Sunday, 28 May 2017

Something on the Horizon

So yeah, my resolve to keep writing once we got home didn't really stand up to much.  Honestly there's just not much to write about in normal life.  Not for me anyway.  I don't think it helps that I spend 40 hours a week in front of a computer for work so I'm not really keen on sitting down in front of one during my free time.  Plus with all the best intentions we have not really been the weekend warriors or micro adventurers I might have hoped we'd be on returning.  Life back home is just so busy.  But now we have something which certainly is worth writing about.  Something we are so excited about.  Well actually, two things.  But I can't tell you much about the second thing, not yet anyway.

In three weeks time we'll be in the Arctic Circle.  We'll be spending the summer solstice in the land of the midnight sun further North than we have ever been.  And we're going to be paddling, not pedaling.  We are going sea kayaking in northern Norway with Justin and Melissa.  You may remember these two from our time up in North BC.  We met them at Warm Showers host, Cheryl's house in Terrace and spent the next 11 days riding North to The Yukon together.  They arrived at the perfect moment to buoy our spirits when Tom was struggling.  We rode long hard days, had our first bear encounters, swam in glacier-fed lakes, ate giant breakfasts, suffered horrendous swarms of mosquitoes, summited passes, enjoyed root beer floats and suffered the disappointment that is Watson Lake together.  So despite spending less than a fortnight together this friendship forged in the crucible of the road felt strong and life long.

It's true we have zero experience of sea kayaking, but when they contacted us late summer 2016 and said they wanted to reunite Team Baby Bunnies for a little adventure in summer 2017, fueled by google searches and excited Skype chats a plan was hatched to paddle from Narvik to Tromso via a little detour to the Lofoten Islands.  And we had plenty of time to buy kayaks, practice kayaking and learn what we needed about navigation, safety and how the sea works.  Well we thought we did, but like I said, life is busy.  We settled on folding kayaks as they are transportable and Justin and Melissa had met a couple a few years back who had a Folbot Greenland II which they had paddled along a long stretch of the North American coastline and raved about the boat.

I'm going to talk about our boat buying fiasco in another post, but a fortnight ago we had still not got our boat out on the water.  We'd managed only to assemble it once, in our garden, and we were filled with trepidation about how feasible this trip was going to be.  Last week we had a two day course booked with Sea Kayaking Anglesey in which we hoped to take out our boat and learn enough not to die at sea.  It was just the two of us with Phil the instructor and it was the perfect antidote to our huge sense of foreboding.  The boat floats, we can paddle it and Phil taught us enough about route planning, forecasting and safety that our feeling of dread has been replaced with a feeling of excitement.  If you want to learn to sea kayak or improve your skills Phil is your guy.

We've got a few more bits of gear to get and a little more map studying to do, but we're almost all set.  We are meeting in Stockholm, Sweden where we board an overnight train which will take us north through the Swedish countryside, into the Arctic Circle and then west across to Narvik, Norway where we will set up our kayaks and take to the water.  We've then got 22 days to make our way to Tromso where we will part ways with Justin and Melissa and return to the UK to embark on an even bigger adventure...but more about that another time.

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