The long Winter’s night, soon drew up, lighter evenings were noticeable by the end of February, and nordic skiing with the head torch was not always needed, late Winter in Norway is a place to focus the mind ready for the awakening ahead. Most days, once I dusted off the van, from it’s Winter sleep, I would manage 15km or more on the classic skis, staking with the recovering knee was not at all an option, as pushing on the inside of the ski gave no bite. 18 months of recovery I have been told, it’s a long road ahead. A new popular run for myself, was to take advantage from Satu’s commute, and ski from Øyer to Lillehammer, with uplift at Hafjell on the Gondola, and ski over the top via Nordsaeter and the Birkerbiener Stadium to Håkon’s Hall. Lots of downhill after the first hour up hill. As the Winter reached it’s zenith, the clocks sprung forward, and work called, next stop via Nußdorf am Inn and a visit to Olli & Ingrid was Trnovo, and the season opening Alpin Action Pig Party.
As part of the Očistimo Slovenijo v enem dnevu” (Let’s clean Slovenia in one day), Gene17 joined with a host of other paddlers from Alpin Action and local people from Trnovo ob Soči to get stuck into cleaning the Soča Valley. Above are Gene17’s Jakub Sedivy, with trainee Jake Holland, working hard on the banks of the Soča. Soon after the coaching started with a great week with the Trainee’s and then our Alpine River Leader Programme. The sun came out, and early Spring paddling on Soča is unrivalled, as you get into paddling again, the armed toughen and the style returns. Below is a golden moment, as you can see it’s all a but saffron.
No sooner, was the 3 weeks over in Slovenia, I was on a plane to Greece, for 2 weeks guiding, in the Pindos Mountains with it’s famed deep canyon runs of prefect Class III white water. This year Gene17 brings on Spyros, a long time paddler on our trips, finally into a position of working. A talented paddler, solid and full of fun, and a great addition to the team.
In Greece everything has got expensive, like everything, the EU/IMF bailout and resulting tough fiscal position, has meant that its all a little overwhelming if you are use to lower prices. Still, Greece, what to say, it’s like Europe, but it’s not, the mountain roads are more like Asia, the amount of rubbish throw on the way side is more like Africa, yet the food at every eatery is wonderful, simply excellent. The paddling, so long as you look for nothing more than Class III is ace, wonderful clean moves, deep canyons, a sense of remoteness unrivalled elsewhere in main land Europe. Why up to Class III you ask? Well, the nature of the rock type, heavily metamorphosed sedimentary rock that falls into tight canyons, if there is a lot rock fall, it’s siphons and undercut all around, so if you’re going to Greece, relax, enjoy and cruise the Class III.
Satu came to Greece for Easter, and we got to enjoy the traditional Easter weekend in a mountain village. Easter in Greece is very much a family holiday, and as big as Christmas is in Western Europe. On Friday night, dinner is without eat, and everyone goes down to the Church and lights a brown candle, to represent the death of Christ. On Saturday, little eating in the day, as everyone gathers at the village square before midnight, where the priest brings light candle to show the rebirth of Christ, much singing all around, and everyone one gets their candles lit. There follows fireworks and then early morning dinner!!! This was quite strange, as everyone is very hungry, and we all eat, but as it’s very late, as soon as the food settles, everyone runs to the bed. Sunday is really slow, and late to start, where lambs are cooked on a spit, and all rather in families to enjoy an afternoon feast, and early evening walk. A very different Easter, and with such great food, a welcomed experience, especially with friends and my wife.
As I am about to head to Valsesia for more work, and the first ever Valsesia River Festival, I leave you with a shot of some fine Axiom Glory, this boat is ace, the prefect slalom type modern boat, fast to easy to change direction without losing all your speed. It’s no steep boat though, but a lot of fun, and the main stay of Soča paddling for myself. I understand it’s selling really well, and that’s no wonder. Plus I have the new Palm Shortie, and the weather for such a top in Greece, perfection, prefect Spring times.