"Poorly Planned... Badly Executed"

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Swim Like A Fish

This is in the middle of the longest tunnel in the world. There are three rooms like this that look more like a rave hall than a main road. I assume that it is to keep people awake and alert.

One river I was disappointed not to paddle last year while in Norway was the Sogndalselvi, particularly notable for three back to back waterfalls with no place to get out in between them. My buddies Mefford and Amos had also failed to paddle the river despite living only an hour and a half drive from it. Our mission to it last year only revealed water to low to paddle but we did get to scout the three waterfalls and dream of what could be.

Amos running the first waterfall which had a burly leadin

This year was to be different. While hanging out in Voss I received a call from Mefford - “Our trips for today have been cancelled so we’re heading for the Sogndal, you want to come?” And with that I was off on a two hour drive which nearly spent more time underground than it did above. I think the tunnel breakdown goes something like this - 2km tunnel, 11km tunnel, 5km tunnel, 24km tunnel, 6km tunnel, and ferry into a 3km tunnel (tunnels under 1km excluded because hey it's Norway). That's over 50km on tunnels on a 120km drive!! At the end of the 3km tunnel (after the ferry) I picked up a couple of Belgium girls hitchhiking. They had taken the ferry and then walked the entire length of the tunnel not realising how long it was.

Mefford discovering the challengs of the entrance and inventing a new style of boofing - the tail first plug!! You will have to ask him how it is done, I only took the photos.

Arriving in the small town of Sogndal I soon found Mefford and Amos. We had a quick reunion, set shuttle and were off to paddle both upper and lower sections of the Sogndal at the timely hour of 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. Good thing it doesn’t get dark in Norway in the summer.

For once it's me not behind the camera. After Mefford swam on the first waterfall he become camera man (Photo by: Mefford Williams)

About the time we went kayaking is about the time things went astray for me. A kilometre into the upper section I got a right proper thrashing and swam like a fish. Amos jumped out for a quick scout in which he saw a big hole in middle of the river with 'good to go' line down the left... not so! I paddled the drop first to find the “go to go on the left” line ran into a wall of water kicking hard into the hole. Form the low angle slide I was on I had no chance of getting a boof so instead took my beating like a man and a good wee beating it was. I would like to claim that I was in there for over a minute because it sure felt longer but it was probably closer to 30-45 seconds. Long enough for Amos to place a throw rope perfectly on my shoulder signalling that it was to time to make hasty retreat.

Amos running the second waterfall (Photo by: Mefford Williams)

Swimming was not to be as easy as I anticipated though. To enable me to hold onto the throw rope with two hands tried to put my knee through my spray skirt but without any success... that little bugger was determined to keep my in my kayak! This left me holding onto a line trying to pull me of the river while me boat held me stead fast in the hole. Only thing for it - let go with one hand and pull my spray skirt off by its tag... easier said than done. Finally out my kayak and still holding onto the rope I things were surely looking up... until the rope went slack!! Amos had been pulled into the river just before I got out of my boat so I was on my own again. Luckily he had already pulled me over to the left side of the river and my swim to the sure was easy. I then got to watch my boat, with my camera inside, float past in the middle of the current where I had no chance of grabbing it.

Amos on his way to the bottom of the third and final waterfall (Photo by: Mefford Williams)

My boat made it a long way down the river before pinning about a km before the takeout of the upper. Having got all my gear back I wasn’t too worried about walking half the upper run and got straight back in the saddle. It didn’t take us long to get to the three waterfalls which makes the Sogndalselvi such a classic run. Amos and Mefford paddled the first waterfall while I took photos. Amos got stalled in the bottom but came out fine. After seeing this Mefford though he would head further right... a lot further right in the end and although he had a good line on the falls he got stuffed under an undercut just after the drop and had no choice but to swim like a fish (at least fish are good swimmers). Fortunately I was in a good position to get him a throw bag and help pull him out before the second falls. Not wanting to leave Amos the run the next two falls by himself I ponyed up and stuck the line to meet Amos waiting a small eddy just above the second drop. Which he insisted I paddle first but hey he been sitting waiting in his boat for nearly 30min so I was happy to do so.

Weeee... (Photo by: Mefford Williams)

The next two falls were all good and we found Meffod’s boat just downstream of the final falls so all were back on the water together for the rest of the run. The rest of the run saw only good lines and no dramas. While the paddling was not executed as well as we hoped it certainly was enjoyed by all.

Mefford reflects on the day that was

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Raundalselvi - Lower Canyon

The put in drop... what a way to start a run!

More of the Voss area goods... the Lower Canyon of the Raundalselvi which is probably my favorite run of the area (of those I have paddled so far that is). Then again it is hard a choice because all the runs are such high quality. The wonderful sunny hot day made for good picture taking too, a bonus to any good days boating that should be remembered. And too thoes of you enjoying the winter snow back home... well to be honst I am jelous but only a little bit because of rivers like the Raundalselvi and thirty plus degree days ;-)

Mark enjoying the entrance to a great section

Mickel playing games with holes... luck for him he was on the winning side

Mickel getting his boof on

Hendri same

More sweet drops... on this guy I though I would so a little dance with the left wall, not so graceful though I might add. Here Mickel makes it look far better than I did.

Greg paddled... um a drop while Hendri looks on... come to think of it I don't know the names on any of the rapids on this section. Maybe there aren't any?!?

Mickel, same rapid different line

Hendri looking for the melt down

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Lower Myrdalselvi a Little Voss Gem

Greg on the first drop of Karma Cow Falls

Well, I'm back on the water again in Norway in one of my favourite places - Voss. Voss just seems to have it all, great rivers, awesome people to hangout with, and even great weather (well don't count on it but it has been 30+ everyday I've been in town). Essentially no kayaking trip to Norway is complete without a trip to Voss and these pictures should be a good indication why. They are all from the Lower Myrdalselvi at a wonderfully friendly flow where there is enough water that it's not scrappy but everything goes and nothing is too scary. Perfect

Hendri on the second slide of Karma Cow Falls

Greg on the same drop

Hendri hand paddling the falls after the portage... oh yeah there is one portage, a 100 foot waterfall which lands on rock. Apparently the one only gets paddled on Sundays, day of the Gods... or so Greg and Hendri would have me believe.

Hendri sticking witht the hand paddles at the weir drop

The grand finale, a scary looking drop that you 'just float down the middle'

Greg on the same drop

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Endelig tilbake i landet med brun ost

Sit down and relax... there is no need to rush in Norway

Well I have finally made my way back to Norway for some boating after far to long away from the place. The finer details of said boating are yet to be arranged but with rivers everywhere and lots of other kayakers about that shouldn't be too much of a problem. For the moment I am rather enjoying a relaxing time after five weeks of parting (I mean working) in Poland. Anyhow for your enjoyment I have some photos that I snapped that other day in Aker Brygge by the waterfront in down town Oslo. The weather in this part of the world has a habbit of continously changing and the day I took these photos on was no exception. The are shown here in the order they were shot in so you can see how different the sky is in each shot! Well enjoy... kayaking action to come shortly. Har det bra

Protecting the city from attack... by whom I wonder?!?

Some old buildings near the city center

There are lots of sculptures and statues all over Oslo... I'm not sure why they chose a bull for the waterfront though?!?

People relaxing at the waters edge

The weather made for some really nice lighting conditions. Here the buildings are lit up with a dark background sky. This is probably me favorite lighting conditions to take photos in.

Don't like the threatening looking sky... no problem, just turn around!!

More of the same amazing lighting. I love the way the tree almost appears to glow.

The lighting conditions are not only perfect for photo taking but also for sitting down and enjoying the afternoon sun

One of the many parks and fountains which are found all over the city. It really does make for an enjoyable place to be.

A close up of the sculpture at the base of the fountain

If I wasn't being so lazy I would probably darken the sky to the left of the statue to give a greater contrasting effect... but hey this is Norway and you are allow to be lazy here ;-)

This one is a personal favorite but I think you need to see the full sized original to full appreciate the subtle depth of field effect here. Just enough to make the statue standout without overly blurring the background - camera settings were ISO 200, 28mm, f 7.1, 1/400 sec.

Another favorite, in this case the composition of the photo worked out really well.

I had to wait a while for this courtyard to be clear of people, well almost clear (this was the best I managed). I feel the photo looks far better without people.

I couldn't believe my luck when I came across this boat lit up the way is was. This photo has minimal post editing... this is how it look as I took the photo. Actually none of these photos have had any post editing that changes the look/feel of the original shot... it was just one of those days when the light was kind.

Believe it or not this is actually half of a round-a-bout and probably the coolest I have ever seen! You can see the marks on the coble stones where the cars have been driving. Also note that I am standing in the middle of the road to take the picture. Luckly the cars in Norway stop for podestriens.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Gdansk - Poland

So now I'm back at work which means no kayaking photos until I make my way to scando land to terrorize more Norwegians and do battle with their rivers. In the mean time I'll be making the best of what Poland has to offer and so far that has been a lot. Seeing as I'm living in a hotel with other guys from work we eat out most nights (at works expense of course) and that often escalates to a night out drinking but hey I'm not complaining. Not all has been remembered but I'm sure all was enjoyed!! Well before this turns into more drinking stories here is a quick summary of Poland so far... The food good and cheap plus there are places to eat out everywhere, beer is cheep and there are plenty of paces to sit outside in the sun and enjoy the fact that there are more beautiful girls in Poland than any other country I have been in to date, they are everywhere.... EVERYWHERE. The western bulge hasn't hit Poland yet that's for sure. The place has a very relaxed feel to it with many parks spread throughout the city and trees everywhere, more so even than Christchurch back home which is really saying something. Gdansk has a rather active night life in which day of the week doesn't seem to matter and all the best places to go are in a part of the city call 'Old Town' which looks like it was built hundreds of years ago, although I have no idea how many. This certainly adds to the atmosphere though. For the time being I don't have to work Sundays so I got a chance to get out and explore the city (and snap away happily even if I did look like a tourist). Right I best be back to work so I'll leave my brief description where it stands except to add that at face value Poland is a sweet place, much more so than I expected (and I was expecting good things). If you ever get the chance to visit then definitely take it... and make sure you include Gdansk in your exploring, especially Old Town. Enjoy the photos... the second half are of some graffiti that I found close to the center of the city and was also some of the best I have seen.