Having a business meeting in Tampere yesterday, I dediced to take an opportunity to try and visit some of the outdoor areas nearby. Browsing around, I was contemplating between cycling and packrafting, or combining both, but eventually ended up just bringing the bike, and choosing the destinations accordingly. Out of the available options Kytäjä-Usmi and Evo outdoor areas turned up as favorites, despite the lousy weather forecast for the day.
Starting very early from Espoo, and arrived to one of the parking lots at the Kytäjä-Usmi outdoor area, nearby lake Usminjärvi. It had been pouring all the way there, but by chance not a drop of rain fell when I unloaded the bike and packed it with basic gear - plan was to have a warm breakfast somewhere on the trail. When browsing the map for a route, sky opened as forecasted and it started raining sleet. Merrily I took a direction towards Kaksoislammit lean-to, following the signposts available along the gravel roads entering the park.
This was my first visit to this area (which is also part of Natura 2000 network), except for the days I’ve spent climbing in Jaanankallio in the past, southwest from the area I was now cycling in. During the two-hour ride, including tracking back my steps to search for a pair of rain gloves I dropped (found them!), I toured east from Piilolammi and Iso Kypärä lakes, and found good sections of varying single track - plus some proper bushwhacking and bike-carrying terrain, but that’s bound to happen when you are trying figure out where the good ones are. Rain never stopped, but just the quantity and consistency of sleet was alternating, at times being almost, but not quite, like snow. But great views (small ponds and lakes, bogs, rock cliffs and an old quarry) all around nevertheless.
Finishing the ride, I headed towards Tampere, taking a shower (and dipping in the pool) in Hervanta swimming hall, amidst the handful of senior citizens doing water aerobics and deep water running in the otherwise empty hall. It was great to head to the office refreshed!
After work and an early dinner, it was time to start the journey towards Evo for an overnighter. Not exactly on the road back home, it’s still a reasonable detour diverting from Hämeenlinna and a place I’ve had on the to-do list for a while. I knew a group of packrafters, led by Pekka from reppulautta.com were starting their 3-night paddle across the park, and hoped to catch up with them someplace on the trail.
Evo, a typical watershed region, is one of the largest continuous forested areas in southern Finland, of which some 47 sq.km is mapped as a hiking area. Splattered with small ponds and lakes and meandering rivers, it’s a great spot for packrafting. And due to good network of forest roads, it’s also well suited for bikerafting, allowing round trips across the whole area. Not to mention the possibilities for hiking and mountain biking. A good visual overview of the area (including shelters and camp sites) can be found here.
Arriving quite late, I parked the car on the northeast corner, at lake Iso-Tarus, and loading up the bike again, headed to Nuijamiehenkolo lean-to. Riding on the gravel roads, and sections of single track and few dead ends (while the constant rain kept it fresh), led me there, to find Pekka’s group settled for the night in tents. Before settling in myself for the night in the lean-to (no bugs yet = no tent for me), I did a bit of touring around the surrounding lakes and ponds (and sadly some clean-cut areas), finding wide range of trails and single track (while the typical ride-lift-ride-carry-ride-push-ride sequence prevailed).
Back at the camp, it was time for dinner with an experimental dessert and a good chat around the fire. Exchanging tips and information especially about packrafting destinations, I got some ideas how to use up some of my future weekends inside the rubber dinghy with and/or without a bike.
Morning arrived with a very early wake up call and a quick breakfast, before finding a new route back to the car (through some of the trails I missed on the way there) with full day at work ahead back in Espoo.
Though relatively superficial, it was great to have an opportunity to visit these two outdoor areas, and once the next time comes, it will be easier to make plans knowing already somewhat what to expect. Not too bad business trip giveaway!