1 way to build a wicking garden bed

Before and after
Wicking garden bed illustration
Wicking garden bed cross section

x

Layout design for 8 wicking garden beds
Layout design for 8 wicking garden beds

Building wicking garden beds was a new thing for me. The idea of this self- contained raised bed is that it saves a lot of water through capillary action by supplying water from the bottom up.

Some of the benefits of wicking garden bed:

  • It prevents evaporation
  • self-watering
  • drainage during heavy rains
  • tree roots don’t reach soil

The timber for the garden beds was ordered from Dovetail Timber in Tasmania. Very solid 250 x 160 cm frames stacked together reached 60cm of height.

For this wicking garden bed plan I simply leveled the surface of the ground with a shovel.

Outlining and leveling each garden bed
Frames for the garden beds from Dovetail Timbers
Had to grind half a dozen stumps. Hands vibrated for a while afterwards.
Tools of choice
Protection for the Timber. Gives a nice colour and probably few extra years.

Apply protective coating for the wicking garden bed frames with protective oil (Description of Intergrain Nature’s Timber Oil).

Protection for the parts of the timber that are underground
Apply 1-2 coatings for the parts of the timber that are underground

The parts of timber that are against and under the ground a stronger protection was used. (Description of Diggers Eco in-ground Timber Protecta)

Project underway

Before you start applying coating to vertical corner post remember to round the sharp edges and splinters with f.ex sand paper. This way at the bug nets will stay in better shape for longer.

Painting setup
Bottom layer of timber on leveled ground.
Bottom layer of timber on leveled ground. At this point if you want you can decide which corner will have the overflow for the water reservoir and level the inside ground of the frame leaning slightly towards that corner. This way the water reservoir will get emptier if water is drained. Leave the ground where the actual frames lie in perfect level.
First frame assembled
All frames assembled
Detail shot of the garden beds frames
Tightening corner screws carefully. I recommend using a drill at the end.
Vertical pieces were dug about 10cm deep

Place the wooden poles to each corner and center of the short edges. Screw them to the frame using screws and L-brackets. I dig small holes for the vertical posts and buried them 10cm deep. Stomp the earth tightly around the poles.

Installing the corner posts and the horizontal beam.
2 L-brackets were used to secure the corner posts
Tools for the interior work of the garden beds
Drills needed to make a hole to the garden bed frame
First a bigger hole about 1cm deep

Drill hole to the corner where you wish to have the water outflow of the wicking garden bed. First drill a bigger hole for the plastic nut and then a smaller one for the hollow plastic bolt.

Testing that the hole is deep enough

We found that by placing an extra plastic nut inside the frame the overall pipe system felt more solid. Like any phase of the project there are many ways of doing things. This one seemed like a good idea.

Smaller hole through the garden beds frame

The drill sizes I used were slightly too small so some tweaking was required for the overflow pipe to fit the hole.

Placing the bottom layer of geotextile. (ignore the plastics under the textile. Also no need to bring the bottom layer that high.

Cut pieces of geo-textile large enough to cover the bottom of the frame. I used staple gun to attach the textile to the timber. It made other phases of the project easier to do. The idea  for geo-textile being on the bottom is to protect the water reservoir from getting punctured by small stones or roots etc…

Plastic nut and rubber gasket before placing the water reservoir plastic
Plastic for the water reservoir. Place the plastic container tarp inside the frame. It helps if you measure and draw where the corners more or less should be.

Placing the plastic water container / reservoir takes time and is quite annoying. It helps to draw lines where each side is suppose to go and mark the corners to make this part of the job more straight forward.

Placing the plastic is sometimes tricky
Placing the plastic is sometimes tricky
Pieces for each overlow / emptying system. 1 rubber gasket and plastic nut missing from the photo (the 2 items on the right of the photo).
The emtpying / overflow valve would look something like this
Puncturing a whole to the water reservoir plastic

Cut a hole through the geotextile and plastic tarp so the water outlet reaches the inside of the water container. Clean the gaskets, the plastic and glue everything together. Apply just the right amount of tightness so that everything glues together nicely. Who knows how tight is ´just right´…

100mm SLOTTED(!) drain pipe. 16 meters long fully extended
Geotextile, plastic reservoir, 6mm river pebbles & slotted drain pipes.
After the slotted drain pipe is installed the garden bed is filled with 6mm river pebbles. Roughly 1 cubic meter of river pebbles per bed.

Fill the plastic water reservoir with 6mm river pebbles to the top level of the first long edged timber. Almost a 1m3 of pebbles was used for each wicking garden bed (20cm height).

Try to avoid letting the pebbles fall into the drain pipe and overflow pipe.

Valve to empty the water reservoir and the overflow tube before cutting it to the right length
Sometimes the plastic doesn’t bend nicely around the middle vertical post
Pebbles filled to the top of the first crack of the garden bed frame (20cm deep). Lacks leveling.

Cut the excessive plastic away and level the pebbles.

Install a new layer of geo-textile on top of the pebbles. Try to cover all the spaces between timbers. This way the soil will not accumulate so easy between the timber. I used quite a few staples to put the geo-textile nicely. You can also use short nails.

Cutting geotextile
Using staple gun to secure the geotextile to the beds (optional).

 

This layer of geotextile is to separate the pebbles from the soil. Ready for soil.
Filling material: Coir Power. 1-2 per bed.
Coir after and during a good soak
Filling material: about 1 bail of hay per bed. Filling also included half a bail of rotten hay per bed.
Filling material: 1 cubic meter of Mushroom compost per bed.

I filled the frames with fresh and old hay, mushroom compost (1m3), soil that was removed while leveling the ground, old chicken poop soil and coir. What is your weapon of choice?

8 ready assembled wicking garden beds
8 ready assembled wicking garden beds
8 ready assembled wicking garden beds
After the project was done

Soil mixture
Wicking garden bed filled with soil
Eat well!
Have fun!

If you have any questions of comments you can write on the ‘comments’ section.

No two minds dance alike

Warm evening night

Free people are everywhere and they judge no one. The place to find them this time was Koh Phangan. Surpisingly writing about what happened would do no justice to your own explorations and experiences. The island is full of love and to navigate it you just let go of comparison, be happy and go partying.

Braiding before dancing
Braiding before dancing
I met beautiful souls on the ferry to Koh Phangan. They gave me roof over my head, fed me and showed me smiles. When leaving the island I felt in debt, humbled. There were lessons all the time. Actually they were more like blessings all the time. The island puts you into a common wave length with it’s occupiers.
Braiding before dancing
Just around the corner from Eden
Beach and beauty
Beach and beauty
Weeks rolled with no breaks, only love and unity with a human twist. Every moment was a chance to grow if you let go of the assumption of knowing. Where you grew was up to you but when surrounded with loving souls the knots in your ego started dissolving. Call it telepathy or mind reading or what ever – it seemed to be everywhere.
Fishermen heading home
Fishermen heading home
Surely all this sounds a bit over the top crazy, and that is the point of all of it. There is no particular reason why you would want to go to the same beach every sunset to enjoy the atmosphere. There is no point to partying without sleeping. Yet all that and more seemed like the perfect thing to do when the time and place aligned.
Boat rides can get bumpy
Boat rides can get bumpy
Food and views surround the island
Food and views surround the island
Blessings All The Time
Blessings All The Time
After Eden it's too late to sleep
After Eden it’s too late to sleep
Snack stop
Snack stop
The island is mostly known for it’s Full Moon Parties. That is just the tip of an upside down iceberg. Different kinds of parties are everywhere.
Contemplating
Contemplating
Dj David
Dj David
Sunrise at Ban Sabai
Sunrise at Ban Sabai
Music and people give you energy. Applying that energy to external efforts allows creation of new things and ideas. Koh Phangan has many yoga retreats, workshops and temples where to slow down, listen and breath.
Buddha Beach
Buddha Beach
Visa days on my passport were running low and change was in the air.
East coast Sunday
East coast Sunday
Bus to the other side of Thailand was an easy option. I had heard of a place that was great for climbing. Physical exercise was indeed a complete opposite to the previous place yet people were as open and honest as before. Dancing is liberating but climbing required discipline and that was exactly what was missing from Koh Phangan. From free spirits to body control on high walls. Life is beautiful.
Beach somewhere in Krabi on low tide
Beach somewhere in Krabi on low tide
Holding on to a small piece of stalactite or letting the music take over are two sides of the same coin. Being in total control yet adapting to the external stimulus and finding the harmony that keeps shifting. I tried climbing hard routes lacking the strength and the experience and quickly realized how hard the climbers needed to work.
Holding on as hard as I could
Holding on as hard as I could
After weeks of climbing the skin on my fingers started getting harder, grip stronger and fighting against gravity turned into working with it. It was Tonsai at it’s best ( some parties included).
Kids playing

Moment in Mandalay

People had talked about Mandalay and I wanted to leave the place behind before I had even arrived. I thought I’d be happier that way. I was sitting on a bus from Bagan to Mandalay. The driver was pushing the throttle a bit too much.

The dusty and dry air in Bagan lead me to think that a big city like Mandalay would not be any better. It turned out I was right but there where other things that caught my attention. After buying a train ticket to Hispaw I had half a day to explore the streets of the city.
Woman washing herself in river Iravadi
Woman washing herself in river Iravadi
Evening transportation up the river Iravadi
Evening transportation up the river Iravadi

I don’t feel at ease when I walk from an ice cream bar to a shack town. Only questions without answers arise when looking at people using the murky river to wash themselves after a long day. This wide river bank was their toilet, backyard, playground, workplace and home at the same time. I tried but could not find the photo I was searching to do justice for the feeling I was experiencing.

Clash of Clans and Angry Birds got here before me
Clash of Clans and Angry Birds from Finland got here before me
Kids playing
Kids playing
Smaller branch of the river in Mandalay
Smaller branch of the river in Mandalay
Boy washing his feet
Boy washing his feet
Woman selling street food in Mandalay
Woman selling street food in Mandalay

I was passing through on this random search for sunsets and beauty when most of the world was looking to feed their families and stay healthy in conditions where the odds where not in their favor. A stone throw away from a shack town an amusement park was being build.  Roller coaster and karaoke bar with neon lights across the street was too strong of a contrast for me to digest.

Men looking at construction work behind the fence
Men looking at construction site behind the fence
I took the photos and walked away.
4a.m the train rolled out of Mandalay.
Beautiful people lived in that city.

4 a.m
4 a.m
Some guide-book worthy famous bridge
Some guide-book worthy famous bridge
Tourist carriage of the train
Tourist carriage of the train
Mountain village close to Hsipaw

Idols and altars in Myanmar

What is a tv but a modern day altar that we worship by giving it our time and attention. There is no interaction only pre filtered exposure to our senses.

 

Barcelona or some other big European football team was playing at 3:30 a.m local time. The teahouse in the outskirts of Mrauk-U was packed with young men staring at the screen. When our bus pulled over the men rushed to ask if anyone needed an accommodation or a ride somewhere and then returned to watch the game. The +12h bus ride  had been one of the most painful ones I could remember. Stretching first body and then mind with milk tea and moving frames felt like heaven. 

The teahouse in Pyay was full. Myanmar Idols was starting. I pointed my chair away from the screen and started watching faces while listening to the voices of the future. The proven concept broadcasted it’s gospel from the LED altar. People from all ages were glued to their seats sipping tea while the busy road behind kept spreading the dust and gasoline fumes.

Mountain village close to Hsipaw
Women at morning prayer
On the hills close to Hsipaw the the sun was still behind the horizon when the villagers started walking up the hill. At the top is a buddhist temple where people pray each morning for 40 minutes. Many return there to pray several times a day.
Monks walking with their food powls
Monks walking with their food powls
Man meditating in a temple in Pyay
Man meditating in a temple in Pyay
So which altars and tv shows are good for you and which are bad? The question seems irrelevant. Maybe what matters is what we do after this single focused attention. To which direction do we point our thoughts, words and actions? What was learned at the altar? Time was given so something was received.

Yangon fills your thirst

Water of life

You can refill you water bottle almost anywhere, leave your belongings unguarded and trust the words spoken. You can also practice hackling, negotiating and skepticism or even distrust but it doesn’t seem to be part of the culture. Myanmar, as many kept telling me “is not corrupted by tourism, yet”. The leaders and military might act differently but I met none of them. On the streets there is trust.
Water in a clay pot
Water in a clay pot

Booming city with Indian and Western influence

Foreign money is pouring into the country and not just from the pockets of travelers wanting to see beautiful sunsets and pagodas but from big corporations and governments wanting to invest. Yet Yangon is still a chaotic city where skyscrapers are kept at bay by street vendors selling fake smart phones and 20 cent milk tea. Downtown is full of markets, temples and people spitting excessive beetle juice from their mouths. Walking anywhere feels safe and smiles are returned from strangers.

Man leaning to a tree
Man leaning to a tree
Meat markets smell the same everywhere
Meat markets smell the same everywhere
Tea-man
Tea-man
Talkative man who liked taking selfies with foreigners
Talkative man who liked taking selfies with foreigners
Construction worker
Construction worker
Sneak peak to a closed street behind the guest house
Sneak peak to a closed street behind the guest house
Ferry crossing over the Yangon river
Ferry crossing over the Yangon river
Man cooking lunch
Man cooking lunch
2 boys next to Kandawgyi lake in Yangon
2 boys next to Kandawgyi lake in Yangon
3 young mechanichs
Kick volleyball / chin lone / Sepak takraw
Kick volleyball / chin lone / Sepak takraw
Boom box monk
Boom box monk
Streets of Yangon at night
Streets of Yangon at night

Temples of Bagan like seen on guide books

Guide books will list you plenty of things to do in Myanmar. No doubt ‘Get in, see, do, eat, sleep & get out’ -sections will keep you busy. But what if you just got lost and stopped planning what it is that you want to happen next? Well, that was kind of my approach to exploring Myanmar. Maybe I was too lazy to do my homework or didn’t want to plan too much. Either way for me ‘not knowing’ is the exciting part.

I had arrived to Bagan bus station at 2 a.m. It was 6 km to the town. The taxi drivers were few and they knew the power they had. I could tell the guy talking to me was full of boloney so I decided to walk.

4 a.m I was sitting in hotel reception. No need to sleep tonight. 40 cents for a rent bike and I was of to see the pagodas, ruins and temples. Apparently the sunrises were nice here.

Renting an e-bike would have made things less sweaty but it was nice to move the body a little. The distances are long in Bagan so I ended up doing a loop that made my legs a bit shaky.

Early morning sunrise in Pagan with few hundred fellow humans
Early morning sunrise in Pagan with few hundred fellow humans
Yes, the sunrise was beautiful and it took some effort which makes the prize always nicer. Lack of sleep gave a nice overall buzz for the whole experience which was mostly amusing.

The receptionist had recommended an pagoda to see. It ended up being full of people who had woken up too early, skipped their breakfast and coffee to capture something unique for their Instagrams (here is mine).

Amusing part was that I felt like I had surrounded myself with people who had climbed up the stairs of the pagoda to see something life changing. I tried finding eye contact with people around me and greet them but only got suspicious looks.

These people had travelled half way across the world because someone said it would be amazing to sit on top of an old building and watch the sunrise and hot air-balloons.

The view was nice but it was also funny. It was funny because none of us were there alone yet we tried to ignore the fact and definitely not document it. It was funny because the air balloon floating in the distance were full of people paying 350 dollars each for 30 minutes of fresh air above old building before heading back to the airport. It was funny because you, a lovely woman, looked at me like I was crazy when I offer you my tripod so at least few of your photos might be sharp.

I give my respect for the past generations that build these monuments and apologies for the living ones for sneaking down from the side of the pagoda so I wouldn’t have to pay the entrance fee. That saved me enough money to travel one day longer.

The backroad took me further into the plantations filled with smaller payas, pagodas and temples. Don’t ask me about the differences. I know there is one but I doubt anyone really cares anymore.

From the distance I saw the hot air balloons and started cycling towards them. Maybe there would be something on the way.
It was 8 a.m and I was getting hungry. It was going to be a long day.
That night I would sleep in a real bed.
Beautiful.
Oh and the sunsets were nice too.

 

Run for the Myanmar border

Big two part mural inside a restaurant close to all the embassies in Yangon
Big two part mural inside a restaurant close to all the embassies in Yangon

Getting to Myanmar was a bit of a race against time. Border crossings are getting easier each year and acquiring an E-visa is a simple procedure for many nationalities. Nevertheless out-dated information can cause some headache.

I was in Pai, North Thailand and my initial plan was to cross the border from Mae Sai to Tachileik. I had two days of visa left when during breakfast someone told me that from that part of Myanmar you could not travel to other parts of the country. Roads would be closed for foreigners. Internet seemed to agree with him. Later I found out he was wrong.

After finishing my breakfast I thanked him for the info, changed my plan and started hitchhiking over the mountains down south. Same man warned me that two days was not enough with the route I had chosen.

3 pick-ups and one bus later I made it to the border 30 hours to spare in my visa.

Big two part mural inside a restaurant close to all the embassies in Yangon
Big two part mural inside a restaurant close to all the embassies in Yangon

First Impression

6 a.m. It was a short walk across the bordering bridge from Mae Sot to Myawaddy yet in the dark I could already see I was entering a different reality. Mothers with young children were sitting on the bridge. They were not begging with their words so much as with their presence.

5 minutes of friendly custom formalities and I was free to go. 10 minutes from that I was sitting in a family wagon with 4 local men heading to Hpa-An. With no idea if the price was right (it was) or any common language we set out on the 130 km journey that would take about 3 hours.

Early hours in Myawaddy. The first of the markets starts at 2 a.m.
Early hours in Myawaddy. The first of the markets in Myanmar can start as early as 2 a.m.

The driver stopped to fill up the tank from some local man with his own pump system. Right next to us was a newly build gasoline station empty of customers. After filling the tank the man gave the driver a bottle of water. An hour later our driver saw a car on the side of the road with it’s hood open. He slowed down and handed them the water bottle. No words were exchanged.

We stopped few times to say hi to a friend, wash the car and buy fruits. I was dropped in front of the bus that goes to Yangon. 7 hours later the bus reached the outskirts of the city. Taxis and motorbikes kept asking: “Where you go?” but left me alone after telling them “I don’t know”.

On the side of the highway a man told me to take the same minivan with him. It  would take us to the centre. An hour later he showed me a good hotel and wished me all the best. Thanks to the help of many people on the way I had arrived to a place where I could take a shower and sleep.

10:40 p.m and a night of kayaking ahead

Kayaking through Lake Saimaa during midsummer nights

2016. During the two brightest week of the summer there was enough light to paddle through the nights. I borrowed a friends kayak and packed all the essentials for a kayaking trip around Lake Saimaa. 21 days of paddling through the midsummer nights in Finland was a challenging experience. Quite often the lake was calm and quiet. Other times the winds and waves kept me on constant alert.

 

Lake Saimaa is the biggest lake in Finland and is located in the east part of the country.
Lake Saimaa is the biggest lake in Finland and is located in the east part of the country.

14.6.2016 Preparations

To explore and see the lake and to get strength from it.
To loose oneself into the nightless night and marvel it’s mornings

Why paddle through days if the nights are cooler, calmer and more quiet?

Few cameras and pens so I can remember the calm and the rush won’t take over.

Summer here is short but it’s not yet Juhannus (mid summer). There is time.

Yesterday I paddled for the first time with a kayak and already today I wanted to start heading north. I guess I should first find a map. Then again, it’s a lake so there are only dead ends. Every shore has an opposite so worries be gone.

Today I could practice falling with a wetsuit and tomorrow some more paddling. By the end of the weekend all preparations should be done. Then only the decision to go remains.

Decisions can be prolonged so it’s nicer to just go. Perfect moment does not exist.
Now I’ll go and try how long it takes to make coffee with a camp cooker.
Detailed trail of the 700km route.

15.6 Morning kayaking and eskimo turns

I woke up earlier than usually noticing the lake was mirror calm. I filled the thermos with strong dose of chaga mushroom tea and did a trip around Mustasaari. I tried not to strain my body too much. From past hobbies I remember not to push it too much at the start of something new.

The plan was still to paddle around Lake Saimaa. I had some friends in Kuopio who I hadn’t seen in ages. Say hi to them and come back. It should take at least few weeks.

This evening I practiced falling and getting back up while still sitting inside the kayak. It didn’t really work out. Luckily I had a wetsuit because the water was still cold and after several failed attempts I gave up.

As I was warming up I watched some youtube videos how to do the turn back up. Tomorrow I’ll try again.

22:04 Evening sun
22:04 Evening sun

16.6. Lists and practice

Writing down a shopping list for the trip felt repulsive. Perhaps a watertight bag for camera was worth the euros. Previous bags had lasted 7 years of traveling.

Strong wind from the east was creating foamy waves on the open lake. As soon as I had finished up cleaning I would test the kayak on stormy conditions. Perfect!

The storm held and the empty kayak didn’t flip. Next to the shore I practiced more falling. No way! Impossible? Have to ask people with more experience.

17.6 Seven year cycles

In radio man talkes about seven year cycles. Sometimes the cycles last longer and sometimes less. Seven years ago I started buying one way ticket that would unintentionally turn into a habit.
Mosquitos flying inside the house remind me of freedom to choose. Intentions turn into actions and the faith of the mosquito depended on the force that closed around it. Today that fist sees no path, occasionally closing into a trap without any hope for the mosquito to survive.

Soon this warm shelter would stay behind. Traveling through nature with a kayak and a hammock would turn killing mosquitos pointless.

4 days pass with more preparing.

22.6.2016 Camping close to Liittokivi

The night had been a new experience. A friend had borrowed his kayak. I had taken it for a cruise with midnight sun to Lake Saimaa. It´s the biggest lake in Finland and full on nature. It´s also filled with summer cottages, saunas, and silence.

Last nights scenery wasn’t anything new, yet. But the combination of birds, colors of the sky and water made it quite exciting.

22:18 Collapsed building
22:18 Collapsed building
I had flipped the kayak while practicing an eskimo turn. I never made it. Not even sure how to do it. The water is about 16 degrees celsius and all my camera gear is with me in the sitting space. I don’t really want to flip this silently sliding magic bullet.
My breakfast fire is only smoking. Need to act.
Gear for next trip:
YES:
+ Rubber boots
+ Thicker / warmer sleeping bag
NO:
– hiking shoes
Notes and charcoal drawings
Notes and charcoal drawings

23.6 Puumala

Idyllic cafeteria at the harbor of Puumala has electricity. The coffee is good with a hint of cacao. The batteries are charging. It looks like it might rain.
It´s early midday, the town is full of people and the weather is still warm and sunny. It´s midsummer week and everyone seems to be preparing for the weekend. This weekend will be the liveliest, most hectic and all the other superlatives you want to cram into one long holiday weekend when everyone wants to relax. Most of Finland will head out of the cities, get drunk and burn huge bon fires. Or maybe that was in the past.
Last night I spend on a popular camping ground, Rokansaari, few hours south From Puumala. I arrived there late at night and met a young family at fireplace for cooking. They told me I could crash at their floating Sauna once I was in Savonlinna.’
1:48 a.m. Heating the sauna at Rokansaari
1:48 a.m. Heating the sauna at Rokansaari
2:58 a.m. Ready to get to bed at Rokansaari
2:58 a.m. Ready to get to bed at Rokansaari

24.6 Camping at Ruunasaari

From Puumala I started heading towards Savonlinna. The rain kept falling and few exciting moments were experienced during a crossing of an open face of the lake. Several kilometers of accumulated wind across the lake rocked the kayak.

I had to take a pee break next to a ferry called ’Nestori’.

Some kilometers later I arrived to a camping site. I cooked dinner in the misty rain and ate around 2 a.m. After 3 a.m I fell a sleep in the empty island. The symphony of mosquitos on the other side of the net was loud.
Today is Juhannus eve. It will probably be sunny, cloudy and rainy, a typical Finnish summer day. Time to pack up and start paddling.

26.6 North of Savonllina

Yesterday I spend the day in Savonlinna just walking around the city and getting burned by the sun. I had slept just outside the city arriving there when the sun was rising. Day before that I paddled for quite a few hours stopping only to eat on one campsite. The site was pretty but it wasn’t even midnight so I kept going. It was Juhannus eve after all and I wanted to find a big bonfire called ’kokko’.
1:38 A dead bird with fishing lure in it's peak.
1:38 A dead bird with fishing lure in it’s peak.
I did see one Kokko in the distance on an island called ’Kokonsaari’, literally called Bonfire’s island. It looked great but I was sure there was more on my way. For three hours I was looking around, no fires. Slightly disappointment I was about to arrive to Savonlinna. It was time to pitch the hammock into the forrest and head to city the next day.
2:26 Setting up my camp next to Savonlinna as the sun was rising.
2:26 Setting up my camp next to Savonlinna as the sun was rising.
The goal in the city was to find a new map. The old one I had ended here. It was national holiday so I had no luck. I was left to navigate the remainder of the trip with my phone.
14:47 Castle of Savonlinna in the background and a traditional 'Church Boat' in the foreground.
14:47 Castle of Savonlinna in the background and a traditional ‘Church Boat’ in the foreground.
The next night I slept inside a floating sauna after taking a bath. After few cold nights of shivering it was nice to sleep in warmth.
Now it’s time to head north. The day ahead was going to be warm.

28.6 Taipale canal, Varkaus

22:54 Canal in Varkaus
22:54 Canal in Varkaus
Yesterday took me from Savonlinna to Pieni Virkasaari. it had been more or less smooth paddling apart from few ruff crossings. In the evening I came face to face with a wind that was too much. Feeling tired I didn’t want to push it. The risk of falling was real.
I wasn’t sure if you are allowed to camp inside a National park but I had no choice. By midnight I was already asleep. Untouched island with it´s forest was impressive. One could tell it was’t raised in straight lines with even spacing between trunks to optimize growth . It was also full of mosquitos.
1:33 Factory in Varkaus
1:33 Factory in Varkaus
At 5 a.m I woke up to coldness. The wind had turned and was now blowing through the thin hammock fabric. 6 o’clock I was ready to start the first of many ruff crossings. The lake had calmed down put I didn’t feel like waiting. I was cold and my body wanted to move.
2:15 Guiding lights for bigger vessels and sunrise
2:15 Guiding lights for bigger vessels and sunrise
The waves were waist high. Not a big problem when you go straight towards or away from them. I was going on a 45 degree angle toward and away for longer than I would have liked. Sometimes I had to go around capes. That meant turning 90 degrees while the waves were maxing out after traveling straight for several kilometers across the open face of the lake. They were hitting the shore cliffs and creating counter waves. All that made the reading of the waves a challenge. Falling down wasn’t an option since it would have meant crashing on the rocks. I could take a beating to my body and pride but the kayak was made of glass fiber.

Turns took a lot of concentration and careful timing. Eventually I got to calm bays. I set up my hammock and took a 5 hour siesta.

When I woke the wind had calmed a little. On the campsite I put my shorts to dry on a log which turned out to be a large bee hive. At the end of that day the horse flies and mosquitos were closest to tipping my balance.

Before midnight I had reached Taipale canal. Now I’m charging my phone on a peer and soon continuing up north.

30.6 Arriving to Kuopio

3:00 a.m
3:00 a.m
From Varkaus I continued to Leppävirta. I slept in a small patch of forrest I found next to the town, ate too much at a local buffet, did some shopping and continued towards Kuopio.
Leppävirta was a peaceful place. The approach through a narrow and long passage was very beautiful. It gave perfect shelter from the winds. As I left the narrow pathway the wind had died and the sky was red.
Traditional museum in Leppävirta had some old school kayaks.
Traditional museum in Leppävirta had some old school kayaks.
3:21 a.m, Laike Saimaa in Finland at it's finest
3:21 a.m, Laike Saimaa in Finland at it’s finest
Due to almost perfect conditions I ended kayaking 11 hours all the way  to Kuopio throughout the night. Around 3 a.m a dense mist surrounded me and rocky shores made me slow down even more. It looked like the ice age had really left it’s mark the shores of this part of the lake. I was approaching a ferry at Puutossalmi which I could hear through the mist.
1:16 Perfect conditions changed to mist that eventually was so thick it was hard to see more than few meters. GPS to the rescue.
1:16. Mist clearing. At one point the mist was so thick it was hard to see more than few meters. GPS to the rescue.
23:31 Dead bird at Fish Farm net
23:31 Dead bird at Fish Farm net
22:40
22:40
1:01
1:01
6 a.m I was so tired I had to listen to music with my phone on an otherwise perfectly quiet lake. A bit of a shame really but luckily the beats were good.
Old friend provided me with a roof in Kuopio. Resting day 1.
0:08 Solid ground and bed in Kuopio
0:08 Solid ground and bed in Kuopio

3.6 Metsä-Rajo fireplace

Last night I left Kuopio. The sun was already setting and I was pushing against a strong wind. Waves rolled over the kayak as I crossed open water between islands. At Vehmersalmi I was too tired to continue. The local harbor was to be my campsite.
On the beach I exchanged some stories with a local young man who came to talk to me. He and he’s friends were drunk and spending the early summer hours next the the lake. He told me I would have to cross a big open face of the lake. It was created by two asteroids that had landed right next to each other. Unique place, he said, globally.
18:26 Shelter from storm
18:26 Shelter from storm
Today I hardly moved. The rain and thunder kept me moving cautiously until I was soaked. I found a great shelter. Fire is drying my clothes and smoke keeps of the mosquitos away. Looking back it was great to see so many old friends in Kuopio

7.6 Fireplace at Kolovesi National Park

From Metsä-Rajo I went to Valamo Monastery. Slept under a small picnic hut in the wind. In the morning I visited the monastery spending the day at the buffet. From Valamo I made my way to Heinävesi and slept on the beach. Both nights were freezing. The open lake crossing just before Heinävesi was anything but boring. The waves kept me on my toes.
9:22 Drying a beanie at a windy picnic spot in Valamo.
9:22 Drying a beanie at a windy picnic spot in Valamo.
Now I’m in a national park that is filled with these wooden shelters, Laavus’, with fireplace for cooking. A holy place for my liking. The weather has been quite ruff but luckily the wind has mostly blown from behind, North-West.
Body is feeling tired mostly due to lack of proper sleep.
Today I’ll probably explore the park and spend the day cruising and making a long loop.
23:46 Mossy peer on the shore of Kolovesi National Park
23:46 Mossy peer on the shore of Kolovesi National Park
23:35. Many of the shelters have wood sheds. Wood for campfire is provided but it's your job to saw and chop some ready for the next campers. They might need it urgently.
23:35. Many of the shelters have wood sheds. Wood for campfire is provided but it’s your job to

10.7 Kolovesi to Sulkava

On the 7th of July I made a tour around Kolovesi and walked in the forest trail for 4km before going to sleep in Pitkäsaari. The whole day was bit of an exercise. I did meet an older couple who had kayak their whole lives in the ocean and gave me few new tips and ideas.

20:22 Burned down cottage at Kolovesi National Park
20:22 Burned down cottage at Kolovesi National Park
21:25 Late night walk around Kolovesi National park. Blueberries were slowly getting blue.
21:25 Late night walk around Kolovesi National park. Blueberries were slowly getting blue.
8th of July. From Kolovesi I paddled straight to Savonlinna. It was a long journey and the weather wasn’t too bad. I had to wait 4 hours at the porch next to a canal for the storm to pass by. Paddled around 14 hours that day.
11:09 Short cut on the way to Savonlinna. The day consisted of dodging thunder clouds and rain.
11:09 Short cut on the way to Savonlinna. The day consisted of dodging thunder clouds and rain.
18:22 Warm veggies after running for cover from a heavy rain.
17:42 Slight sun after a rain storm
17:42 Slight sun after a rain storm
9th of July. From Savonlinna I paddled through the night to Sulkava. On the way, just before ferry of Vekara, a police jet ski came to check that everything was OK. ”Do you speak English?”, were the first words out of his mouth.
2:46 Aproach to Sulkava as the sun was rising
2:46 Aproach to Sulkava as the sun was rising
3:14 Sulkava Suursoudut
3:16 Rowing contest at Sulkava
Now it’s sunny Sunday afternoon. I missed the rowing competition and after party but the ice cream is always sweet and cold.
Next towards – Puumala – Anttola – Ristiina.
During nights shoulder muscles hurt.
1:58 Bridge in Puumala
1:58 Bridge in Puumala
17:17
17:17
Water level in Saimaa varies a lot
Water level in Saimaa varies a lot

 12.7 Yövesi, end the the trip

From Sulkava I traveled through the night to Rokansaari, south of Puumala. The journey took about 12-14 hours. I stopped at Linnavuori to check the sight and cooked dinner at Kylmäsaari. In Puumala I refilled the water bottles and with the sound of ’Living is easy’ continued south.
4:47 Astuvansalmi rock painting. Stone throw away from finishing the trip.
4:47 Astuvansalmi rock painting. Stone throw away from finishing the trip.
Rokansaari – Anttola – Astuvansalmi – End. The last leg of the journey was 13 hours of flux. There were strong winds, broken steering line, painful tailbone, calm, mosquitos, dinner break, joy, conversation with the lake, mist, rain, rock paintings and the cessation of everything but the essentials.
At around 6 a.m I put a fire in the sauna, ate porridge and went to sleep.

12.7 Reflections

The world of  organized connections where you have an unlimited amount of choices to act does not exist in the nature. Nature being out in the open and exposed to the elements. There every move takes you somewhere concrete. There is only direct action. No interpretation or filters what the consequences to each decision will be. The present exists due to unchangeable choices made in the past. The future depends of the conscious choices made through experience and intuition.
There are no windows to reflect on and rest. The moments waiting for food to cook are the moments of reflections and assessing on where the world lies. Survival comes through respect for nature (and on this trip from quite a few supermarkets). As you flow through it you are always in the right place even when you are not. This meaning that you have to ground yourself to this spot on this particular time and now you can either accept it or fight and perish.
2:37
2:37
On calm waters one can practice staying calm. On stormy waters one must storm through it by staying calm. By matching the challenge there is no need for finding superiority over it, since that would be madness.
All this is much more obvious once you are out there. In the comfort of distractions awareness faints away into the background.
At the end the feeling you find is so fleeting that one can burst in tears not knowing what just happened. It is the feeling of a kayak effortlessly floating through the lake while the next moment a heavy swamp surrounds you where no force you apply seems to take you anywhere. It is all that and more and accepting it as it is.
22:45 While getting lost I found these few hays.
22:45 While getting lost I found these few hays.