The Journey to Norway
Posted On: Monday, November 04, 2013 - Chaconians
By Haley Mills
A long journey to Norway and a week at the Ekstremsportveko in Voss and finally getting my kayaking that was lost in the travel from the states. A series of unexpected events lead me to being dropped off at a house where I knew know one. Standing in the rain and staring at a pile of wet kayaking gear, my bag of clothes, laptop, and my kayak. The only thing of value I saw in the pile was a bottle of Tennessee Honey Whiskey, that I grabbed up and walked inside to a welcoming group of paddlers that later turned into family to me. The next day I am in a van with my clean but still soaking laundry driving to Valldal the next kayaking event. I might be one of the luckiest people dropping into a new country, being able to make so many friends. I saw a country with people that live there and have a grand adventure. In my life of traveling and extremes there are few constants... water.
Just a warning this blog is different than my others its not about "and then I paddle this amazing river, drank right out of the river, danced in a huge tent, skinny dipped in a lake, eat pounds of chocolate, my hatred towards a bike, how I was the goofy American that talked to everyone and always had an obnoxious smile, all in and everything out, furr, crepes, Subrmainini, or stouts". However, all of these grand things did happen. It's more about my rambling thoughts of my experience learning how to be a creek boater.
In a sport that is male dominated, countless conversations have occurred of guys calling girls siphons. Siphons are defined as girls who keep guys from kayaking or they keep guys paddling lower grade rivers to teach their new girlfriends how to kayak. On the other side there are tons of girls that are confident paddlers that want to step up there skills and "run the sh*t/BÆSJ". Immediately, were judged for being what used to be called a "hair-boater" and put down that they don't have the skills. Or, that you have to style the BÆSJ every time you run the BÆSJ. When I get on the river my main focus is working on my skills so I can style any rapid I never want to make a mistake, miss a line, or flip. How can you advance your skills with out trying? Kayaking is no different than any other sport. Practice makes perfect. Its impossible to style every rapid every time you get on a river. If that was the case I wouldn't be human maybe I would be some kinda untouchable gladiator. We are all in-between swims and some times your just beater.
Before I left for Norway there were only a few people who encouraged me to go and rally. Since prior to my race on Homestake at Go Pro. I was only known for freestyle kayaking and SUP. People told me how I need to paddle certain rivers before I left, and how I was going to be so scared the whole time. This - coming from people that have never been to the country before. Can't help but giggle about those foolish people that try to intimidate me so I would fail.
Each paddler has to know their skill level and make the decision for themselves, if they want to paddle a hard rapid or a new river. This trip I felt like I grew as a paddler, not because I paddled some of the most dangerous and intimidating rivers I have ever paddled. I never felt terrified on the river while I was there. Well… maybe once. After walking around a mandatory portage and getting in my kayaking to paddle down and scout a must run rapid on the Myrkdale. A fellow paddler looks at me and he says this next rapid is where I almost died last year and dislocated my arm. Immediately it caused fear in my brain especially since I almost broke my nose at the beginning of the run and still had blood dripping from my nose. After looking at the rapid I asked him how he managed to hurt himself since the line looked fairly wide with some consequence but looked fun. His response was "oh I just paddled it blind with no beta and with out scouting". Not to say that just because you scout you will not hurt yourself but there are some precautions you can take as a paddler. Lessons I will take away from Nini is while on the river I will trust the decisions my fellow paddlers make and trust myself. I will not be encouraged by others on there choices and I will not impose my thoughts if I am going to run or not run a rapid to persuade someone else. Being positive even when I am nervous makes everything better. Right now in my paddling if I am sitting and looking at a drop if I don't feel really scared or too lackadaisical about the stout I will run it. I try to be as aggressive as I possibly can when I am running a rapid that is scary or has consequences.
I know writing a blog like this will probably get you all thinking and you might not agree with my thoughts. These thoughts that I have expressed will probably change a million times in my career. I am just trying to write what I feel is my honest thoughts. I am still evolving as a paddler. Not only am a Freestyle kayaker, River Runner, Creeker, Whitewater SUPer, River Surfer, Ocean SUP racer, and a Ocean SUP Surfer. I am a nomadic female running the BÆSJ of life.