Rain + wind = summer in the Arctic
What makes a successful trip? That you follow the lines of your plan whatever the cost, or that you return safe? I chose the second option.
It is really dispointing to step back during a trip. It’s a hard choice. But it is sometimes necessary. I had this experience during this trip.
Going alone is not something to be taken lightly, especially when there’s some paddling involved. Being on the hard ground or on water is different, risks are different.
It all started well: first days hiking, then paddling medium size lakes and some nice –and sometimes challenging- white water sections. But wind and rain showers constantly increased. When I reached the first big lake it was already stormy. Pouring rain and strong wind. Packrafting a lake in such conditions is even more difficult and tricky than big rapids. You have to fight the currents, focus on the big waves to come, find your way through holes and new waves begin to form. And sometimes, it’s just too hard to be done. Currents constantly push the boat to the shore and you have to deal with it. It means taking advantage from the current, litteraly surfing waves. The goal is to follow the right azimut. At some point it became just not possible anymore. I had to land, deflate my packraft which could be blown away by the incredibly powerful wind and bushwack along the shore until I find a decent place to go back on my boat. I was not so confident and I was happy when I reached the end of the lake. I made it, but it was not safe. I was alone. I thought about what I just did and I was both proud and sceptical. On the ground you can twist your ankle and get stuck. On water you could simply drown and it’s over. So I found a way to hike out and I spent more time in the Stora Sjöfallet range, which was fun: bushwacking in thick bushes and small birch tree forest and climbing a 1600m mountain. Weather was still awfull and the big rocks I had to step on were slippery. The scenery was dramatic, sharp peaks in the moving fog and powerfull streams in the canyons. The mountains in the center of this park are amazing and few people go there (exept people hiking the kungsleden, but the trail actually avoids the mountains).
I still think my original plan is a good route, and I definitely want to get back there someday. But not alone. Packrafting is fun, but it’s even more fun when you share the moment with friends. And more safe too.
About gear: I was happy with all my setup. I will review some of the items I used on this trip. But in a nutshell, the one that impressed me the most was my shelter: a Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid (I used an innernet for bug protection). This tarp tent is just mind blowing. I spent some nights in the woods in stormy conditions and I was afraid that the trees around me could brake and fall on me, but I’ve never been concerned about the Duomid. If well pitched it’s really bombproof. And lightweight of course: 600g including innernet and guy lines.
Coming up soon: more gear reviews.