Story and photos by Black Eye founder @arto_ekman
It was that time of the year again.
Our annual getaway to the most remote place in Europe, the Scandinavian Lapland. It is a place where you have absolutely no connection to the outside world and disconnects your brain from any stress or bad vibes.
This year’s trip was all about adventure, good times and doing something that we had never done before. Our agenda was to be transported by a helicopter approximately 40km from civilization into the most northern part of Swedish Lapland and then make our way back with packrafts. We were really excited to be traveling offline in Lapland – what a unique experience it was going to be.
Rafting itself was not entirely new for the four-man team, yet packrafting was something we had only seen on Youtube. Also, the fact that we had limited amount of food to carry with us gave us pressure to be back in 8 days. We also depended heavily on catching fish as our primary protein source, which turned out as a bit of a tricky situation.
Due to a sweltering summer in Scandinavia, the water level was shallow compared to the average levels. For the first three days, we were enjoying +30C° hot summer days swimming, fishing and just chilling. The only bad thing about this heat wave was that sleeping in a tent is almost impossible due the fact that it turns in to a steam Sauna once the sun comes up. Quick fact: Sun does not set at all from May to end of July.
We spent the first three days in the upper parts of the mountain range enjoying the sheer beauty of the wilderness. We were catching quite reasonable amounts of fish and at this point did not have to stress about our food resources running low.
Arctic Char was our main food source for the first four days. It can be found in large numbers in the upper part of Lapland. However, we stopped fishing after we had enough to eat. Catch and release fishing was not possible due to the hot waters. – shot with iPhone X and Wide G4.
”Morning” views from the tent. As the sun does not set at any point, there is no need to look at the time. Usually we would go to bed sometime around 6:00 am in the morning and wake up whenever we felt like it, or it became just too hot to sleep. – shot with iPhone X and Wide G4
Our very casual lunch. It usually was pasta, noodles or mashed potatoes with fish. Trangia (gas operated cooking station) was our only way of heating up the food. In the upper parts of the river there are entirely no trees and therefore no way you can set up a fire.
Finally, as it was time to get going, we inflated our packrafts and started to make our way down the river. We soon noticed that there would be a lot of dragging and pulling involved due to shallow waters. However, once you get to paddle with the boat, it’s like sitting on your home couch.
Sometimes we would just let the current slowly drift us, and we could enjoy the fantastic scenery around us.
Our helicopter landing sight can be seen somewhere far back in the distance and a beautiful 20-meter tall waterfall in the front – Drone image
We were moving approx 7km in one day. There were parts like passing the waterfall that takes the juices out of you. Pulling and lifting all of your gear through thick bushes and trees made us sweat like never before.
Packrafting can be so much fun. However, you need to continually watch over the rocks and bigger rapids. If you get in trouble, there is nobody to help you except your team. We were lucky to not run into any more significant trouble (except for a couple of flipped boats, one boat running down on its own and a couple of bruised knees). These things can take a beating, and we could not believe how durable these small vessels are. Our packrafts weigh only approx. 3kg in total that makes them very mobile.
You can fit a bunch of gear in just a small packraft. However the more massive you make it, the harder it is to pull through the tricky parts. Mine was apparently over the comfort zone weight limit. In normal conditions, this type of a packraft can hold up to 150kg, but since the water was so low it made traveling very slow and difficult.–shot with iPhone X and Wide G4.
We made our way back just in time. On the last day, we had to paddle and hike over 20km which was not planned. Our primary concern was our food running out, and we had absolutely nothing left when arriving at the destination.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience once again, and we can’t wait for next years trip. I highly recommend packrafting as your next go-to adventure!
Photos and words by Black Eye founder Arto Ekman.