CCF Canoeing Expedition – Norway summer 2013
Norway wasn’t just about the experience or the achievement, it was about the people. The tranquil Norwegian fjords were destroyed by the gushing sound of seven canoes hurtling down the Telemark canal and I’m not just talking about the paddling. “Team Smalan”, consisting of Sam Staines and Alan Mobbs (they even had the T-shirts!), had the peculiar ambition to become Adele, which they subjected the rest of us to with their howling imitations!
Two days of hiking, four days of canoeing as well as a canoe familiarisation day all equalled to one great experience. The first day was spent travelling to Norway, buying food, arriving at the first campsite and buying a tarpaulin because the boys sharing one of the tents had in fact forgotten to bring a tent. And so "Terry the Tarp" was born.
This campsite also was home of a table tennis table, which witnessed an epic game of champions with Freddie Watson's ninja skills coming out on top. Another interesting campsite facility was a trampoline type thing we called "the blob", that was later used to practise section attacks, led by "Mr Marine" James Thorp.
Most would imagine Norway as quite a cold country, well I did anyway, but it was actually very hot and called for factor 30-50 most days. One person who might have underestimated this was Jack Popay, who needed to wear a leg brace after he dislocated his knee just weeks before the trip. Jack ended up with rather a bizarre tan line.
It was also light the majority of the time which caused some sleepless nights but being very organised (Moira reminded me) the girls managed to get a great night's sleep every night.
On the second day we walked (climbed) up a 600m ascent over just under a kilometre. One of our guides, Matt , showed us the flora around us, from cloud berries to wood sorrel. In Norway wild camping is permitted as long as you are 100m away from houses, so when we got tired and saw a nice spot by a lake we stopped and pitched our tents for the night. This was the first of many of the first evenings spent cooking army ration packs (Miss Richardson's favourite), swimming/bathing and playing cards. The next day, as a quick warm up, we walked up to a peak and then carried on back to the original campsite for the canoe familiarisation day the next day.
On the fourth day we spent paddling, getting used to the canoes as well as our canoe partners which ended, not surprisingly, in a tactical water fight.
Then we were off. The great canoeing venture had started. In between the picture-taking of beautiful scenery there was always a game of 'Animal, Mineral, Vegetable' going on, in which Will Farthing would always win by picking an obscure bird that no one had ever heard of. On the water, one of our favourite activities would be to wait for one of the bigger boats or ferries to go past and ride the mini waves they left behind. Whilst camping on beaches or beach-like areas, we all set up our tents except the boys who set up their tarp. On this terrain setting up a tarp would have proved tricky for anyone but basha-expert Charlie "Chazz" Butt had no troubles.
We did in the end learn some Norwegian. Everyone ended up buying "BaconOst" for their lunch, and so we put Thorp and Watson on the case and they deduced that the word for bacon was bacon and that the word for cheese was 'ost'. With expert knowledge like this, I'm sure they'll stay solving mysteries for a long time yet. All in all it was truly an unforgettable experience!