Hard Paddling: Our suicide ride to the Island of Love

in Pinmapple4 months ago

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We are in Poland, a country near and far away at the same time. What adventures are waiting there? Today we are starting our tour on the Krutynia, the most beautiful paddling river in Europe.

Today we are going further on the river Krutynia. Into a hard weather. To the Live Island.

You can read the first part here, second here3 here and 4 here and the 5 here, 6 here, 7  here

Dark clouds short before the end of the dayDark clouds short before the end of the day

The night is over, the sun is shining and a light breeze is blowing across the water, carrying a hint of campfire smell into the tent. We are in the Masuria, a landscape in the northeast of Poland, a stretch of land that belongs to the Warmia-Masuria region and is characterized by the Masurian Lake District.

But is starts calm and niceBut is starts calm and nice

The area consists of more than 3,000 lakes connected by rivers. Large forests characterize the landscape here, as well as deserted agricultural areas. The capital of Masuria is Olsztyn (Allenstein), but this largest city of the area is far behind us since we set sail from Sorkwitten yesterday.

This is how the Krutynia normally looks likeThis is how the Krutynia normally looks like

Not so hot

Today we continue our journey, the big lake beckons with whole fine, small waves. The climate here is typical for Eastern Europe: there are very cold winters, but also very warm or even really hot summers. The best time to travel here is between June and August, we are in the middle of it, but have caught a rather cool year. At breakfast there is still hope that it will stay dry. Birds circle above us while we pack up. Take down the tents, put everything into the waterproof bags. Don't forget the beer supplies and off we go.

It’s not the evening, it’s early afternoonIt's not the evening, it's early afternoon

The Krutynia is not without reason considered the most beautiful paddling route in Poland. Our 100 kilometers from Sorkwity at Lake Lampackie to Ruciane Nida leads through 16 lakes and many very different river sections in the Johannisburg Heath and the Masurian Landscape Reserve.

On the old mill we have to carry our things out of the boatsOn the old mill we have to carry our things out of the boats

Especially the alternation between lake and river offers a great variety of animals and plants, there is always something to see on the river bank. This route is also perfect for beginners, as even the faster-flowing sections of the Krutynia do not pose any major challenges. There are no rapids here, only occasionally you have to tow the boat or carry it around, sometimes with the help of locals for a small hand money.

This isn’t the caribian sea. It’s Polands MasuriaThis isn't the caribian sea. It's Polands Masuria

Only a few canoeists

Our second day takes us back out onto Lake Biale, before returning to a flowing section of the Krutynia. This leads into Lake Ganther, which is seen off with a sharp bend at the end. The Krutynia becomes a river again for 8 kilometers. Here it is wonderfully quiet and only a few canoeists meet us. On this stretch we also reach the village of Babieta.

When the river narrows we have the best timeWhen the river narrows we have the best time

In the village there is an old mill and the first weir, which has to be bypassed. The brick building stands picturesquely in the water, the old mill building has been converted into a restaurant, but it is closed today. The first meters after the mill are quite flat, it begins to rain, we steer under the trees on the bank and take a break. The swallows fly low, that doesn't mean anything good. And at the Uder there is a sign that forbids disembarking just here.

Survived for this viewSurvived for this view

But it quickly gets lighter in the sky again. We push off and set our invisible sails through the narrow river, which is more like a stream here. Shoals have to be navigated around, sometimes the bottom sits up. But today we don't have to tow, the canoes also slide over the shallow parts.

On the map every way is so shortOn the map every way is so short

Looking up at the sky 

On the way to the Great Sysdroysee we also feel the current, which saves us many a paddle stroke. We push forward at a leisurely pace, looking up at the sky every now and then. There draws a weather near, gloomy and threatening. We still have half the lake to cross, after the reed belt finally opens up and allows a first glimpse of one of the largest lakes in the region.

This is the better side, after the heavy rainThis is the better side, after the heavy rain

Far ahead we already see our destination, or better we guess it: An old vacation home from socialist times stands there, empty and abandoned for three decades, an ideal landing place, so we were told, with sandy beach, evening sun, fireplace and in really bad weather even with some open old bungalows. But suddenly it starts to rain. And this time it is not a drizzle, not a little country rain. A real flood that falls from the sky as if whole buckets were poured out.

The wildlife here is incredibleThe wildlife here is incredible

Our first attempt to land on the shore fails. Too soon! Here is the vacation home not yet, but a sailing club that has no place for us, not even with impending distress at sea. So onward, straight ahead, always near the shore. Then the main building of the vacation home emerges from the undergrowth. A large building, impossible to overlook. But there is nothing to be seen of the long jetty that is supposed to exist here. Only reeds, reeds everywhere, impenetrable. And no sandy beach. The wid becomes a hurricane, the rain whips. We try to pierce the reed belt with the boat. In vain.

This old landing stage is washed away - this picture is from the year 2009This old landing stage is washed away - this picture is from the year 2009

Start of a suicide trip

But as we row back, it happens. Wind and waves grip the canoe as if with an iron hand. No matter how hard we fight, there is no turning back. In a matter of minutes we are driven out onto the storm-lashed sea, steering is impossible.

What a view in greenWhat a view in green

The only possible course takes us further and further into the middle of the sea. Whenever we try to turn left to the so-called Love Island, our alternative destination for this evening, the storm and the waves push us sideways again.

A sea roseA sea rose

The only thing that helps is the emergency brake: one full stop, and the boat is pushed sideways with all our might. Ten paddle strokes forward, then the effect is used up and we're lying across again, helplessly exposed to the waves they splash in the boat. Next full stop. Ten strokes. And again and again.

Sing your life out after you risked itSing your life out after you risked it

Hard fight with the waves

These are frightening moments, perhaps lasting a quarter of an hour. Or an half? It seem like two houers. Slowly, much too slowly, we approach our destination, which hardly grows larger in front of the bow. But then finally it is done. We sail in from the top, because we have strayed much too far to the other side of the lake. But here is the shelter of a small bay on Love Island. Curiously, the old man with the kayak, whom we met yesterday, watches us. With our last strength we save ourselves on land.

Over the flames the lakeOver the flames the lake

Not a second too soon, because as if by magic it suddenly stops raining. The wind is gone, the last clouds drift away. We shake the water off our clothes and breathe a sigh of relief. Saved. The rest of our group now paddles off leisurely from the vacation home to catch up with us. What an adventure. For us. or the other guys a normal ride.

Sundown in MasuriaSundown in Masuria

A lovely camp side

But the island in the middle of the lake makes up for the fear. Love Island has a campsite, and later we head over to the nearby other shore and fetch wood for a warming fire from the forest. The water is clear, it is suddenly warm again, warm enough for a swim. The sunset is one of the most beautiful ever. Golden and then glowing red, the sun sinks where we came from. A Zilpzalp bird sings in the treetops above us, soon the campfire is burning and we look out over the flames to the water, which now lies still again like a brightly polished steel plate. What a ride. What an adventure. The night descends.

The lonely treeThe lonely tree

The adrenaline was dissolved in beer.

Thank you for reading and if you like my work please follow me          on HiveTravelfeed or Steem or visit my homepage koenau.de

A few more pictures for you:

The very old hotel, seen from the Love Island.The very old hotel, seen from the Love Island.  Sundown beginsSundown begins The sun over the forestThe sun over the forest Wide angle with the lonely treeWide angle with the lonely tree Picture from 2009: Barracks behind the old hotel, now a lost placePicture from 2009: Barracks behind the old hotel, now a lost place The better choice:The Love IslandThe better choice:The Love Island Our tentsOur tents Our tent (right in front)Our tent (right in front) you can#t get enough from this viewyou can#t get enough from this view On the other side of the islandOn the other side of the island The days goes in flamesThe days goes in flames Last lightLast light
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