It only took a few weeks of being back on dry land before James and Tom, The Tempest Two,
began to get itchy feet, yearning once again for the freedom, excitement and uncertainty that only adventure can provide.
It was over three espressos in our Clerkenwell Cafe
that they told me of their latest plan: exploring the Swedish Fjords via kayak.
"Neither of us had ever kayaked before", James says with a sense of pride. "We both needed to keep the adventure going and this sounded perfect; one week with nothing but a tent, some basic provisions and kayaks as our mode of transport".
The two flew to Stockholm on 16th July and loaded their rented kayaks with with as much as they were able to carry whilst remaining afloat. The first few hours involved considered, gentle paddle strokes as they familiarised themselves with the capricious balance of a weighed-down vessel, eventually reaching their first island.
Camp was basic and remained so throughout the trip.
"Each evening, we'd arrive, set up the tent, have an explore around the island, grab some firewood and get the fire going", recalls Tom somewhat wistfully. "We'd then cook a meal and, on some evenings, head back out on the kayaks to watch the sun set."
At that, James quickly jumps in. "The light would just go insane with colours -- oranges, blues, purples. It was the perfect time to be on the water".
With no set itinerary, The Tempest Two's journey was dictated by intrigue. An interesting rock formation; islands that just looked too good to be true; wildlife; if something piqued their interest, they'd paddle on towards it to find out more (for better and, sometimes, for worse).
"We had a crazy encounter with a moose as we headed back to our tent one night", recalls James. “It was as close as 10ft away and, in a heart-stopping moment, drew eye level with us. Thankfully, it ended up being more scared than we were, shooting off into the woods. He came back when we were inside the tent, sniffing around for our food, but by that point I think we were on pretty good terms".
Packing light didn't mean packing frugally, with James and Tom ensuring they were able to enjoy a coffee each morning before paddling out into the myriad of islands. J:
"We packed the AeroPress
again for this trip. Its light weight and super easy to use, so it just kind of makes sense".T:
"We'd boil our water on a Trangia
and, as it got up to temperature, we'd get to work with the hand grinder.
It was somewhat surreal enjoying phenomenal coffee every morning in the middle of nowhere and with no-one else around as we chatted about where the day of paddling might take us".
Aside from the odd boat in the distance, there were very few people to speak of over the course of the trip. They did, however, have the pleasure of familiarising themselves with more of the local wildlife:
"We had the pleasure of mosquitos feasting on us, particularly around dusk", Tom says, scratching at a phantom bite at the mere mention. "If nothing else remains from the trip, we at least had the bites to remind us of it for the next few days". The Fjords in numbers:
19 Mosquito Bites