After the packrafting weekend in Finland, I got a chance to spend three days and two nights in the far north of Norway, paddling through one of the best salmon rivers going through one of the biggest canyons this part of the world.
Mushroom which I found on a fjell.
The Alta river is fun to paddle – with the exception of several places, it’s an easy run down the canyon and towards the fjord.
The locals use wooden river boats to transport people and goods up and down the river. Those boats are just a tad bit bigger than my packraft 😉
One of the places where I had to portage was the Gabo Rapids. When carrying the packraft under the overhanging rocks, it really struck me – what could I do if I wanted to get out of the canyon there? Very little, I guess. It seems that the river is the true and only way in and out there.
Even though, the river looks peaceful, from time to time I was reminded about how powerful in reality it was.
This was the Gabo rapid – the only place which one should really portage. Otherwise the river is rather calm and all rapids are easily manageable. Besides Gabo, there are two more ‘bigger’ rapids but if the paddler is a bit experienced, they shouldn’t be s problem.
Along the river there are a lot of shelters that one can use to have a break or, if it’s outside the bug season as it was in my case, spend the night. I had my tent with me, but it started to drizzle and I didn’t feel like making it wet for no reason – I already had a dry place with a great view.
The next day some sun came out bringing with it all the glory of the autumn colours. It was a perfect moment to say goodbye to the canyon walls that had surrounded me up till then, and yellow to a much broader valley and the forests that lay ahead.
The second day I also took out my gopro camera and managed to film the scenery as well as a few small rapids that I encountered that day.
Whereas during the summer months, this part of the world virtually doesn’t know what darkness is, in autumn the days rapidly become shorter in the transition towards the great winter night. Therefore the lucioutdoor lantern, that was lazing around on my raft for the whole day, came in really handy.
While I was getting ready to leave for the last part for journey, a guy in a cart driven by eight dogs passed by. I waved to him, he waved to me and stopped for a short chart. As he explained, he was training those young huskies, two of which will most likely take part in the next Finnmark race. I asked him if he could give me a ride and he said – why not? Here is a short video of the ride. For me it’s the first time to be driven by dogs (if I don’t count the time when I was a kid and made my spaniel pull my sledges for a while ?).
Once in Alta, I originally intended to paddle the fjord around the airport and get out on the other side. But the head wind turned out to be too strong and after struggling agains it for 10-15 minutes, I realised that I wouldn’t make it there on time (I had an appointment that day) and decided to turn back a bit and get out at the small marina next to the runway on the side of the river. Unfortunately that meant that I didn’t paddle around the fjord nearly as much as I wanted to. Ah, well – maybe next time…