A berry tour, a random walk in the forest, searching of berries, here and there with no linear path or destination in mind, only time taken, all to often like a paddling road trip if you are not too careful. It would be fair to say, that I have been north, really north a few times on paddling adventures. Above half way up Norway, is Nordland, which in a way is not true north, that is Finnmark, a treeless realm of Reindeer, that roam is a rugged land, that has a something of old and ancient about it. So Nordland, well in fact Hatfjelldalen, is the spot for August paddling, you can go earlier, but you’ll each have 20,000+ mosquitoes to deal with. So August seams to be the right time, it’s still warm, nearly bug less and you’re longing for adventures new, after the Summer season is closing out.
Jakub and myself, were joined by Dag from Voss, who in turn met up with Benji, Ron & Mariann, a day later Erika and Nini joined us too. So a great band, mainly Norwegians, but Swiss, Czech and myself in the mix, plus a couple of Chilean street dogs too. first we hit the a late afternoon run, upon arrival on the upper Vesna, several bedrock drops in a wide canyon. I have the fresh of the air freight, version 2 prototype of the new Dagger Mamba 8.6. On the first drop, eddy left, boot right, and down the guts through the hole. She eddies well, boof’s nice, and gets worked in the hole, mmmmmmm I thought, she not like the Version 1 prototype, Id have since May, fast yes, but this one has something, well easy about it. OK, more of the same on another drop, an outfitting rethink was needed. I pushed the seat far far forward, took out one of the 4 seat pads, moved the thigh braces way back, da da, thankfully.
Some evening fly fishing on Vesna, and a little rain. Rain when camping is never welcome. High up in the catchment, there was a lot of rain, so by morning, the nice gravel beach we’d been camping on, was smaller, and with the water rising fast, my 313 MB Sprinter proved a little heavy, and wheel spun itself into a hole…. Erika’s van Vilmar, was of little help is trying to tow us out, so a local farmer with a 4WD was fetched, 2 minutes later and a bottle of fine Slovene wine lighter, we were underway to Stor Fiplingdalelva.
With grey skies, and a cold northerly wind, we put on the Stor Fiplingdalelva. A couple of larger slides, one like a free ride park with a range of possible lines, were at the putin, then 4 km of Class II, before the main section, which is a blend of bedrock drops, that either nicely are formed in the aspect of the bed rock or ugly by cutting through it, all in a low canyon, a great run with a must run at the take out, plus other great drops and rapids.
The grey day turned to rain, and we hoped for higher flows the next day, and we got 60 cumecs on the Susena classic section, which meant most to the drops were smooth with large holes to await the less lucky. DjusBoof, a famed drop was dropped.
After all the rain, our camping stuff was wet through, so we found a Hytta, and dried out over night. In the morning, we awoke to bright sun shine, and the Krutårga, with it’s mega triple drop rapid was on the menu. This river rises from Sweden, and cuts through brittle volcanic rock, and over some nice drops, and a mage slide close to the take out, that is probably yet to be run. A big kicker where you have all the speed, and the bed rock landing below, for sure stops any challenger to date. We had late lunch on a beach, and all took a nap, what a holiday crew. During which time, Benji, went off to look at a project, the Mølheimbekken. Upon his return, Benji woke all up, and insisted that we decamped, moved 3km and hiked uphill for 1km, for a delight. We followed his guidance, that was more my orders, as his excitement was over flowing. Benji’s description, was of a near continuous open and clean slide. At the top of the hike, was a lake, and about 5cumecs flowing out, in rather flat water, given the incline we’d just hiked, this seamed a false start for white water action. The flat water continued for a while, hmmmmm, this is going to be steep indeed. Around another corner, and a small slide started the fun, and the river was white around the corner, off we went. The action, just kept coming, at pone point Benji pointed out the entry to a long triple slide, where to could see the lake a long way below, mmmmmm, here we go, follow the water, there were eddies, but no pools. No slide was more than 50m long, but few stopping places along the way. A few drops broke up the slides, and one pool marked the middle way point. All laughing about this great find, we headed down some rocky rapids, and into the next slide combo, a slightly uglier start, but away we dropped, some boffin’ off kickers was to be found, and the final long slide into the lake was a great final ride. At the take out, is a prefect campsite, water, fire pit, shelter and even a toilet.
We stayed on the Mølheimbekken for another day or so, got some GoPro footage, and had a great time, great camping with good food and wine, and sunsets to die for. As time was winding away, we decided to head north to Rana and Arctic Circle with the famed Lønsdal run. We met up again with Mariann and Ron on the Rana, to be disappointed by the lack of water to run the main 2 drops, however we had fun on the gorge run out. The wind from the north grow in strength, the evening was cool, a sign of just far north we were. In the morning, we headed to lower Lønsdal, with it’s california section. I had run this section several times in 2003, it’s ace, granite style bedrock slides and drops in a wide open canyon. Wonderful fun, although the one big main drop was a little to low to run cleanly. The wind built, and the northerly direction, meant we had 4’C at the take out, we turned tail and headed south back towards the Hattfjelldal area.
We stayed on the shores of the lower Vesna, a wide peaceful river, full I understand of salmon. I the morning, Dag with 10mins spare, inform us that his train to Trondheim, was some leaving Torfors, Benji rallied, and drove like a madman to get Dag on the train in time. This abrupt awaking, meant we were slow to start, and in the end, we brunched at Laksfossen, with no one keen to go, so we headed to another triple drop run, the Mjølkelva. Again another run I paddled in 2003, and different from the others in the area, a glacial run cutting through layers of bedrock, making for some smooth slides, and ugly cracks! Still we got down to the main event, its a straight forward enough, yet three drops stack up, and feeling quite tired after the season, I was for sure nervous. I followed Ron, the new Mamba went well, well enough in that I know that I will not be in the Nomad again. At the bottom I was very happy to have the beast culled, and took my position for photos. I have a Canon 60D with a bunch of lens, and until recently I have been only taking images in automatic or program settings, and with the likes of Jakub and Benji close by, it was time for the jump to taking images with the manual settings, and if you get close to getting it right, what results you get….
The last night in Hattfjelldal, and we camped close to our final run, the Susena Canyon. The canyon is a great run, different yet again, a fractured bedrock canyon, with rapids and powerful white water. Benji had run the section earlier in his trip north, and lead us through the fun. On one line, with little speed, I almost got caught out by the Graugen, a norsk deity that lives in rivers that pulls on swimmers and kayakers it seams. I came through a slot, with a diagonal hole pushed me off line on to an ugly rock, I spin her around to avoid a close syphon, and Benji with his rope, helped pull me over the said rock, and I was free. It’s never easy to stay focused when you are tired. Soon after, we headed south to Trondheim, and my flight to Nordkapp awaits.
During the times with the Norsk crew, we learnt a few takes of folklore, and the distraction of the Huldra for unmarried men, a forest creature that appears as a beautiful girl, with a cows tail she tries to hide, that can have you on a berry tour, a random wondering of the forest with at times lustful intent or marriage on her mind to free her of your tail. The one thing that was apparent, is that is in the vast forests and fell of Norway, main places seldom get seen or visited, and as such all manner of folk and creatures can dwell. Norway is an amazing place, full of adventure around every corner, especially for outdoor people, and within the nature is woven stories of magical creatures and a history with many tales to tell. I’ll leave with an early morning sun rise over Trondheim, again taken on manual settings with my camera.