We had no idea if our kayak versus splitboard plan would work out. But that was part of the challenge. As we had known it would involve a storm that made everything almost impossible, we might have reconsidered all of it.
It was a mission I never heard of before: to paddle with a splitboard on top of a kayak through the rough fjords of Northern Norway. To built a base camp in the middle of nowhere, from where we could hike up with the skins until we would find a nice line of fresh powder.
We searched for days on the World Wide Web to find more information about upper Norway, the snow conditions, the tides, the mountains and of course how to take so much stuff in a kayak. But as we found out nobody had ever done something like this before, we decided to dive in the real World Wide Web – aka Mother Nature – and surrender ourselves to what you call ‘adventure’.
We picked a spot that looked suitable: Koppangen, Lyngen Alps. The famous Lofoten were not really an option, as there was way more risk involved for the kayak part of our trip, like stronger tides and more wind. The tickets were booked in a minute and also a kayak was found on the internet easily: bjornskajakk.no was one of our saviers. But as said: the rest of the information like what to pack, how to pack and what to do in emergencies were basically something we needed to experiencence ourselves to really know it. After three months of cracking our brains, the time had come. The start was easy. Bjorn picked us up from Tromsø airport and dropped us at Koppangen. ‘Call me if anything happens!’ Sure… IF there is a phone signal, we will call…
With the cold wind blowing in our faces, under a sky with little auroras, we pitched the tent randomly and decided to start preparation for paddling first thing in the morning.
There were no birds to wake us up, no sunshine either. There was only the water that splashed on the rocks underneath us quietly. We rolled out of our tent and looked at the kayaks. I rubbed in my eyes. When I opened them, the kayaks were still there. ‘So, this is really happening.’ I said to the guys.
Following the tide schedule, the tide should be lowest around 13:00 PM. That gave us exactly six hours to prepare a coffee, reorganise all the bags and check if we had enough food for the next ten days.
When we sorted out the neccessary stuff from the unneccessary stuff, we got surprised by the amount of equipment that really needed to fit in the little kayak. But it was just a way of dividing everything properly so that nothing had to be left behind. And, of course, we had to tie the last forgotten things – because you always forget things, like shoes for example – on top of the boat.
I can barely describe the happy feeling that ruled over us when we entered the water in the heavy loaded boat and paddled offshore. Smiles appeared on our faces, the salty water sprinkled in our eyes and no one could hide a little ‘Wahoo!’ when we were finally on our way to the Middle of Nowhere.
I’ve never felt so small when I saw the fjords rising on my left side. It started snowing as well. Little snowflakes dissappeared on my kayak, caught by the waves. ‘Look! Look! Look!’ I heard somebody screaming and turned my head in all directions. It became clear pretty soon what was going on: on our right side appeared a little family of bottle nose dolphins, jumping around across the water as if they were saying hi to us. We laughed and got exited by this experience. But, sadly, we got distracted from this beauty almost immediatly. One of my friends waved at us to meet him at the side of a pointy rock, just before we would turn left into the bay we picked for our basecamp. Wind had become stronger and we were about to paddle in serious waves which could give us some problems to reach the shore. Now it was time for trusting our strong arms and hope for the best. ‘Stay close to the fjord and keep an eye on the shore all the time.’
The wind was strong indeed, the friendly waves turned into evil bumbs we had to manoeuvre our kayaks in all directions to reach the shore. But we reached it. And the moment we did, we knew that our adventure succeeded already, only because we managed to get out there with a splitboard, tent and kayak.
The adventure is not only the moment when you are really doing what you came for. As many travellers have said: it’s the whole journey that counts as well.
From the moment we arrived at the bay where we put our basecamp, the weather changed. Wind that came from the East in the morning, but from the West in the afternoon made it not easy to make a plan for our hike up. Also, it started snowing the second day. With minus ten degrees there landed over one meter of snow in the bay within 24 hours. That looked promising, but the minute it stopped snowing, the temperature rised badly to plus one degree. If you would wish somebody the worst conditions possible: this was it.
Sure we tried some stuff, like making a campfire. But that turned out to be impossible, because all the wood was wet. Also, we built a huge iglo with a underground corridor. That one was doomed to last only one day before it melted back to sea level.
After five days of sleeping and keeping ourselves warm and busy, there finally was a little window in the set of clouds above us. One chance was all we got, one chance was all we needed to complete our mission. And that the snow was not the best during our run down like expected. What we didn’t expect was that we got to see what looked like the end of the world: the orange sun shining over the white faces of the Lyngen Alps behinds us and the clear mysterious ice cold sea in front of us. And there was no storm which could take that away from us anymore.
It’s no secret that we had some difficult times. Imagine that your feet are cold and wet 24/7, that the food needs to be eaten organised and the only shelter you have is a little expedition tent. Would you still smile after five days with no hike up or run down – which was actually what you came for? Along our way, we got to know ourselves and each other, but more important was this little part in the Middle of Nowhere: Koppangen in the Lyngen Alps.