This year was the first time that the Nordic Packrafting Meetup took place. The event was organized by the Swedish Packrafting Association. In the past, we have always joined the Swedish Packrafting Meetup but since packrafting became more popular in other Nordic countries as well it was decided to have one single meetup every year either in Finland, Sweden or Norway as it would be easier for many to take off from work for one long weekend rather than for three weekends if every country would have its own meetup.
Konstantin was not able to join the meetup this year so I traveled like last year to the Swedish Packrafting Meetup with Caj Koskinen taking the ferry from Turku to Stockholm and then another 5 hours drive to our destination where the meetup took place.
It was nice to see so many familiar faces again but also new participants and also the number of female packrafters increased. There were also families with small kids at the event such as Seon from Packraft Europe.
The deliverance team put a lot of effort and time into setting up the Deliverance Saloon. We got warm meals, there were heated Tipis and even alcoholic drinks.
The area where the meetup took place was a good selection as well as there were many rivers to choose from and we divided into groups so those who had less experience paddled together while others who had more experience took a more challenging rapid.
What I really like about those roundups are the workshops, where you can learn new skills or improve your existing skills. I always thought that I can handle a class 3 rapid but, to be honest, I still need to exercise much more such as proper eddy turns but also swimming in white water and self-rescuing.
This year Mark Oats from Tasmania and Seon from Austria (originally from New Zealand) and Jeremie from Stockholm (originally from France) offered safety and paddling workshops.
I have taken a 2-days Rescue 3 Whitewater Rescue Technician Recreational Course before the European Packrafting Meetup in Slovenia.
Even so, I am certified as a Whitewater Rescue Technician Recreational I would still need more practice. Essentially, you just learn the basics in such a course but you need to exercise and repeat what has been taught many times so you feel confident in rescue someone in case of an emergency.
The roundups nowadays feel a bit more different than in the past since there are many more participants and since we divide into groups. In the past, we have paddled all together with the same river and it was a multi-day trip.
Nowadays, we have a base camp which has, however, the advantage that you don’t have to spend time on setting up your tent and packing everything again the next morning. Moreover, it offers the advantage that your packraft is lighter and it is easier to paddle without having all the gear on or within your packraft.
The weather was quite mixed and we expected to have much more rain according to the weather forecast. However, it was only raining for one night.
However, I really appreciated having a tarp with me which I attached to the front of my Hilleberg Unna. It kept my gear dry and it was also more comfortable to get in and out of the tent in the morning without to worry of getting wet.
I also got an Ortlieb Big-Zip 140l bag for my packrafting trips. The bag is waterproof so I can leave my gear and clothes outside of my tent during the night.
Back to paddling. Were there any situations where we had to rescue someone? There were a few situations during the roundup where we had to rescue people or packrafts. In one of them, I have been involved as the person who needed to be rescued. I went down a class 3 rapid and ended up in a hole.
Luckily, I was able to get out of it (they can be quite dangerous as you can also get stuck in them) and some other paddlers which we had positioned for safety were throwing ropes to me and they had already some experience as I was not the only one who capsized at this hole.
In another situation, two other packrafters capsized and one of the packrafts got stuck in the middle of a rapid while the other packraft ended up on the other side of the river where the capsized packrafter rescued himself out.
To conclude, it was a nice experience again and its nice to see that the packrafting community is growing. It offers the possibility to go packrafting in other countries with people you have met at the roundups but it is also nice just to sit in the evenings together and to have a good time.
See you again next year…