Smooth Rock and Shiny Waters – A Norwegian Packrafting Adventure
Our maiden voyage along a tiny flooded creek quickly gave way to our first portage down to a nearby lake. The landscape widened, and while distant mountain ranges appeared in the horizon, we started the process of moving away from the dreadful deeds of days past.
It was a short train ride from our home town Kongsberg to Drangedal. Nevertheless the landscape changed considerably and, in Gautefall, we were met by a fascinating landscape with large rock faces, open airy pine forests and small glittering ponds and lakes.
It was a blessing to leave the tent and inflate our packrafts the following morning. With a weight of about only five pounds, they were ideal vessels for paddling through the small lakes with short, but frequent portages in between. The girls enjoyed to be captains of their own ship right away, and the four of us were all smiles, bobbing in our small rubber dingys. Our maiden voyage along a tiny flooded creek quickly gave way to our first portage down to a nearby lake. The landscape widened, and while distant mountain ranges appeared in the horizon, we started the process of moving away from the dreadful deeds of days past.
The heavy rain a few days earlier enabled us to paddle parts of the creek otherwise impossible. Soon excited screams and wild laughter broke the silence of the landscape – the girls had their white water début as they negotiated miniature rapids in the river, sliding the packrafts through shallow riffles and drifting down along with the current. The sun peeked through the light clouds, but the warm sensation I felt came from within, from being a father watching your kids smile all over the place while they travel trough a gentle playground for budding mini-adventurers.
Evening fishing in the nearby pool, bathing naked from smooth rocks, touring with the packrafts, basking in the sun, blueberry bonanza – we had it all and couldn’t possibly ask for more. Well, except wishing that the stubborn, picky trout rising like clockwork in the pool close to our camp ended up as dinner …
After a steep climb up from the river, we were greeted by a spectacular view: The river ran down a huge, smooth rock face like a bridal veil in the glow of the evening sun. As the landscape widened ahead of us, the incident on the river was quickly forgotten.
Gautefall enchanted us in the brief week we were there, and we had plenty of time for reflection – and just being together. Even the last day was memorable, with fun paddling down the gentle small rapids and bathing from hot, smooth rocks.
This trip had nothing to do with braking records, raising the bar or seeking epic challenges. And while we deflated the packrafts on our last day, Siri hit the nail on the head when she summarized the trip: “I could live here. Mum could look after us if we got sick or wounded, and dad could be our teacher.”
After a picturesque crossing of a lake rimmed with forested slopes and tall rock faces, the water narrowed, the trees were closing in and the sound of moving water reached us like a faint whisper. The small creek we were following had now been fed with water from the surrounding mountains and we knew that some distance ahead, it would tumble down to the lake Hellersvann.
Mikkel Bølstad is trained as a biologist, working as a teacher, writer and photographer, living for the outdoors. Based in Kongsberg, he and his family takes advantage of the vast possibilities of kayaking, packrafting, hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and year round camping in Southern Norway.