14 Jun ‘Kikut’ a new expedition partner joiner the team
So this year’s journey to the far North of Norway has come to an end. The last two weeks have been spent guiding, introducing other sea paddlers to this beautiful Arctic coastline. The two groups, both from Israel, were gifted with some very settled weather and both journeys were through one of my favourite regions. Kvaløya (Whale Island), Sommarøya (Summer Island) and down the outer coast of Senja (split rock).
I say settled weather with some surprise, as this has not always been my experience, even today we have had fresh snowfall and there is a definite temperature drop.
Before these expeditions I spent a couple of days with Lee Kirby and Chris Turner from Gather.ly making a short advert for Canon Camera’s, I had all of my Canon Camera Equipment stolen so it was nice to be able to replace it with new during the filming. These guys were super slick with their choice of shoots and we had an amazing thirty six hours together. Trude and Dag of Base Camp Senja were super supportive of the days events and you deserve a special thank you.
I used the skin on frame Iqyax that I built with Anders Thygesen last year for the film which will be getting released shortly. The filming took place at one of my favourite locations in Norway-Bergsøya.
‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ Norwegian saying
I’ve learnt many things on my journey through Scandinavia so far but the most poignant and valuable lesson has been about the unpredictability of the Norwegian weather. This is hardly surprising when you consider its geographical location and its mountain chain which runs the length of its coastline. These mountains are a significant influence on local weather conditions.
The Norwegians have a saying that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ and this has rung true throughout my journey. I have been lucky in that throughout my adventures here I have had the protection of the best in water sports clothing.
In approaching Kokatat gear at the start of this adventure and asking for their support, I made the best of choices. All other equipment has been chopped and changed along the way to suit the challenge, without too much of a knock on effect but I haven’t once felt inclined to change my choice on the clothing I have used; it has given me more than adequate protection in temperatures that have, on occasions, fallen well below zero.
My sections on this journey have been interspersed with life changing milestones including both the loss of property and the loss of life. I have spent many hours in a state of reflection, where although my bow pointed forward towards a future geographical location, my thoughts often travelled back in time. Old problems, never sorted, present problems requiring solutions and future problems looming on the horizon often filled my mind. The ocean is a healing environment; it absorbs all of your emotional and physical energy and still remains neutral. The ocean, especially when combined with the wind, brings you very effectively back into the here and now, so you can never dwell too long in the past or future. It might be the gentle splash of a wave hitting your face that reminds you where you are or it might be a silent gust of wind, whispering silently in your ear, ‘remember me, I am the wind, I change your world, watch for me’.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates
My life has been like a chess board, containing areas of both black and white, darkness and light, happy and sad, pride and shame, ego and humility, I have struggled with the greyness of the areas in between, the no mans land. Ever since I returned home from my Japan circumnavigation I have struggled to accept a life which is restrained.
I can remember approaching 40, a particularly hard period of time for me, wishing for just a few years where I could ‘live the dream’. I was granted this wish and for that I am truly thankful. Once I set my path towards a positive dream, one that my whole body and soul was yearning for, gates started to open for me.
But you have to be careful what you wish for, living the dream hasn’t always been easy. Sacrifices are made by family and friends to support my dream. Children have been distant, my wife has endured being lonely and parents have worried; despite your age, parents always will worry. Paddling partnerships have not always worked out as planned and I am sure that this has been the case for both parties but I still consider it a privilege to have paddled with all of my expedition partners. The challenge of an extended sea journey by kayak brings out the best and the worst in a person. You see fellow human beings both struggling and low and also witness them flying so high and beaming with energy. Therefore, for anyone who has been prepared to expose such layers in their character whilst in my company has my deepest respect. I feel honoured to have shared such moments, be it strength or a weakness and I hope there was something of value in the experience for them, I know there was for me.
The next leg of my journey takes on another challenge. It is the overland section, crossing the top of the Scandinavian Peninsular by ski. For this I have started to learn new skills and I have good teachers in Nick Arding, Tore Albrigtsen and Bjorn Eines and I have a new expedition partner in Kikut. So now I shall have to start training my legs to carry me. My shoulders can rest a while, my legs have lain dormant beneath my spray deck long enough and then, when I am ready, it will be a journey down to the gulf. It won’t be a straight line I will travel as there is much that I wish to explore on the inside of Norway and Sweden as I make my return to Goteborg where this journey began.