Sunday, June 29, 2008

Extreme: Like Smoky and the Bandit

Shaving in the State Trooper Dew... (Photo MW)

Over the years my tastes in music, books, hobbies, and movies have changed. One of several constants throughout these fluctuations has been an admiration for Burt Reynolds. Laugh if you will: but whether staring in the ultra classic comedy "Smoky and the Bandit," or playing the rugged survivalist in the academy award nominated film "Deliverance" one thing is certainly true...Burt grows the best mustache.

So despite the laughable nature of having just a mustache, particularly amongst my age group, I decided that there could be no substitute facial hair style for the Ekstremsportveko- Voss' very own Extreme sports festival. For those that are able, have a Banquet Beer for me and the Bandit

Although last year was a great week of paddling and partying, I felt this year topped it. As some of you may know, I placed 10th place in the extreme Kayak race last year, and was on a team that placed 2nd in the rafting competition.

The author on a successful run of the infamous Nosebreaker Drop, Upper Raundalselva. (Photo by Philbert Williams)

This year, I opted out of the rafting, due to time conflicts, and the fact that I guide rafts nearly every day. Instead, I replaced the rafting comp with another kayak competition, the Team Race. Mefford, Greg Dashper (A Canadian friend, from my BC adventures, who now works in Voss), and myself competed and finished 4th. Unfortunately, I did not fare so well in the individual event, and finished 19th. The field was tough this year, and the water was low, making any mistake very costly.

Finishing the Team Race

Considering my dismal finish in the individual race, which was the highlight of my week last year, how is it that I would consider this year better than last? Well the answers are... Lot's of kayaking, new rivers, big waterfalls, good friends, great mustaches, expensive, but bountiful, beer, good music, crazy paragliders, and beautiful women, not to mention my first days off in 22. All this in six quick days of fun, in one of the coolest towns anywhere.

Top Picture- The author racing down the Brandseth (photo Liza D.)

Bottom Picture- The author on the Reimegrend Section of the Raundalselva (photo MW)

One thing is certain about kayaking, is that it is a tight knit and friendly community. As well, once you reach a certain level, you know damn near everyone...even if you are 3000+ miles from home. If you don't know people, they are friends of your friends, and thereby instantly friends of yours. The week in Voss, reconnected me with both types of friends and really reminded me of one of my favorite things about kayaking.

Zach, a newly made friend, met through mutual friends, getting it done on the Upper Raundal

Max, yet another new friend previously known only by reputation, punching a hole with enthusiasm on the Lower Myrkdal

Unfortunately, the week ended all too quickly. Before the team race was even over, it was back to the Salt Mines at Jolster Rafting for more work and less play, but much better pay. Mefford, Liza, and I, made it back to the base just barely in time for an evening rafting trip, and BBQ, which was followed by another crazy busy day of rafting, rappelling, BBQ, and paintball on my Birthday.
Fellow North American Mark Basso, on the Lower Myrkdal

Now that I am back at work, I am eagerly anticipating a visit from my Dad, and hope that we stay plenty busy at work for the rest of the season.

Did I mention it is kind of beautiful here?

To see more pictures-check out the new web gallery by clicking any picture on the blog.

For stories from different perspectives check over on Mefford's Blog,

The Author on the biggest slide on the Brandseth. (Photo by MW)

All Photos by Amos Shuman, unless otherwise noted.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

The Eagerly Anticipated Eye Candy Update

Let me begin with my most sincere apologies, to all those who have been waiting on the edge of their seats, so anxiously for an update. Whether the last time you checked in was 2 days or 6 weeks ago, a lot has been happening, but very little has been written. I suppose that I owe a nice big and concise post is in order to catch everyone up to speed....

Where to begin... A kayak trip to Hood River Oregon? Ira, Cheyenne, Corey Ryan, and I left Missoula and spent three fun days of kayaking in the Hood River area. We started off with the Farmlands section of the White Salmon, and followed it up with a run down the Wind River, and three runs down one of my favorites, and a classic, the Little White Salmon. A great weekend including my first swim in quite a while and two runs off Spirit Falls a beautiful 35ft waterfall on the Little White.

The Author Getting Spiritual

We made it back to Missoula where the deal on my new car fell through, prompting me to buy a quick plane ticket to make it back for my nephew Eli's baptism. The baptism weekend was hectic, but lots or relatives came to town, of whom several I have neglected to see frequently enough.

Grandpa and my Lil' Bro with my new nephew Eli

The following week saw me to Mountain Top PA, at my parents house packing for Norway and completing random odd jobs when I was asked. My dad drove me to Philly on Tuesday April 30th for my departure. It also included an impromptu hair cutting. The trip, in comparison to Mefford's, was completely uneventful except for being transported across the Atlantic.

The Aftermath, also known as what I learned in Cosmetology School

I arrived in Bergen Norway 3 hours before my baggage, and 7 hours before Mefford. Fortunately after a quick bus ride and a quick train ride, we made it to Voss, Norway and our boss Per's house. That night we met up with friends from Voss Rafting for a few beers and some good hot tub and sauna action. Sunday came all to quickly and we found ourselves at our new home in Vassenden. The house this year is much closer to the base, but also unfortunately next to the main road, so quite noisy.
The Train Station in Voss

Crossing the World's Longest Fjord -Sogn Fjord
(That's pronounced feeeeyord)

Since arriving in Vassenden, business has been quite slow. Fortunately the weather has been nearly opposite of last year, and the 22+ hours of daylight have been mostly sunny since our arrival. There has been a bit of work, and rumors of the busiest June ever are floating in our heads. Many of the days of May have passed quite slowly, but it has given us plenty of time for reading, sleeping, kayaking the Jolstra, and even running(yes even I have been bored enough to run).

The View from Our House Looking to the North.
(It is a crying shame Norway has no decent scenery to offer, think how nice a Wal-Mart and some condos would look lining the lake.)

About two weeks ago the boredom got to Mefford and I, and we made an exodus to Voss, for a few days of kayaking. We met up with friends and got a couple of runs down the Bradsethelva, and I got a run down the Reimegrend Section of the Raundalselve. As well as kayaking we celebrated Norwegian independence day in Voss, May 17th. Not that Norwegians need an excuse to party, but they sure don't pass up a reason to party if they can help it. In addition to our patriotic celebrations and kayaking, we picked up a new member of the house after her adventures across the Atlantic, Mefford's most special lady friend, and childhood acquaintance of my own, Ms. Liza Duncan.

Our South African friend Hendri dropping in on the Brandseth

Benji Hjort on another Brandseth slide

Since our return from Voss Mefford and I have tried to make a point to kayak our river as much as possible. Our abundant river trips have recently been made possible by Liza, who is quickly learning the arts of driving a manual transmission vehicle. The plan is for her to be able to drive the Mini Bus when we get busy.

As mentioned, reading has been taking up a large part of the boring times. A significant portion of my reading has consisted of Ed Abbey's fiction and non fictions works... So, in the spirit of Abbey and adventure, we picked a mountain top that we wanted to get to the top of and hiked there. Nearly the entirety of the hike to the top of Tindefjellt, was off trail, bushwhacking and waling over exposed rock and through snow fields. I of course in my traditional fashion wore my Chaco sandals, which made for some interesting moments in the snow. Nevertheless, we made the summit and came to find spectacular views of valleys previously unknown to our vision. All in all the hike took nearly 5 hours, caused two bloody toes, and took us from approximately 300m above sea level to 1079m above sea level, a vertical gain of more than 2000 vertical feet!

Mefford Checking out The Creek that inspired the Hike and Liza Takes a drink with a dramatic view.

Near the Summit looking South

Looking at yet another area in desperate need of some Strip Malls

I hope everyone is doing well wherever you may be.
That's all she wrote for the time being... hopefully more adventure and sunshine are on the way.
Stay Tuned...
Ha Det Bra,