It’s always far, the long road north, 2000+km is not a small distance, mostly motorway. I stack the podcasts, for this 2 day mission, and yet after all the miles a paddling paradise awaits, Norway is the Summer destination for European white water paddling. Of course there is paddling across the Alps, but the best spots like Piemonte and Ticino are done by June. Yes there are other spots, but these are certain not equalled in quality to Norway, the quality of the paddling, the beauty of the landscape and the scope of adventure, whether its hard core Class V or pleasant Class III, there is no better spot in Summer for paddling across the whole of Europe than Norway. It comes at a price, it’s far away, the food and beer costs a lot and the weather may not always be what you wish for, yet perfection must always have its toll, otherwise it would be over run with paddlers and other adventure tourists, and Norway is not, it’s a slice of the kind of heaven I’d like to go to.
In between all the paddling, which there is a lot of in Norway, Satu and I have enjoyed the surrounds of home in Øyer. There is a Summe rehiring challenge to letter box a bunch of peaks, plus great mountain biking at Hafjell Bike Park, which I have a season pass for. The free ride tracks are ace, there is anew link from Motown down, that has 5 or so table tops that you can pop with ease. We also climbed northern Europe’s highest peak, Galhøpiggen, that was a mass adventure tourist experience, with some 20+ people all tied into a rope to cross the glacier, before the long hike up a snow field to the top. and of course any trip to Lom, must always include a stop at the Bakery.
We also hit the west coast, for a weekend in Ålesund, and cruised the fjords. Norway is a vast country, there is a lot to see, and a lot going on, a strange mix of tradition and a rapidly changing society. One thing that sticks out for myself is the art, there is a simp yet understated way the architects or artists, bring something a little extra to the landscape, where the feature stands out, but not in a way you’d think, “my word, what were they thinking?” This Nordic style is very much runs through the culture, until someone or something cuts through radically changing perceptions and the outlook. There is no doubt that Europe is under pressure from inward immigration, most of which is from nations where Islam is the predominate culture, but any statement from the barrel of a gun, runs counter to all we see as open and free. Within our our society there are home ground closed off groups that have different values and morals to the mainstream, yet they co-exist mostly under the radar, where as people from far off land appear different, and thus to slip under the radar is not an option. Politicians talk of integration, wishing more for assimilation as in the USA, yet cultural values have always clashed, but what matters is the respect of others to do as they wish within a framework of mutually understood values.
Now in my 16th Summer in Norway, the main draw from the beginning is the paddling and they is no exception, no equal to Summer time paddling. The nature of the runs, both steep and powerful makes for the best of times, year after year. It’s just too difficult to sum up in mere words, it’s paradise, pure paradise and paddling perfection.
I recently went to get a few prizes for the Gene17 Ula Extreme Race, and at Arthur van Riet’s house near Åmot in Sjoa, was this image on the wall. At home in Øyer we now have a large print to this amazing shot of reindeer running through the Winter landscape of Rondane.