Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Paddling Sweden: Getting started

My paddling gear
As usual I was very nervous before this trip - and there were hundreds of things I would preferred to going on a paddling trip.... One of the big disadvantages of paddling is that you have to shlep around tons of gear which is especially awkward if your knee is not 100%. But I had already postponed my departure twice in order for me knee to get better until I realised that my knee was actually feeling better when I was moving instead of sitting or lying down all the time.

I was taking the train up to Sweden but I was a bit afraid of the two train changes. I had never travelled by train with all my gear and my boat cart - and a bad knee. Luckily my friend Leon volunteered to take me to the train station despite the fact that this meant getting up at 5.30 am. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and after saying goodbye to Leon I anxiously awaited the train. Almost everyone else was business people. I had the right strategy from the start: I got into the car with the handicapped seat where I could easily stow my boat   cart. Friendly passengers helped me get my luggage in and out of the train - every single time!

I had 30 minutes for the first train change and 15 for the second. Neither was a big problem as everyone was very helpful and all trains on time. Still I was very relieved when I finally arrived in Norrköping in Sweden. Here I had one hour to change from train to bus. Enough time to get money from the ATM and buy a Swedish SIM card. When I arrived at my final destination Valdemarsvik it was already pitch dark. But I had called the campground there the day before and knew what to do. It was just a one km easy walk  and I had found my home for the night.

I knew next day would be busy but I still hoped to leave the same day. First I had to buy supplies for four days. Then came the most dreaded task: assembling my boat. As much as I like my Feathercraft K1 - it is a real pain in the butt to assemble. This time was no difference. It took me three hours, several nervous breakdowns and a lot of swear words. Even blood was spilled! And when the boat was finally assembled I was too exhausted to look forward to paddling.

And my chores weren't even finished yet although it was already past three o'clock. Now all my gear had to be stowed into dry bags and stuffed into the kayak - another backbreaking job. I still knew my Mississippi set up but this was new: I had to stow away a boat cart on top of all my usual gear. After a lot of trial and error I finally found a system but still had to assemble my paddles which of course wasn't without problems either. When everything was ready at 6 pm I could hardly stand upright any more from bending down all the time - and my whole body hurt. No way I was going to paddle that day. I decided to stay another night at the campground and buy some nice dinner.

So finally tomorrow I will start paddling - that is if my sore muscles allow me to get up and into  my boatin the morning. At least the weather forecast is good!

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