Outside it is -12°C so it is a good time to reflect back on one of the nicest trips last year, probably the best part of the international wilderness guide course.
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Summer Memories from Jungfruskär
Together with my friend Bert we were responsible to organize this trip, which went to the crown of the Archipelago National Park: Jungfruskär. The organization part was fairly easy, a few phone calls, organizing what group gear to take, planning the driving and telling the rest of the group about it.
The programme of this excursion was simple: Drive down south, arrive at the harbour from where we would take a one hour boat ride to the island, make camp and then studying plants and flowers, watch birds and do some two to three hours of meadow cleaning each day - all in a very laissez-faire setting.
We arrived Monday afternoon on the island, and the weather forecast was splendid: Sunshine and high temperatures thoughout the whole week. After rolling out my bivy I grabbed my cameras and went exploring the island - there was no programme until the early evening, and I wanted to make use of the fine weather.
The island is small - a kilometer or two long, and less than one wide - though there goes a nice path around it. I probably should mention that for mere mortals a own boat is the only way to get to it - there’s no ferry or similar. There’s a small jetty for those who visit it (and it seems to be a popular place, from what I’ve gathered) and there are also a few buildings on the island - a tiny museum, a couple of dry toilets and a croft for the lumberjack as well as a barn for the sheep which sometimes graze on the island. Add in the two old cannons and of course the kitchen, Sauna (!) and main building which was on our wind of the island, and you have a truly sweet setting.
Anyway. As I said, our days were very relaxed. We started working usually between nine and ten in the morning, worked till noon, then possibly another hour of meadow clearing before we went bird watching, identified plants and trees and heated up the Sauna. We’re in Finland, after all, and a good Sauna in such a fine spot with such an inviting swim couldn’t go unused.
We also made some excursions across the island; as far as one can talk about excursions on such a small piece of land. They became rather fun - our teacher would point out to a flower or plant and ask What’s that? and then the guessing of the students would start. It made for a few good chuckles among us students.
While the days were relaxed, the evenings were a real Zen Buddism experience. After Sauna a few of us would retire to the kitchen building and play Who’s The Ass (a very entertaining card game for up to 12 people, so ideal for groups!) while I would experiment in making Steam Muffins for us. After that I’d usually retire outside and have a stroll or sit on the pier, listening to the birds and waves hitting the shore.
The island is home to over 800 plant species (remember, this is a tiny island!) many of which can only be found only here, so there was no shortage of plants to identify, photograph and learn. Add in the pleathora of birds - a worthy mention here are certainly the White-tailed Eagles we saw, simply impressive creatures! - and it is a outdoors persons' paradise.
In the plenty of free time we had I went to wander the island on my own, thinking about this and that (and if I could possibly convince my wife to move to such a remote location :) and studying a bit of plants and birds. Oh yeah, I also took some photos. I even once got up at four in the morning to photograph the sunrise. Good memories.
As weight for carrying wasn’t an issue (we walked maybe a few hundred meters with the gear on our backs), I decided to take my hammock - it felt appropriate, going to an island and such - besides my tarp and bivy. In the end I slept each night in a different shelter: First in a meadow in my bivy, second night in my hammock, third at the shore under the tarp and the last night again in my bivy at the shore. Except the night in the hammock I always slept well, and it ws fun to try different systems. I could even have spend a night indoors - the main house had a few beds.
It was a very rewarding trip, with plenty of sunshine and laughter in a gorgeous location. I have good memories of this island, and hope to return some day to it - maybe with a seakayak?
Archipelago National Park website on Outdoors.fi
You'll need a sea-worthy vessel of sorts to get there. I imagine if you can navigate and paddle then a seakayak might be a good means of transport. Sailing boats also do, I think taking a packraft into the Baltic Sea is even on a fine day a tad risky.
The islands around Turku down to Korpoström all have regular, free ferries between the islands. It is a popular destination of cycling tourists, and if that's you're cup of tea you're well advised to consider the area for a tour in the future.