Saturday, July 31, 2010

13th August

We had a 10am start today and at least 24km ahead of us. We were woken up by an alien noise of two quad bikes and two sami men came over to speak to us. It was nice to see that not everybody was angry to see us there. The walk from our camp was long and tedious as the weather turned and we had to eat our lunch in the emergency shelters. We passed many different landscapes over the trek which must have been more than 24km. This included a river and so we had our first river crossing. Tasha was almost run over by a man in a quad bike, understandably as it was the guy from the huts we broke into. during lunch we were joined by a dragon fly which everyone else was excited to see but me, it was massive and I hate flying insects.

Even though Steve kept us fuelled with "Sweeties time" all of us were beginning to die as it hit 10pm, not just Tasha. Muscle pain, dehydration and the mosquito's were dire and when we discovered camp was further than we first thought we almost cried. However we eventually landed, literally "landed" at camp and "Bjorn" were already there and lit our stoves and got water boiled for us.It was a shame the mosquito's got so bad that we got some extra protein in our rat packs...

Tasha felt so ill that she was put on relaxants and for half an hour to get to bed before she would collapse. After a short story about Askalladin we crashed into bed before another super long trek tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

12th August

After waking up at various points through the night due to rain and daylight but having very restriced movement, it was nice to finally get up at 6:30am. There was a mad rush in the booth to pack away even thought we had an out and a half before we had to head out to. It probably seemed more hectic as we were all trying to say out of the proper-full-hog-drenched-kinda-rain, which we were not used to. We left at ten to eight to head to the ferry/bus terminal were everybody embraced the lavatories. The bus was on time and bright yellow(as described by the YLs)and Tasha and I cranked up the faff by dragging our rucksacks onto the bus only to drag them off again to put them in the hold...

Back on the bus there was an attempt to do our journals but the fact it was only just nine o' clock caught up with us and we got some shut eye. Along the way Tim sprung another surprise on us, in that each group of five were to be doing different things. Javri(meaning Lake in Sami) were going to be doing a (approx.) 45km walk and navigation work and Bjorn (meaning Bear) were doing a gentler 30km trek and learning about edible plants. All of us wanted to be in Bjorn obviously so to stop our bickering we flipped a coin and my five ended up in the lake group. Tasha's eyes lit up when she realised she would be doing a 45km trek with her super dodgy knees.

We found city life really weird as we drove through Alta as we hadn't seen so many cars and people in a long time, baring in mind that Alta only has a population of about 17,000. We screeched into the airport and were given ration packs before being shuttled into the mini bus. As we piled in and found a seat they warned us that one of the windows is leaking and I looked up to find it was the one above my head.

We attempted to drift off to sleep but it wasn't easy as Helen's driving, or Norway's infrastructure, was not top notch. After an hour or so of driving in the rain we arrived to Tim and Steve and some more rain. They had been sitting outside this derelict hut for six hours now and were eager to get started on the trek. They told us that there was a hut that we could shelter in about an hour of or so away so before we had time to catch our breath we gathered our walking poles and hit the road.

When they said "hut" we expected no more than four wooden pallets tied together but instead we seemed to arrive at a whole estate with guard husky dogs. The Norwegian government must be investing a lot of money into their trekking routes. The young leaders explained that these were like the huts Rob visited in Sweden in that anyone can just go in and help themselves to food as long as they leave some money. When we entered the hut we were met by a small Sami woman who couldn't speak much English. She waffled on and Steve seemed to get the impression she was saying we could stay, but obviously not as after she scuttled off a man, with a knowledge of English stormed in and said "Excuse me, what are you doing?" It appeared we misunderstood and this was actually a guest house which had just been cleaned by the small Sami woman... He thought we actually understood Sami and just decided to make ourselves at home anyway and then he played the guilt card saying it would have to be cleaned all over again. I was well scared and we all rushed out as soon as possible leaving the floor soaking wet and muddy... Steve went to find out where we should have gone and it seemed the man had had time to reconcile with Steve as he said we might as well stay there as long as we clean up and much as we could before we left. Something tells me money might have been involved there.

The rest of the trek was accompanied by jokes about what had just happened as well as learning about edible plants, ie cloudberries which are AMAZING but you are not allowed to take them out of the area as they are so important to the Sami, you can eat as many as you like though. Eventually we found ourselves a campsite but it was very exposed and it was very boggy(lots of cloudberries though) especially at the water point. I also managed to get the tent inner wet during the trek but thankfully the dry wind sorted that out quickly. Steve then sat us down for a bedtime story about Askaladin who is a character in Norwegian folklore, and the various attempts to make it around the world in a day.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

11th August - "Is there somewhere to put the loo roll?"

" 7 girls, 2 boys and one lesbian means a party right? No just spontaneous biving in Arctic Norway.

We began today thinking we were leaving tomorrow at 7am as the mountaineering group did this morning, so we spent the day packing and carrying stuff down to the bus. Alistair also got apples and almost forced us to pay for them if we wanted one and even worse I lost my lucky Switzerland buff. However all was shook up at 4pm when we were told we were actually leaving at 6pm TONIGHT. There was great pandemonium packing the tents away which was fuelled by the massive tin of rice pudding.

Leaving base camp for the last time was emotional but it hadn't hit me that we probably won't ever go back, therefore we had our last moment on reflection rock before we headed down the hill with our heavy packs. It was really bizarre, we had got to know the land so well, we even knew each rock!

At the bottom of the hill we waited for the bus and Mike let us raid the left over food supplies. We waved goodbye to the kayakers and the steep climb to what was base camp and hopped on the bus where civilisation began to kick in as we say on out first real chair and felt the stuffy sensation that is air conditioning, which was actually a god send since certain hygiene problems became noticeable. Civilisation also kicked in again at the ferry terminal where there was the first real toilet we had seen and used, but Tasha was obviously still back at base camp:
"Is there loo roll?"
"Is there somewhere to put the loo roll?"
"Yes, in the toilet..."
"Oh yeah..."
The central heating made us overheat and the mirrors were just too much to handle. I felt particularly disgusting when we saw real people and how clean and made up they were. This was accentuated by the fact we seemed to be the main attraction. As we went to board the boat we were all dumbfounded by a door, but thankfully we managed to spur Sam to do it. The passenger lounge was the first time we had been under entirely artificial light as well as the constant noise from the engine and the lack of doors or open space made us feel trapped. As well as the distressed conversation I read the first aid book and learnt how to use the platypus as an enema.

Fifteen minutes later we arrived in Oksfjord and we headed left as that was where the campsite was, apparently. We passed many pretty houses and I had to convince Tasha to let me use her camera to take pictures to feed my fetish. We also passed playing fields which made me nostalgic about hockey. We came to a dead end which took us to a reservoir and we found a little viewing booth and before we knew it this would become our spontaneous biving site. We were followed up by these very little Norwegian boys who must have thought we were some kind of amusement as they started throwing coins at us. This also lead us to believe that someone might actually own this thing, so Tim and I headed up to the nearest house armed with my phrase book. The house was empty so we decided to assume this thing was public. Out came the stoves and we had tea before having "Circle Time" where everybody but Gribbs was a 9-10 on the mood scale. What the leaders said next would have taken our ratings way down as they said our group would be split into two groups of five. At first it was perfect, it was Gabby, Natasha, Rachael, Clem and I(Gribbs would have made it ultra perfect). It seemed too good to be true, no Alistair and no Emma, and we were right. Katie brought up that she wanted to spend a portion of the trip without any Dunblaners and so we had to swap Rachael and Clem for Alistair and Sam, there was no splitting up of the power three although it was suggested. It was sad because Clem didn't want to be with Emma as much as Katie didn't want to be with Alistair but after our emergency toilet talk to ensure everyone was happy we began to set up our sleeping arrangements which went as follows:

e Sam
l Rachael
C Katie
a Alistair
h Emma
s Gabby
a Rose
T Gribbs

That but a lot more cramped, the leaders Bivied outside by the way...