VIDEO: Exploring a 30km beaver creek on an airbed

Approximately three kilometers inland from the coastal town of Holmestrand in southern Norway, you will find a small beaver infested creek running 30 kilometers south to Tønsberg. Along the way, the creek joins forces with the rivers Storelva and Aulieelva, before entering the Tønsberg Fjord.

Come along to the jungle of southern Norway, to a muddy little creek where the beavers rule, and where Håkon and I obviously are in the wrong spot.

Packrafting in Gautefall

INFLATABLE FUN. Becky inflates the packrafts – the trip begins.
INFLATABLE FUN. Becky inflates the packrafts – the trip begins.

We were really supposed to have left on a Thursday, but with the prospect of extended flooding due to heavy rainfall, we chose to wait out the weather. Then came Friday 22 July and the unfathomable events: The bombing of the government quarter in Oslo and the subsequent massacre of youths on Utøya. It was impossible to leave. We did not leave until Sunday afternoon.

In some ways, it didn’t feel right to go off, to flee away. At the same time, it was good to be together and focus on something positive, almost a relief. Though the tragedy was difficult to comprehend for adults, it was almost impossible for the children.

It is a short train ride from Kongsberg to Drangedal. Nevertheless, the landscape changed a fair bit, and in Gautefall we were met by a fascinating landscape with large, smooth rock faces, open airy pine forests and small glittering ponds and lakes.

The morning after, we inflated our Denali Llamas, packrafts from Alpacka Raft. With a weight of about five pounds, they where ideal vessels for our impending “water skipping” – paddle from lake to lake with short but frequent portages in between.

The girls enjoyed to be captains of their own ship. All in all, we had a total of six days of quiet paddling, swimming, fishing and relaxation. The highlight was Hanetarmane, the little series of elongated ponds that meanders over a mile and a half in the middle of the beautiful area, like a string of pearls connected by the little creek. The landscape was open and bright, with large areas covered with polished rock surrounded by open pine forests. And as Siri said:

– I could live here. Mum [being a nurse] could look after us if we were sick or wounded, and dad could be our teacher.

PACKRAFT LIFE. We enjoy every moment we can put our boats on the lovely, little ponds.
PACKRAFT LIFE. We enjoy every moment we can put our boats on the lovely, little ponds.
PORTAGE. The portages are frequent, but rather short. The lightweight packrafts are a breeze to carry.
PORTAGE. The portages are frequent, but rather short. The lightweight packrafts are a breeze to carry.
TROUT. After a long day of packrafting, we managed to catch a fair sized trout in the early night.
TROUT. After a long day of packrafting, we managed to catch a fair sized trout in the early night.
SMOOTH ROCK FACES AND TWINKLING PONDS. Gautefall offers an exciting landscape that fits packrafting well.
SMOOTH ROCK FACES AND TWINKLING PONDS. Gautefall offers an exciting landscape that fits packrafting well.
OUTDOOR LUNCH. Sif prepares couscous with dried apricots, bouillon and chorizo sausage.
OUTDOOR LUNCH. Sif prepares couscous with dried apricots, bouillon and chorizo sausage.
SMOOTH ROCK. Large areas consists of naked, smooth rock that makes the portages a joy.
SMOOTH ROCK. Large areas consists of naked, smooth rock that makes the portages a joy.
NIGHTIME FISHING. Rookie packrafter Sif tries her luck at trout fishing in the late evening.
NIGHTIME FISHING. Rookie packrafter Sif tries her luck at trout fishing in the late evening.
PACKRAFT FLOATING. The girls float their packraft down a series of shallow rapids.
PACKRAFT FLOATING. The girls float their packraft down a series of shallow rapids.
THUNDER STORM. After enjoying days of blue skies, we get hit by a thunder storm.
THUNDER STORM. After enjoying days of blue skies, we get hit by a thunder storm.
PACKRAFT FOR TWO. Sif and Siri enjoys themselves in their little boat – a Denali Llama from Alpacka Raft.
PACKRAFT FOR TWO. Sif and Siri enjoys themselves in their little boat – a Denali Llama from Alpacka Raft.

Exploring a 30km beaver creek on an air mattress

Approximately three kilometers inland from the coastal town of Holmestrand in southern Norway, you will find a small beaver infested creek running 30 kilometers south to Tønsberg. Along the way the creek joins forces with Storelva and Aulieelva before entering the Tønsberg Fjord.

Come along to the jungle of southern Norway, to a muddy little creek where the beavers rule and where Håkon and I obviously are in the wrong spot.

Håkon feeling confident outside the rural area of Skjeggestad. However, we had to abandon the river after just 10 meters due to impenetrable vegetation and low water levels.
Håkon feeling confident outside the rural area of Skjeggestad. However, we had to abandon the river after just 10 meters due to impenetrable vegetation and low water levels.
Walking along a small road for a few kilometers in the countryside with wetsuits, PFDs and airbeds.
Walking along a small road for a few kilometers in the countryside with wetsuits, PFDs and airbeds.
Lunchtime in Sørby, where we decided to put in on the river again.
Lunchtime in Sørby, where we decided to put in on the river again.
After a brilliant start with a few hundred meters of paddling, the water level decreased and we had to plunge into the river and walk.
After a brilliant start with a few hundred meters of paddling, the water level decreased and we had to plunge into the river and walk.
Even if the river was running dry, the scenery was spectacular along the banks with lush vegetation due to the nutrient rich soil and clay.
Even if the river was running dry, the scenery was spectacular along the banks with lush vegetation due to the nutrient rich soil and clay.
Ah, did I mention the clay and the mud?
Ah, did I mention the clay and the mud?
The narrow river valley was a haven for mosses and ferns.
The narrow river valley was a haven for mosses and ferns.
We had mixed feelings about the presence of beavers – their dams raised the water level, allowing us to paddle, but also made the river impassable in places.
We had mixed feelings about the presence of beavers – their dams raised the water level, allowing us to paddle, but also made the river impassable in places.
Håkon sporting the airbed pose in the early morning.
Håkon sporting the airbed pose in the early morning.
We decided to take to the roads so we would stand a chance of reaching Tønsberg in the evening.
We decided to take to the roads so we would stand a chance of reaching Tønsberg in the evening.
We put in one kilometer north of Storelva and quickly the river turned into a mess.
We put in one kilometer north of Storelva and quickly the river turned into a mess.
And it got even worse.
And it got even worse.
Then, finally, we reached Storelva and could start on the final ten kilometers or so to Tønsberg.
Then, finally, we reached Storelva and could start on the final ten kilometers or so to Tønsberg.
Did we regret not bringing any hand paddles?
Did we regret not bringing any hand paddles?
Even Storelva had a couple of surprises up its sleeve.
Even Storelva had a couple of surprises up its sleeve.
Hypothermic and miserable, we stuff ourselves with nuts, chocolate and coffee.
Hypothermic and miserable, we stuff ourselves with nuts, chocolate and coffee.
Approaching the marina in Tønsberg.
Approaching the marina in Tønsberg.