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Overdue in Orismalanjoki

Oct 23rd, 2013 | Comments

Back in Ostrobothnia) (my roots) over a long weekend, due to autumn break at school (and with an opportunity to work remotely, visiting friends and family back there), a plan was fixed to try and paddle down the Orismalanjoki, which starts from lake Kotilammi and runs past my in-laws house in Orismala, finishing in Kyrönjoki.

It’s been a dry autumn also on this region, and water levels are really low. This raised some concern whether the river (or stream, as Orismalanjoki is pretty narrow even in high water, except when it floods to the fields) would mostly be dried up, and not possible to paddle, even with a packraft. First snow fell a day before the paddle but most of it was quickly gone, leaving only patches of white and frost on the ground.

Paddling could not be started from the lake, as the upper part (down from the regulatory dam) was completely dried up. But after 2 kilometers or so, there started to be a visible stream around 2 meters wide, and I was able to put down the raft.

Upper part of the ca. 15 kilometer long river was narrow, shallow (mostly less than 50 cm in depth) and paddling was interrupted with regular touchdowns into submerged rocks and tuft, some of it requiring a quick step out from the raft.

Meandering river took me down a varying terrain, involving some bushwhacking to get over and around obstacles. Several bridges were also passed under.

Views were quite diverse, starting with a narrow stream surrounded by mixed forest with gravel banks and small rapids, gradually widening up as the river grew larger (but never large) and more open, running between the agricultural fields. An elk got me startled, appearing majestically around a curb and disappearing with a crash through the bushes once our eyes made contact.

Down the river, getting close to the other dam around midway of my paddle, the small patches of ice I had listened crackling under waves, in the shadowed banks, gradually grew larger and started connecting in the middle, forming another interesting obstacle (consistency varied from a slush to solid ice up to 10 mm in thickness). Refining a technique of rolling with a raft forward and on top of the ice (should have taken some video :)), collapsing it to continue a stroke or two before repeating slowed down the progress, and at some point I had to bail, and start walking on the shore, probably a half a kilometer before the dam.

After the dam, river had again some movement, keeping the amount of ice manageable, and paddling was sped up a notch. Few more small rapids, and other small obstacles and picturescue spots eventually brought me at my in-law’s house, some 1.5 kilometers before the river drains to Kyrönjoki. Having spent over 5 hours on a stretch of fair 10 kilometers, and running late for some family errans, I left the last short bit undone and called it a day.

Fun little outing with a twist, and a great way to spend a cool autumn day in the sun. Perhaps this was it for the paddling season - but who knows, winter is not here yet!