Week 6 – Getting Wet and Final Prep for Russia

This week we were introduced to the basics of Canoeing and Kayaking, calculated our walking pace over 100m (good for calculating distances when trekking), and made the final preparations for the trip to Russia.

I have spent the weekend mostly preparing and packing my food and gear for next week’s trip to Paanajärvi National Park in Russia. I wouldn’t say I am unorganised, but the truth is, I am consistently slightly late and when I’m packing I usually find myself in the depths of the night frantically chucking things into my pack. But as I sit here typing, my bag is behind me, packed and ready to go. It was a nice feeling actually being able to spend time packing, and being organised, rather than doing it last minute. But the blog on the other hand, has been left to the last minute…


The picture below shows all of the kit that is going along with me to Russia. The gear below has been decided for cold Autumn / early Winter conditions, and will suit me for temperatures down to -10 degrees C, but it probably won’t get that cold, famous last words! I took some of the kit out from this photo, such as reducing the knives to 2 as 4 seemed slightly excessive (click on the photo for a larger image).


Food Preparation

The group was divided into pairs, each pair taking care of their own food for the week (using the menus and shopping lists from the planning group as guidance). We managed to reduce the weight of the food we were carrying by drying all of the fruit, vegetables and beans – cutting down on water weight and tins. The image below shows what happens when a Deutschlander meets a slightly OCD Englishman – efficient, well laid out food!


Kayaking and Canoeing

We spent Monday to Wednesday getting familiar with all things canoe and kayak. Each morning we were met with a cold dewy fog that hung low on the lake. But usually, not long after setting off, the fog would lift and our skin would wrinkle and our eyes squint in the glare of the sun. I haven’t done much paddling before, but it has reaffirmed that I want to do a big trip on water at some point in the near future. It is such a peaceful way to travel, being sat so low in the water moving at a steady and relaxing pace, hearing the ripples and drips from the paddle. It allows you to view the lake/river from a different perspective.

This perspective was not so peaceful on Tuesday when we were playing a canoe game. Let’s call the game “Canoe Ball”, catchy I know. So, what are the rules I hear you ask? They are simple, you have to get a ball into the other team’s canoe, when you have the ball, you cannot paddle. Their were 4 canoes, so 2 against 2. What could possible go wrong? After getting pretty confident at passing to each other, saving goals with paddles and sometimes even going for the odd standing catch, things started to get silly. This was working pretty well for a good 10 minutes, with a heated succession of passes, goals, saves and questionable canoe technique. This resulted in me standing up, running to the front of the canoe, gripping onto the shoulders of my team mate Petri for balance and reaching for a pass from our team. The throw was perfect, and the catch sublime, the only thing next would be to throw the ball into the opponents boat. I could see the glory, it would be the goal of all goals! Then in a split second the boat rocked hard to the right, we both counterbalanced the wobble by leaning hard to the left – causing a severe capsize and rocketing us into the water – game over.

Turns out this was good practice for the following days activities – canoe and kayak rescuing techniques. And although it was a sunny day, most of us were all shuddering wrecks after jumping in and out of water.


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