It was the best of weather, it was the worst of weather; but two trips through it captured the essence of what it means to sea kayak in Norway. School this month has been packed full of kayaking adventures. Our first week was spent in lectures on history, pedagogy, and current practices of kayaking and canoeing in various areas of the world. During this time we were also planning for our first expedition to the settlement of Suldal on the west coast of Norway.
Down a long narrow road I experienced my first fjord, a glacial valley filled by the sea. Suldal is a rural community, and home to our Professor Jens, who opened his home to us and lent us the necessary equipment. I had never before used a dry-suit, but after jumping into the snow-melt water for the first time I was incredibly grateful to have one. Day one was kayaking basics. We learned a variety of paddle strokes, turns, and rescues. The lecture was held on a lake neighboring Jens' farm. The weather was blue skies and sunshine, which lasted the rest of the trip. Day two was spent in the Hylsfjord about 20km away. The trip began at the innermost point of the fjord, and we paddled to a spectacular waterfall. All the while you looked up to sheer rock walls and trees. Once we reached the falls we took a hiking trip straight up the side of the fjord to an old homestead. It is amazing to think about how I was following a trail that several families used just to get home. It was a workout! The focus of day three shifted to canoeing. In the morning we quickly went over the basics (many were the same as kayaking) before spending the rest of the day paddling down the river ending back at the farm.
Three days later we were off again, this time to the Southern Coast. Our main Professor Simon instructed this four-day kayaking course. With our boats loaded up with food and camping equipment, we spent each day paddling to a new island to set up camp. The actual weather wasn't as bad as predicted, but we still got a healthy share of rain and wind to challenge our skills. Safety remained the priority of the trip, and even when we were soaking wet and freezing there were still positive attitudes from my teammates. The landscape was much more developed than in Suldal, with many cabins littering the shorelines. We were still able to experience wildlife in the form of seals, jelly fish, long-haired goats, swans, and many other kinds of birds. Our second camp was on the island Jomfruland which houses a bird sanctuary. Being able to further develop our kayaking abilities on this trip was rewarding, and I look forward to continuing to build on them this summer once I return home.
This concludes my kayaking experience in Norway. Next stop is Spain (leaving tomorrow) and the Norwegian National Holiday May 17th in Oslo, followed by a final paper to write for school before traveling back to the West coast of Norway for more fjord and coastal town exploring! Thank you for reading.
Off I Go! Wish me luck,