Thursday, May 26, 2016

A perfect May kayaking trip

For some reason the period from April to Midsummer is always busy. This year is no exception, I'm much too busy at work and to some extent even outside work. It's a shame, since I think this is the most interesting period of the year in the nature.

In the beginning of May we had a Vigu kayaking course weekend, but I didn't have time to write about that one. Last weekend, however, was so excellent that I just had to write a blog post about it.

I've planned to guide a few trips for the local paddling club this year and the first one was last weekend. I had Annika as an assistant guide and five participants, who were also on the September trip to Örö. Several coarse route alternatives were planned, but the weather forecast changed to nicer and nicer the closer we got the the weekend, so we had the opportunity to take the best and most exposed one.

We started paddling at Pargas Port/Paraisten Portti a little after eight in the evening, for different reasons more than a half hour late. The route would take us through a string of islands to Sandön, a distance of about 14 km. The evening was beautiful.

Sometime after sunset Annika, who was used to child groups, asked why no one seemed to worry about the coming darkness. My answer was that everyone else had paddled in darkness and moonlight the fall before, so there was nothing to worry about.

We finally arrived at Sandön at eleven in the evening, about 45 minutes after sunset. It was still light enough to see well.

Everyone pitched their tents and I made a tortilla dinner with Jarkko. The evening was still nice and we even had full moon.

We went to sleep closer to one o'clock, but at least I slept quite well. Fortunately I had taken a quilt instead of the summer sleeping bag, since the night was quite warm

Jarkko got up at five, but the rest of us slept until seven and some even longer. The morning was warm and calm.

There was also a group of fishing tourist on the island. Half of them seemed like very eager fishermen, while the other half seemed more interested in fishing up beer which they had in the water for cooling, something which worked well, since the water temperature still was at most 10C.

A little stroll on the island.

The inner of the island was mainly pine forest.

The blueberrys are coming up nicely.

Sandön is part of the Salpausselkä end moraine, a distinct mark from the last ice age.

We started paddling a little over ten in the morning. Even with a kayak you have to go far out to get over the sand ridge extending eastwards.

The weather was calm enough to make the more exposed crossing easy and safe.

I left the navigation to the participants as a fun exercise, but was of course always aware of our position.

A short break at Västra Dömmaskär to stretch our legs...

.. before continuing to a suitable dinner place.

Lunch at Konungskär Skogslandet. A nightingale had us a little confused, but after a while I became certain that the sound was indeed. It shouldn't have been a surprise, there was a suitable wet leaf forest on the island.

Avocado pasta for lunch.

Viola canina?

After lunch we decided to take a route that look good on the map. It was nice in reality as well.

Another short break to stretch our legs.

After paddling around Gullkrona we went back eastwards with the purpose of staying at the first good place. The going was fast with about 5-6 m/s tailwind.

Finding a good tent place for six tents wasn't easy and we finally went to the spare place I had planned at Järvskär. We were one hour later than planned, but arriving at seven in the evening was still ok. With very relaxed paddling and long breaks we still managed to paddle 31 km during the day.

Compared to the other outdoor activities I find myself doing, kayaking allows you to take lot of stuff with you. Thus, when kayaking you should eat well. It was Jarkko's turn to make dinner and it was great. Chèvre cheese wrapped in chicken fillet wrapped in bacon in cream sauce. And wok vegetables and noodles as side dish. Quite excellent.

The dinner didn't end there. No reason not to have dessert, so Jarkko made an apple pie to be eaten with vanilla sauce.

And so an excellent evening went on.

Den lille havfrue.


... and moon rise.

View from the tent. During the entire night I heard a black grouse not too far away, which was quite surprising, since there are no real good biotopes for it there.

Yet another excellent morning.

Dry suits drying.

A fine water snake.

Going again.

Hypertermia is a real danger in these condition: sun, warm weather, no wind and a dry suit. It happened to one participant of the Vigu course two weeks earlier. A good way to counter it is to make a roll now and then.

The next target was Högland...

... for coffee with a view.

The final stretch back to the starting point. The distance for the day was 13 km.

We were back at the planned time after an excellent trip. Thanks to everyone for the company, it was fun!

Check out Jarkko's excellent report in Finnish and Rita's fantastic presentation, also in Finnish, but well worth looking at even if the language seems strange.

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