Assignment 15 – 02.05.17 – 05.05.17 Mountain to Fjord canoeing, climbing and cycling trip

Day 1 canoe

In Bygland, we started our four-day trip. We unloaded the canoes and got a short introduction form Kyle and Elouise, because they have already some experience. For me it was the first time and I realized soon, that it is harder than I expected. They showed us how to paddle forward and backward in a straight line, turn around on place and while going forward. We learned how to stop, how to hold the paddle correctly and how to do a J-stroke. For me it was a lot of information in a short time. I asked some questions and sometimes Kyle or Elouise helped me when they saw that I was struggling. But I think I didn’t have the feeling for doing it right when we started our journey. After eating lunch, we started. We have been told, that it is better when the more experienced person sits in the back, because the steering is more difficult. So, I was sitting in the front and felt quite comfortable, even when I felt my arms quick. I guess this are muscles I don’t use that often. It was always one canoe leading for a certain distance. I was glad that we didn’t have to at the first day, because I had to concentrate on paddling. We tried to have a break every hour. It was very nice to stop on a small island. Some of the islands are private and we looked that it was even an island without a cabin or we stopped not directly next to the cabin. The weather was great and we could enjoy the beautiful landscape. It is important to stay ca. 20 – 30 m away from the coast and not further in the middle. In case of centering it would be hard to swim longer in this cold water. We tried to keep our hands as long as possible in the water and soon we couldn’t feel our hands anymore. A second important rule is, that the canoes should be not to fare apart. One canoe in between each other is a good distance. This makes it possible to help each other, when something happens. Most of the time we were much more apart from each other. Our aim was an island, where we will stay overnight. When we arrived, we explored the island and had a look where we could sleep. We discussed factors to consider like sunrise, sunset, wind, flat ground. Elouise and I had our hammock with us, and decided to sleep in there. The disadvantage was, that we were a little away from the group but it was nice not to sleep on the ground with the huge ants. After having a little break, we decided to have a little practice session. I was really tired and it was already a lot new information for me this day. Even though, I knew that it is important especially for me to practice.  We practiced again going forward and backward, going sideways (pull/push/8), turn right and left and canoe alone while sitting in the middle. First I was again in the front and I had already problems to do what I should. When I changed in to the back I realized it is much harder than I expected and the canoe didn’t do what I wanted at all. When I was alone in the canoe I felt lost. I was really tired and I felt not that good, so I stopped practicing quickly. It would have been better to practice a little longer and I would have preferred to practice before the trip and not after a long day when I was already tired. Even it was a hard day, I looked forward to the second day in the canoe and I really wanted to try sitting in the back and steer the canoe. In the evening we cooked dinner, had a nice fire and enjoyed the time together. Before the night in the hammock I was a little scared to fall out and I was surprised in the morning that it was so comfortable.

Day 2 canoe

We started our day with a short swim in the cold water. Timon, Richard, Eli and I decided to go in and even it was very cold it was fun and a nice feeling. After having breakfast and packed our stuff we continued towards Evje. I let Eli again in the back for the beginning, because of my experience of practice the evening before. After the first break, I wanted to try it. We were the last group who didn’t lead up to that time, so we also had to navigate and lead the group. I was a little worried because this were two things I never did before. I thought navigating on water cannot be that hard, but it turned out to be very difficult. The islands look totally different on the map than in real. My bigger problem was to steer. In the beginning, I went in zig-zag and it just didn’t work like I wanted. Eli tried to explain me something but I just didn’t understand what she was trying to say. Than all the others tried to help me at the same time and everybody was explaining something. I felt overstrained and didn’t know where to listen. Timon started to speak Swiss-German and I could at least concentrate on just someone’s advice. It took me a little longer when I finally went more or less straight. I had to concentrate on paddling and it was hard to keep an eye on the map at the same time. We also were not really leading the group because we were much slower and because the others couldn’t pass us they started to play on the water in their canoes. That was ok for me, but also a little demotivating and I felt pressure even if I knew I don’t have to. In addition to that, Eli and I had some communication problems and she didn’t know where we are or where we decided to go. In that moment, I just wanted to stop it. I didn’t want to lead anymore and didn’t want to sit in the back. I was depressed and everything was just too much. But I tried to get positive again and we finally got on the island. I was so glad that we had a break and that I can go in the front after again. Leading a group while learning something new where you have to concentrate on is very difficult and I definitely came to my limits. But that’s also something I like about all the trips we did and do. There was never a trip I didn’t come on my limits or where I struggled in a situation.

After arriving in Evje we could go white water rafting. I have never done it before and decided to join. It costed me quite an effort to do it, because I normally don’t like to go to fast and I was afraid to fall out of the boat. But I don’t regret that I did it. It was fun and a nice experience. I was so tired from the day, that I went to bed quite early.

Day 3 cycle and climbing  

To the climbing spot we had to cycle 20 km. I thought I am not a big fan of cycling. But I realized it is not that bad. I also was faster than I expected. It took me time to feel comfortable using the gears and get used to the bike but than it was fine. As well as in canoeing, it is hard to stay together in a group while cycling. We have different levels of ability in the group and for some of us the speed was much to slow and they were bored and for others it was nearly too fast. But in general, I think we managed it quite good to cycle as a group.

At the place where we were climbing we learned how we can set up top rope, so that it is possible to just guide from the ground. After we could climb the different routes and improve our skills. I realized that communication is a very important factor in climbing, as well as trust. I was together with Emma and she needed sometimes the rope a little tighter that she felt safe. When we tell each other how we like it and what we need, it makes it much easier. A second thing we did was abseiling with a person as safety. I was not afraid to do it but I didn’t felt secure to decide alone if I did everything right. I wouldn’t do it now on my own with a group of kids or students. For that I would have to practice more to feel comfortable.

Day 4 cycle to Kristiansand

The last day was just cycling, back to Kristiansand. I felt soon my butt and after a break it was worse to sit on the saddle again. But I was surprised that it was not as hard as I expected. On this day, it was even harder to stay together as a group. Sometimes we were far apart especially when we went up a hill. There I also felt that I am not used to cycle. In Vennesla we stopped at a bakery. We enjoyed the sun and something sweet. We had a good time together. Even if the abilities were different in the group, it was never just one person in the back or the front. It always changed and we supported and motivated each other. When we arrived in Kristiansand I felt tired but also good.

It was a nice trip with lots of changes and we were so lucky with the weather. I learned a lot, also about myself.