I consider packraft as one of the most, if not the most, rewarding investments into outdoor gear I have ever made. Typically when jumping into a new hobby, it would be great to have the opportunity to try it out, to see if it fits, before going full monty. But I have a habit of getting involved in niche activities, and back in 2011, packrafting was exactly that. Though gaining momentum in US, there was no local community or any retailer in Europe, though rumor had it there were few rafts already imported to Finland. Stoked about fatbikes as well, I watched videos from Alaska and read about adventurers bikepacking in, and using rafts to traverse, the wilderness, sometimes combining the two. And I tried not to pull the trigger.
It was over ten years ago, when I was considering moving to Kalajärvi, right at the border of Espoo and Vantaa in the north. While on a lookout for an apartment there, checking the area out, I noticed there is also a small bog not far away, north of Kalajärvi. As plans changed and I ended up on the other side of Espoo, I never did go to that area in particular and only now, on an autumn day, cranberries ripening, decided to finally visit this forgotten pearl.
When I was a little boy, some 30 or so years ago, I spent long days on the nearby river bank, mostly fishing, or in the woods. Often I went alone, sometimes with a good friend or a few. Equipped with rudimentary gear, homemade sandwhiches and berry juice, daylight always seemed to run out way too quickly. I felt proud of catching large pikes with self-made lures, and lucky for not drowning, trying to float the river with a raft made from scrap wood and styrofoam. I got wet, cold, stung and torn on a regular basis, and bled and suffered, got scared at times, but never had any regrets. And I always went back for more.