Days 155 to 157 July 19th – 21st
In a trip of endless WOW moments this was another Big Bang Experience. Our time in Finland has been too short – yet our experiences have been incredible.
The first Wow moment came when we arrived in Verla and were shown to our cabin for the night. Perched right on the lake the cute 1960’s style cabin was perfect. Close by was the sauna for the evening and spaced out across the edge of the lake a small number of other cabins. We later saw the older heritage cabins on the other side that also looked worth a visit.
A short walk from the cabin was the UNESCO site of the timber mill. Neither of us were overjoyed at the thought of touring a timber mill. Another Wow discovery – we were pleasantly surprised and came away much informed. The mill is at is was left at the end of production in the 1960s.
Our guide was passionate and well informed about the history, the people and the workings of the mill. The tour began with a short video made in the 1960s to demonstrate the mill at work. A chuckle at seeing the women in their best dresses not their working clothes as they hauled the boards around.
With the mill in original order and wonderful narration by the guide it was easy to imagine the conditions of the workforce which considering the dangerous looking (or at least lacking todays safety) conditions apparently had few accidents.
Back in our cabin we enjoyed the view and repacked for our two day Kayak trip into the National Park. Chris nursing a sore back that he hoped would miraculously fix itself by morning – no it did not. Our little cabin had a kitchen so we cooked up dinner and ate looking out at the picture perfect view. Finishing off with a sauna before bed.
A short call to Sami our guide the next morning let him know Chris’s back was not great. Within minutes we were offered a modified and manageable itinerary all were happy with.
Our new itinerary began with a hike through the park. Normally a very busy hiking route as the locals from Helsinki came out for “the nature”. We began early enough so we were fairly well alone. A beautiful walk to a spot on the water where we had a delicious homemade lunch. Next a human powered ferry across the water and back to our starting point.
Following the walk, before settling into our kayaks we made a visit to an artists gallery where Chris was inspired by the bird and wildlife photography of Markus Varesvuo.
Finally we prepared to go on the water. Seeing only one double kayak I asked Sami where his kayak was – out he came with a suitcase sized package – and out popped an Oru Kayak – the setting up of which fascinated an older gentleman walking by who stopped and watched the whole set up. And Chris – who had seen it as a Kickstarter project – and hankered after one since then.
A perfect day on the water – blue sky, calm waters, forest dotted with hidden cabins, homes on the waterfront with older homes having the traditional sauna right on the waterfront.
Eventually we turned a corner and there in front of us, peeping through the trees was our tentsile tent perched up in the trees. The campsite was on a narrow sheltered isthmus where the sunset was visible one side and sunrise the other. As we set up our gear, and were given instructions we realised we would have this entirely to ourselves. Sami was leaving all supplies and taking himself away.
A blissful night as we cooked our meal over the fire and sat in our “living room’ watching the lengthy sunset. I had a quick dip night and morning in the sea Vikings had once travelled – cold but exhilarating.
While it looked difficult – getting in and out of the tent was quite easy once you got the hang of pushing down not jumping up! The tent was surprisingly comfortable and only night trips to the toilet posed a slight challenge made all the easier by the lack of darkness.
It was over all too soon – a morning dip, breakfast and there was Sami ready for a days paddling. Us – not wanting to leave.
Another beautiful day as we set out. Again a variety of lakes, narrow inlets and rivers. A short portage was easily accomplished.
It was mostly calm paddling as we headed towards a dark sky that eventually emptied onto us as we headed back to Verla.
Wow what a trip – what organisation, what fun.