I made it back to Norway some three weeks ago, and arrived in Bergen buzzing on a five week high from a beautiful Spanish spring with a lot of improvement in my slalom boat and a nice farmer-tan from the sunny catalon spring days. I landed in Bergen to the coldest spring seen in more than 30 years. It really hasn´t stopped raining since, and it has been bitter cold – keeping the levels down. As a matter of fact, they are just rising last night/morning, in due time for when I am flying to London for a week of training in the olympic course of Lee Valley. Phew… chasing water is testing at times..
However, I have trained every day while I have been at home – one session slalom and then another one on whitewater – a pretty sweet combo! It is hard to keep up the training though when I am at home and not surrounded by slalom heads – I dropped from 20 + hours in my slalom boat to about 10 -12 pr. week… Not happy about that, and somehow I gotta figure out how to stay motivated at home as well. If we manage to string a new course, in some more exciting whitewater, I think I will be much better off. Hopefully we can get on this in a week´s time when I am back home.
Shortly after arriving in Voss I caught Money Drop with some juice – I gotta say I still do not like to look down into its throat – it looks ugly but always seems to work out!
Ten days ago I insisted on running Myrkdalen at low flows – it wasn´t coming up anytime soon it seemed like, and I just really wanted to get on one of my favorite rivers in the area. However, I did not remember it being that bony at 14 cumecs – I felt a bit off and got bounced around a lot, having couple of bad rolls that made me overstretch my weak shoulder. In the end, even if that flow permits you to run everything and it is fairly chilled I rather add 10 – 15 cumecs and walk a couple of things. Lesson learned!
After a few days of paddling with pain I went and saw Voss Kiropraktorkontor – my long time friend Pål Lindseth took time for me and my shoulder, and soon enough handed me a sponsor contract! I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.. Actually, it is really cool, and with his help I am gonna get this one sorted out, and all the other stuff that probably is wrong with my neck and back after 15 years of running waterfalls.. Stoked!
I had to cancel the competition in Merano, Italy this weekend though – to try and get as well as possible for this upcoming training week in London. I guess I am getting better at what might be my biggest weakness: To slow down. A small goal I have is to live a bit more after the “less is more”, and not take on everything all the time. That meant meaking a choice for not aggrevating the shoulder with gates and competitions, but rather focus on letting it heal. (I did go and scout Teigdalen yesterday though – with Ibuprofen in my pocket… ) My big goal for the season is the Worlds in London in September – I just simply want to do my best and then I will see where that takes me.
On that note, it is a real bummer that the Worlds in freestyle is held just before the slalom worlds – it makes it very hard to try and do a cross-over this time. The Worlds in freestyle will be on Garb – one of my favorite waves in the world and one that I feel very familiar with. We will see – if my training goes well in slalom I might try to pop in to compete, just to get my head away from smashing gates.
I have had some time to ponder this spring, and it has been a tough one. The past 9 months saw four of my friends pass away – all of them amazing spirits that put color and life in the world.
When Juanito passed in November it was a hard slap in the face – he was one of my best friends for years – one of those that you don´t have to stay in touch with every day because when you met again it is as if notthing has changed. His passing left me bewildered – there were/are so many thoughts and emotions to deal with that I really just put them in a closet and walked away. Poco a poco. Little by little.
Then LuLu died on the Kaituna in New Zealand – and I felt my world fall down all around. I am so grateful she came along on our northern Norway trip last year – I got to know her better and the memories we shared make it a little easier to bear. I did 15 years of kayaking without losing any friends to the river – and suddenly it seemed like a craziness hit all around – as if time was running out for so many.
It has left me wondering a lot about my own lucky lines, my own close-calls, what ifs and a lot of why. I know there are no proper answers to any of my questions, and that they are a natural part of being alive and dealing with loss – but that realisation does not make it easier. I wonder about this selfish life I have chosen – that we as kayakers chose all the time. At times I feel the most at peace on the river doing exactly what my friends loved doing – sometimes I am the most at peace while just sitting outside, in the forest, overlooking the river from under the Lulu-tree or watching the clouds go by thinking about Juanito.
However, it has never, not once, crossed my mind to stop kayaking whitewater, or even to step back from lines I feel confident with. The river is such a strong calling, it is where I am the most happy and at peace with myself and the world around. What has changed though is that I am realising that I probably will not run class five for ever – so then what else is there? What is the next step?
The Norwegian poem Hans Børli is one of my favorite writers. He was a logger all his life and spent his life in the outdoors – and writing about it. I find his words to be clear and honest – he describes what he feels and sees. I think I will end this little blog with his words, which I have freely translated from Norwegian. They seem to stick with me at the moment.
There are moments
when all words are grey
when the sorrow is like a glimpse of fall
a whithering leaf frozen stuck
in the icy creek
Video of Lulu being amazingly great..