Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vajosuo Beer Ride Episode VII

It was time for the traditional annual November beer ride to Vajosuo, the seventh year in a row. This time the concept was changed a bit. Instead of taking the cars to the Kurjenrahka area and then riding for 2-3 hours before stopping at a shelter, we decided to make it (a lot) harder. There is a marked route going from Raisio (and from Turku before that) to Yläne and we were to follow it to the Töykkälä shelter, where we would spend the night and then ride back in the morning. We estimated it would take 6-8 hours to ride from Raisio to Töykkälä, including some short breaks, since the trails mostly range from technical to very technical. This was definitely not a trip for someone with lacking riding skills or fitness.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A new fatbike!

Finally some fatbike content again! Perceptive readers might have noticed that I've mostly blogged about kayaking this year. The main reason for this is that I've pretty much dedicated this year to learning the skills needed for more advanced sea kayaking. This will continue next year, when I'm taking a thorough sea kayaking module as part of the wilderness guide education. I will however do more cycling next year, though this depends on the weather. If we get a real winter I foresee a lot of fatbiking next year, but if the winter is like last winter's continuing misember, I'll do something else instead. At least during the winter...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Aquarius Sea Lion kayak one year review

This review is an updated version of my initial review from earlier this year. I think it is motivated to update it, since fairly little information is found on the web about this particular kayak. It has gained at least some popularity in Finland, along with the kayaks of another Polish manufacturer, Kayman kayaks. At the Hanko Sea Kayak Gathering in August I saw about five other Aquarius Sea Lions.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The last kayaking overnighter of the season - second attempt

This was supposed to be about the Mammoth March. About 25 hours of epic struggling, riding the bike on roads of different size, trails and non-trails and searching checkpoints over seemingly endless mires. Unfortunately, I was not well enough to participate. A persistent flu had me make the choice to opt out. It simply didn't make sense to start pushing myself far beyond the comfort zone when not being in perfect health. It was the sensible choice, but seeing the GPS tracking of my team mates Toni and Jarkko really had me wanting to be there. Ultimately they didn't make it to the finish. After almost 26 hours of struggling they decided to call it in.

While I wasn't well enough for the Mammoth March, a light kayaking overnighter was no problem.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall break


The kids had fall break from school and I also had the opportunity to take a day off, so on Thursday afternoon we drove northwards. The wife dropped off at her former home to meet up with some friends, but I continued to Vaasa with the kids. The next morning my brother would take the kids by boat to his cabin at an island in the outer archipelago, while I chose to take the kayak. The weather was the brilliant, the best one can get during fall.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Vigu Gathering 2015

It was time for the annual Vigu gathering, where current and previous students and instructors of the Axxell Wilderness and Nature Guide education get together. This time I had no course associated with the gathering (last year we had a food course and made an excellent dinner for 150 persons), but I wanted to take the opportunity to get a few exams done. I also was in real need for some cycling training, because of the Mammoth March two weeks later. Almost 1000 km in a kayak does little for the cycling power of the legs, and a flu that took three weeks to recover from had prevented any cycling training.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The last kayaking overnighter of the season?

A look at the calendar showed that  most of the weekends of October were already filled. This weekend, however, was entirely free and when the weather forecast also promised great weather the decision was made: A short overnighter leaving on Saturday afternoon and returning around lunch on Sunday. I got Tarja and O-P to join me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Örö kayaking trip

The fortress island Örö was opened up to the public in 2015 as part of the Archipelago National Park. Incidentally, I was one of the four first persons on the Örö national park, in a group of four that paddled there immediately on the New Year's Day. Örö was also a natural destination for a trip by the local paddling club, and Esko was the natural choice to lead such a trip, since he had worked with preparing the island national park for quite some time. He asked me to be his assistant guide for the trip, which suited me fine. The date was set to the last weekend of September. A few weeks earlier we had a meeting with the participants to plan the trip. The trip would eventually have a total of 13 participants, including Esko and me.

The Outdoor Guide to Turku

Turku is the oldest city in Finland, and was the most important one for many hundred years, which is reflected in a rich cultural heritage. It also has a lot to offer for the outdoor lover. You can go hiking, trail running, mountain biking and paddling right from the middle of the city. There are a number of outdoor shops where you can complement your gear and then there are also the cafés and pubs along the river where you can meet outdoor people over a hot brew or cold beer.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tarptent Double Rainbow five year review

In July 2010 I decided to sell my Hilleberg Akto tent and buy another solo tent better suited to my needs. The Hilleberg Akto, which generally has been considered to be one of the absolutely best solo tents, simply didn't do what I wanted. The weight (1.5kg) was ok and it definitely was ready for just about any weather, even up in the mountains, but for ordinary forest use it wasn't optimal. The bug netting only covered the upper half of the small door and provided no view towards the beautiful summer nights. During the summer the weather is mostly great in Finland, and all you really need is good protection against the bugs as well as the occasional rain shower.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Short canoe overnighter

It was time for a long due canoeing overnighter with the kids. I'd like to do more canoeing, but there really aren't any lake landscapes very close to Turku. The closest ones are about a one hour drive away and they are not big enough for more that a day or two on canoeing. Still, even shorter trips are nice and it is easy to bring the kids in a canoe. The 11 year old had some other activities planned, so I only got the 10 year old with me this time. The target was the Västerby area, which I knew from my childhood and youth.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vigu Sea Kayaking II

In the last week of August it was finally time for the Vigu Sea Kayaking II course. I had looked forward to it for quite a while and looking at the list of participants it seemed that we would get a good group with most people having kayaked quite a bit earlier. Eva-Lotta Backman, one of the foremost paddling instructors and coaches in Finland, would be our instructor. Check out her blog (in Swedish) here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Archipelago Sea filming and paddling trip part 1

On Monday 26th July it was time for the week-long paddling and filming trip in the Archipelago Sea for the Lennart Media film, starting from the Gyltö bridge and arriving at Kökar six days later. The intention was to start filming and paddling fairly early, but a strong wind kept us on land until the evening. We also changed the starting point to Rumar because of the wind.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Aquarius Sea Lion kayak review

Ok, here I am with a full-blown product review, even though I've said a number of times that I don't do any. There has however been some requests and questions about the Aquarius Sea Lion kayak, which is sold in a number of Northern European countries and not much information is found on the internet about it. At the time writing I have around 700 km of paddling with the Sea Lion during fall, winter, spring and summer in different conditions, in winds up to 10 m/s and waves up to 1.5 m as well as a number of overnighters and one week-long trip. I now think I have a pretty well founded view of it to offer.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kvarken kayaking trip part 1

It was sometime during the winter I mentioned that I had paddled a little in the Kvarken region when we were out paddling. One thing led to another and suddenly I sat there planning a week-long trip to the area for the local paddling club here in Turku. It quickly turned out that the area we would preferably visit was the Kvarken World Heritage area west of Vaasa, where I had never been in a kayak. I had paddled the 100 km stretch south of Vaasa, but I assumed the basic principle would be the same. Lots of stones everywhere.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Vacation kick-start overnighter

June was far more hectic that I would have like. A four day Vigu course, five day family vacation to Denmark and Legoland and the conclusion of a five-year project at work kept me very busy. Even the very last day at work before the vacation had me take a work trip to Helsinki, despite having agreed to a paddling overnighter in the afternoon. After some quick packing and a slight delay we got in the car for the two hour ride to the far side of Korpo, for some paddling, team building and filming exercises for the coming paddling film of Lennart Media.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Canoe overnighter with the kids.

This time of the year always seems to pass to fast. So much to see, discover and enjoy, and so little time. The weekends seem to be full of other stuff, and suddenly it's Midsummer, after which the most interesting time in the nature is over, at least from my point of view. I would have liked to relax and do something on my own this weekend, after the intensive course last week. A look in the calender revealed that the number of free weekends is very limited, though, so I found myself going on an overnighter with the kids. It's something I want to do, since it is fun and rewarding. It is however not entirely relaxing...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Vigu white water canoeing course

It was finally time for the four day white water canoeing course, which I had looked much forward to. I knew pretty well what was to expected due to a video made from the same course a few years earlier. I expected to learn a lot and have lots of fun.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spring kayaking

When the plans for the weekend changed, I asked T from the local kayaking club about an overnighter. She had already made plans with someone else, but I was welcome to join them. I thus found myself driving to Kasnäs with my kayak on the roof immediately after work on Friday. The sea weather forecast mentioned a wind speed of up to 12 m/s, which means that the inner archipelago east of Kasnäs would be the destination of choice. The water temperature is still only around 5°C, so safety still takes priority over fun.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Greenland Paddle, Six Months Later

In November 2014 I bought a Greenland paddle. I had been curious for quite a while, and inspired in particular by the Swedish kayak designer Björn Thomasson, see (lots of info in Swedish and some in English). During a visit to the local shop Melontapiste, I noticed that Lahnakoski had a rather cheap Greenland paddle in my length (228 cm), so I bought it and started to use it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The State of the Spring

The spring is an excellent time of the year and after this year's very short winter it is especially welcome. Even though the winter had ended by the end of February, the spring is no earlier than normal. Last weekend's overnighter showed that the taiga forest didn't have any spring flowers yet, but a lot can happen in a week, even though it hasn't actually been particularly warm.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Overnighter

The 11 year old was away for a night, so I used the opportunity to go on a short backpacking overnighter with the 10-year old. We decided to follow one of the trails in the Kurjenrahka National Park.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Another short kayaking overnighter

The weather forecast looked ok for a short kayaking overnighter this weekend as well. The night temperature was about the same one as one week before, but a stronger wind would mean less risk for getting too much ice. Or so I thought. Regarding the wind, the weather forecast was not optimal, but it looked like there would be a suitable window between Saturday afternoon and Sunday noon. I got T from the local paddling club to join me this time.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A short kayaking overnighter

The short winter is just a memory now and in many ways it starts to feel like spring. We've had a week of sunny weather with day temperatures up to 10C and night temperatures below freezing. The sun and the light are very welcome, but the real spring is in all likelihood still a month away. I've checked out the forest trails for mtb riding, but I've decided to wait a little longer for everything to dry up. However, the forecasted weekend weather was so great that I had to do something and that something turned out to be kayaking. Due to some timetable constraints I decided to leave after work on Friday and be back before lunch on Saturday.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The beginning of a season

Another short winter is over. Though it was not the same miserable failure as last year's, it was still two months too short. One month of real winter with the possibility to ski in the nature is simply not enough, especially when you remember winters such as the one 2012-2013, which allowed skiing in the nature from the end of November almost to the middle of April. I did make the most of the winter, though, with overnighters an all four winter weekends and six nights out.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vajosuo Beer Ski 2015

After last week's excellent ski overnighter I wanted the winter to continue and do more skiing. The weather however turned from great to miserable to worse and in Turku the snow season was definitely over. I still thought that the Kurjenrahka National park 25 km north of Turku would have enough snow and decided to go on a ski overnighter, quite possibly the last one of the winter. Jarkko and JJ joined me.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Levaneva Ski Overnighter

In the middle of February the schools have their spring break, which in Finland is timed to the statistically probably best winter week. I took a few days off from work and went with my family to visit the kids' grandparents in Ostrobothnia. The weather forecast was also wintry enough that I brought some skiing gear with me. A short skiing overnighter to Levaneva, which I've previously visited once by bike, was planned. I tried to get some fellow Vigu students with me, but still ended up going alone.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Vigu Ice Skiing

A traditional Vigu course for first year student's is the four day ice skiing trip in the archipelago around Replot and Björkö outside Vasa. I couldn't attend last year, but still wanted to do it this year instead, even though I'm not really a beginner when it comes to winter camping and skiing. You always learn something, though, and it is great fun anyway.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Finally a ski overnighter

Toni mentioned that he would do a long training ride for ITI and sleep at a shelter. I expressed interest in joining him at the shelter and suddenly a choir of "me to" could be heard. Finally six of us were to go to the shelter at Lakjärvi.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Five Years with the Salsa Fargo

I've now had my Salsa Fargo for five years and it is time to sum up my experiences with it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The End of the Kayaking Season - Fifth Attempt

The weather continues to be unstable. During the Christmas it was cold, and it looked like the winter was here. For New Year the weather became warm and rainy and the snow mostly melted. A few days later we got snow and fairly cold weather, followed by a few days of rain and warm weather. Now we again have snow and cold weather, but warmer weather is forecasted. Quite frustrating.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Epiphany Day Rogaining

It was time to try something new, or at least something slightly new. Soon after the Mammoth March I stumbled upon an announcement about an eight hour rogaining event on the Epiphany Day, Loppiaisrogaining. It seemed quite interesting and I got Jarkko to join me. We were to do it on bikes, though most of the 300 participants did it on foot.