Sunday, June 28, 2015

Norway Post 4

Into a Fjord
Day 2

I spent the Sabbath in Alesund.  The sky was full of sunlight and everyone celebrated the first real day of summer with outdoor activities.  I walked a trail atop a wooded ridge in the center of town and looked out over the islands, snowy mountains, and fjords on all sides. The town also spread out below me with canals and high angle roofs.

A tall blond fellow started talking with me on account of my shoelessness and how he thought that was great.  He told me that seal hunting was part of Norwegian culture.  Their skins were great for warm clothing and their meat tasty.  It was only on account of modern international pressure that Norwegians were being deprived of their birthright.

This morning I paddled away from Alesund.  The first two kayakers I met weren't leaving the bay because they lacked the experience to handle the wind.  The next two were a couple of Norwegian middle aged women with pretty boats and smiles.  They were drinking coffee and as they finished I joined them for about a kilometer.  We talked.  I'm a teacher, so am I!  I teach math.  I teach health; I'm just starting.  I've been a midwife for the last seven years and am ready for something new.  

The women wore T-shirts under their life jackets, so hopefully they wouldn't fall in; the water was cold.  I wore my dry top and shorts which worked well in the sunlight.

I only went a bit out of my way for their company.  The sun shone and the world sang.

I passed a beach where a little girl swam.  She wore only a bathing suit.  For all that the morning was warm and the sun bright, it's amazing to me that she didn't freeze solid.  Apparently Norwegians are built for cold.

I paddled a heavily trafficked channel between two islands.  It was narrow enough to throw a fish across and the length of several football fields, which one could not throw a fish across unless it were a flying fish ready to do a good deal of work on its own.

I crossed a major thruway to today's fjord, Hjorundfjorden, which apparently used to be the vacation spot of choice for British royalty.  Dark clouds took the sky.  As I progressed into the fjord, mindbogglingly tall, fantastically steep, snow clad slopes towered into the clouds above.  Gushing streams cascaded down sheer cliffs rushing from snow to sea in seconds.

Again and again I was blown away by the immensity of creation around me.

When I opened up my skirt to get at my chia juice the cold air came in and I was cold.  Once I got moving I warmed up.  The difference between sunny and cloudy is day and night.

I had a tail wind.  In my sluggish boat this meant that I made mediocre time.  I hope I don't have to fight that wind coming out of the fjord.

I pulled my boat up to the small floating dock in Indre Standal.  I don't think there are more than ten houses here.  Walking around the only person I saw was a teenager doing tricks on a skateboard.

I asked the teenager "Where can I get drinking water?" I held up my water bag and hoped my story would earn me an invitation.

"The water in that stream is from the mountain." He pointed. My eyes followed the stream up to the snowy peaks. I could use my filter to take water from the stream, but really I wanted hospitality.

"Yah, but this close to a town I'm worried that it may go near a leaching field or a farm. Pesticides, poop, insecticides, and Giardia are all kind of bad."  

He wasn't impressed by my knowledge of the dangers of crystal clear ice cold mountain water. "The sewage comes out over there." He pointed away from the stream. He didn't want to help me.  

I retrieved my Katadyn filter and pumped water from a raging stream.  The water was painfully cold to touch.  My filter turned the water brown and made it taste like rot.  I haven't used it in a few years, I guess it could use a sterilization.  In the mean time, I refilled my water bottled directly from the stream.  The mountain that it came from looked clean and I only half believed the things I said about it.

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