Axes & Tomahawks: Part 3

Exploring South Dakota

Exploring South Dakota

October 14, 2015 Comments (0) Field Facts

Journey to Valhalla

After a long and dreary UK winter, a good friend and I met up for a beer and to discuss what our next adventure would be. In the past we’ve done wildcamps around England and Wales, as well as challenges like the 3 peaks challenge (which involves climbing the 3 highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland, within 24 hours), and have both always enjoyed the outdoors. This time however, we wanted to push ourselves a harder, and get a bit further from home. We quickly decided upon Norway as somewhere we’ve both always wanted to experience. The beautiful Fjords, intimidating snow capped peaks, and an exciting history made it an easy decision. After a week or two of planning and gear organisation (who doesn’t love getting to play with new toys) we had our tickets booked and were ready to go. Having arrived at Oslo airport we loaded our kit bags into the hire car and settled in for our 4 hr drive North West.


I’ve tried a lot of packs over the years and my 60L F-Stop Satori seemed perfect for this adventure. With some large utility pouches attached to the side molle strips I had a bit of extra space should I need it, and if not I could always remove them and stow them inside. I’m a big fan of the F-Stop packs in general as they’re relatively light whilst still being able to take a beating, and the way the back of the pack opens out for easy access is a big plus. It easily swallowed up everything I needed for the 10 day trip.


The scenery in Norway is breathtaking. We did a fair amount of driving over the course of the trip but loved every second of it. Twisting single lane roads revealed postcard-perfect valleys or awe-inspiring vistas around every turn.


Our first stop was Jotunheimen National Park. We grabbed our packs with a couple of days worth of food and set off on foot to find a suitable camp site. Shelter for the trip included a Vango Halo 300 tent, and I used a 2 season sleeping bag and Kifaru’s Doobie blanket for extra warmth when we were high up. After a warm night and heavy slumber there is just no substitute to waking up to the views we saw.


Wherever we went we had our DRB adventure flag on display, either at camp, tethered to a pack, or strapped to a kayak. It became our little good luck totem. 

One of the most hair raising events on our trip was the descent from one of the mountains close to our camp. We reached the 1500m summit with relative ease, and after a quick brew and splash of port to keep us warm, we headed back down the other side of the ridge. However, a slight miscalculation of route along the ridgeline due to a rogue snow drift led to us descending a near vertical section of mountain with no ropes and no hope of backtracking.

The Climb


The Summit


The Ridgeline


Thankfully, after 3 hours of jelly-legged scrambles and jumps, and one terrifying, 3 metre, cliffhanger-esque slide towards an overhang, we made it to the bottom all the wiser for the experience and with a few nice ‘character marks’ on our new gear. (We have since decided to brush up on our scrambling and climbing experience and will make sure we have a rope with us for future descents of this gradient.)



Wild Reindeer in the Valley



From Jotunheimen we travelled down to Gudvangen to spend 3-4 days on the water in touring kayaks. We loaded in all of our kit and set off down the fjord (a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion).



Surrounded by crystal clear glacial runoff, we almost didn’t need our Platypus Gravityworks 4L water filter system. However, being able to fill the bag in the stream and know we’d have 4L of crisp, clean, ice cold water in 2.5 mins was a dream.


Ancient Glacier Water Never Tasted So Fresh



We’d stocked up on fresh food to cook over the campfire before we left, and the rest of the time we used a Jetboil or an MSR stove to heat our boil in the bag meals.



Egg and Bacon Roll and a Beer- Perfect After a Long Day of Paddling


Heat and Eat



Whether hiking, kayaking or setting up camp, I was always accompanied by my trusty Mora Black Survival Knife.  An amazingly full featured knife for the price point that has never let me down. I also carried the PDW DRB Scout Knife which I used to whittle my first spoon one evening. I’m pretty sure this piece of rustic art makes me an official “Bushcrafter” !


The last part of our trip consisted of visiting a few of the more popular mountain sights in Norway for some vertiginous thrills. First stop, Preikestolen (also known as Pulpit Rock)


Next we headed to Kjeragbolten. After a 2 hour hike from where we left the car, we made it to the 5 metre cubed glacial deposit. The boulder is firmly (we hoped) wedged in the mountain’s crevasse and is suspended above a pant-wetting 984 metre abyss. It would have been unforgivable to have made it all that way and not get the obligatory photo. So we swallowed our nerves and took turns to climb out onto the precarious looking rock.


After so many adventures and having both found our inner viking, we were sad to leave, but secretly looking forward to a decent bed.

Norway is a magical place and I will certainly be returning for more adventures, with my lucky DRB flag flying proudly.


“Venture forth into the wild, do it wisely, do it wildly”  – Danger Ranger Bear


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