Sunday, May 13, 2018

Toni's ITI 1000 party

This winter a friend of mine, Toni Lund, did 1000 miles of Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI), the world's longest and toughest winter race. He pushed his bike for more than half the distance between Anchorage and Nome in Alaska. It was the ultimate test of winter endurance and survival with a fatbike and he did it in 26 days. Being a bike mechanic by profession, he hasn't had time to write about it yet, with the spring being an extremely busy period in bike shops. For those who understand Finnish, there is a radio show and TV show featuring interviews with Toni.

Finding a date for a little party featuring some riding and an overnighter that would suit everyone in our little group of riders is becoming increasingly difficult with everyone being middleaged and having many obligations, and we couldn't get everyone this time either. But three of us (me, Toni and JJ) met up in Kimito on Ascension Thursday to take a look at the best trails of Kimito.

The ride started like an explosion. Sure, Toni has spent the last five years in hard training for the ITI and I have pursued mainly other outdoor activities, but I've always been able to hold my own on actual technical trails, since my riding technique is quite good and efficient. No this time, though, since Toni has ridden these trails a lot and knew them well. Consequently, I had to give everything I had to keep up and it took some time for the lungs to warm up. (I've still not recovered fully from the influenza six weeks earlier.)

No pictures from this first area, where we spent around 45 minutes. A transport section followed, which if course was not ridden slowly.

 This poor viper (Vipera berus) was sunbathing in the unusual summer temperatures when suddenly almost run over by a bike. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

Now we arrived at the area I had looked most forward to see.


This was a large area of mostly open slick rock. I haven't seen anything even remotely similar in Southern Finland. A really interesting area.


The new green color of May leaves is spectacular. It cannot be accurately captured by the camera, but it has a freshness that will be lost in a few weeks. This is my favorite time of the year.

The last of the rocks...

... before turning back on small forest roads and trails.

The ride took 3.5 h and was the hardest ride I've done for a while. I then loaded the bike into my car, to ride closer to the laavu shelter where we would spend the night. Toni and JJ rode the 27 km there, but I had to get to work on Friday morning and cheated by taking the car.

The sun was now low enough that the wood anemones had gone to sleep.

The trail to the shelter was nice, but a bit technical in places.

And there it was: The superlaavu. With a view to the Gullkrona Bay, my kayaking waters.

Toni and JJ were still riding, but I rewarded myself with a beer.

And took a selfie.

Toni arrives...

 ... closely followed by JJ...

... and Matti on foot.

Time for food and drink.

Toni with the badge of honor. Not too many of these.

My second beer had been cooled by a bog.

Beer, food and talking.

Sunset a little before ten. A nightjar was jarring, if that is what they do, nearby.

The bringer of light.

Toni makes pancakes for dessert.

I went to sleep  little after one o'clock.

In the morning night a black grouse could be heard nearby, but otherwise not many birds. A little over six in the morning I got up with Matti. The morning was nice.

Breakfast with coffee.

Toni and JJ were still sleeping when we left a little over seven. They would later take the scenic route back.

Riding back to the car.

The wood anemones were awake.

That's it. A very nice outing.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ekenäs Archipelago National Park

Time for another scouting trip, this time to the Ekenäs Archipelago National Park, for a weekend outing with a group in the end of September. The area was not completely unfamiliar to me, have done some boating there in the nineties and even some paddling in the inner archipelago at the end of the eighties. Things had changed since then, though.

Tarja joined me for the weekend and we got started from Baggö around 19:40 on Friday evening. The aim was to paddle straight to Jussarö and check out the place.

Branta Canadensis.

The weather forecast had predicted sunny and nice weather, but this wasn't completely realized.

Not the best landing place available, but good enough for a few kayaks.

The designated tent site was a complete catastrophy, with a field of gravel and rocks so sharp that the tent floor would have been destroyed and no longer waterproof in just a single night. Obviously so depressing that I didn't even take a single picture of it. Outside this area some barely acceptable places were found, though.

A little food and then sleep.

The next morning had sunshine. I got up a little before seven and took a look at the island. I had actually spent a week there in 1991, in May I think, training city warfare while I did my army time. By then the mine had been deserted for several decades and abandoned buildings were used for training purposes by the army. There are remnants of both mining and army activites on the island.

A view towards northeast.

A little over eight Tarja got up and it was time for breakfast.

I settled for coffee and sandwhiches, which I never get tired of.

We got going a little before ten. Pictures of yours truly by Tarja.

We went down the east side of Jussarö.

A slight dilemma. We should have been on the other side of the west mark, but it was rather shallow there.

Approaching the Jussarö lighthouse at Sundharun.

There would have been a better landing spot on the other side of the island, but we didn't know that yet.

Another lighthouse has been conquered.

Segelskär, a day mark quite far out. Naturally on the list of places to visit at some point.

A funny bird scull.

A view towards east...

... and south.

The next task was to paddle to Modermagan, the second of three official tent sites in the national park. It was about two hours of paddling away.

This landing place wasn't particularly great. We later found a better one on the other side of the island, but it was quite far from the designated tent area.

Lunch. I finally found a really good lunch soup, a Malaysian red curry with suitably burning chili taste.

A little lake on the island.

A few kilometers away was the final official tent site, on Fladalandet.

Fladalandet was rather nice and we could very well have stayed there.

We had however seen an even better place outside the national park a little earlier and decided to paddle back a little.

I tried to take advantage of cliffs with reflections and resulting cross waves to get a feeling for how the Skim Beaufort behaves in waves. No surprises yet, it has a very smooth and predictable behaviour.

We arrived and landed at the chosen island, but after a while I found a sign, which probably hadn't had a readable text for 20 years and became unsure. A look at the map revealed that this was a bird protection area, which in itself might not mean much, especially since there were cabins in the area. An internet search revealed nothing, but we decided to go for another place with no possible restrictions. The next day I got an older kayaking map of the area from Benjamin Donner of Aavameri Sea Kayaking, which revealed that landing on the island was not allowed 1.2 -31.8. That information had been hidden in old paper archives...

We found a decent spot that was allowed and landed there, put up the tents and went to make dinner.

Dinner in the making. Photo by Tarja.

The dinner was quite tasty.

The sun set.

Photo by Tarja.

Jussarö lighthouse.

The open side of the tent proved a good view.

The next morning.

Spring had just sprung, though everything is a little later in the archipelago.


We got started a little before ten again. I had collected some glass...

... while Tarja had cleaned out a full bag of plastic trash. Most of the trash floats ashore, but one would still hope that people could dispose of their trash properly and not into the nature.

We took a fairly direct route back.

In some places the navigation is too easy.

Arriving back at the starting point.

From a kayaker's point of view the Ekenäs Archipelago National Park feels a bit contradictory. There are some really nice places there, but compared to my usual playing ground, the Archipelago Sea, it is a lot smaller and has a lot of restrictions that makes it hard to have any freedom there. I also assume that there are lots of boats and people there under the most hectic summer months, so I don't think I would go there in July or August. By planning a route carefully and selecting the tent places it would make for a nice trip, though.