Part two of our journey began with an early morning paddle into Oulujarvi (Lake Oulu). This quite sizable lake, in the middle of our route, is revered due to its notoriously fickle weather and constantly changing conditions. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side. After a half day of extremely technical, nerve-wracking kayaking, through considerable waves and heavy winds, we were forced to make a quick landing on Kuostonsaari. This island in the middle of Oulujarvi was to become our home for the next 55, storm-bound hours.
Finally, during the night of Day 10, we made our escape. The nights often brought calmer weather, so we left Kuostonsaari at 9:30pm and paddled until sometime around 2:00am. Thanks to the time of the year, the clear sky, and being in the far north, we were able to paddle through the night without the use of headlamps or artificial lights of any kind.
Day 11, we finished the small part of Oulujarvi that remained and started on the final leg of our journey: the Oulujoki (Oulu River). It would carry us through the last third of the country, all the way to the coastal city of Oulu and the Gulf of Bothnia. While the river itself was mercifully kind, the seven power plants that we had to carry our boat and gear around sure did feel a lot like work. All of the carries were 1km to 2km (~ 1 mile) long, and had to be done twice; once with our gear, and once with our almost 40kg (85lbs) kayak, overhead. Nine heinous carries (we found two unexpected carries), along with over 100km of paddling, in three days and mostly in the rain, was enough to make us ready to be done with our adventure. After some serious delays on the final day, we managed to reach the Gulf of Bothnia at 2:15pm on May 27th, becoming the first people to ever blow their summer vacation paddling a kayak across Finland, and the third and fourth people, respectively, to ever cross Finland by water. We finished our trip with a quick paddle north along the coast, in a freezing, driving rain, to arrive at Nallikari, Oulu’s most popular beach, where our ride, Henna, was patiently waiting for us. Soon afterwards we had the car packed, the kayak on the roof, and dry clothes on. A quick trip to the train station to drop off Kiia-Riikka and a 30 minute drive north of Oulu to drop off the boat was all that remained of the adventure.
While both of us enjoyed ourselves on this trip, we were both glad to be done with it. The long carries were beginning to take their toll. Overall, we got what we set out for: a wacky adventure and a moderate suffer-fest in a beautiful environment. At the end, we were left wet, smelly, and smiling, shaking our heads, wondering, “WTF was that all about?”