Sunday, September 29, 2013

A short September overnighter

The time had finally come to meet with Korpijaakko in real life. We had been internet acquaintances for some time now, but meeting in real life is somehow more real. Jaakko is a professional Wilderness Guide doing a lot more advanced stuff than I do, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will become one of the leading Wilderness Guides for advanced trips a few years down the road. When I heard he was going to Turku a few times this fall, we tried to arrange for an overnighter somewhere in the vicinity of Turku. The first time didn't work out, but this time the pieces fell in place. Toni, with whom I've been doing these things for over three years now, also joined us.

In order to get the most out of our limited time, we decided to go to the Kurjenrahka National Park, starting with a forty minute car ride. Toni rode from his home directly to the Vajosuo shelter, but Jaakko and I took the trails there, with an estimated riding time of about one and a half hour. The weather was rather grey and dark, with a light rain.

I did ask in advance if Jaakko was good at riding duckboards and he anwered yes. Little did he know... The place and conditions for an advanced course in duckboard riding was the most difficult possible. The duckboards are in rather poor condition and the rain made them very slippery.

Jaakko actually managed quite ok and didn't even fall into a ditch or the wet bog, something which often happens when we do group rides here.

A little before halfway we switched bikes, and I didn't get my fatbike back until we arrived at the shelter. At the shelter the first thing to do was to start a fire and get the coffee going. Toni hadn't yet shown up.

Jaakko tried out a minimalistic hammock and tarp, Madtree Core and Madtree Rae. Ultralight quality gear made in Finland.

Tradition dictates that you should grill sausage when you are by a fire in Finland, but I'm breaking tradition here with salmon on rye bread. Delicious. The beer does follow traditions, though.

The second serving was salmon with blue cheese. Even better.

Toni arrived and had to try Jaakko's hammock.

And so the evening went on, talking about outdoor stuff and plans.

We went to sleep around midnight and slept until seven in the morning. I was the first one up and got the fire started for coffee and breakfast.

Jaakko had slept well in the hammock. I'm curious myself, but have some doubts whether my less-than-perfect back can cope with it.

Getting ready to ride again.

We got started at 8:15. It didn't rain anymore, but everything was still wet and slippery.

The duckboards had not improved...

... and the weather was still depressingly grey.

The duckboards were easier with the fatbike.


Soon back at the car.

Thanks for the company! It is always nice and inspiring to meet with like-minded people.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lemmenjoki pt 2

Continued from here.

Thursday morning was a beautiful one. The night had been a little chillier and the outer tent was wet from condensation, unavoidable in the given conditions.

The porridge breakfast was complemented by "survival" cookies, Swedish Army Marie cookies made in May 1996 and best before the end of 2001. Made in Finland, though.

After breakfast we were shown the location of our lunch site on the map and then we started hiking in groups of three (tent mates) as we became ready.

A dried out lake.

Our group chose a route that was supposed to be high enough to get some easier walking.

A short break.

I like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa backpack. It is comfortable even with the maximum carrying load of 16 kg, the side pockets are very practical, as is  the big front pocket with stretchable mesh. The pocket cameras, one waterproof and the other good, were easily accessible from the pockets in the hip belt. And I used the removable back pad to sit on very much. All this in backpack weighing only 850 g.

Mountain Bearberry.

All the groups found their way to the lunch site.

I put up the outer tent to dry out, an easy thing to do when the outer tent and tent pole is directly accessible in the long side pocket of the Mariposa.

Swedish Army liver pâté, also best before the end of 2001. It tasted fine, though.

Drying out stuff and getting wet.

Another plant identification session, featuring yet another Lycopod.

Continuing. The north end of our lunch lake had a nice sand beach. We were again to get to the tent site on our own in tent team groups.

"Russian head", Carex nigra juncella (?).

The really small ponds had very little water.

Yours truly. I used two poles (Lekisport Lawisond from the previous millenium)  for most of the time, finding it very suitable for the terrain.

The camp on Thursday evening.

The guardian of the camp.


Ready to walk again the following morning. We were again to walk independently in small groups to a designated lunch place. It was now becoming more difficult to find the five new plant species.

The orienteering didn't give many alternatives this time and at a certain place three groups independently arrived at the same time for a short break.

Still plenty of blueberries.

The lunch was a mix of chanterelle soup, noodles and mettwurst, which despite the appearance tasted rather good.

During the lunch a hunting dog appeared and didn't want to leave, despite some attempts from our side.

A half hour later the owner appeared. They were out bear hunting, but had had no luck this far.

After lunch we walked in one big group again to the site of our first night.

After arriving and eating dinner, the evening was again spent around the fire...

... with cakes.

The next morning we had an early wake up and quickly packed up our stuff and walked a short bit to the bus.

Sorting out the school gear.

A one hour bus ride later we arrived at Saariselkä, where sauna, swimming and a buffet breakfast waited. The rest of the day was then spent in the bus driving southwards. The night was spent at Merilä again and the last leg in the bus took some six hours on Sunday.

To sum up the trip, I had a great time. We had a nice group with plenty of laughter. The difference in outdoor experience between the participants meant that we mostly covered quite basic things, but you still always pick up some new things. Physically the week was also very easy for me, but again that comes down to the large differences in the group. Hiking 2 takes place next year around Midsummer, and consists of ten days in Sarek, but before that we have a good number of other courses. I'm now looking forward to the next one, a four day orienteering course in the beginning of  October.

Gearwise I tried some new things this time. The new Gossamer Gear backpack will surely become my favorite hiking backpack, since it does so many things right. This was also the first time I tried out trail running shoes instead of sturdier hiking boots for more that a single night. They certainly were a superior choice this time, but I'm not totally convinced that they are the best choice if you expect a lot of wet weather. Keeping the warmth is no problem, but I got a taste of walking with wet feet for one day and the following morning, since the wet undervegetation made sure the shoes had no chance to dry. Wet skin becomes more sensitive to injuries, and I got a small cut, which however did not bother me. The main reason was probably the socks, which I later discovered where quite hard in a specific place, but with dry feet it would still not have occurred. For this trip I had minimized my gear pretty much, taking my 600 g summer sleeping bag and no extra clothes that I didn't use (I didn't use my rain gear, but wouldn't leave it home either). With the heavyish food and some common gear my backpack was still almost 15.5 kg at the beginning. For a corresponding solo trip my pack would have been 3-4 kg lighter

Thanks to all the course mates and instructors for a fabulous week in Lemmenjoki!