Big Club Trip 2011 - 8-9 October 2011

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The planning started months earlier, but on the 7th October 40 of THCC's membership packed their paddling gear, tied boats to car roofs and set off up the M1 & M40 to get to Ffynnon Wen Bunkhouse where two days of paddling were planned. On both Saturday and Sunday we had a number of different groups heading off to interesting water in different directions.


Introduction to White Water

With so many keen intermediate paddlers, we had two 'White Water Beginners' groups on the weekend. Esther, Andy and Owen tell about their experiences in those groups <flickr>6235756046|medium|thumb|right</flickr>

The beginners group was split in two, with both groups being taught on the Dee. We practiced all the basics, breaking in and out, ferrygliding, and shot some rapids. Expert advice and guidance was provided throughout, both to the group and to individuals. The atmosphere was positive and supportive, there was no peer pressure to do stuff you didn’t want to do; a very professionally led weekend, thank you to all of the coaches.

Highlights:

  • 100+ ft hillside slide
  • Getting on the water Saturday morning
  • Neasan parking his boat vertically upwards against a rock in the middle of rapids
  • The smell of wild mint on the banks
  • Tom falling in while getting out of his boat after having just successfully run the serpents tail


Downlights:

  • Not having camera to hand when Neasan parks boat vertically
  • Capsizing on possibly the flattest water in the Dee valley
  • Getting off the water for the last time on Sunday

—Andy


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Too much capsizing on the Saturday despite the best efforts of the coaches PLF advice. Wonderful coaching and complete group support throughout the day and topped off with Shepherd's pie and port! (thanks Owen).

Great time practising the basis of support strokes, hopping in and out of eddies (didn't always catch him quite right though), ferry gliding - the hardest part of the wkd for many of us. Followed up by a Sunday of a wee bit more practising and a 3rd and 4th attempt at the head banger rapid followed by some small weir 'jumps' and finishing up just below paddleworks in time for tea!

What I'll remember:

  • capsizing while ducking a tree branch at dead slow drift speed
  • watching the cool kids paddle serpents tail at full pelt


—Esther


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Great trip - thanks to one and all. I was with Beginner's B. Especially Ian, and Matt, Tom, Emily, Lars, Mark and Jono for Coaching and Guiding. Hope I've not forgotten anyone.

Highlights:

  • Carrot Cake and Ice Cream
  • Getting away with dropping my paddle twice on white water, once on the bank
  • Watching Neasan mount the giant rock like a randy labrador on a leg
  • BTW Thanks to you Esther for the Tobermory stylee whisky - Port Out Starboard Home.


Lowlights:

  • Not really much at all
  • Could be the stench of booze in the lounge in the morning
  • And realising I haven't bothered to learn how my camera works, and generally getting lots or rubbishy photos

—Owen

More advanced White water paddling

We had a great group of advanced White Water paddlers joining us on the weekend, they tend to be people who paddle rather than type, but Myles wrote this:

Highlights: Awesome fun paddling on a river for the first time in months, great fun playing about on the T and fantastic to have so many people from the club away Mediumlights: The fantastic banter of my second AA recovery van driver, very entertaining guy

—Myles


Saturday Open boating on the Afon Glaslyn

It wasn't all little boats however, Sarah and Dan brought their open boat with them and went looking for some exploring to be done on a local grade one river.

<flickr>6527209307|medium|thumb| A peaceful section of Glaslyn</flickr>

On the saturday Sarah and I paddled from the bottom of the gorge at Pont Aberglaslyn on the semi tidal section down to Porthmadog.

We weren't able to put in where the guide suggested (road closed with a bridge being repaired), so we found a public footpath that provided access just below the bridge that we could carry our canoe down, and had the fun of running a few grade one rapids whilst arguing about which were the right stokes to do when approaching an island on a rapid.

The rest of the day was tranquil, though rather rainy and misty, our biggest excitement was getting chased by some young bulls when we decided to explore a side stream, which required a judicious portage across a holly tree wood back to the main river. That's not in the WW safety and rescue book.

Dan Abel


Sunday Surf

Lars, Helen and Big Phil headed out for some surf on the Sunday

Disappointingly the sea was quite rough with a strong onshore wind and it was hard work keeping the boats pointing the right way, and the surf out of your hair, when heading into the waves. Swells were coming at us diagonally from two sides which made for an extra challenge riding them in, as there was always the likelihood of a sideways swipe dumping you into the froth. At least the water is still relatively warm at this time of year so you don't end up with any icecream headaches like those experienced by the whitewater types. Good training for dealing with unstable moving water.
The conditions were really best suited to kite surfing and indeed there was a one speeding quite happily across the tops of the breakers. We lasted about 1.5hours before calling it a day and replenishing our strength at the Abersoch Cafe which does a pretty wicked hot chocolate

—Lars


Four Star Training Guinea-Pigs

On the Sunday Dan, Liz and Sarah played at being guinea pigs for Mr Turton's 4* assessment. A group of 4*'s to be from Stratford Kayak Club had to lead us down the lower T.

They were a great group (with lots of Pauls - what is it about Kayaking?) and as they were displaying ALL of their leading skills we must have stopped in just about every eddy that the T has to offer . I demonstrated a beautiful capsize in an eddy and then decided that I didn't quite like the feel of the boat I was paddling (ok the metal bars that hold the footplate in were nearly crippling me) and so I opted for a walk round the boulder garden below halfway bridge.

After putting on again I demonstrated defensive swimming to the group twice to allow them an opportunity to demonstrate their boat chasing and rescuing skills and obtained a number of lovely bruises. During this time Dan and Liz were styling the river looking rather bemused by my swimming.

On the last rapid I demonstrated that it is possible to stay upright even after having lost a contact lense - just follow the northern bloke in the red boat! (Thanks for the nice easy line Andy).

We finished with the traditional demonstration of group changing in Bala car park and then sped home to London after a stop at the bunkhouse to retrieve our camera. A great day but no photos as the camera was in the bunkhouse!

Sarah Wallis


The Chief Organiser Speaks

Ian invested a lot of time organising the trip, without him its likely we wouldn't have had one, we certainly wouldn't have has as much fun. His memories of the trip should be a warning and invite to those who want the fun or organising it in 2012

300 e-mails. 200 forum posts. 100 forum messages. Two dozen phone calls. Chivvying. Muttering. Worrying. Ninja spreadsheet.

Loading. Driving. Arriving. Welsh beer. Foreign beer. Socks. Snoring.

Eating. Planning. Milling. Driving. Paddling! Eddying. Driving. Jalfrezi. Baby! Onesie. Welsh beer. English beer. Snoring.

Eating. Driving. Not driving. Phoning. Paddling! Clambering. Leaving. Driving. Unloading. Returning. Sleeping.

Awesome to have such a mix of paddlers (and a baby) gathered together. Amazing to have so many new paddlers away for a weekend of paddling. Trouble to organise? Sure. Heaps of fun? Absolutely. Worth it? Oh yes. Matt - remember your promise.

Ian Higgs


Photos

http://www.flickr.com//photos/27664453@N08/sets/72157627736294401/show/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/61344710@N07/sets/72157627751684299/show

from http://www.flickr.com/photos/62027920@N04/6245625111/ onwards