Canoeing on Immeln

We took off on a brief but exhausting and very fulfilling 2-day canoeing trip to lake Immeln. This area is sometimes called the “southernmost wilderness” of Sweden. Not quite wilderness actually, but you still get a real sense of being out there. We rented two big, clunky canoes from Immelns Kanotcenter. They were perfectly suited for beginners like us. We set out from the southernmost end of Immeln with a slight breeze on our backs. The weather was pleasant, despite the compact cloud cover and intermittent drizzle. Soft air.

M & mom paddling away northbound with a light tail wind.

In just a couple of hours worth of paddling, we reached far north (some 10 km away) with little effort. We made a few stops on islands on the way, to have lunch, to have a coffee/hot chocolate, and to just check things out, and finally landed on a small island where we set up camp for the night. Sadly, as on all of the other islands we went ashore on, there were obvious signs of frantic bushcraft with lots of trash left behind. Who are these people? What ever happened to leave-no-trace? We quickly filled a big bag with trash to bring back home. With two huge canoes and very light packs, there simply wasn’t any excuse not to pitch in and haul it out.

On the bright side of things, we also picked a cup full of golden chanterelles (Chantarellus cibarius) to supplement our dinner. The sun broke through the clouds and we all had a swim before we started cooking dinner. Wilderness or not, the water in the lake is fit to drink. Close to the shore of our little island the water was full of planktonic crustaceans (i.e. “water fleas”) that we couldn’t be bothered to sieve out, so our soup was fortified with extra protein and dietary fiber. There were also some bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus), a.k.a. blueberries, to be found on the island, and M & M were busy grazing away for a good while after dinner.

Bounty! Chanterelles for dinner.

Later in the evening, a storm rolled in over the lake. We pulled the canoes high up on the shore and turned them upside down. It rained heavily throughout the night and the wind reached gale force, ripping violently through the tall pine trees on our little island. We were very comfortable in our shelters. The Trailstar and Tarptent Double rainbow both stood solidly in the strong wind and we slept well, dry and warm.

A storm is rolling in…

The next morning, the rain stopped but the wind just kept increasing. Lake Immeln frequently sees winds being channeled from south to north and this day was no exception to that rule. The strong headwind presented some problem to us. We tried to paddle as much as possible on the leeside of islands, which helped to some extent. We quickly learned a lot about how to and how not to handle a canoe in strong wind and choppy waves. Crossing open waters, we had to paddle steadily and stay exactly on course into the wind, or else our big, heavy canoes were rapidly swept away tens to hundreds of meters before we managed to get them back on course again. In retrospect, we should have rented only a single canoe; as things stood, with only one adult in each canoe, we were in for a real challenge to make it all the way back to the southernmost tip of Immeln. We had a close call in the shallows near an island, where sidewinds pressed us repeatedly towards the rocks, threatening a capsize. Finally, after a lot of struggle, we managed to steer the canoes straight into the wind and headed out onto open water, fully committing ourselves to a long crossing of continuous and hard paddling across the sound to the next peninsula. We made it, but by the time we reached the jetty where we returned the canoes, mom and dad were utterly spent. It had been a very long day of hard work and we all celebrated the completion of our great little microadventure with huge ice creams. Satisfaction certainly lies in the effort — but the attainment is pretty sweet too! We were all extremely satisfied with our first overnight canoeing trip.