Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tour de Kurjenrahka, November 2016

Three weeks ago we had a full-blown winter with subzero temps for over a week and a bit of snow. Smaller lakes and even rivers freezed fairly quickly, so I was instantly thinking about the mires of Kurjenrahka National Park. Me, Peter and JJ had an excellent outing there in March and we crossed all the mires by riding our fatbikes.

Two weeks ago me and Peter decided to go back and do the same tour as in March. But the conditions were not the same, as the fall had been very dry with only little rain, meaning that the water level on the mires was probably a lot lower. We were still fairly optimistic that there would be plenty of rideable surfaces.

Here's a photo recap with some notes of our 'Tour de Kurjenrahka':

I started the journey from home in the late evening on Friday. My work ended 7PM, so a late start is inevitable, but a late start is always better than not starting at all...

I was actually pretty fast as I hammered on the gravel roads towards Vajosuo. In the old shelter place there was instructions to the new shelter place. It was a bit misleading, so I ended riding a longer route that contained a new trail.

Finally in the new place of the old shelter. It was midnight, and Peter was already in the sleeping bag. After a few words he continued to sleep.

Sandwiches with campfire. Delicious.

Temperature forecast was for -10°C so I chose 45NRTH Wolfgars for footwear. 

Morning, after fairly good sleep in the night.

As we packed our gear and prepared to leave the shelter, I noticed that the top of my Mountain Feedbag was slightly broken and most of the candies were gone. Apparently some animal, a mouse, or more likely a squirrel, had eaten them during the night! This has not happened before.

Vajosuo. A candy for the eye.

Vajosuo mire was mostly rideable, but as expected, it was different compared to conditions in March. The tussocks were higher so riding was at times pretty hard.

This section was supposed to be rideable, but it had been very dry so no ice, and hence it was pushing time.

After little searching we found the ski route that goes out from Vajosuo.

After a short gravel section we found this trail that took us to Kurjenrahka.

Kurjenrahka mire was rideable in the beginning, but tussocks made riding again hard.

But then it turned to unridable we ended pushing our bikes.

We decided to go to the nearby trail so that we could ride to Savojärvi lake and then to Lakjärvi lake.

At the Lakjärvi shelter we took a break to eat some food and drink coffee.

Lakjärvi lake.

Pushing through the Lakjärvenrahka mire.

I had the new Garmin eTrex 30x GPS unit in use for the first time, but I didn't have proper topographical maps in it yet.

Lammenrahka, first rideable with hard effort...

...but then just too soft.

Peter searching for alternative route out from the mire.

Not found, so more pushing.

Next mire which was partly rideable.

Then again longer pushing / bushwhaking section to the last mire.

The last one of the tour, Laidassuo mire. It was mostly ridable but it was hard going.

It was getting dark. And a bit more of the familiar stuff, pushing.

It was completely dark as we reached Vajosuo mire again. We found the route pretty easily and eventually also our old tracks, Garmin eTrex 30x was helpful in that regard too.

Around six in the evening we were finally back in the Vajosuo parking place. I had already a headache as I didn't drink enough, as I tried to save some water for the 41-42 km home trip. My hydration pack was almost empty, and I had just one chocolate/energy bar and a bit of salted peanuts. Peter gave me a small bar. I didn't feel good at all and was ready to go with Peter in his car, but still, I decided to ride home. After all, the distance was about the same as my commuting distance.

The first 20 km I was feeling 'ok', but it was already very hard going. The last 20 km was pure hell. 13 km to go I was looking around to stop and melt snow for drinking water, but I didn't want to stop for a break. I just wanted to get home. I had to really dig deep and play some mental games to get home. Incredibly hard but I was happy when I reached home.

This was definitely the hardest trip in Kurjenrahka so far. Lots of bike pushing, but it was worth it. Good training and slightly different perspective of Kurjenrahka. Thanks Peter for the company. Go and read his report here.