“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
When I started kayaking, I never dreamed that I would be traveling internationally to explore places only reachable by boat. I recently traveled to Norway with RVA Paddlesports for an incredible vacation. We started our adventure at Full On. Full On is an adventure tourism company in Geilo, where we rented Zet kayaks, went canyoning and stayed a few nights in their hostel.
We paddled our first Norwegian river, the Numedalslagen, and then we went canyoning in Olmos Canyon. Canyoning was a bit terrifying at first, as I’m slightly afraid of heights and falling. Once you are in the Olmos Canyon, there is only one way out and that is down. This made for a fun, gorgeous, and challenging afternoon.
After Geilo, we started chasing some water. We headed to Voss, and enjoyed the views along the way. We paddled the Raundelsaelva and the Upper Bøvre river, we drove thru Jotunheimen, then went hiking and took in the majestic views of this mountainous area before heading to the Sjoa Rafting Base. The country is gorgeous and we were enjoying it.
In Sjoa we kayaked the åseng and play sections. The scenery was amazing! It was nice to switch it up from steep creeks to big swirly water, massive hole avoidance and wave trains.
The next day we headed to Store Ula. We planned on just park and hucking and we parked and walked the mile or so up the road through a gated community to scout the waterfalls. They are all drop pool waterfalls. While I was mentally debating running the steep waterfalls, we visualized our lines, talked about worst case scenarios and safety. I built up the courage knowing I had the skills and boat control to successfully run my first waterfall above 20ft.
We headed back to the van to get our kayaks and gear. Patrick would probe and I would follow. Margo and Kelly set safety at the bottom of the third drop while Melissa and a few tourists took photos. We needed safety at the bottom of the third drop because below was another dangerous waterfall that was over 50ft and not normally run.
Patrick and I sat in the eddy at the top of the first drop. I was slightly nervous. Patrick went first and when I heard his whistle, I knew it was all clear. “Now or never, right?” I paddled up to the edge, which had a pretty straight-forward lip – maintaining my boat angle I did a slight boof-stroke and then tucked.
In those few seconds of falling I had a wave of emotions come over me. I think terror was one of them. I’m not sure if I mentioned my slight fear of falling but I believe that kicked in, I also felt exhilaration, pleasure and relief. Might be some of the best feelings I’ve ever felt. It was wild.
I must of landed with style, because I didn’t feel a thing. Patrick was telling me to eddy out, but I couldn’t think straight and just went for the next drop. I knew how I was going to run it, so I just went for it. It was about a 13 foot drop, but at the bottom, unlike the first, I felt a suctioning feeling from the water. It was powerful and didn’t seem to want to let me go. I never rolled, but eventually surfaced and waited in the eddy for Patrick.
Patrick and I congratulated each other in the eddy and I was content getting out of my kayak and calling it a day, but we still had another drop to go, and it was the tallest and trickiest of the three. We were also gorged in, so it might have been more of a challenge to get out than just run the waterfall.
The waterfall stood about 30 feet high, and curved a bit to the left. There was a large rock over hang on the right that you definitely didn’t want to hit. Right before Patrick hucked himself over, he yelled – “Did you feel the kick-back on this second one? Well get ready – it’ll be more powerful on this one!” That wasn’t the boost of confidence I was looking for, but I guess I knew what to expect. The same feelings rushed over me as I went over the lip of the fall. At the bottom I rolled up into the eddy, and it sure was nice to celebrate with friends and a solid crew. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face that day if you tried.
Kayaking in Norway was magical. It really was. We had a solid crew of friends and were running rivers in some of the prettiest landscapes I’ve seen. We made new paddling friends from all parts of the world, ate the best food, and had the best times. We built memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Kayaking has added so much enjoyment and fun into my life and has taken me to special places where most people don’t vacation or can’t see without being in a boat. I hope to continue this life’s adventure, pushing my limits, having fun and making lasting memories.