From Monday 26th till Thursday 29th of April the Fjord to Sea field trip was on the schedule for half of our class. The plan was to canoe from Byglandsfjord down to Evje the first two days and then cycle back to Kristiansand the last two days with a stop at a climbing crag in Kilefjorden on the way down. Our group was made up by Toni, Wydse, Laura M., Laura S., Laura M., Pauli, Kathrin, Luca, Thomas, Claire and me. We were guided by Len.
I packed the two big and one smaller cycling bags. In this bags I packed all my personal gear: sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tarpaulin, plate and cutlery, head torch, food, clothes, washing things and personal stuff like wallet etc. I put my gear in extra dry bags to protect it from water in case of capsizing or rain. These three bags were carried in the canoe. I also packed a day bag with the climbing gear and food for the last two days which was carried in the bus.
On Sunday before we left we met up at the garage to load the bus with our wet suits (we wore while canoeing), climbing gear, bikes and the day bags. We also load the canoes and paddles.
On Monday morning we took a bus from Kristiansand to Byglandsfjord at 9.30am. It was a two hours drive. Arrived at Byglandsfjord we took the canoes from the trailer and got everything ready to start paddling. In the beginning we had a little play, did some exercises like paddling forwards, paddling backwards and turning. On command we had to make the boat face into a specific direction. After we got a good first feeling in how to handle a canoe we loaded the canoes with our gear and started paddling towards Evje. In the beginning we were paddling Zick-Zack quite a bit, but we got better after a while. At first I was in the back and had to steer. I experienced that it worked better when we both paddle at the same time and that steering form the back is a lot easier than from the front. The best way to steer from the back is to put the paddle almost parallel to the canoe into the water and then pull the handle slightly towards your body. By doing so the boat turns towards the side you are paddling at. To steer from the front you have to put the paddle in a bit further away and then pull it towards the boat to make the canoe turn to the side you are paddling at. These are the easiest ways to steer the boat without losing a lot of speed. I also experienced that paddling in the back affects the boat more than paddling in the front, because no matter whether Toni or I were sitting in the back, the one in the back always had to countersteer.
We were really lucky with the weather and had sunshine all day long. I could even canoe without my woolen shirt. In turns one boat always led the group for a while. Len pointed out a destination on the map and the leaders had to find the best way. Working with the map was a good practice for reading the map and orientating yourself. We also could improve ourselves in navigation and leading skills. In one leg of the day it was Toni´s and my turn. We told the group to try to stick together and followed some smaller islands until we reached the point we were going to. We also had to cross the fjord from the western to the eastern shore. Once we reached this point we have asked the group about the well-being and if they feel good enough to cross the fjord. The dangers of crossing a fjord are different wind directions and streamings as wells as the leave of the shore in cases of capsizing.
Once we reached the island we were going to spend the night at, we was checking out the area and decided were we want to camp. Toni, Laura and me chose a spot at the southern side of the island to have evening and morning sun. Laura and me slept outside on the tarpaulin and Toni slept in her hammock. After preparing our sleeping spot we made dinner on a rock with evening sun. We had pasta with tomatoes. Later on we made a campfire at a nice place between rocks close to the water. I slept not as good as usually because the surface was quit uneven why I slide to the left the whole night. What I learned: check the surface thoroughly!!
As we decided to leave at 10am the next day I got up at 8.30am because I wanted to dip in the water before we started paddling. For breakfast we had oats with nuts. After cleaning everything Laura and me went in the water. The water was quit cold but I felt refreshed and full of energy afterwards. Then we packed everything, loaded the canoes and started making our way down to Evje. As there was barely any wind the water was very calm and easy to paddle on. This day I shared a canoe with Mira and paddled in the front. With Mira in the back it worked quite good and I could practice the skills in the front. We continued paddling as we did it the day before. In turns one boat always led the group for a while to a point on the map. After one hour of paddling we stopped at an island where Len showed us different skills like turning 360°, steering skills for the front-man, paddling backwards, paddling sidewards and how to gather in the water. This skills were quite helpful, especially the steering skills for the front-man (put the paddle in front of you in the water and turn the paddle to „open“ it). After 2 hours of paddling we made a proper lunch break for 90min at the beach on an island.We chilled there and enjoyed the sun – this moment was one of the best while this trip! After another two hours of paddling we reached TrollAktiv around 4pm. We prepared the Tipis we were going to sleep in, unloaded the bus with the bikes, took a shower (with cold water…) made dinner (we had bulgur with vegetables) and campfire. We went to bed quite early because we all were very tired after this day of paddling in the sun. This night I slept better than the night before.
The next morning we left at 10am because it was quite cold in the morning for cycling and climbing. Once we loaded the bus with our bags we started to cycle to a pretty and delicious (and glutenfree!) bakery in Evje. There we had our second breakfast in the sun and even Len was very relaxed. I really enjoyed this break because we had a nice coffee and a bread roll, the sun was shining and we had some nice conversations.
Around 12am we started to cycle to the climbing crack at Kilefjorden. The track was mainly going through the forest on a gravel road. Only sometimes we had to drive on the normal road. I really enjoyed the biking. Some were cycling a bit faster and some a bit slower. I was the last-women to pick everyone up and to give signals to the front if they are to fast or someone needs a break. As a group we decided to wait at least at every junction until everyone was there.
Around 1.30pm we reached the climbing crag where Len was already waiting for us with our gear. In the beginning Len explained how to set up top ropes from the top by using installed or natural anchors, such as tress or rocks. I learned that we should use at least two different anchors and they should be close enough to each other, so that the angle of the rope is lower than 90°. After 120° the weight pulling on each anchor is the same as the weight pulling on the rope. If the angle gets bigger the weight pulling on each anchor is even bigger than the weight pulling on the rope. After setting up some top ropes we climbed the four climbing routes and practiced our skills in climbing and belaying. After a tea break around 4pm we learned how to abseil yourself and others. I demonstrated how to abseil myself with Lens instructions (to get rid of my fear!!). After that I learned how to belay someone while abseiling. This experience was great although the use of the different ropes was quit complicated. In the evening we had dinner (lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes) and found a nice sleeping spot on the hill of the climbing crack in the forest. This was the best night outside I have ever had – comfortable, cozy, warm despite a little hail at 5am.
After packing our gear in the bus we started cycling at 10am the next morning. The track was mainly a gravel bike trail going along some lakes and through the forest. It was mostly flat, but we also had some ups and downs in between and a few bike tunnels. Sometimes we had quite strong winds but the sun was shining the whole day. The map Len gave us was very easy to read and we just had to follow the red cycling signs (Nr.1). All of us reached Kristiansand around 4pm with smiling faces.
Communication in the group was mainly very good. Only during biking it was sometimes hard to keep the group together but we helped and looked after each other. Not just in biking also while canoeing the communication and cohesion of the group was very good. All in all it was a great and versatile trip where I learned a lot, especially about paddling techniques and teaching how to climb and set up climbing activities.