Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

The Week in Review

While I enjoy good food and beer, seeing my family and relatives in Amsterdam, a lot happens in the outdoor scene. Here's a look at especially noteworthy stuff - and in case you find something that'esequally excellent, leave a comment with a link!



Some great trips were made last weekend. Some spectacular photos can been seen on Mungo Says Bah's Algonquin Provincial Park solo canoe trip. Recommended read!

An awesome video of hiking in Lapland was done by Janne from Lappland Times, which you definitely should go and see!

Fraser went to The Outer Hebrides and besides some awful food he experiences what looks on his superb photos like a splendid holiday.

Not a trip report per se, Heber, the Weekend Hiker, gives us a retrospective on the Ozark Trail and it has some fine photos and good information.

Colin from The Rich Gift of Lins always knows how to frame a photo and tell a good anecdote. His latest one, of Auch Gleann and Ben Lui is funny, interesting and the great photo has you dreaming of the Scottish hills.

I also managed to go out and go packrafting and there's a video there too, so go and see it if you haven't yet!



In the gear department, I was not the only one trying out packrafting. The Japanese ulgear blog shows some great photos of the Alpacka Raft Denali Llama.

Keith, who currently walks the PCT, made a great video on the gear he carries on his trip, and for all future PCT walkers this is recommended to see!

Constantin reviews the GoPro HD camera, a camera which I'd be very curious to try out - it should be perfect for filming my packraft adventures while paddling!



Fjällräven started a blog and while it is quite empty still, I hope that it will be filled with interesting articles from "behind the scenes" soon.

In case you sometimes wonder what Forest Harvesters do, then check out Mike's report to answer that question.

Dave, The Ultralighter, gives us a definition on fuel so if you're new to backpacking and wonder what's all the talk about fuel, check this out.

Chris from Distance Backpacker gives us a report on trail maintenance on the PCT.

terrybnd is working on a new video, and shares this rough edit of his latest project with us - go check it out, it already now looks amazing!

Packrafting in Finland - First Strokes

Last weekend I finally managed to get away on my first trip since Vålådalen, and it included a couple of firsts: I slept the first time this year not under a tarp but in a Lightheart Gear Solo tent, I used a ULA Epic backpack, and I paddled a part of the trip with my Alpaca raft. I'll deal with most of the other gear in a separate article, in this one I want to look more at the trip and the packraft. Finally, instead of my DSLR I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10,a fine little camera which geo-tags all photos automatically, and has a Full HD video function, as you'll see!



The idea was to walk 25 km from Kuru to the Helvetinjärvi Nationalpark, camp at the Heinälahti campsite, and in the morning paddle the 24 km Haukkajoen Reitti back to Kuru. The first part of the plan, walking from Kuru to Heinälahti, was pretty uneventful. It was cloudy and rained a bit every now and then, and I was happy about that - the six weeks of heat we had here in Finland are completely unbearable; and anyone who tells me there is no such thing as climate change I tell to wake up.


Passed by some fields as I left Kuru.


Bumblebee enjoying sweet nectar.

I've walked this stretch so often that I didn't even bother with a map anymore, I know it so well by now that I just enjoyed the scenery along the trail and was happy to pick nature's offerings where they presented themselves.


Raspberries.


Lingonberries.


Forest strawberries.

Even if I wasn't super quick and made a few detours (one spring was completely dry so I asked some people who just arrived at their Mökki [Finnish for summer cottage] if I could get some water from their spring, and I took a one kilometer detour as I went to check out a place where I would come by the next day) I arrived at Heinälahti at 19.30 o'clock.


Ants using a man-made bridge to cross the river.



Early evening at camp.

By the time I arrived the sun came out once in a while, so I stripped down naked and took a swim in the lake. There was no one around, and knowing that most Finns won't arrive too late at camp, I had no worries. I then walked to the woodshed to pick up two logs, grabbed my Gränsfors Bruks Mini Hatchet and started to chop wood for my Bushbuddy Ultra. It was great fun, and because I "forgot" to take pegs I looked for some dead wood which, with the help of hatchet and puukko, were transformed into kickass pegs for my tent. I had it pitched in a couple of minutes, and started to roll out my mat and let my quilt loft, while I continued to chop wood and brew water for my cacao.


Home, Sweet Mosquito-free Home!


Outdoor Pyrotechnics.

I slept OK. I tried a new mat, which was great though if you roll it out over some tree roots (somehow at the campsite there was not a single spot found to be rootless) you'll only get so much sleep. At about 4.30 o'clock in the morning the sun started to rise, so I got up to take a good look at it, listen to the bird calls and enjoy the tranquility.


What's The Story, Morning Glory.

After half an hour I decided to catch a bit more sleep, and around eight I got up to enjoy the new day, eat breakfast and drink coffee before I set out to packraft.


Delicious breakfast.

After breakfast I set out to inflate the packraft, pack up, and start paddling. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't use my time to to share with you my first strokes (OK, not really my first strokes, as I was paddling a few times before on lakes at home & in Helsinki, but it was the first time out backpacking!) in a packraft. Thus lean back and enjoy the video.



I was fairly optimistic with my estimation of speed in the packraft. Now, six weeks of heat meant the lake, and hence the river, was about 50 cm lower than usual, and so I needed to walk all the "white water" sections as they were too low to float through. Add in an unbelievable amount of beaver dams (I recall at least six, and plenty of downed trees which obstructed the river) and my speed must have been something like 2 km per hour - I was calculating at least with four, if not five.


Ready!

My last bus back to Tampere went at 17.05 o'clock, and with a speed of 2 km per hour I won't make it before ten to Kuru - far to late even for hitchhiking. So, after 8 km of packrafting I sadly packed up the raft and paddle, and started the walk back to Kuru. I decided to walk the road and not the trail, as I was hoping to be able to hitch a ride to Kuru - because 17 km in two and half hours were just too much. Happily a young boy on a Quad gave me a short lift, and a friendly lady gave me another short lift to the bus stop; but I still walked 14 km in two and half hours - something that I felt as soon as I arrived at home.


Paddling.

So in conclusion, my thoughts on packrafting: It's awesome and opens up completely new possibilities to enjoy the outdoors and go new routes. For me, who has been enjoying Roman Dial's adventures, was happy to see that Jörgen from Fjäderlätt also packrafts in Sweden, and looked as Phil and Colin introduced packrafting to the UK last year, I knew that I will get one for this summer.

I got the Alpaca raft, with a Spraydeck. The weight is 2513 g, and the Sawyer paddle is 860 g, which is 3373 g together. As you see in the video, I did not bother with a life vest. That might be for some a strict no-go, but I don't have one and also didn't find a light enough life vest. I also knew where I was going and what was to be expected, and therefore knew that a life vest won't be necessary. If you're more security conscious than me, and will paddle in proper white water, take a vest. Back to the raft. I intend to go to Lapland and paddle in some decent rivers this rest-of-summer or autumn, depending on my time (We remember: Hendrik does a Wilderness Guide education and works as well). I think I prefer the white water, fast flowing rivers overs the lakes, so a trip to Lapland seems in order; I'm thinking about the Karhunkierros or going down the river along the Finnish-Swedish border...

The packraft is of course ideally suited to go paddling on the lake - it is what I do in the evenings after work, the lake being 150 m from my front door. But rivers mean you can lean back a bit more, paddle a bit less, be lazy & enjoy the landscape. As you saw, I went barefoot in the raft, but later, as the carrying increased, put the shoes back on. I didn't mind the wet shoes or pants, it was quite hot and thus a good way of cooling down. Thanks to the Spraydeck there was not much water in the raft, and once I improve my paddling style there shouldn't be too much water on top of it either. I also realized that speed will (likely) only be high on fast flowing rivers. If you have to paddle, calculate with two or three kilometers per hour, likely less.

Well, that are my initial thoughts after my first trip. I enjoyed myself immensely, and am looking forward to more packrafting in the future, it really is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and see nature from a very different perspective. I hope this was a good first look into packrafting for those interested, and shows that with the help of a little raft and some willingness to try something new, one can experience the outdoors in new ways!


Yours truly, proud like a god in his packraft =)

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The Week in Review

I'm got back late from my backpacking/ packrafting trip yesterday, hence the delay. Expect a trip report if I find the time before heading to Amsterdam and my computer doesn't die on me, until then enjoy these trip reports and other articles.



A mix of gear and trip report is Phil's Argos Budget Lightweight Challenge, which I found a good and interesting read. Go and read if you're keen to introduce someone to backpacking and get good gear for decent money!

Pig Monkey's Tale of Two in the Wild Sky is a recommended read for all those who enjoy mountains and pretty photos. Go read and see!

Dave is writing up his Seiland adventure, go read Part 1 and Part 2 to see what it means if the Norwegians take the dogs for a walk!

Martin tells us about his last trip, and it is as usual a great story.

James from The Lighter Side is new in the blogging business, and his Dartmoor Walkabout is a good read with interesting thoughts on gear. I recommend you check it out!

Back to Norway where Thomas takes us to Rondane where he spent four days with Anders. Beautiful photos and thoughts on light gear in the mountains, recommended read!



Barleybreeder lets us know a smart solution for traveling in environments with a high density of blood sucking insects. If you head to Lapland, Canada or Scotland, take a look at those garments which will offer you peace from mosquitos, midges & Co.

Carsten takes a first look at the Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX, the world's lightest GoreTex boot. He will follow it up in a few weeks with a Review, once it has rained enough!

Joe enlightens us about smart and delicious foods when on the trail, and if you're tired of always the same grub take a look at his menu.

Nick's 10 Steps to Firelighting without Failure is useful for all those who'd like to start using their woodburning stoves or impress friends by lighting a fire.

PTC's Gear Diary goes in the next round.

Keith did a review of the Terra Nova Laser 20l pack, and does a good job on it, and also shows what all fits into it!

I found Maz's Tilley TH5 Review also very interesting, such a hat would have been handy last weekend!

If you're planning a trip to Lapland, check out Roger's Nordkalottleden Gear Review which helps if you're not sure about what to take to the beautiful north.

Markus made a MYOG Visor Buff, a great little project for a boring weekend.

Jonas, who was with us on the Trekking-Ultraleicht.de Winter trip, is finally trying UL backpacking and shares his thoughts on it.

Finally, travelling light is not only smart when going outdoors, also if you're travelling to cities for holidays going light is the way to go. This website gives a bunch of good information on how to lighten up if you're travelling for business & pleasure.

Remember, you now can become a Fan of Hiking in Finland and Nordic Lightpacking on Facebook!