The warm winter with no skatable ice in “our regions” – southern part of Sweden – brought us further north with our Canadian Skating Friend. The region “Tiomilaskogen” between county Värmland and Dalarna felt like a coincidence – skating in the tracks of Finnish people. Our last skating trip was to Finland and this is the region to where the Finns emigrated in the beginning of the 17th century. There was famine in Finland and our king Karl IX offered land in this part of Sweden which was totally inhabited. Nowadays the journey from Finland to this region is less than a day and night. It took a couple of years for our immigrants to reach their new settlements.
Inviting and hopeful
It goes on ...
... and on
Difficult to get on shore
A golden eagle in the sky was attacked by ravens. It just got out of our sight - and there the beautiful sky
Admiring the giant boulders
Moss on boulder
All these lakes are parts of regulated water systems to extract electricity. It means that the water level differs a lot during the year (between 2 – 5 meters). The eco system is affected in a negative way. Fish species that migrate can’t do it anymore because of the dams, tubes and locks. Earlier these lakes had lots of salmon, eel and trout. Nowadays you find pike, perch, roach, whitefish and different carps. The beavers can’t build their lodges by the lake because the water level fluctuates. Beavers mean a lot to biodiversity.
System Lake Lövsjöarna
Ready to skate in snow fall
Smooth black ice without cracks under thin cover of snow
This is what the ice age left
Lots of edible lingon berries left
Beautiful shore line
Respectful distance to the inlet
Richard's skating improves
Finally the sun breaks through
In the marshes
Beautiful evening light
Where the whoopers rested in the morning
Findings of Stone Age settlements at Nain indicate an early settlement. The Stone Age families depended on good access to trout, eel and salmon. This was probably also one of the reasons for choosing a place of residence for Finnish immigration in the 17th century. Per Hakkarainen came to Nain around 1635 from Savolaks in Finland. “From a distance he saw a lake and it was Lake Nain he had seen. He liked the surroundings. There on the west side it was very beautiful and he thought that in this lake there should be a lot of fish … “.
Leaving early, - 8 C
Entering the ice in moon shine
The sun is on its way
Purple hour - no wind
Easy and attractive
Morning has broken
Skater in the dawn
The best days are gone
Just one of all boulders
Today's rock painting is "art photo" - leave nothing but a shadow
Old stump - a remnant from the forest generation
Along the swamps
The moon is still up
The ridge meets the peninsula
Morning break in the middle of the lake
Interesting bolder shore line
Giant boulders on top of the hill
3 days, 3 skaters and 3 lakes in 3 different ice and weather conditions are invigorating and fills your soul and body with loads of energy!
Linnansaari National Park, in the heart of the Finnish Lake District, is an ideal place to spot rare lake seals and majestic ospreys. Right now the ospreys are in Africa but the seals are here. The waters of the park are dotted with lush green islands and rocky islets. The maze-like archipelago is ideal for nordic skating. Haukivesi is a part of the huge Lake Saima with a shore line of 14 850 km and about 13 710 islands. Our base for skating was Oravi, about 41 km north west of Savonlinna.
Our last day was spent in Linnansaari National Park Archipelago – an absolute Grande Finale! Sunshine, black ice, no wind, wonderful nature, peaceful, vast areas of shining smooth ice and traces from ringed seals in the ice. The only people we met on our 42 km tour was one fisherman on his way to his nets and one ice skater – our hostess at Oravi Village.
Planning the day - just before sunrise
Admiring the morning sun
Crack in the ice
Frozen wind shaped snow in the ice
Nice pattern of frozen ice floe
"Morning has broken"
Giant boulder - small person
Our first break was at the old settlement by the island Linnansaari. We enjoyed the sunshine and the well kept area – an inviting open museum. At Linnansaari Croft traditional slash-and-burn farming practises are preserved.
Linnansaari croft - first break
Map of the homestead
Savusauna - smoke sauna
Riihi - grain drying barn
The last family at Linnansaari croft. They lived here until 1962.
The heart of the house
Tools for everyday life
Light and coffee
Thanks for our wonderful visit
After the break we headed north in the fairy tale landscape – following the best ice. Just like heaven!
Wonderful meeting - discussing the ice with our hostess at Saimaa Holiday Lakeland Resorts
Breathe in, breathe out ...
It just goes on and on - black smooth ice
Along one of the rocky islands
Sunshine and blue sky
Just incredible between the islands
Looking for the perfect lunch stop
An osprey nest
Perfect for a stop
Karjalan piirakka and mint tea
Can't resist to contact our skating friends
Linnansaari National Park provides a protected home for the endangered Saima Ringed seal. It is prohibited to visit many islands and islets where the seals live. We were lucky to find different traces of seals on the ice.
The ospreys and the ringed seals are symbols for the park
What a luck - traces from a ringed seal
Can't stop admiring
When was he/she here?
Restricted area - no net fishing.
The seals need to be undisturbed
Black and white
Capturing the small details in the vast ice landscape
Along the fascinating rocky west shore of the Linnansaari island
Last break in the evening sun
Another sign from the ringed seal - a breathing hole
On our way back home in the evening light - blue hour
Short rest by the navigation mark
Just today the winter trail from Oravi to Linnansaari was marked - ready for skaters!
When we arrived to Oravi the ice conditions for skating were poor. We had spring ice, which means weak and hazardous ice. Too long period with temperatures above zero. We had a try the first day but had to leave at the east shore of Linnansaari main island because the ice was too dangerous. Following morning the temperature was above zero with strong winds.
We had a strengthening head wind with lots of water on the ice. During the day the water disappeared and offered us a wonderful surface. In the evening the temperature decreased and we could skate again on fresh, dry ice.
"Another brick in the wall"
Ice changes hour from hour
We reached Linnansaari but decided to go back in our our safe tracks
Next morning the wind and the + degrees melted the snow and created fantastic ice
Strong head wind
Smooth ice under some mm:s of water - very skatable
“The Country of the Thousand Lakes” attracted us to skate on the immense water areas. Out of Finland’s 40 national parks we chose 3 which – after investigating ice and weather conditions – were suitable for our skating adventure. North and Southern Savolax with Konnevesi and Kolovesi National Parks were first in turn.
Southern Konnevesi National Park
The park was inviting with its many islands
In snowy weather we skated out in company with a fisherman.
The Finns are prepared for lake summer and winter
A skater's dream
Winter trail on ice
Traditional winter fishing
Immense open skating area
Boulder - remnant from the ice age
Shifts in grey - a little snow on the surface
Time for a break
Slush on perfect black ice
It's getting colder - the slush begins to freeze
Kolovesi National Park
Icy road leading to Kirkkoranta - Kolovesi National Park
Not only skating and nature - history as well
Early morning sun and splendid ice
The thickness of the ice was at least 10 cm. The bubbles tells us a mild period before the cold again
Northern county Värmland and Dalarna was covered with snow in the end of November. Some lakes hiding black ice. We were waiting new lakes to freeze as the temperature was below zero and the weather forecast promised really cold weather. By studying the satellite we headed to lake Tisjön, Dalarna the 1st of December. Were we right in our expectation?
First joy on diamond ice
Another group who had caugth the moment
Giant boulder hiding among the pine trees
Fairy tale landscape
Rhime roses growing
Osprey nest covered with snow
Beautiful stop in the sun
Beautiful contrast between frosty birches and the black ice
After som hectic weeks with guests from abroad we were ready for another new exploring adventure. This time we were heading east to our neighbour country Finland. It has been a dream for many years getting to know and to paddle in the “Country of the Thousand Lakes”. We didn’t have much time, but time enough to realise that there are lakes enough for a life time. An eldorado for kayakers. We just spotted the right time for nature showing up in its “Golden costume”. Our destination was huge Lake Saima.
Some of the millions and millions of Silver Birches
Birch bark - art of nature
Punkaharju - the road meanders on the ridge between the lakes
View from the ridge over a little part of Lake Saima
Leaving Oravi Canal for Haukivesi
Towards Linnansaari National Park, hoping to meet a Ringed Seal
Huge rock - bowlder reminds us of the ice age
A little stop on an island for some hot tea and sandviches
Sedge is on fire
Forest is on fire
Between some of the islands in Linnansaari National Park
End of the day on Haukivesi
Red yellow palette - like a fire
Aspen trees preparing for winter
Bye bye Finland
We arrived to and left Finland in sparkling autumn colours. What a visit!
We will be back for sure – and then for a longer trip.
Nordic EcoTours has its main geographical area from Lake Vättern to Lake Vänern and onwards westbound to Skagerrak. This summer we wanted to extend “our territory” and explore new water systems. In July we headed to Lake Sølen, Rendalsfjällen in Norway – a place we have visited before, both winter and summer. A place that we love. Lake Sølen has a circumference for about 65 km with a few islands in the south west and south of the lake. This time our departure point was close to Fiskevollen, Norway’s oldest inland fishing village, which is situated in the north part of the lake. West of the lake the massive Midtre Sølen with three summits rises – its highest peak is 1755 meters above sea level.
On our way to Fiskevollen
Old chalets by Skånborket
Nice view towards the summits of Sølen
Base camp on a sandy beach
Kayaking in blue waves
Interesting meeting - changing experiences
In total harmony
Pond Water crowfoot - sheer water plant
Happy and relaxed paddler
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) protecting her chicks
Yellow Wagtail - a characteristic bird in the mountains
Hiking in the mountains
Tiny heath in a harsh landscape
Purple Saxifrage - little jewels
Alpine Bartsia - grows on calcareous soil
Summit 1755 meters above sea level
Back home to our little island - the smallest of Vioddholmene
End of the day
The Sølen area is a magical location for kayaking, fishing and hiking. A place where you relax, recover and replenish your energy. We are willing to join you in an outstanding experience.
Summer 2019 gave us loads of great nature experiences together with new wonderful people from various parts of Europe. Following is a summary of some golden moments.
Summer evening in the reeds
Where are the beavers?
On top of the beaver lodge
Fast asleep in the silent evening
We never give up searching for beavers. Spring and early summer are the best conditions for beaver scouting.
A short walk for launching
Under the giant cliff
Food is important for an entire experience
Enjoying the last rays of the sun
We had a Full Day Archipelago Paddling booked for our French guests. The wind conditions was not with us, so instead of paddling singel kayaks in the sea we trailed our tandem kayaks to a lake in the forests and all ended up with a wonderful kayaking experience in wilderness.
The entrance is under the water
One of the many beaver lodges
Giant log on top of the beaver lodge
Satisfied after a stunning evening paddling with beavers around
All our tours are “On request”. Beaver Safari in Bohuslän made us scout for beavers in land. And we made it! A skating tour last winter “hinted” us to the right lake.
Heading towards the first beaver lodges
We are looking at fresh beaver gnats of birch twigs
Silent evening close to the beaver lodge - sadly no sign of activity right now
The moon is leading us back home. Magic night!
Silent search for beavers in their habitat. Calm, peaceful and many traces from beavers and beaver huts – but just one splash this night.
A tandem kayak is convenient for sharing the exercise
Mighty cliffs - the wind intensifies
Time again to paddle with our devoted “Girl group” – mostly from Norway. The wind cheated us again so we had a quite tough expedition this year.
A coffee never tastes better than after some hours on sea
Seabird 2019 - waiting for next year's adventure
Practice makes perfect. Good paddlers in heavy wind!
The kayaks are waiting for a ride
First pause on an island - a small snack and some history
Towards open sea
Here we are!
Norwegian “Kick Off” starting from our boat houses.
Use of floats makes the ride safer in open wavy sea
Peaceful strait - a nice stop
Almost back home - hot coffee, sandwiches and apple pie are waiting in the boat house. A good end of a wonderful day together.
Refreshing Sunday paddling is a good start as Team Building ahead of a new work week!
Krokstad Herrgård – situated close to the estuary of River Byälven/Lake Vänern – is a perfect starting point for exploring and experience the beaver habitat from the kayak. An impressing oak alley, in bright green spring colors, invites us to Krokstad herrgård. The late May evening was sunny, a bit chilly but probably too windy to make the beavers in the mood to show up.
The entrance to Krokstad Mansion
Strolling through the park and arboretum towards the river.
We had the pleasure to scout the surroundings together with family Say from France and Switzerland. A short walk down to the river before its time for preparations before embarking.
Three double/triple kayaks and one single kayak is awaiting for the safari. The triple kayaks are really stable and to paddle these you don’t need any paddling experience – perfect to be able to concentrate on wildlife, birds and search for beavers.
On the move
Beaver canal in the reeds
Time for photos
We crossed the river and went behind “Ile des Castors” – habited by a beaver family last year – now the hut is abandoned. It made it possible to paddle into one of the narrow “beaver canals” to watch their hut.
Towards the sunset
In the Beavers habitat
Windy and sunny. Expectant. Even the birds were withdrawn this evening though we observed and heard thrushes, wagtails, some geese and mallards.
Time for a little forestwalk
Just before landing
Where are the Beavers?
No beaver but a trumpeting crane
On the old abandoned hut
Observing the crane
We decided to go ashore for a short walk and to investigate traces from beavers. Now the sun set and suddenly we heard a sound we had longed for. Three souffles from a bittern marking its territory in the reeds. It is a sound that is similar to blow in a bottle. That sound followed us now and then all the evening.
Darker and darker ...
Next morning - new adventures
After a small “picnic” with hot tea and some snacks we continued paddling south towards the huge Lake Vänern. In strong headwind we paddled towards a canal behind an island – but sadly no beavers. We had the luck to be in near contact with a crane – who probably had its nest in the weeds – grey lagged geese, gulls and sterlings. Now and then the european reed warbler sang wonderful tunes for us. On our way back in the dark we heard the spooky sound of a Tawny Owl.
No Beaver Safari is like the other. Even though you don’t meet beavers it’s always a treat to be out on the water in near contact with nature. BUT – in our very last minutes a beaver showed up – just with a big SPLASH – but a sign of a beaver. To share these moments with people you have never met is a great gift for us. Thank you family Say!
We couldn’t resist to continue our discovery along the north east coast of Lake Vättern. The weather was with us so instead of what we was thinking making a short trip morning trip we were out all day – discovered the coast south of Tokanäset, passed Lemunda Bay and the exciting “Mill stone coast”, rounded Island Åholmen, had a wonderful swim by the sandy beach Lilla Hals and returned home in the evening. Full of new energy and impressions – again!
New day - what will happen today?
Open waters - here we go!
A pair of Goosanders - we got in touch with many of them all day.
We followed the shore line and were amazed by the remnants from an industrial era about 100 years ago – mill stone making.
Forgotten mill stones produced by sandstone. Hard work in vain.
Lemunda harbour - ship trade of stones to Finland and Russia
Lemunda Bay - sandy shallow waters
The sandstone shore line and the bottom below the water surface was “decorated” by loads of mill stones for kilometers. This masterpiece is now like a huge installation of arts which reminds us of very clever and hard working people. Sadly many of them died too early because the effects of their work.
Thankfulness for being a part of great history - but sad for unused work
Perfect spot for a pause in the morning sun
Sandstone - sedimentary rock created millions of years ago
Pine forest has replaced the open area - now covered with bilberries
Ready for departure
We can’t get enough of this clear, drinkable water!
Struggling alder tree - a survivor in the water zone
Under water mill stones
Fascinating giant boulder
Couldn't resist heading towards the (for us) unknown island Åholmen.
We were very excited to investigate “our” new island. And we got a great reward – birds showed up we never had dreamt of.
The island was covered with trees and as we had hoped the opsrey's nest showed up in a pine tree
Two gulls and a crow were busy irritating the osprey
To our great surprise we observed eiders - in fresh water. Unbelievable for us!
Two females with their six chickens showed up. And out in the water we saw and heard four males courting one female.
An inviting sandy beach was our our next goal.
Looking back admiring our beautiful island
Listening to the eiders in the distance and resting after a nice swim
Way back home
Back to the boulder
With the afternoon sun in the back we had a wonderful trip back.
We paddled into a shallow, sandy bay with water lilies coming from the bottom and loads of fries - an interesting loop.
Over and under water
We can't get enough of these creations
Clouds in mirror
Back home to well known waters and islands
Total length of this trip was 28 km – in a relaxed paddling.