Category Archives: Blog

Knee Replacement At a Young Age: What to Expect….

Given that last year I had my knee rebuilt and had to undergo some time in rehab, I had time to read up on these matters and find new friends on the internet. Here is an outline of what to expect if you have seriously damaged your knee:


Knee Replacement At a Young Age: What to Expect
–Philip J Reed, on behalf of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center

A knee replacement doesn’t discriminate by age. You may think that since you are only in your teens, 20’s or 30’s that you couldn’t ever possibly find yourself in the position of requiring a knee replacement, but you may be surprised. Even if you’re active and healthy and take excellent care of yourself, your knees may already be working their way to calling it quits.

An active lifestyle doesn’t eliminate you from surgery, and in fact, depending on your preferred activities, you may actually be more at risk for a future knee replacement. If you find yourself in that position you can rest assured that advances in joint replacement and the technologies available at your joint replacement institute have come a long way.

What happens during your actual surgery will depend on the damage to the joint. You may require a partial or even a full joint replacement which will mean removing the damaged areas and replacing them with a man made alternative.

The procedure will obviously be handled by professionals, but the recovery is all up to you. Your local joint replacement institute will set you up with the proper resources that you will need for rehab and recovery but it’s up to you to do the actual work.

Sticking to your prescribed exercises or rehab schedule is very important, as is making the most out of those activities. Though often exhausting and sometimes even painful, the regime is specifically set up with your quick recovery in mind.

Understanding your limitations is also a key to successfully bouncing back after surgery. Pushing yourself is important, but don’t let the foolishness of youth make you push too hard. Taking on too much too soon will set your recovery back rather than let it move forward.

People with an active lifestyle, particularly in youth, are statistically proven to more often than not have healthier lives. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever face surgery, but it does usually mean that you will recover more quickly. Avoid additional frustration by making sure you follow you’re the rules of your aftercare and you’ll be up a moving again before you know it.

Nordland; the huldra & the draugen and a berry Tour

Entering Nordland in the G17 Sprinter

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.

Blue Angle fun on Stor Fiplingdalelva
Like a FreeRide Park, you pick your own line on Upper Stpr Fiplingdal

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.

Jakub on DusjBoof, Susena
Erika on DjusBoof

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.

Jakub on Krutårga's triple drop

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.

first long slide on Mølheimbekken
Office time on the road at camp

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.

Mariann on the cali section of Lønsdal
Simon on Lønsdal

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 first of 3 on Mjølkelva
Jakub happy to of dropped the triple on Mjølkelva

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.

Jakub deep in the gorge of Susena

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.

Sunrise over Trondheim

Sjoa, a northern Paradise

In the new Mamba 8.6

Norway, again and again and again, paddling perfection, and at the heart of it all is Sjoa, a small hamlet at the end of the Sjoa, in fact located on the opposite side to the confluence with the Lågen, by the even smaller hamlet of Åmot. To Norwegian’s Sjoa, is known as Heidal, the principal larger village upstream, about mid point along the valley. Still here on this river, is a paddling life all Summer long, rafting, kayaking, river boarding and lots of tourists along with a local crowd and Summer blown ins just like me. My 16th Summer on the Sjoa breeze, I tend to aim to be there by mid Summer’s and look to head South by September, 12 weeks or so, a whole Summer season for one thing and one thing alone, paddling.

Over the year, strings have changed and other things have stayed the same, the river this year changed after some near 1000 cumec floods, so we have a new face to an old friend. When heading out after big floods, caution is always needed, river change, and in floods or after harsh Winter’s they can change significantly. On Skjerva, a near by run, a must run on the upper section, is now an epic portage, both Nick Horwood and Jakub Sedivy had a close call, trying to run an ugly slot. All ended well, we got everything, and now know the portage route. Moments like this reminds us that we are all but a continuum, and even those things as solid as rock, are as dynamic at times are is everything.

Micky Moose Run

Before the Sjoa events, we headed to Valldal for paddling, the Micky Mouse run is ace, steep clean slides and a small drop in there too. The grassroots event, the Valdall Summer Games, has wider appeal to the local active crowd, with a new downhill bike route cut into the hill and some north shore to enjoy too. Its a Summer field like festival. The middle Valdall river is a fun creek run, starting with boulder gardens and then some bedrock slides, all in an open river bed, 20mins of action. Out in the fjord, there is lots of fishing too, spinning for sea trout and salmon is easy I understand, myself, I’d prefer fly fishing, but it’s a later project, for myself to enjoy.

Back in Sjoa, the River Festival now in it’s 15th year, is ace, some 200+ paddlers from all over the nordic realms and others too from central Europe and the UK, descend on the Sjoa Kayak Camp, for a week of paddling, competitions, parties and fun with friends. This year Gene17 took over the running of the festival, from my wife, how now has a flu time job. With both Jakub and Nick to help, along with others, we ran the event programme, added in Gene17 clinics to expose the Nordic paddlers to our charms, plus the Gene17 Ula Extreme Race on Rondane. We had great prizes from Art, again, prefect stuff. What to say about the Sjoa Festival, I go every year, I like it, it’s an open gathering and what’s not to enjoy?

Sweet Rumble
Gene17 Ula Extreme
Liquid Logic Games

Then after Sjoa, comes the Gene17 work, this year the Progressive Trip provided much entertainment, then again it always does. It’s hard to throw the net over an intermediate course, but it’s for Class III+ paddlers looking to get ahead, or an introduction to big volume, either way, it’s a world away from the Alps. Most of what is taught is tactics for river running, as the crowd tend to be from a group where they are not leading to much, plus there is a tendency to over edge at an and all transitions. These days, you point your boat in the desired direction, and go, plane over everything if you can, but you go, always go forward, if there is a problem, there is always a forward solution. This no nonsense style, can be an issue with the paddlers from low float destinations, but given the low ceiling of tactical effectiveness the push me pull me method of boat manoeuvring has, the paddlers get on board soon enough.

man at work
camera feedback

What to say about the work, I love it, its ace, and there is always a lot to do. With many new events to run, it’s difficult to get the other projects down, especially the video efforts. This Autumn is down for this, I have a 6 week window to get this done, but I will be busy with something else…more on that later. For now, Ciao from Nordkapp, yepp the northern edge of Europe, barren, striking and yet beautiful.

Next time, Nordland, the new Summer paddling destination.

24 hour day light, the northern Summer

Simon at the Sweet Rumble

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.

Top tour, Øyer hiking challenge
Lom Bakery
Satu waiting to go on Galhøpiggen

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.

West coast green

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.

Maihaugen's new gateway

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.

Simon on Ula

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.

Art's reindeer herd running on Rondane

flight, plight and Delight

Yeah, yeah undating a blog appears to be somewhat time consuming compared to my Twitter account. Still there is somewhat more substance that can be conveyed on here.

Ok since Greece in April, Satu and I went back to Trnovo in Slovenia, for a week on the Soča, cruising this classic river in the Dagger Axiom, the prefect slalom styled modern river runner. It’s quite a different paddling style from the Dagger Nomad, my normal weapon of choice. In the Axiom, you must not at all edge too hard, but keep the boat flat or near flat, when tracking or turning. This has got me thinking about, modern paddling technique, and after some time in the French Alps with an aspiring intermediate group, it’s quite obvious that paddler’s from the UK and Ireland are taught to edge too much at any transition, and thus the boat catches the current to easily and often tips the paddler over! All that is needed is enough edge to stop the paddler getting caught out by opposing currents, in fact, the ability to plan over these opposing currents is the preferred outcome, if you wish to turn, edge slightly so you plan and turn at the same time. Hard edging is for very sharp turns and being able to get the paddle vertical for flaring drops and boofs.

Jakub on the Lower Sermenza

By May, I headed to Valsesia, the slice of prefect that is the Italian Alps, smooth granite, steep runs and wonderful food. I had a week of fun before the work started, a great 2 weeks of work and then the all new Valsesia River Festival. What is amazing, is that as the years pass by, it just gets better, I am not sure why but it does, that prefect window of Spring there in Campertogno, just seams to be so right, it’s not just the paddling, that is ace, not just the setting, although few places revive it, not only the food and wine, after all it’s Italy, home to great food and wine, but the way the days are when you are in Valsesia, paddling in the Spring runoff, truly amazing. Check the image below, nothing but a moment of perfection and the thing is, everyday is like that….

Middle Sesia

Last Winter I sold all my HDV and SD Video cameras and set up, and went HD DSLR, plus GoPro. I got a Canon 60D with a L Series 17-40mm lens, and the shots are quite amazing. I can frame OK, and simply leave it an a programme mode, as I know like of the manual settings, still amazing none the less. This summer I plan to start shoting video with the beast, and the POV unit, although the geekiness of the helmet mount is so TeleTubby, I have not brought myself to do it yet! Am off to northern Norway in August, so I expect my time will come…..

Spyros in the air off the kicker on the Sorba slides
Beppe Boof Capo

After the work came the Valsesia River Festival, Gene17’s attempt to bring the format of the famed Sjoa of Norway to Italy, and on the whole it was very successful. We had paddlers come from all over Europe for the festival, a real mix of different paddlers from a far. The clinics run by the Gene17 staff of Jakub and Spyros, who were join by Matze and Jobst went down well. We tried to run all the races in a single day, this was a tall ask, still the Egua FreeRide was great fun, and so to the Sweet Rumble. The locally contested Sesia Alpin Sprint, went well, yet not enough Italiano’s present. Must try harder next year, and we have a plan for just Sunday for the Alpin Sprint, Individuals in the morning and the Team event after lunch. We’ll try and make this a stand alone event for 2012. Check some of the highlights of the event…..
Hammer time on the Egua
Egua Sprint
Alpin Sprint
Sweet Rumble Valsesia 2011

No sooner had I arrived it felt it was time to go, the French Alps for 10 days were my next destination. A BCU 5 Star Assessment, and then guiding for a week, plus mountain biking every evening to enjoy the best of the Durance Valley, ie the biking trails. Friends, an Irish expat couple, live near the bottom of the Fournel valley, and a prefect place to stage up lift from.  An excellent single track ride, through high alpine meadows, and then down through the trees to the main valley floor, a very nice ride.
Slot and drop on the Durance Gorge
Bouchet, alpine run away fun

Even after some good runs, the Lower Guisane, Durance Gorge in strong water and the Guil, I can say that I am never a big fan of this destination for quality kayaking. yes I am spoilt, I get to go to prefect boulder garden white water, bedrock slides and clean drops, so when its sharp and dirty as it is in the French Alps, its hard to get excited about it all, especially when working in that environment. I have had several debates about this matter, especially with local French paddlers, as it’s certainly a harder location to work at Class IV and beyond, that is perhaps why most of the work offered in the French Alps is Class II/III or later on in the season at higher grades. Working in the French Alps on Class IV and higher, is tough, swimmers, boats and paddles run away from you, containment is a real challenge and keeping every thing safe all the time, near impossible. You can go one to one, with a tighter ratio, and have a better chance, yet swimming in fast very shallow and cold rivers is nothing by hard, dawn hard and a risky business.

So when the time slipped away, and it was time to leave, I am always happy to know the next spot is going to be cleaner and sweeter than what I left be hide. En route to Slovenia, was the Stura de Grande near Lanzo, Italy, just 2 hours from Briançon in France, but miles and miles better paddling.

Steve on the Strua de Grande

A week in Slovenia, that included a day in the UK, for the first meeting of the new BCU WW Technical Group, which may help myself shape the next generation of WW qualifications and standards, I hope so. I turned it around in Slovenia, and sadly left that prefect spot for another, 2 days away and a drive North to Norway, and the start of the Summer.

from star light to spring Delight

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.

Happy back in Trnovo
River Cleaned Up

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.

Golden boy on Soca

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.

Into the Vikos Canyon
Into the Gate of Adris
midnight Easter Saturday in Greece

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.

Axiom glory

northern winter destination Gjendesheim

Yes, yes, I have been slow yet again to write this blog, check out the draft saving date 13th March, and now it’s the end of April, and all the Nordic skiing below, seems a long time ago in a land far far away, especially as I am in Greece now and it’s certainly Spring here. Alas I digress, more about that later next week, for now, check out the fun below, Winter skiing in the Upper Sjoa valley at Gjendesheim.

Åsa shows her Nordic technique

After many Summer’s running the rivers of Norway, a Winter there is well in order, especially as me lady wife got a killer job last September.  So after all the UK Autumn work in Devon, I headed Øyer in early February and did lots and lots and lots of skiing, as Operation Sparrow Leg No More, requires a lot of leg focused development, and impact sports like running are now a NO NO. So with my trusty classic skis, I pounded the trails of Øyer, Tretten and Lillehammer for 6+weeks. And the result is a slightly larger leg, less sparrow like, yet certainly smaller than the other. This is going to take a while I fear…….(18 months, I am told)

My wife & I
Winter in Gjendesheim at dawn

Anyway, amongst all the regular close to home workouts, where a head torch means you can go with friends who have office jobs, Satu took me to the Upper Sjoa valley to Gjendesheim for some fine days skiing with Pete and Åsa, plus their dog and lead trail blazer Scooby. We day tripped out of the wonderful hostel at Gjendesheim, which is situated at the start of the lake, now frozen of course. Great food, yes, you read that right, great food, up in the mountains of Norway.

Team Lillehammer, dog driven
Winter Sun on a cold day

If you are looking for full days in the mountains, and wish to work a little for your supper, this is a great complement to alpine skiing, you’re away from the crowds and can enjoy the quick paced outing, plus burn off those Winter blues too. Ohhh plus the views are amazing too. I think we’ll get a set of fjell skis for next Winter, as we can go off the beaten track a little more and enjoy blazing our own routes across the northern Winter wonderland.

around the winter Pole

Golden Boy on the East Lyn, Exmoor
Devon, Norway, Finland, Norway, Devon and then Norway, are you getting my drift. Somewhere in the 7 weeks from the middle of December and the end of January, it was a a blur of snow, Christmas eating, airports, cold days on the river and more snow. I often recall what my mother once told myself about time, and as indeed, the older you get the faster the clock appears to go. Is it that you are simply busy, every day and all the time, thus have no time to look at the clock? Probably, however the alternative, the longing to be able to lazily look at the clock, and see time slip by slowly, squeezing seconds amply by. Alas as the lack of blog posts indicates, I have been in the hyper time travelling modern lifestyle mode. Still a holiday, might be appealing, but I am not one to sit around, action and activity are my only mantra.
At Dartmeet ready fo the off
Jack Butcher at Euthanisa on the Upper Dart
Christmas in Finland was white, snow on the lake, snow on the roof, snow on my boots and snow in the air, white and snowy it was. An excellent time was of course had, dining on the very excellent Vänskä salted pork shoulder that is roasted very, very slowly. Covered in mustard, the Finnish Christmas pork is melt in your mouth, perfection, and as my wife is a vegetarian, the treat of meat is always welcome, but the Vänskä Christmas pork is a once a year treat. Satu and I hit the snow on fjellskis, which are more traditional skis, wider and longer than normal skis, and you wear a normal type of boot, something to do, straight out of the door at the Vänskä Summer cottage near Tampere. Trying to beat back the Winter fill, we hit the ski tracks, although the -30˚C at night certainly meant the day time temperature would not too much better. Within a few days, we were back in Øyer, Norway.

New Year’s was going great, I drank whiskey like it was water, and by a few minutes past midnight, it was a very rare sight for my drinking partners, a rather sick Mr Westgarth. I clearly blame Colin, for his poor whiskey choice. The following day was a right off, everyone else went skiing, and myself I stayed in bed all day. The following day was a lot better, and normal service presumed with operation sparrow leg no more in action, with more nordic ski training.
WWS&R Live Bait practise on the Erme
Within days, back to work, and finally a wet Devon awaited. This past paddling season, has been poor, margin amounts of rain, and not the westerly rain bands of a normal Autumn come Winter paddling in the UK. Still, we had the best of it, 10 days of fine action, all the runs covered, fun on the East Oakment, high water Upper Dart, every day something fun to do. There was also lots of work on the river too, in fact this past Winter was Gene17’s busiest yet, lot of paddlers, no recession in sight. Well, January was a fast month, along with all the work, paddling, riding my road bike ( operation sparrow leg no more in action), I managed to sell my UK car, my last one I hope, and get everything shipped to Slovenia. Also had a week at Palm, getting excited about 2012 and beyond. A quick visit to my Nan, a grandson’s duty, and then Norway again. I leave you with a shot of my van in the sun, started first time, after 4 months of resting in the sub-zero temperature in Øyer, that’s why you buy a Mercedes Benz……
Norsk Winter and my van

there and back again

Late Autumn in the UK is normally wet and warm, and upon arrival to the UK, that is what I was greeted with wet and warm Autumnal weather. My first stop en route to Devon from Slovenia, was Palm Equipment near Bristol, to make a new boat, and look through some new product developments. Here’s a picture of BlueSky being made, she’s a beauty. I also managed to grab a sample of the new 2011 Palm Atom Dry top, to as you can see the Winter colour scheme is quite bright, and a long with BlueSky, makes for a sharp new look. I will say though from comments by the youth on the river, they seam to only like the dull colours, there so conservative these days, boring…..

The making of BlueSky, my Dagger Axiom 9.0
At Dartmeet putin & mobile
Mark Rainsley Image

As you can see, and am sans crutches, after 12 weeks off them, then another 4 light use of the left leg, I was very pleased to leave them be hide. After a consultation at the hospital, it appears that trail running will no longer be a hobby of mine, shame really, as I like it. Well I can do it, but knee replacement surgery will follow shortly after, and that I was informed is an old person’s operation, as the replacement knee will only last 5 years of old person use, thus 1-3 years for myself, so that’ll be no walking by the time I am 42. So in Norsk “Helvete” is all I have to say on that matter. No impact sport is on the menu, enter stage right, a nice road bike for now, and a country cross mountain bike in the Spring. There is also some good news, in that pioneering knee surgery coming online is where parts of the knee can be replaced instead of the whole knee, so if I can hold off the impact sport for a while, this may be an option in my 50’s. Christ, I am needing to managed the rest of my life…..

Back to that rain in early November. Here’s Pete & Jeremy, Dartmoor local boys enjoying nice levels, (2 steps covered at Newbridge), on the Upper Dart. At this time we had 2 great runs down the West Dart into the Upper. A great welcome to Devon week. Hit this FB Video link to see the fun.
Walking in at the West Dart

Along with wet paddling days, I enjoyed some of my imported food stuffs from Italy, here is another fine dish of Venison with Pappardella, themed on a Campertogno classic pappardelle del lepre, a firm favourite of mine, roll on May 2011, and the coming Valsesia River Festival

Venison with Pappardelle

Well come mid November, the normal Atlantic westerly flows, STOPPED. And my new Sweet Sinner Down Jacket found not arrive fast enough, 1000g of down, mmmmmmm like an expedition sleeping bag fashioned as a jacket. There is normally a cold snap before the end of the year, but not in November and not for this length, some 3-4 weeks to date, and no end in sight until the New Year. A shocking state of affairs for any UK paddler. Still now under new management, the Church House Inn in Holne is a prefect English Pub, and it serves Butcombe Blonde, a fine pint of real ale, but it’s a larger, wonderful.

Sweet Sinner Down Jacket

In amongst the cold snap, was our 8th annual Gene17 Adventure Paddler’s Weekend. We had Olaf come in for Friday Night at the Movies, plus a Saturday night full of talks and films, plus Cheesy played us out until the small hours. In spite the lack of rain, much ELF (Extreme Low Flow) paddling was had by the crowd, a Devonshire Cream Tea Cafe tour and homage to fine beer was had. We also showed Wild Water an amazing film from Anson Fogel, the filming is shoot to show fine action, and the subject, the content of why we paddle well explored. A little to yankie, but great now the less. Next year’s event is 2/4th December 2011.

Martin Linford at ELF levels on the Upper DartMark Rainsley Image
Paul Cheesy Robertson on the decks at the Gene17 APWE 2010Mark Rainsley Image

News of the death of Hendri Coetzee, hit some in the paddling scene very hard. Hendri, was an explorer and a master word smith, living some 100 years too late to be a classic adventurer as held in historical record. Yet driven to explore, Hendri blazed many a trail of uncompromising exploration at the few last frontiers of the modern age. This alone singles him out, as one of the great adventure paddler’s of all time. Along with his adventures, Hendri’s insight to what framed his life, is best seen in his writings, wonderfully raw, and timeless, I have been reading through his words and insight, plus his recent blog updates. I paddled several times with Hendri, and he was always a powerful and quiet man, a student of paddling and a master of his world, he had a fantastic life, and he will be missed in many a corners of the world.

One last stop before my exit, and that was too the Supermarket to stock up on traditional Christmas food for the expat crowd in Lillehammer & Øyer. I have not had an English Christmas for some time, but mince pies, and christmas pudding is always a hit where ever I have Christmas day. This year, Satu and I will be in Tampere, Finland, before New year in Øyer, a white Christmas is certain, plus lots of time on my skis, more, a lot more rehab is needed.

Crimbo shopping for Lillehammer expats

It’s been another great year, in spite of drowning my car, breaking my leg twice and not getting to Voss for paddling as a result. Still a fine year, great times in the Alps in late Winter, Spring in Greece, another wonderful Italy season, and prefect, so prefect Norway. Alas the wheels turns and the seasons change….



in the recovery Wilderness

Since my last post, it’s been a while, resting, recovering, rehab, 14 weeks on crutches and a slow slow road to mobility. Of course, in reading up about displaced tibial plateau fracture, I found out it’s one of the longest recovery times for any breakage, and difficult to predict when full mobility will come my way. Still this has not stopped life going on like normal, well almost normal. But to start with here are a few images, the first two are the raw fracture and myself waiting it out in Lillehammer reception:

As you can see, I was not at all happy with the consequence of my actions, nor with what I suspected at the time, to be quite a bad break. The X-ray shows the extent of the fracture, the plateau is depressed in the middle, and the fracture lines extend to each side of the tibial head. So the main tibia was in 3 parts, with a bunch of small floating parts, close to where the ACL is attached. The Doctor’s did not show me this image before the operation, I understand why, as it shows the extent of the fracture and the need to undergo extensive reconstruction. Now as you can imagine, Norway’s health care is first rate, the ward’s are normally a series of small rooms, a single member of staff for every 2 patients on my ward, plus a visit from the consultant every morning to see how it was going. The food was ace too, one day, I got eggs and bacon for a breakfast treat, plus I learned to enjoy Norway’s Brown Cheese, hmmmmmmm

The morphine after the first two operations was quite body shakingly horrific. I had the main op with the metal work, and then the pressure in the lower leg was considered border line. So I had two fasciotomies, which are deep cuts into the leg muscle added, and then a round of ketamine, a shocking access all area hallucinogen, with nothing but acceleration into a very vivid experience, that was nothing but alarmingly entertaining. Well after a week, I had the first fasciotomie sewn up and then the other, and within 2 weeks I was out. And my leg looked like this:

But hey, I was free at last. With only a small operation for Surfer’s ear to show from a life time of adventure, two weeks in the hospital made up with credits, avoiding such poor luck in the past. What a year, broke the same knee twice, second time, good and proper for good measure, and drowned my nice car not long before. I am only writing this now, as ebay car, decided it needs a new alternator en route to the UK from Slovenia. Anyway, here I am about to put on the Sjoa in September, wearing my flash new Sweet shorts with the crutches for support

The first runs in the boat were not easy to get into the kayak, and the footrest has been moved way forward to avoid any use of pressure and no back band to stop me push on that to compensate the lack of a footrest, an exercise in fine posture was learnt. In late August, Nick Horwood and Deb Pinniger took myself and the van with the boats to Slovenia, as I could not drive anywhere, Deb worked the week in Soča, and then Satu drove us back north to start her new life in Øyer, near Lillehammer. Here she is about to drive us 2000Km to Norge.

Well, once we moved into our new home in Øyer, in fact it was Jim Cummings his lady Hanna, old spot, we already had a crowd of friends, Pete, and his lady Åsa live in Lillehammer, Sam Pacman with family are moving into the neighbour in the New Year, like a little Britain, and only Sam has a Norsk lady, the rest of us have Nordic wonders, an interesting correlation, yet I say nothing more. Thankfully I had become the master of my crutches and could manage the stairs to our bedroom, which is nice, otherwise I’d be the dog down on the living room floor. Happy days in Øyer, BBQ’s and dinner dates, a right social mix. I have been charged with getting all the authentic ingredients for Christmas mince pies. as I am the only one to be in England before the festive season. The Norsk Autumn was golden, lots of little paddling missions, and I even managed to start cycling before I left, and on the 4am train from Hunderfossen a request stop!!

I got some nice new shoes when we went to Ireland to celebrate the starting of walking again, and a new hat to match!

Blue Zebra Freeride 5.10s

And I got to go tot KanuMesse to work on the Palm stand and see next year’s flash stuff, including the new Fuse Freeride top, which I will attempt to wrestle from Palm this Thursday. I will also make my new Axiom for the Dart season, in a new colour, she already has a name, BlueSky, guess what colour she’ll be?

Palm Fuse Freeride top

Other than all of Palm’s flash WW & Touring paddletops, at KanuMesse that caught my eye, was the new Wavesport Project X, finally something that stand up to Jackson Kayak’s dominance in the playboat scene. Level 6 had a great roller dry bag for travelling, Zet announced a new smaller Raptor, which has been the river runner of the year to date. Pyranha has a new longer playboat call Loki, which is very pleasing to the eye. There was some print paddle from Robson, that look good and lots of little changes here and there, plus lots of new players from all over and buyers from the US came to see what is now the biggest paddlesports show around. It’s so successful, Horst of Hf has quit his highly successful distribution business to now focus on running KanuMesse, a great job indeed.

Prime Autumn Colours in Slovenia

By mid October I was heading to Slovenia, for a week’s Alpine River Leader Training course with new Gene17 recruit Spyros from Greece and PGL Head Trainer Bob Timms. It was a great week, with good people, and wonderful to be in the boat everyday. I also got a cycle turbo trainer, to build the leg muscles, for the normality to arrive. I also peddled my road bike a lot, on the flats around Trnovo, slowly trying to climb the hill to Srpenica, after 10 days, I final managed to climb the hill, and so when everyone left, after the course, I could finally do the shuttle. So everyday in prefect Autumn sun, I left the bike at the top of the climb out from the Broken Bridge on Soča, and drove to the beach at Srpenica, paddled down, and took out. Then looking like an arctic explorer, I dragged the kayak be hide myself my a sled, using my crutches ski poles to climb the pitch out to the bike, then ride uphill and up stream back to the awaiting car. After a week of this routine, I managed to cycle the hill in a mid gear, slow progress, yet progress none the less.

Thrid canyon Boulder garden

So now I am waiting for Germany to open up to business again tomorrow at Matze just south on Munich, as today is a public holiday. My car’s alternator died as I was driving in on Saturday evening for dinner en route to the UK. Still that means I got to finally got around to write a blog entry after 2 months of easy, easy, slowly, slowly. Christ I am look forward to mobility and normality again, soon soon, at last.