Epilogue

The Russian-Scandinavian kayak expedition ended abruptly on day 147 as Erling was rolled in to undergo his operation. This is meant to be a short epilogue, a little update about what happened next. And also to say a few words of thanks.

First the operation was a major one and a successful one. It turned out Erling had to remove 50 centimeters of his small intestine which had stopped working. Luckily he will get away with a scar and no lasting damage.

He is recovering well and fast and looks forward to the lifting of a “paddling curfew” in mid September.

Although we both are a bit wistful the trip ended prematurely, Erling’s main feeling is “happy to be here”.

This brings us to the first round of thanks, to those who helped secure a good outcome from a bad situation:

>> The crew on the rescue helicopter, the ambulance plane, and the very professional and competent staff at UNN, Tromsø. Erling couldn’t have been in better hands.

>> Thanks also to the crew at R/S Sir Henry, who took care of our stuff, and also Tone and Ronald who we met at Slettnes, and who visited Erling in the hospital and used their family and network to get Erling’s papers and credit cards from Mehamn to Tromsø. Thanks also to Olav Myrslett and MiniExpressThermo who brought our kayaks down to Oslo free charge, and to Inge and Einar who brought the rest of our stuff back to Oslo as they returned after having successfully reached Grense Jakobselv.

We are now both back in Oslo, and starting to adjust to “normal” life, getting updates from family and friends, “logging on” both literally and figuratively.

….. and we have cut our hair! Which brings the trip to a definite end, and this epilogue to the last round of thanks:

>> First, thanks to all of you who have followed the trip on this blog and on Facebook. For likes, comments, advice and suggestions, it’s been an inspiration and encouragement.

>> Then last and most importantly, thanks to all of you who made this trip such an adventure for us, all of you from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Russia, who welcomed us and helped us along the way. There are hundreds of you who did us favors big and small. You are the core of the core of our adventure! THANKS!

>> And very last but not least, thanks to the home support group, Margaret, Karianne and Morten for logistics, resupplies, blog publishing and helping us feel safe knowing that if help was needed it would be at hand.

>> And then very, very last Stein thanks Erling and Erling thanks Stein for excellent cooperation and solidarity during five eventful months.

Day 147 – THE END OF THE RUSSIAN – SCANDINAVIAN KAYAK EXPEDITION 2018 – 26 July

Day 147. 26th of July. During the day Erling, the professional staff her at the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) and we, become worried of the lack of progress in Erling’s health condition.

The pain in the stomach did not disappear as expected, and in the early afternoon, Erling was moved to a full scan/check of his stomach. The x-ray/CT showed a blood clot in the small intestine (“tynntarm”), see doctor’s sketch below.

img_2921

When these words are written, Erling is on the operating table getting the clot removed.  Then he has to spend the next days here in Tromsø in order to recover enough to move south for further recovery.

The Russian – Scandiavian Kayak Expedition 2018 has therefore come to an end, and we will use this opportunity to thank all our followers and friends during our almost five month’s journey. You are all highly appreciated!!

Later on, we will make a summary from our expedition and share our lessons identified.

Thank you!

 

Day 146 – Erling’s condition is improving! – 25 July

Day 146. 25th of July. A day in the hands of the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN – Tromsø hospital).

We highly appreciate all the warm thoughts and care we have been given since yesterday’s MEDEVAC of Erling. Many thanks to all our friends and followers!!

The reason of the MEDEVAC is a rare disease in Erling’s family. We were well aware of most of the issues related to the disease. However, we believe that the medicine Erling brought along for our expedition did not like the hot summer of Finnmark, and its effectiveness changed and became reduced, when we needed it the most.

Erling has been very well taken care of by the professional staff here at UNN. The medicine needed was not available in Tromsø but arrived this morning. Yesterday and most of today Erling was in a daze, well protected by our blog editor, Karianne. After he got his medicine this morning, we slowly could see improvement in his condition. Hopefully, Erling will be able to get some more calories tomorrow. 400 calories intravenously is not enough to replace the 10 000 he should have eaten.

img_2911

Stein has spent most of the day travelling around in town in order to improve some details related to the rest of the trip and make some useful phone calls. This included also a visit to Alf at Alfa Fritid here in Tromsø, which is one of the best kayak stores in Norway, almost at the same level as Milslukern in Oslo 🙂

The game plan now, given Erling’s recovery, is to take the ferry Hurtigruta back to Mehamn tomorrow evening (26th), where the crew on RS Peter Henry Von Koss from the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, has taken care of our kayaks and all other belongings.

The idea is to leave Mehamn in the morning on the 28th of July, and head southwards. Weather permitting.

Day 145 – We highly appreciate the support from the emergency services – 24 July

Day 145. 24th of July. Do Norway have the worlds best emergency service?

We believe so! At 0810, the morning of 24th, we decided we had to activate our emergency plan. In Sandfjorden there is no VHF or Cellphone coverage. However, in our emergency plan we also have a Garmin Inreach, a combined GPS, Tracker and Iridium (satellite) text communication device.

When the need occurred for a hasty medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) we send the SOS signal to the InReach Emergency Operation Central (InReach OPS) in USA. In addition, we also send the message for immediate MEDEVAC to our expedition doctor (Øyvind), our head of safety (Morten) and our editor of the blog (Karianne). They received the message at 0815, and noticed it approximately 15 minutes later. The InReach OPS contacted the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway at 0840, and at 0845 both Morten and Karianne were contacted by the InReach OPS in order to confirm the MEDEVAC. The InReach OPS responded immediately and texted back to Stein for confirmation and further details. Between 0840 and 0855, the Norwegian Rescue Service was alarmed by the InReach OPS, our Doctor and Head of Safety, at the same time. The “113” Emergency phone was alarmed at 0903, and tasked the ambulance helicopter from RNoAF 330 Sqn at Bandak, Lakselv. The ambulance helicopter left Banak at 0909, and arrived at our site 0950.

Only minutes before the helicopter landed, the rescue vessel RS Peter Henry Von Koss from the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) had arrived at the shore.  The RS vessel rescue operation had been activated by a text MAYDAY from our InReach.

The emergency team immediately took care of Erling, and they decided an evacuation to Tromsø hospital. We were flown to Mehamn Airport, where a King Air Ambulance Team from Lufttransport FW arrived from Kirkenes, and flew us to Tromsø.

Erling was given the necessary treatment by the hospital Intensive Care team, and are, as this is written, sleeping. We believe we will be able to continue our way south in a couple of days, weather permitting.

We highly appreciate the support from the emergency services: InReach Operation central, “113” (The Norwegian Emergency Service phone), The Norwegian Rescue Service, RNoAF 330 Sqn, Lufttransport Ambulance Service (FW), the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, and Tromsø University Hospital.

Day 144 – We passed Kinnarodden (Europe’s northernmost piece of land) in almost flat water – 23 July

Day 144. 23rd of July. Slettnes til Sandfjorden. 27 km, 7.1 km/hr average speed.

We started the day with a long and enjoyable breakfast with Inge and Einar.

Inge had catched a cold and they decided to stay one more day. A bit of a frustration perhaps, but they still have ample time to get to Grense Jakobselv. And when forced to stop, Slettnes Fyr is not a bad place to stay. We enjoyed the place, the hospitality of the staff and their waffles!

Last night a Sami family checked in, and we had and interesting conversation over excellent cured Reindeer meat.

They also came to see us off as we left Slettnes at 1130, late, but we planned a short day to Sandfjorden to meet Torbjørn and his brother Vidar who is trekking to Kinnarodden.

The awful weather that was forecast for today again did a no show. Good for us. We had a very good conditions and good visibility.

We passed Kinnarodden in almost flat water.

(Kinnarodden is Europe’s northernmost piece of land, Nordkapp is on an island)

We took time to make a nod to Jim Danielsson by paddling through a narrow passage and round the small islet with a mini lighthouse on it. In his book “148 days in a sea kayak”, he mentions this several times.

After that it was a short paddle to Sandfjorden, which ends in a several hundred meters long a sandy beach.

We pitched the tent just in time to put our stuff out of the rain that suddenly came.

Torbjørn and Vidar also came, not so suddenly, but according to plan, at 2030.

So now it’s time for conversation over dinner and updates from life back home.

Tomorrow we hope to make it to Sværholtklubben.

Weather Permitting. Good to be on the move again.

Day 143 – Einar and Inge shared their tips and recommendations from here to Harstad. Very useful – 22 July

Day 143. 22nd of July. 70 days and ten weeks to go. One third of the adventure is still left.

No paddling today, but about ten kilometers walk to and around Gamvik and back.

Last night brought a very pleasant surprise when Inge and Einar announced via sms at 2100 hrs that they had made it to Slettnes. It had been a long hard slog from Sandfjorden in head winds and currents.

As far as we know there are five OKK paddlers doing various efforts to paddle along Norway’s coast right now. Four are here and we did a video conference with Harald who is southbound in Trøndelag.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The weather forecast was such that a day in good company at Slettnes seemed like a very good idea.

It turned out the weather was way better than forecast, but over a long and pleasant breakfast we decided that the opportunity to spend time and learn from Inge and Einar who have paddled the Norwegian coast opposite way (clockwise), was worth a lot more than a few kilometers gained.

It also gave Einar, Stein and Erling opportunity to visit Gamvik. A veeery quiet place on a Sunday morning.

But the world’s northernmost museum was open, and testified to the immense hardships endured by people up here, all the way up to after the second world war when the fishing boats got motorized, bigger and safer.

Still in the midst of Gamvik is a monument in memory of those lost at sea, raised by the local fishermen’s union.

When we came back to our lodgings at the lighthouse, we had a long and detailed “map meeting”. We shared a little about the way from here to Grense Jakobselv, and Einar and Inge shared their tips and recommendations from here to Harstad. Very useful.

And then Einar and Inge cooked us a luxurious steak dinner. Good weather, good food and good company, no troubles in sight.

Well not so fast; as we checked the latest weather forecast we realized that today’s poor weather has been postponed till tomorrow.

Still we plan to paddle on, but for a short day to Sandfjorden, where we expect to meet up with Torbjørn (last seen in April in Nådendal), who will be trekking there with his brother.

En route we will pass Europe’s northern most land point: Kinnarodden.

Weather Permitting.

Day 142 – A fast start would help avoid bad weather we hoped. Smart but not smart enough – 21 July

Day 142. 21st of July. Russehavna to Slettnes fyr. 37 km, 7.1 km/hr average speed.

This is written from the comfort of Slettnes fyr, where we plan to stay for two nights. Currently there is a yellow warning for rain for tomorrow, and the forecast is that there will also be strong winds.

Having seen this forecast yesterday we made a dedicated effort to get here. Over the 22 hrs from 1700 yesterday till 1500 today we covered 71 km.

We got a late start yesterday since Stein was arriving from Oslo. It could have been even later since Stein had not pre-booked his ride from Tana bru to Kongsfjord.

However, Stein’s friend Ole was again sporty and drove Stein back to Kongsfjord on short notice. As he also kindly picked Stein up as he left Kongsfjord, he’s becoming a regular around there. If not for his help, we would not have made it here within the weather window.

So we were ready and eager to go at 1700. Turid, Dag and most of their guests were not around, but we decided to go. A fast start would help avoid bad weather we hoped. Smart but not smart enough it would turn out.

It started with no wind and the sun finally burning off the fog in Kongsfjord, true summer’s paddling, no dry suit required.

After about an hour the weather changed, gone was the sun and we were paddling into strong headwinds in thick fog.

We made it to Storsteinnes, and took a break and checked the weather. 10 m/s headwinds, but only for about five kilometers. We decided to put on the drysuits and give it a go. Otherwise we might get stuck on that side of Tanafjorden.

It went OK, and as we came past Kjølnes fyr the wind was down as forecast.

The thick fog remained though and we approached the entrance to Berlevåg harbor with caution. Wise. As we approached we heard a strong signal out of the fog. We waited until the spooky contours of Hurtigruten appeared and entered the harbor.

We continued for another hour and a half till Russehavna. We had planned a short break and then to cross Tanafjorden, but it was almost midnight, the visibility was poor and we were tired. We pitched the tent and set the alarm for 0600.

We were on the water again at 0710, and set course for Omgang. It took us about three hours. Three hours of boring crossing. Good conditions and we could see the other side of the fjord before we lost sight of the side we were leaving.

At Omgang we undressed, literally poured sweat out of the dry suits, put on dry clothes and made dinner.

We took time to look around a little, but not much remained of a once sizeable community, infamous for its witch hunts.

We saw no witches nor anyone else, but suddenly the fog thickened and we decided we should not put off putting on our wet stuff anymore.

We were off shortly before 1300 and paddled about one and a half our without seeing anything but fog. GPS  and compass kept us on course, once land appeared we kept going directly to Slettnes Fyr, we passed Gamvik but saw nothing.

We caught some attention as we walked into the cafe, but people up here are not prickly so it was of the positive kind.

We enquired about the opening time of the shop in Gamvik. Closed at 1300 when we were still at Omgang…

We had dreamt of steak and bernaise… AND NOT IN WAIN!

Tone and Ronald (living in Jessheim) were there with family members from up here. They told us not to worry, they would drive to Meham and shop for us, a fifty kilometer return trip, did we have a list?

We made one, and a long one, as we are hoping two friends from OKK, Einar and Inge will join us here. They come from the west heading toward Grense Jakobselv.

Thanks a lot to Tone and Ronald for taking the trouble!

img_2739

Dinner is not ready yet, but we have had waffels and coffee served by Fran and Anna in the Cafe.

In spite of 71 km paddled it is doubtful if we will run a calorie deficit these days.

It is good to be on the way again. And when sad circumstances forced a break, Erling would like to underline, that staying in the Kongsfjord area was the right place at the perfect time, and with Sture and his family and Dag and Turid and their friends hospitality and generosity was in ample supply. THANKS!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑