After our self-organized Bike trip to the southernmost point of Norway, Lindesnes, a very interesting mix of activities would make up our next big trip. This trip was organised and planned as part of our studies and therefore required a lot less planning from ourselves. The trip consisted of an amazing mix of canoeing, Biking, bivouacking, climbing, rappelling and more biking.
Our Outdoor Education class got separated into two groups of 12 people, to ensure more learning capacity and of course because there was not enough equipment for that many people anyways. It was an amazing trip, full of laughter and learning, mostly about my personal climbing knowledge.
We started meeting up all together on Sunday evening, to sort out the necessary gear for the upcoming trip. It all was a very smooth process of trying on long-johns, pfd´s and sorting out the climbing gear. It was nice to get together with your team for the week and prepare together, as it helped building up a certain hype within the group. After packing the van to the brim with bikes and ropes we set off to prepare our own gear and food, to then meet up the next morning to take the bus to the first destination. Byglandsfjord is close to Evjie, a short drive away from Kristiansand.
We started with building random teams of 2, getting into the canoes and having a little paddle on the fjord. We got introduced to the basic paddle techniques, as well as some safety measures if anything unpredictable or weird would happen, because the water was freezing cold. The paddling down the Fjord was divided into two days, both featuring learning new techniques to control a canoe, divided by a night out on an island. The first day functioned well, as every member of the group was happy and highly motivated. The stay on the island was a great experience, as it brought to group closer together. Even tough we made food groups, everybody would come together to have dinner together and talk and talk for the remainder of the day. Especially fun was the sharing and telling of stories with our lecturer, as it was the first time, we spent a multiday trip together. An evening campfire with everyone around, really helped tying the day together and strengthening the group cohesion.
The second day of the trip went as smoothly as the first day. After breakfast and the talking about the details of the day we set of again in our canoes, this time in different team constellations. This helped in getting people together, splitting up pre-existing groups and switching the role of “captain”, to maximise the learning outcome of this short experience. This second day functioned well, as the group stayed together without problems, and the leaderships changes, worked smoothly on this last stretch of paddling. Being handed the responsibility of the group and leading them across the lake, mostly enhanced our reading of our surroundings with a map and the confidence of our decision-making process. As we are a group of equals/guides, it was difficult to have a feel of being an actual guide. After arriving at the dam, the end of our water trip, we organised the group and divided us up into different jobs. Some packed the gear, prepared the bikes, loaded the canoes and so on. This worked exceptionally well so most of the work was done fast and efficient. That night we stayed at Troll Aktiv, for a night in their Gaupehuks.
The next day we packed up, got on our bikes, and cycled about 20 km to Kilefjord. The plan there was to learn Top rope and abseiling systems, for leading and teaching beginners and or children. The group atmosphere was good. We arrived at the crag and jumped straight into setting up the top rope system. Everybody was engaged and curios and very motivated to go climbing. The dynamics of the group ensured a very smooth day. Everybody was supportive and helpful when It came to climbing. That deteriorated a little when it came to learn and demonstrate a rappel for beginners. Even tough that is completely normal when learning new skills and getting into uncomfortable situations, it is weird to see how fast communication can deteriorate. Everything went by smoothly, as well as I was learning new and optimised skills for setting up ropes and alpine climbing techniques. As the day came to an end, sleeping spots were arranged and the last bivouac out in the forest marked an end to most of the trip.
After a fun and eventful morning, with a little hail in the morning and lots of challenges that we posted to each other, the last day started. After getting the equipment ready, loading up the car and readying the bikes, we were on our way. We decided to cycle the 60 km back to Kristiansand in a big group. This worked extraordinary with a group size that big. The dynamics and cohesion of our group really showed on that day. The group listened to the weakest member, slowing down, or stopping when asked for. Any decision was made in the group, which ensured a smooth and nice bike ride. It must be said that teamwork and decision making is a lot easier when there is a fixed goal set, and not much room for deviation. Without room for much conflict or different route opinions there cannot be be any, “out of the normal”, dynamics. As leader positions were put onto people, it was very interesting to see how the different people would react to the given situations, and if those people, that I have known for 5 months, changed in any way.
In the end, everybody came back happy to UiA, cleaning up the gear and enjoying a afternoon full of rest, coffee and “Radler”.
Overall, it was an amazing trip and time flew fast. I´m happy to that I learned and experienced more about group handling and hands-on skills and wish that I can keep them close to me and use them for any other given situation in the future.