In august Ron and myself packed the van and headed north. It is like having an inner compass: While being in the southern hemisphere I always long for the south, like the harsh and still unexplored regions of southern Patagonia, and in the northern hemisphere I always turn my head north. Less people, less civilization, more rivers and a lot to explore.
The first stop was Hattfjelldal, the southern centre for kayaking in the north. On the drive we observed the anticipated low waterlevels, and excitedly met up with Benjamin Hjort at the fabolous campspot at Unkervatnet. The first day we scraped down the Unkerdalselva, then peered onto the map to find a put-in for the lower stretch of the Susna that none of us had run before, with a take-out at the confluence with the Unkerdalselva.
The Susna itself is a classic pool-drop river with majestic whitewater and trolls hidden along the shore. Dropping into the lower canyon we had no idea just how good of an idea it really was… About three hours later we stood at the confluence with the Unkerelva, and grinned like we had just got our hands into the candy-jar. The first canyon of the lower section sported only one portage, and one amazing tripple combo that unfortunately my boat ran on its own, while we stood on shore and watched. Definitely the trolls pushed it in, as I swear I placed it safely on shore! After all the years of making fun of others losing their kayaks into the river, I now found myself scrambling downstream for mine.. Luckily it pinned itself nicely on a rock just above the next slide, and I could join Benji and Ron once again on the river.
After a lull in the river, we headed into the lower canyon with the evening sun ligthing up the tight lines. A New-Zealandish section, with blocked rapids, big sieves, tight lines and an intense last combo kept us on our toes. The last rapid involved threading a half meter wide line between two pocket holes, riding the dragon´s fin into the eddy, then turning around and ferrying in front of a housesize sieve. For a norwegian, not being used to siphons it was nerve-wrecking, while Ron barely noticed the nastiness, ferrying across and boofing the hole around the corner with ease. Sometimes I wish my arms were also two meters long, as I almost missed the ferry.. It is a good thing that my forward strokes at least are getting better from the slalom training! Above the next slot Benjamin performed once again one of those insane Spiderman moves where he catches the tiny eddy that really is not an eddy, on the lip of the horizon line, holding his pelicase (with camera gear worth about four thousand dollars) between his teeth, then managing to find tiny fingergrips up the polished rock face and of course, gives us the thumbs up. After all, how would he be able to give us a complex description using handsignals while clinging onto the wall? After all the years of paddling with Benjamin, I am still amazed by his willpower and drive on the river, his good spirits and amazing ability to always make me nervous with a “thumbs up”… 😉
Emerging on the other side we knew we had just found white gold. With a flow of 26 cumecs on the Susna gauge, this section did not need a centimetre more, flowing at a perfect level. The normal section of the river is good at 40-50 cumes, so the lower abyss is a no-go most of June and July. The day after we got on the Fiplingdalselva, with a tight crew of Jakub Sedivy, Dag Sandvik, Simon Westgarth, Benji, Ron and myself, and enjoyed a 20 km run down to the confluence with the Susna. The put-in slide and take-out drop were both the highlights, though the river flows through amazing canyons with beautiful whitewater.
Ron and myself took a little time-out and headed to the western fjord of Tjongsfjorden, 2 hours from the other whitewater mecca; Mo i Rana. An hour ferry which crosses the Arctic circle puts you back on the coastline ten minutes from a little piece of paradise that I bought last year. 600 squaremeters of dark trees, a shore line littered with seashells, troll-rocks and the most amazing view in Norway made us stay for two days, enjoying the few days of summer. Now, this property does not sport a river like my Soria-Moria on the Futaleufu in Chile, but it is situated 500 meters from the open ocean and provides a different peace of mind.
We spent the day lazily sun-tanning and fishing. The man was rather worried fishing, due to the size of the fish swimming two meters from shore! In the evening we burned a big bonfire in the dusk summer-night, and I came up with the name for the place: Hildreheim. On warm summerdays “hildring” appears.. An optic illusion that makes objects seem like they float in the air, it is the source for the numerous fairy-tales of a hidden land behind the horizon, that only shows itself in warm summer nights…
A glimpse of another world, of the elf-land where lost fishermen sometimes vanish to, it adds to the mysterious tales of the north. The next morning we climbed a nearby peak with breathtaking views of Norway´s second biggest glaciar, situated a rocks throw from my property. This is also where the boys FD´d the Glomåga last year, a three day river that splits the glaciar in two. Needless to say, it is high on my list of rivers to run.
On-route to meet up with Simon Westgarth,Jakub Sedivy, Erica Sprunck, Nini Bondhus and Benji we eddied out for a day scouting 3 first descents for next year. Promising! After paddling through the deep canyons of the lower Løndalselva, flowing north from the arctic circle, I once again stood looking at the immense Laksforsen waterfall, one of Europe´s biggest drops. Having first descented it in 2002, the water had never been low enough since to run the middle line. Now, the water was too low to my liking, exposing the shelfs and rocks in the bottom part of the drop. Ron on the other hand stepped up to the plate and ran a nice line down the center, repeating the line which has only been run three times before. Nice one!
The northern adventure came to an end with the Laksforsen descent, and we headed back south, though reluctantly. But it was time to leave Norway, to enjoy some time in Switzerland before the Worlds in slalom, Bratislava, and the Octoberfest in Germany.