First stop: Picking up fellow team paddler, Paula Volkmer, from her house in North London. Some hard labour was needed to reorganising the van but we got everything in without squashing a single can of lager.
36 hours it took to drive to Norway via France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Sweden.
We managed it by driving in 4-6 hour shifts while the other person took short power-naps on the passenger seats (35 minutes seemed to be the average).
By the end of this harrowing journey, Paula and I, who were only vaguely acquainted at the start of the trip, probably now know far too much about one another than is legally safe.
So first stop: Voss and the Voss Extreme Week for some steep and scary fun, amongst competitions and partying.
Above and below are Paula and me respectively on the upper Brandseth. The extreme race however, usually held here, was moved to the Upper Rundalselvi (for fear of low water-levels).
It was carried out on a terrifying stretch of whitewater that resulted in 1 in 4 competitors swimming out the last hole and many more turning away from the starting-line, tail between their legs.
My run was hilariously bad, resulting in a reverse hero boof through the last hole. However two of my closest friends swam out of said hole, which means I technically beat them… and isn’t that really what it’s all about?
In the boater X, fans cheer on Lucy Huddard – Britain’s last hope for victory!
Obviously there was more fun to be had outside of the competition: encouraging sheep to climb into the van and attack Paula, for example.
And getting to grips with my brand new head-cam was certainly entertaining, as is trying to follow Paula closely and safely down slides on the Myrkdal and Brandseth (See this video).
Fortunitly I was able to get in 4 or 5 runs of the Lower Myrkdal (My favourite river and also the birth-place of the MOP Monster).
I won’t describe it here; there’s certainly a good description of it, somewhere in this blog, written 3 years ago. Or you could check out Paula’s description on the Team Van page.
The put-in slide: Paula above, me below.
There are no photos of the slides, unfortunately, but I did manage to run them twice, fully exorcising my demons (see here). Some video may pop up somewhere later.
Above: Paula on the Triple Drop.
Above: Paula on the drop/slide/drop afte the portage. Below: Me at the bottom after boofing the fudge out of it!
I love the Lower Myrkdal! But we have our duties and it was time to move on.
However it is sometime possible to do something new in Norway; our friends Doug and Julien suggested this little number: 3 clean waterfalls in the middle of nowhere on the way to Valldal.
Paula and I set up camp (Read: slept in the van) and paddled this little beauty before breakfast… because we couldn’t find anywhere to buy breakfast!
And Fjords! Nice. More to come… stay tuned xxx
Photos by Paula Volkmer, Max Bilbow. Nick Pearce, Ben Thompson and Fraenzi Gloor.