I finally embarked onto the little river that parallels the canal and it was a real pleasure. But the river banks were steep... if it stayed that way I had no chance of getting myself and my kayak out of the water. But when I entered Söderköping I immediately saw my fall back plan: a real boat slip at a wharf which had the only drawback that it was 1,5 km away from where I wanted to get out. I paddled on and saw to my great relief that the river banks were grassy and much less steep. In a rather ungraceful acrobatic act I threw myself on the grass (picture yourself a sack of potatoes rolling around) and pulled my boat ashore. Once I managed to shove it onto the boat cart which is much more complicated than it sounds for one person) the actual portage was easy. Now I still had to do some shopping before I could start paddling again.
|Rabbits next to my kayak|
|Lots of camping space at locks|
In order to minimize getting in and out of the water I decided to camp directly at a lock which is also totally legal according to the Götakanal staff. But when I arrived at the lock I saw an inhabited house right next to it - and as the family was working in the garden I politely asked for permission to camp. Good choice! Not only was I allowed to camp but they also opened the lock keeper's toilet for me. The little lock keeper houses also have a little veranda which came in handy as a rain shelter for cooking. A nice ending for a successful first day in the canal.
|Sunset at Roxen|
supermarket if there really was going to be a bridge opening. The very pragmatic lady immediately recruited one of her customers to help me. The guy who at once told me about his military training in the Swedish army wanted to help me lift my kayak over the railway fence. But how would I get the boat into the water? No problem! Just go to my friend Ake's house, say greetings from me and he'll let you use the boat ramp on his property. We lifted the boat over the fence and I was now looking for Ake's house. I asked a lady walking her dog if she knew where Ake lived. No, she didn't, but pointed out another nice put-in place - on private property. When she saw my doubts about trespassing she immediately volunteered to inform the neighbour - and when no one answered her call she gave me her name and told me to just refer anyone to her... When my kayak was finally in the water I was so exhausted that I didn't paddle much further on Lake Roxen after seeing a beautiful deserted beach. I even took a swim before going to bed!
|Rest area along Götakanal|
At Borensberg the canal screwed me again: no decent put-in place after the lock. I ended up putting in in a reed wilderness, supported by some German campers for whom my kayak acrobatics probably provided a good substitute for the lack of German TV.
Despite my aching arms and shoulders I made it across Lake Boren to the lock stairs at Motala where I am camped right now. To my great delight there are open public toilets nearby which provided almost hotel luxury for me: electrical outlet to recharge my phone, warm water and a hand dryer to wash my hair and soap for a general clean up.