Packing a kayak with all those luxuries that you just don’t take when hill walking, now there’s a fun challenge, where to put the espresso machine and the pancake mix, the wine and the essential “winter warmer” – that’s where we found ourselves just before 6pm Friday night 1st September on the shores of the sheltered bay at Lauvik all rather excited about the prospect of paddling the length of one of the most spectacular fjords in southern Norway – Lysefjord.
Eventually pushing off after much faff we drifted under the bridge and out into the choppy fjord where Trude gave us clear instructions how to avoid the ferries, a few breakers over the front of the boats we settled into each of our paddling strides but soon realized some of the boats were “mis-behaving” a little requiring a toe and some adjustment of the rudder lines. We sat for a moment or two to watch the ferry dock, load and set off again with a full compliment and sprinted across behind it experiencing its full wave! By this time a break was certainly in order for a leg stretch and at least a munch bar at 7pm while the necessary adjustments were made. As dusk approached we experienced the mouth of the fjord at a most beautiful time, paddling under the bridge to Farsand from Oanes the sky went pink and the water was like glass – this is why we are here – past a few islands, lots of pleasant conversation along the way, spotting some wildlife and generally being in awe of the surroundings, knowing it could only get steeper and even more breath taking – we were going to be in for a treat.
We only became aware of where we had pitched camp with the dawning of saturday morning, with the rain having set in as we pulled up on friday night; a fabulous secluded grassy camp spot amongst the trees, and with fresh water, picnic tables and a real loo – bonus. So, of course, burners fired up porridge and coffee was order of the day (along with miggie swatting as there was no wind atall, great for paddling and mountainous reflections tho!) A relatively leisurely start, having to remember how to get all the kit back into the boats, we were paddling towards the great Prekestolen overhang, not before pulling in at a rather spectacular gorge on the northern side of the fjord and some picture posing of course! It was just then that the rain started, and spectacular it became – lashing down in stair rods would be a good way of describing it – even the goats were sheltering under the rocks (as we were educated why they cant swim!!) Taking their lead we also resorted to hugging the rocks to get some respite from the onslaught. Although only being able to get a fleeting glimpse of Prekestolen the atmospheric setting looking down the fjord was quite breath taking and yet more pictures were captured as some of us became even more delayed!
A period of more concentrated paddling saw us to lunch on the dry rocks mid way down the fjord, a very suitable spot for surveying the mornings progress and also taking in the way ahead, and what a view that was – the fjord narrowing and disappearing down towards Kjerag and Lysebotn, time though to try and make a dent in the enormous food bag that was my excuse for lagging behind, nevermind the avid photo taking! At this point I have to mention the array of stoves and burners that were brought along and the quality of the food just miraculously prepared on the shores of a 40km seawater fjord, from WWI looking equipment to ultra modern, fresh pancakes and marinated sweet peppers to go nuts and chocolate bars not to mention more espresso, rocket fuel for havpadling!
A beautiful afternoon tour in quite waters, waterfalls thundering down either side, berry laiden trees giving red colour to the dense green and to top it all off there were even a couple of seals popping their heads up above the surface every now and then, an excellent round off to about 20km of paddling as we drifted into a grassy bay with an abandoned house, a throw back to past farming days when small holdings were a little more profitable and sustainable way of life, a sweet spot for spending the night all the same – and even a rocky promontory for a fire place and tucking into a few “glasses” of fine red. The tents spread about the patch and suitably satisfied after a range of delightful tastes, we settled into much conversation and discussion about the relative merits of the latest paddling technology, advantages of so much luggage space whilst paddling compared to walking adventures, but perhaps more importantly whether the impending storm that appeared to be brewing at the mouth of the fjord would migrate all the way to our humble spot. Luckily the thunder and lightning were just a floor show and slowly migrated north leaving us in peace to enjoy the final embers of the fire before turning in with a warm glow and to varying degrees weary arms!
The relative scarcity of pull in spots was emphasized on Sunday, paddling underneath Kjerag, 1000m straight up, some base jump but no such entertainment for us today, keen eyes just being able to pick out the bolt. The water a little more choppy than Saturday kept us to pottering down towards the hydropower station and tunnels at Lysebotn, only a short paddle before lunch, although we had to ensure we were there before the ferry which was to be our ride back up the fjord – less than 2 hours at full speed for something that had taken us 2 days, but what a way to get to know the fjord – having paddled the length of the fjord we deserved (another) big lunch whilst dreaming where the next tour would take us!
Friday - 11km; Saturday - 24km; Sunday - 8km