03 July 2016

Baraka on a small river

My husband bought a Baraka Gumotex canoe. I was afraid of it. I thought it would go flat in the middle of the river or fall over in the white waters.

It took me a lot of courage to plan a trip canoeing on it. I decided we would go an a small river called Naamankajoki. I tried to find information about the river on net, but I found almost nothing. I called Syöte Nature Centre and they said the same: they don't know if there is enough water and it maybe would be better to go to an other river, Pärjänjoki.

I was not able to give away my original plan. So I found a place on Naamankajärvi, where we could leave our car, and arranged a pick up from Irnijärvi 30 km down the river.
I packed sleepingbags and clothes in a yellow water-thigth bag. I packed food and cooker in an aluminium box. I packed little things like water bottles, snacks, sunglasses and maps in a small blue water-tight bag. On top of these three items we would only need the canoe, its hand-pump, paddles and life-jackets.

First we had to cross a small lake. You could think it's easy to find where the river starts, but once you are on the lake, every shore looks the same and you really need to look at the map.
We found river Naamanka and it looked like fairytale. The bottom of the river was golden sand. There were lots of fish swimming beside us. There was a nice little flow and just enough water for the Baraka.

I looked at the time and map to estimate how long it will take us to paddle to the cabin. Four hours, give or take, and we would be in Taimenmutka. I was right. We reached the cabin at eight, but before that those four hours were lovely. As we went down the river, the nature around us was changing all the time from forest to bush, from grass to swamp. We saw reindeer, birds, ducks, golden eye divers, beaver-tracks and an happy otter.

At the cabin we swam, cooked pasta and tried to sleep. It was difficult, because of some wood eating ants, who clearly thought the cabin belonged to them...
At eight we were eating brekfast and packing the canoe. I was really exited, because in the map there were many white waters in the river down from here.

The first one made me scared. It came so suddenly and then just went on and on. I needed a break to collect myself. My fear made no sense. These waters are so shallow, I can often just step away from the canoe and stand on the bottom of the river. My husband is professional and I am a very good swimmer. What am I afraid off??

Maybe it is the noice and the speed, or the fact I don't know enough about canoeing, but I fear the canoe will get stuck sideways and the pressure of water will lock me agains a stone. The most terrifying thing for me is not to know what is behind the next curve. "I can do this, but what if it gets worse" is how my thoughts went.

It knew I had to get my nerves under control, or we would have a very long day ahead of us. Before the next white water I found a way to control my fear. I noticed that if I always look far, not to the whirling water around me, I almost feel I'm not here. Then it went fine. Actually, towards the end, the calm parts of the river started to feel boring and I hoped there would be more white waters to give us speed and challenge.

We arrived to Lake Iinattijärvi at half past one. We canoed 30 km, fifteen both days. And yes - I would do it again. I learned to trust myself and this Gumetex canoe, which, gliding over the rocks, made this 
trip possible.

Here is a small film. Music made by my son. 

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