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Getting Injured on a Kayaking Trip

Yeah, getting injured on a kayaking trip sucks! This trip in Norway, I managed to get myself injured on the Double Drop of the Teigdal.

The water level was on the high side and I didn’t have the line I wanted to have. I ended up too far right on the second drop, hit some rocks in the fall, and injured my knee because of the impact. Of course, at first, I was devastated when I got out of my boat. Not only because I injured my knee, but also because I wanted badly to go up again to do it better. I’m a very self-critical person, so messing this up and not being able to redeem myself hit me hard because I knew I could do much better. However, after waiting three hours in the hospital for a doctor to see me and get an X-Ray, I was just glad that I got away with only a flesh wound.

Huge thanks to Bren Orton at this point for staying with me and being very persistent in telling the hospital staff to get me a doctor. If not for him, I might have probably waited another two hours!

And of course also to the rest of the crew, Adrian, Matthias, and Lukas, for safety and support!

Photo: Adrian Mattern
Me hunting for photos

The first day after the injury sucked! I couldn’t bend my knee and I needed a lot of painkillers to be able to sleep. Yeah, I have to admit, I did feel sorry for myself. But even so, going back home was not an option for me, because I would have two more months up here. Ten days of not kayaking was definitely not something I looked forward to, but also not the end of the world.

Bren Orton on the Myrkdalselvi

So when the boys decided to go on a road trip staying behind was not an option for me, even though I could not paddle, and we had Norwegian summer weather: rain and cold. It was hard to watch everybody having fun and coming back from the river being stoked. But on the third day after the injury, my leg felt better, and I felt confident enough to hike down to the river to take photos. I bought my camera before going to Chile last November and still had barely a clue how to use it. There had always been somebody around who knew how to set it up, and all I had to do was press the button. But since I had nothing better to do, I started dealing with it. And with every photo I took, I liked it more. I liked to try different angles and perspectives and was amazed at how much you can get out of even little rapids. Looking for the perfect angle challenges my creativity and calms my mind.

Bren Orton after running Eksingdalen

Basically, my day was even fuller than if I would just have gone kayaking. First I shuttled, then stopped on the way to the takeout at every possible turn to get some pictures. Sometimes I spent half an hour crouched on a rock or laying in the grass, always wondering if I missed them till they turned up. And afterwards, I had to sort through the pictures and edit them. Because I figured if I don’t do it straight away, it only gets more work. But it was worth it and it was rewarding.

Philipp Brunner focusing on Tunneldrop

I always liked giving people presents and bringing joy to them. Taking pictures had for me the same effect. Everybody loves having pictures, but for me, it often gets in the way of having a smooth joy lap. So taking photos not only gave me something to fill my day and live out my creativity, but it also made me happy to give something to my friends.

So getting injured had a good side after all, since it let me develop a new hobby. I hope, for everybody out there, that you stay safe on your trips. But if you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, try to find something else to focus on and to fill your day, maybe photography, maybe something else entirely; you might find something that you love.

Philipp Brunner on the Jordalselvi