With a brief window of sun over the Svartisen area we decided to head out on the three-day roundtrip to the Glomåga river in Nordland, Norway. This time we did not only go for the adventure – we also carried with us the ashes from our friend Louise Jull who passed away in a kayaking accident in 2015. The mesmerizing lake half-way down the river, at the base of the stunning Flatisen glaciar and waterfall Bjørnefallet, was where we wanted to put Lulu to rest.
The drive to Glomåga is best done along the coast, as this section of Norway is among one of the most stunning. You cross the Arctic Cicle on the long ferry ride from Kilboghamn to Jektvik, and pulling into this old port the scenery is nothing short of stunning. This is also where I am lucky enough to have a piece of property. It has turned into a ritual – every time we go up to Glomåga we need to spend a night at my place, fishing, picking sea shells, drinking some good wine and beer and simply enjoy the spectacular view from the property. This we also did with Lulu in 2014, and she basked in the midnight sun, swimming in the fjord, and being all so exited for the coming adventure. In this regard, not much has changed.
The next day we picked up supplies, and headed to the lake Storglomvatnet. It is actually a man-made lake, as the resevoir is among Norway´s biggest hydro projects ever. Paddling across the lake takes about two hours, and with a strong wind we were definitely battling big waves and a side-current that constantly wanted to push us off course. However, with the stunning views of the cascading glaciars descending from Svartisen, the paddle seemed short and sweet. Hiking up the first little hill to reach the Terskaldsvatnet, we found a beautiful camp spot even with a fire pit and some good fire wood. As we stretched out and made dinner, I felt again that this was exactly the point where I had to be – out on an adventure, surrounded by beauty and good people – carrying Lulu into the magic of nature.
The next morning we concluded the short hike over the pass and into the headwaters of the Glomåga river. Glaciars were sparkling in the summer sun, birds flying and streams flowing – crossing lakes and making our way to the lakes Terskaldvatnene. The first lake is being diverted over to the reservoir, so the river is small and shallow in the first kilometer. As one descends the valley the glaicars fall in from both sides of the valley edge making this upper section into one of the most specacular ones on earth.
The kayaking is mainly class three and four, with a sweet granite gorge class four thrown in towards the end of the section. At the end of this gorge lies Sven´s drop, made famous by Swiss paddler Sven Lammler in 2015 when he successfully pulled off an insane line on this twisting beauty. The drop just above and below have been paddled by various groups as well. The last kilometer or so down to the big portage around unrunnable Bear Watefall (Bjørnefallet) is very steep and some of the rapids could get paddled – but dont really get paddled due to being very unclean.
As we hiked our boats down to the lake it was again hard to stop staring at the spectacle called nature. The glaicars across the lake are stunning, the waterfall impressive, and the color of the lake itself is nothing but mesmerizing. It is indeed the most beautiful place on Earth.
I also started looking down the valley to see if I could spot some hikers – the second half of our crew had circumnavigated the glaicar with the shuttle vehicle the night before, and were now supposed to hike in to meet us for a night of quiet celebration and enjoyment by the lake. With them they carried my son, Benjamin. He turns two in september, and usually loves the outdoor adventures – but the seven hour hike could also be too tough for him – would they make it?
They did! A while after we had set up camp, Fidel came running. They were on the other side of the lake and wanted kayaks to cross – so we sent out Basti and Ron to pick them up. What amazingness to have all of them make it into the heart of the river – and to have our son run around being in paradise. Litterally.
That evening I picked a quiet time and paddled out onto the lake with Lulus remains. Ron had picked flowers, and as I said my last fare-well I emptied her ashes into the sacred waters of Glomåga. I sent the flowers after her, and finally felt a burden lift off my shoulders. It was done.
The next morning the real river adventure was about to begin. The paddle from the lake to take-out is as much negotiating the river, as it is kayaking the river. Having a bit higher water than the previous time we portaged the two first big rapids, and continued downstream. A tight rapid under a foot bridge woke us up, and from here down the river was flowing full and swirly through beautifull class four rapids.
After a while big boulders start blocking the river bed, and soon we were just above the main portage of the run. Picking eddies down to the last one we were all on toes – no mistakes allowed. Due to the rain we had to use a good amount of rope to get one by one out on the seal launch rock – and I found myself being the first one to get back in the current, focusing on the must make moves to do above certain death. It sounds dramatic – but it wasn't. The move is quite manageable for a good kayaker – but it is of course a bit spooky to be so close to disaster. In the end – that is maybe why I like kayaking so much…
Being on the left side of river we had to crawl over a siphon and start the 500 meter long portage through the bush. It is not too bad at all, and five hours after we had left the camp that morning we had done the major portage and was putting back into the river. From here the canyon is still tight, and most people portage at least three times before heading into the marble section. Especially one move makes me nervous in this section – pulling out from an eddy on the river right one has to ride a swirly and changing spine of whitewater up and around a funky wave/hole – it always looks worse than it is though, and once again I came out of the move giggling of joy. The final portage before this section is a mandatory one, with the whole river dissappearing under a rock. The hardships of negotiating the river is quickly forgotten as the river bed is formed by beautiful marble rock.
One quick portage is left, namely around the tourist attraction nick named Marble Castle – a mandatory portage around amazing marble formations in the river bed. Putting back on a fun roller coaster rapid guides you into the final stretch of the river. As the canyon opens up, one last big drop awaits for the adrenaline junkie – and from here down it is pleasant class three/four all the way to take-out.
The journey down one of the world´s most amazing rivers was once again a spectacular adventure, and I find peace in thinking about Lulu who is now resting in such a spot of beauty.
Takk for turen.