When we heard about the Nordic Packrafting Meet-up, we decided to make it happen and do a family packrafting trip to Sweden! Scandinavia provides some of the last extended wilderness areas in Europe, along with great rivers and good people. Just the ingredients we look for when planning our packrafting trips!
Swedish Wilderness. Photo by Patrick from Hikeventures.
Seon was packrafting in Finland last year and absolutely loved it. So this year we decided to make it a family trip and brought our two little daughters who are 1 and 3 years along. Since it was still quite cold and rainy in Särna, where the Roundup would take place, the smartest option with two small kids was to rent a campervan. But of course we also took our camping gear so we could do overnight packrafting trips and camp on the river :-)
We arrvied in Stockholm a week early and went exploring along the route from Stockholm to Särna. First stop was in Färnebofjärden National Park.
Then a trip to the coast, with a stop at the Gränsfors Bruk Axe Forge. Seon has owned and used one of their axes for years, and there was no way we could travel to Sweden without visiting the forge and get a chance to see them made by hand. Gränsfors Bruk is a small family run business with a strong commitment to quality, design and doing as little harm as possible to the environment. After a self guided tour and watching the different production stages, we left impressed not only by the quality of the axes they produce (and another axe :-), but also inspired by them as a value driven family business.
Now the tourist things were over and packrafting was the plan! Jeremie and Jacob from the Swedish Packrafting Association had highly recommended a stop at Voxnan river, at the campsite next Vinströmmen class III rapid, surrounded by sand dunes and wilderness. We absolutely loved it there and went for an overnight paddle down to Voxnabruk.
Our Alpacka Oryx has become our favourite packraft for family paddling. It easily fits two adults plus 2 kids and all the gear needed for a mulit day trip. It was perfect for the mostly flat and slow flowing waters of the Voxnan River. There is a very beautiful campsite half way at Frostkilen, but it was occupied by a school group, so we continued on to find our own private spot for the night. A little further down we came across this very stunning river bank and made camp there. We saw all kinds of tracks on the sand, moose, deer, and smaller ones too. In the evening lots of beavers played in the water, it was just idyllic. You can find a river guide of Voxnan river here (made for open canoes).
The following day, we kept paddling downstream and once we got to the take out, it was time to continue on to Särna for the start of the Nordic Meet-up. The first day was arrival day and everybody was setting up their tents and some people went for a paddle right in front of the camp.
Katja Koskinen getting her Wolverine ready! Photo by Caj Koskinen.
On Friday the official part started with a welcome and safety briefing by Jacob, Jeremie and Johan from the Swedish Packrafting Association. We were between 40-50 people and divided into 3 groups according to paddling level for rescue workshops that were lead by Jeremie, Seon and Mark Oates.
At noon, we all went for a paddle together on Storån river (at 28m3), forming five groups and mixing levels. Our group ended up with 2 first time packrafters, so Mark decided to give them a few tips before we started heading off.
The river was maybe not as easy as expected, with some III rapids, but also many other tricky smaller rapids that needed scouting. No problem for the more experienced paddlers, but it took some time for beginners and of course we also were portaging a bit since we had our little kids in the Alpacka Oryx. We probably would have chosen the more stable whitewater 2 person Forager raft, had we known the amount of rapids!
Family packrafting with the Alpacka Oryx. Photo by Mark Oates.
In the evening we were all back at camp enjoying the saloon and bar area prepared by the deliverance people! Time for a beer and a chat, catching up with old friends and meeting new friends.
The following 4 photos are from Caj Koskinen.
Saturday we woke up to clear skies and small groups formed to explore the many available rivers in the area. Our team decided for Vegan river (flow was 1,2m3/s), a small creek with class III+ drops. Since Seon usually gets to paddle more than I do, he offered to take care of the kids, so I could take the Wolverine and go packrafting. It was fantastic. Slow peaceful and meandering stretches alternated with exciting drops, the sun was shining and we all really enjoyed the paddle. Mark and Jen saw some moose and we all encountered plenty of sign from beavers - their cut down trees formed many strainers across the river.
Ever smiling Katja in her red Wolverine :-) Photo by Mark Oates.
Rachel managed to save herself from capsizing! Photo by Mark Oates.
Jeremie in his Alpackalypse, making everything look easy! Photo by Mark Oates.
Mark Oates showing how things are done. Photo by Jen Oates.
Myself (Michaela) paddling one of the drops. Certainly got the adrenaline going ;-) Photo by Mark Oates.
One of many beaver strainers!
Packrafting Women! Rachel, Katja, Jen and I. A pleasure to paddle with so many great female paddlers! Photo by Mark Oates.
Jen choosing a great line as usual! Photo by Mark Oates.
Iro almost covered in whitewater! Photo by Mark Oates.
Pyry going for it! Photo by Mark Oates.
Caj in another shallow drop! Photo by Mark Oates.
Jeremie again. Photo by Mark Oates.
Iro sporting great colors! Photo by Mark Oates.
These are just a few photos from our group, if you want to see more photos from the other rivers paddled that day, check out the Nordic Roundup 2019 Facebook group!
Late afternoon, we got back to camp, eager to hear about the experiences of other groups. Slowly everyone came back and the saloon was buzzing once more. Such nice people and vibe, we really enjoy coming to packrafting meet-ups and meeting like minded people, old and new friends, and meeting people in person that we have been in touch virtually before.
The following 4 photos are all by Jacob Kastrup Haagensen / Urbanpackrafter
Johan and his axe. Great style! Photo by Caj Koskinen.
Katja and Peter, who is also part of the Meet-up organisation and somebody we were looking forward to meeting in person! Photo by Janne Marcus.
A long Saturday night, especially for the Finnish crew ;-) Photo by Janne Marcus.
Sunday the weather had changed once more, and during a cold drizzle most people were packing up, exchanging last words and heading back on their way home. The Nordic Round-up was over way too fast!!!
Looking forward to the next edition of this event, next year in Norway!
Together with the European Meet-up, these are probably the biggest round-ups of the season, but certainly not the last ones. There is still the French Alps Meet-up to come, in July, at the Durance river for example! Check out this blog post with 2019 Packrafting Meet-ups and Destinations!
Big thanks to the Swedish Packrafting Association for organizing such a good meet-up, choosing the right place, scouting and making things run smoothly during the event! Thanks to the Deliverance People for providing saloon, drinks and food!
We were sad to leave Sweden but are full of good memories and made new friends. :-)
Last but not least, these are the flow levels of the rivers paddled during the Meet-up:
28m3/s punkt 16117 24:th of may
Vegan 1,2m3/s punkt 15607 25:th of may
Fulan 22m3/s punkt 14567 25:th of may
Fjätan 13m3/s punkt 16204 25:th of may
You can also find some river maps here.
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Really interesting website with both quality writing and photos.