(Hopefully after the build up of the last post, this doesn’t disappoint!)
Now that I was on land and (kind of) dry, we were left to deal with a stuck canoe. It had wedged itself up against the rock Anders was standing on and the force of the water (in addition to all the water inside the canoe) meant it wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Q: How many Norwegians does it take to unwedge a capsized canoe? A: Four. And over 2 HOURS!! I give the guys a lot of credit, despite how incredibly frustrating it must have been, no one was in bad spirits. Trying not to feel completely useless, Guro and I took pictures – I mean, we need documentation to go along with the story right? Note: While my camera is supposedly waterproof I’ve never been brave enough to actually test out the claim, but I am happy to announce it survived my swim!
The sun was starting to set as the guys finally managed to release the canoe. All of Anders’ and my gear had been in 4 bags tied to the canoe. Anders was able to pull 2 of them up onto the rock early on, but the other 2 were underwater during the entire canoe rescue. There was good news and bad news once we opened those bags. The tent was dry, the sleeping bags and pads were not; Anders’ clothes were dry, my clothes (except for my extra sneakers – that was a godsend given how cold my feet were!) were not; the food was dry, the matches were not. All in all, it could have been worse.
Despite the lack of warm, dry clothes (I was only wearing a wool base layer, a micro puffy, and goretex outer layer, plus a hat and gloves) and the freezing temperatures, the evening of camping was far from miserable. In fact, off the top of my head, I can think of 3 or 4 camping trips that where I was much much more uncomfortable. I never asked what the temperature was because I thought it was better that I didn’t know, but my wet clothes were frozen solid! There was a big fire, warm food, and a clear night with hundreds of stars in the sky. While the conversation around me turned to Norwegian, I was content searching for shooting stars – there were tons – and then I saw it, the green flashes off in the horizon. It wasn’t all that bright and didn’t last long, but I was in awe watching the Northern Lights for the first time. That right there made my whole weekend trip!
(Cool Northern Lights video to check out: The Aurora, my experience wasn’t as amazing as this, but there is still time…)
We woke up to clouds the next morning and as we finished up breakfast the snow began to fall. While the others decided to hit the river for a second day, Anders decided it would be in our best interests not to tempt fate and try it again – our canoe was just too rigid and big to maneuver around all the rocks, and our clothes too wet frozen. After the others finished up, they confirmed that given the rapids they encountered we made the right decision, which was nice to hear.
Instead Anders and I hoofed all our frozen gear and the canoe out to the road and back to one of the cars. After some car maneuvering logistics (I drove for the first time in Norway, on several inches of snow), we headed back to Trondheim. Sloooowly. Without winter tires on the car, it was rather treacherous. In fact, Anders’ father met us part way home with the winter tires. In the middle of a winter wonderland, the sun and fall-like weather 24 hours earlier seemed like a distant memory.
The amazing scenery, big warm fire, incredible light show, and many laughs of the weekend far outweighed the unintended swim, wet clothes and hassles due to the snow. I feel like I was initiated into Norwegian outdoor life this weekend.