What do you know, another possibility for a quick getaway came up again this week (coincidentally on the exact same weekday). So off I went again on Tuesday, after work, for an overnighter in the beautiful Espoo archipelago.
Espoo has altogether 12 recreational islands which are maintained (firewood and other facilities as available) by the city, and to four of those (Iso Vasikkasaari, Stora Herrö, Rövaren and Gåsgrund) there's a daily transport by boat during the summer months. I've visited the first two few times by these boats, but have always wanted to circle some of the other islands (and surrounding islets) as well, by own means. Outside of these recreational islands, also Pentala has been on my shortlist for some time, and hence a plan was crafted to paddle from Soukka, through Pentala, to one of the outer islands for the night, and catch a boat transport next day to make it back to work on time.
I started off with a short bus ride to Soukanniemi around six in the evening, where (at Staffan bridge actually) I was able to inflate the packraft and head out to the sea. Easterly wind had picked up a bit, and the horizon looked grim in contrast to the sun still shining (with a forecast of scattered rain over the next day or so). I took an aim towards Pentala, following the sheltered west side shoreline of Valacken, Svartholmen and finally Lilla Pentala, before reaching the small channel that leads to the spot I had planned to go ashore - in the channel I stopped to exchange few words with couple of chaps out fishing, who were curious about my method of travel.
Entering Pentala at the archipelago museum site (old fishermen farm under renovation), I followed a meandering trail to inland, to see a lake which, funny enough, has again an island in it. Obviously the plan was to visit this small dot in the map, and hiking through the main island (which is mostly a protected area, with some summer cottages but no permanent residents) it was easy to forget you were actually on an island and entering the lake was quite a sight.
Paddling on the dead calm, clear-watered lake, I spotted two white-tailed deers on the shore (it was quite a surprise, but of course it's a only a few hundred meters across the channel from Medvastö on the west, connecting to mainland in Kirkkonummi) and had a quick stopover on the tiny island, with a handful of summer's first blueberries.
Taking photos, I paddled around a bit and finally exited the lake to find a trail leading to Diksand, Espoo's only beach in its natural state.
While in Pentala I didn't deflate the packraft but simply strapped it on the backpack (see above, carried like this) while hiking those short distances through the forest - this way no time is spent fiddling with gear, when switching from paddle to hike, and vice versa.
Diksand was nice, and I took a quick swim to cool off a bit, before heading back to the sea. It had rained a bit during my Pentala tour, but now clouds were dissipating and sun was out again.
I had planned to stay the night on Rövargrundet, a very small island next to Rövaren, but unfortunately it was occupied with a group of people with wakeboards. Therefore I ended up spending the night in the north east corner of Rövaren instead.
Chopping some small sticks from the firewood supply, I started the Bushbuddy, and had a dinner at sunset. Farmer's Outdoor cashew-curry with rice was positive surprise (bought it on a whim at a local outdoor fair) - tasty and for once not overly salty, will get more of these for sure.
Dark chocolate as a desert and swig of good whiskey for a nightcap, before calling it the day.
I brought a tent this time, mostly due to mosquitos, and was cradled to sleep with rain drumming the roof of the tent sometime past midnight.
Woke up in a partly cloudy morning sometime around seven. Packed up, I was quickly out on the sea again, to circle a few more islands until my ride home would arrive. There was a nice swell south west of Rövaren, and it was fun gliding on the waves. Found a few shallow spots where waves broke into small surfs, inviting quick playboating.
I became an eye-witness of the tough life of waterfowls in the archipelago, as a team of two Herring Gulls attacked a family of Common Eiders (a female and two small ducklings). Saved by a quick dive few times, one of the ducklings got eventually snatched and was flown over to a nearby islet to be fed to gulls' own offsprings. It's been questioned whether seagull hunting like this have an impact to the overall waterfowl populations in specific areas, but so far there is no proof of such.
I continued the tour around Kaparen ja Kaparkobben, basking in the sun, and viewing birds (Great Crested Grepes, Mute Swans and Common Terns were at least spotted, with offsprings), gradually heading back towards Rövaren.
Ashore at north west of Rövaren, had a quick swim (water still pretty cold out there), and then paddled to the main pier of the island, to wait for the return boat back to Kivenlahti. Had a quick chat with a couple that had a sailboat parked on the pier overnight, they had spotted me already earlier in the spring when I was opening the season in Porkkalanniemi - small archipelago!
Yet another fun tour to break the week, glad I took the opportunity again. Now it's one more day of work and then off to a three weeks of summer vacation!
By the way, I got a GPS watch last week, the new Suunto Ambit2, to replace a Garmin Edge 800 (used mostly as a cycling computer), and used it now for the first time. Still trying to get in terms with the new interface (been using Suunto T6-series in the past) and the new Movescount portal (here's a direct link to a file from this trip), so jury is still out for a verdict. I got the Sapphire HR version as it has a glass that even I, possibly, cannot scratch in a week, and especially since it's one of the most recent Diners Club rewards (in Finland), at almost half the street price with reward points. And it looks pretty darn good for a utility watch (even on my skinny wrist)!