Monday, September 29, 2014

Lake Vänern

Mariestad lighthouse
When I left Mariestad campground in the early morning the weather had calmed down completely. The campground flags that had nearly been torn apart by the wind the night before now hung down limply. Even the sun was shining - but my kayak was covered in ice for the first time on this trip. Never mind - it melted quickly. The huge lake was as smooth as a baby's butt again but according to the forecast this wouldn't last very long. Two days of paddling weather followed by three days of high winds. Two days was enough to get me to Lidköping where I had to make a decision about how to continue around the Vänern.

Lake Vänern
I put in a long day which was no problem after almost two days of rest. I almost overdid it in the evening when I passed good campsites only to end up near a huge noisy plant. My "target camping area" lay 3 km further south but if it turned out to be UN-campable I would be stuck because it was already getting late and dark. But I was very lucky: I encountered a picture perfect sandy beach with plenty of camping underneath pine trees. There were even logs around campfire rings. I quickly set up my tent and cook in the dark. The pine trees weren't as good as I thought. When the wind came up at night pine cones were dropping on my tent scaring me every time. And then it even rained in the morning. The weather forecast hadn't improved either... but at least the rain stopped before noon which gave me enough time to get to Lidköping that day.

Campground beach
It was gray and overcast but at least not windy. Still the trip dragged on forever until I finally spotted the sandy beach of Lidköping campground. This turned out to be one last obstacle: the beach was so shallow that I got stuck and the waves swamped me from behind. But all was well in the end after a hot shower and good meal sitting in the campground kitchen.The Vänern decision was quickly made. If I wanted to continue around the Vänern I would have to wait out at least three days. This would cost me a fortune in Lidköping as the campground was 21 € per night. Or I'd be stuck in the archipelago with no civilisation nearby which meant three days in a tent. Plus the outcome was unpredictable: the forecast might change and the winds continue. I decided to pack up my boat and take a train to Dalsland where the lakes are much smaller and there are wind shelters.

So tomorrow was transit day. Everything went do much better than I had expected. My lucky streak started in the morning when a gentleman walking three dogs asked me about my trip. After chatting a bit he not only offered to take me to the train station by car but he also invited me to stay in his summer house in Dalsland at the end of my trip.

Packing up at Lidköping
Once on the bus a man started talking to me in German. Although he was obviously Swedish he knew more about the German political system than me. It turned out he had a German mother and was a politician of the Swedish Green party. Time flew and I quickly arrived in Mellerud where Mathias, a fellow paddler and internet acquaintance picked me up. First we went shopping and then he drove me to a suitable put in place with a shelter. He surprised me written a great barbecue on a disposable grill: garlic bread, chicken skewers and German sausages - a great end for an interesting day.

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