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Wet but Not Miserable

Right after the trip to Väliväylä in June, a plan was set for an autumn trip, and after some consideration between bug and weather prospects, early September started to look like a good timing for the trip. Originally plans pointed towards Saarijärvi (Saarijärven koskireitti), but getting closer to date we decided to cut a bit of driving and headed towards Pomarkku. The plan was to paddle down the Karvianjoki from Harjakoski, connect to Oravajoki or Hanhijoki through Inhottujärvi and continue on Noormarkunjoki as far as we could get by Sunday noon.

At this time of the year weather is always a bit of gamble, but we decided to take what is given, and surely, plenty was indeed given. Forecast changed to worse just before the trip started, and while on Friday the sky was relatively clear on our way to Harjakoski, the outlook for Saturday looked pretty grim. Closer to destination we could see temperature dropping, and by our arrival to the lean-to a kilometer downstream from Harjakoski dam reaching 3 degrees celcius. Double checking the temperature limits of our lightweight sleeping bags we set fire for a late night dinner and enjoyed the starry skies and moon over the misty river flowing past the campsite.

After the cozy but slightly chilled night in the lean-to, we shared a campfire with couple of fishermen looking for catching some rainbow trout, and packed up to start the paddle. The rain that spotted the river early morning had seized and skies cleared, for a moment.

Karvianjoki runs through varied terrain, and headwind on us we paddled on with an easy pace. Sightings of storks, swans, deer and regular stretches of fast flowing water and easy rapids kept the paddling interesting. Arriving to eutrophicated Inhottujärvi, the spotted rain which had started to visit us from time to time changed into constant downpour, and glance across the lake quickly revealed that it was not going to end soon.

On the lake we tracked to the regulatory dam on the northwest corner of the lake, providing access to Oravajoki. There would have been also an option to paddle the tiny Hanhijoki and have a good chance to see some beavers, but the weather, combined with a prospect of having to bushwhack around various beaver dams on the way (not a major problem with packraft on the shoulder, but a heavily loaded canoe is a different story), made us choose Oravajoki instead.

Oravajoki joins with Hanhijoki few kilometers from the lake, and continues as Noormarkunjoki. Soaked from the rain (I had opted to go without rain pants, which I started almost to regret at some point - I did stay relatively dry under the spraydeck, with only some minor leakage through the folds of the sprayskirt, and from white water splashes) we browsed the map for a good spot to have a late lunch and warm up a bit, and found another lean-to just next to the river. Few bags of dry meals were consumed around the campfire, and changing to dry clothes while sipping and savoring some cheap whisky led us back on the river.

Stretches of easy rapids and sections of fast flowing water continued to keep the paddling interesting. I ran most of them first, scouting a route for the canoe in the shallow waters, and only until we ran the last rapid in a series of three on Lainekoski, canoe stayed clear. The last part of Lainekoski is a short waterfall like rapid, and that’s were the canoe finally got caught up on top of a rock, and toppled over. After a quick exit the canoe was recovered and emptied, and the journey continued - now just a bit more soaked than before.

We continued to paddle until around sunset, keeping warm, reaching yet another lean-to after Torajärvi in which to spend the night. The only problem was that axe had gone missing, so putting up the fire took a bit more time, splitting up fresh logs with knives; we later learned that that particular campsite was no longer maintained. Now with second change of clothes soaked we tried to get some of the gear (relatively) dry for a comfortable night, with varying success. It had finally stopped raining (just as forecasted), and a starry sky was again on display.

After another chilled but cozy night, it was nice to wake up in sunshine. Having a fixed schedule on getting back to Espoo, we decided to arrange the pickup two kilometers down the stream. Our target of missing the mosquito season was a success, but especially on this last campsite we were accompanied instead with deer flies, which crawled around everywhere, especially after a stroll in the forest.

Last stretch of the river to the loading place had one more rapid to float (Vanhansahankoski), for once in bright sunlight, bringing the trip to an end, after around 25 kilometers of paddling.

All in all, the trip went well, and there were no major hiccups in terms of gear or the route itself. The plan was to find something which would be interesting for both packraft and canoe, and at least for the part we did, it was exactly that. Packraft is quite much slower than a 2-person canoe in any water, but as the flow was pretty good throughout I didn’t feel I was holding back others a whole lot.

I did lose a pair of Seal Skinz waterproof gloves at the campsite before the start, which was a bummer, but otherwise all gear survived, even the camera which got a bit wet on the way. Rain pants could have been useful this time, and planning to get another pair of Seal Skinz socks, they were great once shoes were all soaked up.