Friday, July 29, 2011

More photos

Due to limited bandwidth, we have not shared many photos from our trip so far. Well, now we have a chance to correct this. Hopefully these shots give you an impression of the spectacular nature we are enjoying.


  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A bit of fun

Our days are often serene.  There are so few people around - be it on shore or on the water.  Ample time for reflection ... or simply abiding in the moment. 
Once in a while all concentration must be mustered - especially when rounding exposed points where the current is strong, the waves are high and the reflected breakers contribute to turbulence. 
Every so often we inject a bit of fun too - we amused ourselves lining up as the crew of this beached fishing vessel at Hopseidet.  (The vessel served another use too - it allowed us to string up clothes lines.  This is sometimes not so easy, as there are few trees around).

Wildlife

We enjoy the wildlife that encounter - lots of seals and dolphins, and of course the multitude of sea birds.  One early morning, a group of reindeer sought to pass us along a narrow beach.  They were clearly concerned about venturing too close.  After hesitating for an hour, they took to the sea and swam around us.

Maintenance

By and large, our gear has served us well.  10+ days in the field have provided a thorough validation.  Packing light requires the ability to maintain everything - from kayaks to cloths and shoes.  Here's Tor sowing his sandal - one of the straps was  coming undone.  The repair kit with needle and thread, glue and tape is indispensable.

Paddling at midnight ... and beyond

The nights have often been magical.  Sometimes, when the sea was quiet, we have just kept going ... into the night ... savoring the silence and soaking up the rays from the midnight sun, reflecting on the fact that there is "nothing" between us an the North Pole.  After doing 55 km one (long) day, we hit the sack (literally) at 3AM - with the sun well above the horizon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

10th day of the expedition

Many things have happened since my last blog entry. There has not been much time for writing – nor have we had cell phone coverage!
So far, we have covered more than 300 km. of the most demanding and exposed coastline in the country. One tenth of our total distance actually!!!
We have had good times, great spectacular experiences, and challenges as well. Adjustments still need to be made, both with our equipment and ourselves.
From our last blog entry in Vadsø we paddled to Ekkerøya. We saw lots of birds and other wildlife, and some ”war monuments” made by Germans 70 years ago. From Ekkerøya, we went to Kiberg – a beautiful small, but still active community. Bjørn Hansen from Alta met us there, and we have enjoyed Bjørn’s company for the last five days. We trusted Bjørn to be the toughest sea kayaker among us, but after a few days he revealed that he had never dared to paddle this part of the coast before!
We have managed well together, and crossed great fjords and landed on difficult shores together. Bjørn represents to me the best of the Northern Norwegian sea kayaking culture, and he’s a great guy who has an enormous knowledge about nature, history and culture in this part of the country.
It was great to paddle to Vardø – the most easterly part of Norway, On Bjørn’s proposal, we paddled on to Hamningberg where we stayed one night. From Hamningsberg, we took a short day’s paddling to the abandoned lighthouse Makkaur. The old lighthouse keeper’s house was open, and we stayed one night in this strange and ghost-like place.
From Makkaur, we crossed Båtsfjord, Kongsøyfjord and ended up in Berlevåg. We did some fresh food shopping for the first time, and crossed the great Tana fjord the day after. This was our longest paddle day so far, covering 55 kilometers.
According to the weather forecast, we would get easterly strong breeze for some days, so we decided to take the inner route around Nordkinn, which involves carrying the kayaks across a small strip of land at Hopsfjordeidet.
Now a new challenge has arisen. Tor has got tendon inflammation in his right wrist – probably due to gripping the paddle a bit too hard for the 30 000 paddle strokes a day in low temperatures. This kind of inflammation is best cured by resting for a while. We head for Kjøllefjord at a slow pace and will try to figure out some way to solve the new challenge.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A quick sign of life...

July 14, Bao Quoc and I flew to Kirkenes where we met Tor, his wife Birte and their daughter Susanne.  Together we drove out to Grense Jakobselv where our adventure was to start in the morning.
By the light of the midnight sun we pitched our tent and settled in for the night.  In the morning we packed, and packed, and packed – including three weeks’ worth of food.  Birte and Susanne waved goodby as we set out in gale winds and choppy waves.  As this was the first day and conditions were challenging, we paddled 12 kilometer on this first day.  At that point it felt good to enter a quiet fjord which was protected from the wind.  Anders traversed a challenging tidal current and almost capsized.  Tor followed him … and did.  No problem.  Tor was wearing his dry suit and Bao Quoc quickly came and provided support.  With Anders there in addition, recovery was quick.  We were next to a beautiful campsite and settled in for the night. 
Next morning we passed Bøkfjord lighthouse and continued on to Skogøya in great sunshine and fair winds.  Having found our rhythm, we did 42 kilometers before landing on a boulder beach with waves from the back.  Getting ashore quickly is critical to avoid getting wet.  The area was intriguing – and inhabited by a large number of foxes.  They had ribbed birds and even eaten a badger where only a bit of the skull now remained.  We found a hollow that was protected from the wind, and spent a very calm night.  The foxes did not bother us.
Next morning we gained Bugøyneset after a short, uneventful crossing.  We trimmed the kayaks during the crossing so that they would not weathercock during the longer crossing that was to follow – to Vadsø.  During a short break, Anders discovered the he had got a small rift in his kayak – the first time this had happened in his 20 years of skin on frame kayak paddling.  A few liters of water had seeped in through the rift.  Anders quickly pumped out the water, mopped up the remaining drops and patched up the rift with a few centimeters of duct tape.  Two incidents in two days?  Hopefully a bit more excitement than we will experience on average during our trip.
The crossing to Vadsø was smooth, and we enjoyed a late lunch at Rica hotel – which very hospitably let us charge our cell phone batteries and create this blog entry in the calm of their reception.  Thanks.
We plan on doing a few more kilometers this evening before wrapping up for the day.