then I had two more introduction courses. First at Taipalsaari skiing on the frozen Lake Saimaa. Again mild temps, wet snow and a fair wind in the evening which added a bit of challenge to pitching the camp on the ice. Good training.

15-01-31EOS 6D9418_600The second course was again at lake Päijänne but this time at Jämsä. Conditions were very familiar: overcast, mild temps and a bit of wet snow. The kind of winter we’ve had. Luckily I had a nice group of wilderness guides, students and teachers to add a bit of colour to the otherwise grey conditions.

15-02-05EOS 6D9428_600I was also instructing on the Ankarat avotunturit special courses related to safety training and first aid and expedition medicine. You can read more about them and see a few photos in the Avotunturit blog.

At the end of February I had time for an overnighter with N. We decided to explore the surroundings of our new home at Riihimäki. We had visited the groomed ski tracks and slopes of Riutta before for training and had noticed a map which showed a groomed ski track to some nearby shelters and fire places. We didn’t know anything but what was on the map. But that’s enough for a little adventure! Especially when you go without a map or compass only checking the map at the beginning of the trail and trusting that your phone will save you in case you get lost…

So, late on Saturday afternoon we packed the gear and headed to the ski track walking trough the dark slushy streets and drizzle. The winter seemed to be about to leave. The groomed track to Riutta was easy going but from Riutta there was no groomed ski track marked on the map. Just the signs of summer trail “Ilvesreitti” (click “Kesäretkeily”, “Retkeilyreitit” and “Riihimäen reitti”), but we assumed it would take us to the right place and after some open streams, road walking, forest walking and even a bit of skiing we found ourselves at the first shelter and called it a day.

15-02-21EOS 6D9590_600 15-02-21EOS 6D9592_600Nice dinner by the camp fire followed but the night was slightly uncomfortable as I had to sleep on me side because the benches at the shelter were too narrow for me to sleep on my back… Clearly ment for day visitors only. The morning welcomed us back on the trail with more rain and occasional shower of snow. In the daylight route finding was easier and we could ski a bit more but still had to walk every now and then to spare our skis. The snow was melting fast and the next week the only places to ski in would be the prepared tracks and open fields.

15-02-21EOS 6D9597_600 15-02-22EOS 6D9602_600 15-02-22EOS 6D9608_600We were back home wet and with new scratches in our skis but happy none the less. The most important thing is to get out!

15-02-22EOS 6D9612_600So, I managed to fulfill the first two months of the #twonights challenge! Six nights in January (counting the 31.1.-1.2.) and two in February. And even though the challenge is “closed”, you are still free to join for peer support and pressure to make sure you get a healthy dose of nights outdoors every month!

– – –

So it seems like it would be time to say farewell to winter.

But I don’t want to.

Hear this winter, I’m not finished with you yet! There is no mountain so high, cave so deep or wilderness so cold that I wouldn’t find you!

I’ll start from the fjells of Sarek in early March. And should you try to escape, I’ll be searching you from the cold shores and jagged peaks of Spitsbergen in April. And I’m pretty sure that in May I’ll find you from the glaciers of Iceland.

I’m not finished with you yet, winter!

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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!

 

 

Summer Solstice Solitude

Another overnighter trip report! Sorry, if you are getting bored. I’ll try write about kit/gear/stuff later, and of course finish the posts about the past winter. But for now, trip report it is!

My original plan was to spend the festive mid-summer weekend, Juhannus as we call it, working and I really didn’t have any other plans for the weekend. But things change. And when I found I had no work to do I though of it as a possibility to consume less and be more outdoors. Suits me.

As the weather forecast was good I quite quickly came up with a nice trip idea I named “summer solstice solitude”: borrow friend’s kayak, paddle around the western Pien-Saimaa area and search for a tiny islet to spend the shortest night of the year. I even borrowed Hilleberg Soulo tent to have a free-standing tent with a small footprint to fit on the tiniest of rocky islets.

I got on the waters a bit after 17:00 after a substantial energy level boosting in the form of meat pastries stuffed with additional ham and egg (local specialty called “vety”) with my brother at the Lappeenranta harbour.

The weather was gorgeous and the kayak glided nearly effortlessly across the calm waters. Going was good and I felt confident even though this was my first time on a solo kayaking trip.

I had some small islets in mind but I soon found that I was a month or two late booking my place for the night as angry seagulls had already booked all the nice little islets. And of course most of the bigger islands were littered with summer houses, now occupied with people spending the mid-summer weekend in the traditional Finnish style: cottage by the lake, friends, sauna, barbecue, big bonfire and getting drunk.

With less seagulls and little lower water level this would’ve made a great camp!

As I wanted to have a bit of solitude and an island of my own I kept searching.

After couple of hours of kayaking my feet started to fall asleep. The borrowed kayak was a little bit too tight fit for my well-trained bottom so I decided to have a little beer break and get the blood flowing again.

I continued paddling towards some small islands that had looked promising on the map but found them to be very densely vegetated, not meeting my idea of small rocky islet. So I kept paddling as the going was good and the evening was beautiful.

At one point I decided I should camp by 20:00, then it was 20:30 and finally it was well past 21:00 before I decided to settle on nice rocky cliffs on a bigger island. It wasn’t exactly according to the plan but the island didn’t have any summer houses nor could I spot any on the shores in the horizon and the camp was on a cool spot with great views so I declared it good enough.

There is always something especially appealing in camping on top of a high place!

But immediately after getting ashore I noticed I would not be alone for the night: There were ants. A lot of ants. As it was late I decided to stay anyway and quite soon learnt to come along with the ants. As long as I stayed relatively still they didn’t actually climb on me or bite me that much but when moving around they got into my Croccs and started biting my feet which wasn’t very nice.

I pitched the tent, took a swim and lit the disposable grill I had brought to celebrate the mid-summer.

The longest day of the year ended with a sunset worth of the special day and after dessert the nearly full “super moon” rose above the horizon. All this made good photos but the cool evening also brought in the bugs so I retired to the shelter of the tent. Instead of counting sheeps I counted over 30 mosquitoes on the mesh of the tent door before falling asleep. (Which didn’t actually take that long.)

I slept well, as I usually do in the outdoors, waking to the pesky alarm that I had set for 3.20 am to catch the sunrise. What was I thinking setting up the alarm? After a quick look it was apparent that the sunrise would’ve required walking over the big rocky hill to the other side of the island so I didn’t bother and got back to sleep.

Later in the morning I woke up and started preparing breakfast and packing kit. I burnt my porridge on the canister stove (I’m too used to cooking it on fire or wood stove.), snapped my spork (Well, it had already lived for about two years.), got bitten by the ants and started to think if it was going to be a good day at all…

After the morning chores I gathered a bit of confidence and set on the waters. I re-checked a potential climbing rock on the shore for future deep water solo efforts. (Thanks for fellow blogger Lauri for  the term.) After getting out from the shelter of the island it was evident that I’d be enjoying headwind for the rest of the day. Going was still okay but not nearly as fast as the day before. There seemed to be also more boat traffic than the day before.

Climbing?

At one point my legs had gone past the numb phase into hurting-quite-a-lot-and-going-to-spasm-soon phase and I hurried to search for a decent place to have the first break of the day. Learning from the previous I later took couple of more breaks before arriving back to the harbour area and nearly got tipped over because of a boat speeding past me under a small bridge. Nice. Luckily I just got splashed over and didn’t even have to do any ninja moves to stay upright and dodge a bridge pillar near by. After the little drama I got back to the kayak shed and called it a day.

I got the bit of solstice solitude I was looking for but I have to say I find outdoors activities more meaningful when done with friends to share the experience.

– – –

As usual, some extra photos can be found from my gallery.

Lake Kuolimo by Canoe

Last week’s overnighter was supposed to be a kayaking trip to lake Kuolimo in South East Finland not far from where I live. The plan was to go with T who has a kayak and I would have rented a kayak from the local club SaiLa just like before… But it turned out they don’t rent kayaks on Tuesdays!  We didn’t let this stop us and instead borrowed a canoe as you got to get your outdoors fix in a way or another.

Lake Kuolimo

Kuolimo is an interesting little (about 80 sq km) lake located in the South-East Finland in the municipalities of Savitaipale and Suomenniemi. It has very clear water (unlike most other lakes in Southern Finland), quite impressive rocky shores and it drains to lake Saimaa via two narrow rocky rapids: Partakoski and Kärnäkoski. According to official information these rapids are unsuitable for kayaking or canoeing but we were able to navigate them with our canoe – though they don’t provide much white water fun. Back in the days the rapids had been cleaned from rocks for floating timber but they have been restored as there is an extremely endangered population of Saimaa arctic charr living in the lake Kuolimo.

There are a couple of established nature trails at the shores of the lake, several lean-to shelter with fireplaces and also some services at the shores of the lake like the Partaranta that offers little pricey but delicious pizzas. And then of course there’s the large village (kirkonkylä) of Savitaipale with abundance of services for outdoors folk passing by. Of course there are plenty of summer houses on the lake shores so there is no feeling of a real big wilderness in my opinion – as is the unfortunate case in most of Southern Finland. But you can always find a nice bay or strait with no visibility to cottages and enjoy the nature around you.

I’d see Kuolimo as a  great destination for a 2-5 days canoeing or kayaking trip. On longer trip you would have time to visit the sights: walk the nature trails, visit the old fortress at Kärnäkoski, etc. and maybe try some bouldering on the rock faces on the shores. I assume there is quite a lot of boat traffic in the summer holiday season so preferably go during weekdays in the early summer or early autumn to get some solitude. Also biking around the lake would make sense, there are even some established bike routes!

Here are high-resolution photos of some information boards along the way if you’re interested in the details.

Click for a larger high-resolution version!

Click for a larger high-resolution version!

Showers, sauna and other luxuries

After shopping and a coffee break followed with some heart-in-my-throat rally driving by T we made it alive to our starting point at Luotolahti in the North-East corner of the lake. The original plan was to kayak around the large headland of Suomenniemi but as canoe is slower than kayak we adjusted the plan slightly. Quite soon after the sunny start the rain returned and we were able to enjoy occasional cold shower every now and then through the whole day. For some reason rain is much less of a problem when in a kayak – especially as I didn’t take any waterproof trousers as the good old ultra light style requires…

First we paddled trough the long narrow strait of “Luotolahden Kapia” which is quite impressive place with its rocky shores. When we got on the more open waters we decided to head to Partakoski for lunch at restaurant at Partaranta. We had a rare case of tailwind so we tried some sailing and got nice speeds of 7km/h or so but the sail rigged from cheap hardware store tarp could use a little upgrade… If I’d go canoeing regularly I’d definitely sew a sail for my canoe!

The route to the lake Saimaa down the Partakoski rapid includes three sections of rocky and narrow swift water but to our surprise those were quite easy to navigate with the canoe. They required active maneuvering and slow going but provided actually fun little challenges but were unfortunately very short. The maneuvering was rewarded with pizzas (13 euro each) and beers (small beer 4,50 euro) at the restaurant terrace were we watched the weather roll in again with a thunder in the distance and heavy rain surrounding us.

Last section of Partakoski seen from the bridge.

As the rain didn’t seem to be going anywhere, we decided to take the initiative and started to paddle away from it. Plan was to paddle about one kilometer on the lake Saimaa and then paddle up the Kärnäkoski as high as possible and to portage back to Kuolimo. There is an old mill and a bridge with quite small passage under it with the bridge being the only sensible option to portage. We were able to paddle up to the mill quite easily but when closing to the bridge I had to jump out from the canoe and push it upstream wading in very fast mid-thigh deep water while Tuomas was paddling and steering in the front. This was actually quite easy as the canoe offered some “cover” from the water and a support to lean against. We made it trough the little hole quite easily and were back at lake Kuolimo.

Kärnäkoski, the mill on the right, the bridge on the left.

For the night we decided to paddle to a lean-to located on the Western shore of Lehtisensaari island (quite a big island of about 3 sq km that used to have permanent settlements). While the way to the Southern tip of the island was quite nice and relaxed the weather decided to throw in one more challenge for the day: rain rolled in again and after passing the tip of the island we were faced  with strong wind from the West generating big waves that properly rocked our canoe. (No photos of this as I was too busy paddling…) We paddled close to the shore enjoying the rollercoaster and finally reached the lean-to.

The plan for the evening was to luxury camp with some gourmet food and an improvised tent sauna. The cold showers during the way were not that luxurious but the camp proved good: The wind settled a bit but still kept the mosquitoes away, rain didn’t return and we even got a proper sunset. We reshaped the fire-place to serve as a sauna stove and started to heat the rocks while preparing dinner: bruchettas (btw the WordPress Proofreading suggest “brunettes” here but we didnät have any with us…) with Spanish style tapas and red wine for starters (as tested on the previous trip), salmon fillet cooked  on a piece of wood in the glow of the fire and grilled veggies as main course (with more cheap red btu still no brunettes…) followed with Irish Coffee and marshmallows as dessert. This time even the cream made it and was easily whipped by shaking it in a Nalgene bottle!

Notice the improvised-on-site cooking equipment.

After the proper three course dinner it was time to improvise the sauna. There were some slightly charred tree trunks at the shelter and we had a big tarp with us and these combined with the seats around the pimped fireplace and some pack straps made a cozy yet very functional sauna for two. (Caution! If you build an improvised sauna, remember to put out the fire properly before covering your stove with a fabric, otherwise carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or other nasty fumes may get you!) As the wind kept to bugs away there was no need to pitch the tent and after the sauna, swims and beers we retired to our sleeping bags under the lean-to.

We slept long, prepared breakfast on the camp fire with no hurry and feeling lazy (all that cheap red?) decided to just take the straight route back to Luotolahti. The weather was good with sunshine and only a slight breeze. On the way back to Luotolahti we found some nice rock by the water and Tuomas decided to try a bit of bouldering but not having climbing shoes quickly changed the sport into swimming. (Caution! This is fun but check the spot thoroughly before jumping or falling into the water from any high places!)

Towards the end of the trip the wind picked up again and we felt cold so we had a coffee break with roaring fire at the lean-to in the Luotolahden Kapia strait before arriving back to the car. On the last bit we saw seagulls apparently trying to fend of something in the water: The birds didn’t mind us floating only 10 meters away but kept diving and hovering above the reed next to a little islet… Maybe there was a snake swimming to the nest?

After admiring the airshow for long enough we paddled the last strokes back to our car and headed home. Another jolly good overnighter!

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PS. As usual, more photos in my gallery.