Upper Driva – The Roadside Run


A new day had arrived but I didn’t feel good. My shoulder was aching and I wasn’t too sure how things would go. It was difficult to expel the negative thoughts in my mind as I sat there, eating some bread. We were joined by two characters of note, Miguel from Argentina and Santi from Chile. They were mates of Colin, Jussi and Leon’s.

We took the road back to Oppdal and eventually arrived at the put-in, did the shuttle and made our way down to the waters edge. The water is a beautiful aquamarine colour and crystal clear. Brilliant green sloping hills make their way peacefully to the waters edge. Water falls down the weeping mountain sides in streaks to join up with the Driva and help it grow on its’ journey down. The scene is a feast for the eyes and so typical of Norway. A kayaker and nature lovers dream. For the keen fly fisherman this is also a haven and I wished that I had brought my rod.


The put-in.


The Upper Driva is a splendid roadside run consisting of mainly class IV and V rapids. The Driva used to be Norway’s number one trout river. I’m not sure if it still is though. It too has been infected with Gyrodactylus Salaris, a contagious salmon parasite. After paddling this river one needs to disinfect your equipment at the Shell garage in Oppdal to prevent the spread of this disease. If kayakers don’t play by the rules, they could be banned from paddling many other rivers in Norway too. So just obey the rules and do the necessary.



Yup, don't say you haven't read the warnings.


As usual the water was chilly although not as cold as the Upper Rauma. At this stage of its journey the Driva is quite small still and snakes between the road, on river right and a mountain on the left. The first few drops were quite small and easy but soon we came to the first big one. It was a little tricky in the entry and the ride down was not a smooth one where it leads into some pushy water. I watched Miguel, Santi and Jussi go first and then decided to give it a go. They had all gone quite far left but I didn’t want to run that line. My plan was to about a foot further right on the entry, maybe a touch more. There was a sort of a slot to the right of my intended line. If I messed it up I would just ride the slot and I thought it would be fine. My shoulder was still very painful but I thought I would do it no worries. So I lined up my boat and went for it.


Miguel styling the drop.


Santi getting some downtime.


Jussi running it cleanly.


My line was ok but a fraction right. I slipped into the slot and because of the water flowing into that gap it caught my right edge and over I went at full speed. I felt my elbow nick something and I tucked and rolled. That had been a close call, luckily for elbow pads. Disappointingly I looked at my paddle and the right blade had a nice big tear in it. My shoulder was now throbbing even more and I felt mentally and physically beaten. With my head down I paddled around the corner and got out on the right bank next to a small stream joining up. I was angry with the world, angry with myself, angry for having gotten injured in the first damn place. Dejectedly I sat there, doing nothing. Jussi came round and offered me a split paddle. I declined his kind offer and said I would walk back to the car. With a beaten spirit and a screwed shoulder I would be a liability to the group and to myself if I carried on. I thought the best option would be to stop. Twenty four hours hadn’t even passed since the shoulder got damaged and I was paddling already. A bit of a rest seemed like an excellent idea. It was still a bitter pill to swallow. I still don’t regret my choice of walking off that day. 


Adrian not styling it. (Stills taken from video footage by Tuomas Vaarala)


The waterfall next to the road where I got out.


The view downstream.


The biggest drop on the section. No one ran it because of the water feeding into the deadly slot on river left and the pushy entry.


A sheep on the danger side of the barricade!


Two siblings next to the road. If you flatten one you'll pay a HUGE fine. You have been warned...


Loaded up and ready to drive in the 'speed machine'.


The walk back was just over two kilometres and a real pain! It’s funny how it is far easier to carry the boat on your right shoulder but not on the left; unless of course you normally portage on your left shoulder. When I finally got back to the car I was in even more pain. I loaded my boat onto Miguel and Santi’s little VW and climbed in. It was my first time driving on the right side of the road in a left hand drive car. I had driven left hand drive cars before but still on the left side of the road, as we do back home. The gear change felt weird and I had to make sure I turned onto the correct side of the road. Do you remember the days when you’d take a piece of folded cardboard and attach it to your bicycle with a clothes peg and then let it sit touching the spokes? The faster you peddled the more noise it made. Well, this little car was exactly the same. The faster I drove the more it screamed. I’m not sure if the differential was shot or what the problem was but I would have had to shout to someone else in the car to be heard. Just as well I was alone.


Once I reached the take-out I grabbed my camera and walked back up the road I had just come down. There had been some sweet looking rapids that I had passed and the opportunity to take some photos could not be missed. Eventually, after about 3 or more kilometres of walking I saw some movement upstream. I had not made it as far up as I had hoped but the rapid in front of me seemed juicy enough for some action. I settled in and waited for them to have a look. One of them had a quick look and then they started coming, one after another. Most of them had sweet lines except for Leon. He ran a little too far left and didn’t punch this one hole and then got a little beaten.


The rapid looking from downstream up...


...and a little further upstream, looking down.


Miguel running it first no problems at all.


Santi with a quick recovery.


Leon not having a good run but still surviving.


A clean line by Tuomas Vaarala.


After that it time for me to run/walk down back to the car. By the time I got there the guys had been there for a while already. It was fun to have taken the photos but still I felt a little down after the whole ordeal. I guess that’s just the way life is sometimes.




      H20 PADDLES


Photography by: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated.


Words by: Adrian Tregoning.


Next article: Upper Valldøla (Norway)