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Autumn Highs in Kymijoki

Sep 16th, 2013 | Comments

Last weekend I had an opportunity to join Karsten, Mikko and Matti on a weekend’s paddle in Kymijoki, a river that I’ve not visited before. Starting off on friday evening, for a night outdoors, we headed to Kuovinkallio lean-to, which provided a good starting point for next days' paddle. Firewood was almost gone, but luckily there were few damp logs left, of which we had enough wood for food and good vibes, rounded up with a few beers and dram of whisky. This lean-to had no proper platform for sleeping, but benches around were sufficiently wide to sleep on, while Mikko chose to bivvy on the river shore, stargazing.

Weather forecast failed not, we noticed, hatching from sleeping bags with the sun, clearing the morning haze.

Our transport included a canoe, kayak and packraft, one of each, and payload strapped we headed round the bend, paddling towards Ahvionkoski, first of the larger rapids on the way. We had no real target for the day, paddling at relaxed pace until sunset.

Water levels were low due to dry autumn, and flow relatively slow on most parts. Choosing a narrow tributary (Koskuenjoki), diverting right after Ahvionkoski, allowed more interesting views and a few swift water sections (and even two pontoon bridges set up by army, connecting mainland and Karjasaari), before joining the main river at Kultaankoski.

We paddled to an islet next to Kultaankoski for a lunch stop. This rapid also provided nice playboating with packraft, and it’s known as a good spot for practicing swimming down a rapid, with large rock plateaus to glide down in relative safety.

Continuing down the stream (first returning to Koskuenjoki), we kept right on the smaller channels, passing around and between islands, with short sections of swift water and small rapids to keep paddling interesting.

Past Koivusaari we headed right, towards Valkmusa National Park, which we passed visiting Tarkjärvi through a passage hidden by a bed of reeds.

Relatively slow flow meant me falling behind (and/or setting the pace), but it did not get overly strenuous over the 20+ km of distance we covered during the day. I had bought a second-hand Neoair Seat earlier, to try and raise the seat height on the packraft, and it worked very well on this trip - seated a bit higher allowed better posture and ergonomics especially for longer stretches, definitely a keeper!

Hirvivuolle dam (with sluice gates) had a passage for boats with pulleys and rollers, handy also for loaded canoes and kayaks. And I managed not to puncture my raft against the sharp edges of the grille.

We finished the day at Hirvikoski, and after fetching the cars, decided to head to a lean-to upstream, at Alakylä, close to the old railway bridge of Koria. Alakylä lean-to is a short hike (covered mostly with duckboards) away from the parking lot near the river, following a 2.7 km nature trail on the hillside.

Out of supplied firewood, we gathered loose branches for a small campfire, leaving a handful of sticks for a morning coffee and breakfast (stick stoves to the rescue). Night was again dry and warm, and benches served again as the platform for a good night’s sleep (while Mikko chose to blairwitch-bivvy in the woods). Unfortunately this campsite had suffered some damage, someone tearing down (and probably burning) planks from the used-to-be-woodshed, leaving a skeleton (and empty beer cans) behind. Immediate surroundings in daylight reflected the same indifference. Sad.

Great autumn weekender in the sun (and absolutely no bugs, not even deer flies). Definitely worth the less than 2-hour drive from Espoo, and despite the subtle flow, perfectly fine on a packraft.

When driving back I spotted an interesting meandering river (Taasianjoki) west of Kouvola that at closer inspection (and on the map) looks like something to try out, possibly still this autumn (narrow meandering river with some rocky rapids and good flow overall, perfect for packrafts). Season is far from over!

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