Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Packrafting Suomujoki

Packrafting Suomujoki from the beginning to Raja-Jooseppi was fun.

In the beginning of June I participated in a packrafting course arranged by Vigu, the school were I did my wilderness guide studies. This was the third and final part of the education, which started with a week of packrafting and hiking in the Rogen area in Sweden in September 2022 and had a whitewater module in May on Jongunjoki and Lieksanjoki.

We arrived at Kiilopää on June 2nd in the afternoon and walked to Niilanpää, where we stayed the first night. I had lightened my pack quite a bit, and everything weighed under 23 kg, which isn't too bad with a white water packraft, drysuit and everything needed for a air temperature of just over freezing.

The temperature was just a little over freezing and above the treeline the spring had just begun.

The next day we continued over a small ridge to get to the Suomunlatva creek, which later would become Suomujoki.

And there it begins.

We had lunch at the shelter near the trail intersection and put the packrafts into the water there, much too early of course, there really wasn't enough water yet.

Some sections were possible to paddle.

Camp at Suomunruoktu. I shared tent with Mika, who arranges interesting outdoor trips in Finland and Scandinavia. Go check his web site Railo Outdoor.

The next day we continued, and put the packrafts in the water immediately. The good choice would have been to carry everything to the fireplace and bridge near Aitalampi, after which the river was mostly possible to paddle. Before that there were some sections possible, but the water was low. And in high water that section would have been quite dangerous with a lot of sudden obstacles.

Low water and a lightweight packraft might need some patching up now and then.

For the rest of the day it was possible to paddle most of the river. There were some more demanding white water on the way and several places that had to be portaged.

Not all was difficult, though, and there was plenty of easy stretches.

The night was spent at Lankojärvi.

The paddling only got better the more we progressed, and the next day had a nice mix of easy water, fun whitewater and portages.

We arrived to Siikauopaja for the night. The weather was quite dynamic. with some really wet rain showers.

I've never been a fan of porridge for breakfast, instead preferring e.g. fresh bread. That is not easily doable when going lightweight, but an omelette made from dried eggs topped with some parmesan cheese is also quite acceptable.

The weather wasn't perfect all the time. In fact, a temperature of a little over freezing and some rain made it a bit chilly from time to time.

Some rapids were now quite big, and we again had some big portages in addition to the paddling.

We made camp just after Suomujoki joined with Lutto at a nice place. The weather was now excellent.

We did make the mistake of going too far this day. The plan was to use a spare day for some hiking or similar, but we were too close to the finishing point at Raja-Jooseppi and nobody thought it would be a good idea to somewhat artificially stay an extra day less than two hours from the car.

We thus cut the trip a day short and just paddled to the car.

That's it. A really nice trip, and I would definitely like to do more of this, but there is of course the question of time. Not only time for trips like this, but above all time to get the whitewater skills up to a level that I could do wilderness whitewater trips, and I unfortunately don't see that happening. I simply have too much else to do, and the closest place to train is more that three hours away.

Next: Summer

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