Paddle For Hope – 30 km tour event
30 km river paddling tour in Kalajoki, Finland
It is few minutes to 5pm. About 50 paddlers are hitting the water with kayaks and canoes. Alongside 11 SUP paddlers are getting ready for the tour with their inflatable pink Paddle For Hope boards and paddles. At 5 pm the group starts paddling, from the border of 2 villages to the next village border, about 30 kilometres.
Every year in the beginning of August a local paddling club organizes a paddling event called ”Rajalta rajalle”, Border to border. The event gathers 50 to 70 paddlers together. The tour goes on Kalajoki river, through Finnish countryside, across lake Pidisjärvi. First 3,5 hours we are paddling in daylight, with comfortable pace, having a break in the shore of Pidisjärvi. There some paddlers leave the group while new paddlers join it. Local village committee is selling grilled sausages, crepês and coffee, paddlers are chatting together and changing to warmer clothes while adjusting their headlamps for the second part of the tour. As the endless summer is already having dark nights the paddlers are paddling the last kilometers in dusk. The headlamp is for others to see where you are paddling.
This yearly paddling tour is an event we really are waiting for. Paddling on a river, sharing the feeling of freedom with other paddlers, enjoying the peaceful landscape – after a busy summer season it is mind-filling to have few hours just for paddling. Many long moments go without talking to anyone while you just paddle and enjoy.
Just before midnight we are crossing the finishing line. Actually it is a small bridge and paddlers have to kneel on their boards for passing it underneath. After finishing the tour we pack our boards in our cars, wave to other paddlers, shout ”see you next year” and head back home.
This is pure Finnish style: no extra talk, just doing what you came here to do.
This year the weather was beautiful and warm and we could paddle wearing just shorts. Some years we’ve had heavy rain, thunder and strong wind. This time the day was sunny and serene. We didn’t need those warm clothes we had packed on top of our boards, this time it was all about summery feelings.
This year’s paddle tour had also a bigger meaning: to raise awareness towards breast cancer rehabilitation. That is what Paddle For Hope is all about: doing what you love, connecting your mind, body and soul with nature, helping you overcome any challenges you may face in life.