It has been another whirlwind Summer, no sooner than its time to head north, than the leaves start to turn and we’re heading back down again. This year I was in the centrale for European whietwater paddling for the 14th Summer in a row, Norway has it all, and never disappoints.
When all the Spring melt has normally passed on from Piemonte and Ticino, and the peak flows of France has dropped off, Norway for the Summer still has so much to offer. Year and year I return, and to miss a season, would be a sad occasion, yet as the years wind on, there is a sense that in spite of the fire burning in the belly, a lull in the proceedings would be be a miss, but then again how could I?
With the World Freestyle Champs only moments away, as I type this blog entry, this Summer in the Westgarth house was dominated by my wife going to Thun and needing to enjoy her playboating. this meant days of Skjåk wave fun, trips to the fabled Lom Bakery and the occasional surf at Jølgens wave on the Sjoa. For the big guy, and now that I am approaching 90Kg there are not many playboat options for myself, the WS Project and Jackson SuperStar, both are ace, but for the wave this Summer in Norway the Project made for some ace airtime. I also managed to prize Jon Kristain’s Version 5 Centrifuge prototype from him for a session at Skjåk, what a ride, fast and hard rail turns. Those days of speed are sadly missed by myself, perhaps the ocean will call again this Autumn, as the annual migration to Devon is soon before myself.
This year saw the Sjoa Valley Kayak Shop, Strie Strømmer take charge of the Sjoa Kajakk Kamp as well as the annual Sjoa Kayak River Festival, and in mid July the boys with the help of many local friends made a great event into an excellent time. I have been to every Sjoa Festival and have seen the event grow and change over the years. In the early days the local crowd ran the events, but the festival was overseen by the Norwegian Paddling Association, which kind of took the shine of it, later a commercial rafting company made several excellent events, yet they were always balancing the need to run their operation with the Festival going on at the same time, from the same location. This year all the elements finally seamed balanced and so much more was added to the event as a result. Plus after a 7 year absence we finally saw the return of the Ulla Extreme Race. Once and only once was the race on the waterfalls, and this was the first event, and there after the race has always been on the slides, and this year it was no exception.
This year I fired it up and gave a good account of myself, with a third place. There’s steel in those arms still. Although in the BoaterX, the time trails went very well, yet in the first round with some 15m is spare I decided to surf the entry hole on the last rapid of Åmot, and watch everyone else sail on by, oh I did get a cheer. Check out the race here:
For entertainment my wife, Satu decided to go a the Besseggen Trail in Gjendesheim, so I joined her for a trip on a boat up the Fjord to Memurubu and a walk back to the car along a spectacular ridge. Its a cool spot, at one time to cross a small natural rock dam, that is holding back a big lake from falling 500m into a huge lake. After the hike, my wife cooked Cheesecake and then tried to eat it all!!!!
Of cause whilst we were in Norway, there was work on the river, and what a delight it always is. This year was great, lots of paddlers from all over the place, coming to Norway to enjoy the fun of the Northern Summer. When working these weeks are often long, with early stars and late finishes, yet happy days abound.
After yet another surf session, time was almost up. So I visited Sweet Protection en route South to Slovenia and enjoyed one more Coke from a glass bottle, always a treat in Norway, until next Summer, Number 15, almost a round number……..