23 October 2008

Big Water, Tree Thursday

Well I don't have lectures on a Thursday so that means I have a day off for working on assignments as well as going kayaking and climbing. This was the first time that I had actually managed to do something that didn't revolve around assignments and it all came down to a phone call I received on my birthday asking if I was free to go paddling on Thursday. I said: "yes" and a couple of phone calls later I was on the road to the greasy-cafe in Penrith to meet the boys at 10am. The plan was to go and paddle the Kent and the Leven. I mentioned that I had never done the Sprint and Mint so a route was planning that would take us over Shap, call in on the Sprint and then, if no good, carry on to the Kent. We never made it to the Kent. When looking over Garnett Bridge we were greeted with a good amount of water, which later on, when at the measuring weir, was hitting the 0.9 mark.

Getting on below S-Bends in an effort to void aggravation with the local landowners.

This was the first time on the river and it was good. There was plenty of water, a fair few trees, but it was good all the same. We were making good progress downstream until one of our team took a swim: we got them out of the river pretty sharpish. I managed to get their paddle on a bank, but the boat just went and went and went. In the effort to chase the boat we had to make a quick portage of Slot and Drop and carry on downstream. I, at this point, was giving up on seeing the red CFS again. I was wrong.

The CFS pinned on a tree in the river. Thank-god for them trees.

Everything was quickly sorted once the boat was removed from the tree and we carried on downstream. Trees were still a problem, but it was all good fun. We eventually came up to Sprint Mill Falls, and made a quick inspection before three of the group blasted through and one portaged.

On line on Sprint Mill Falls.

We carried on downstream. Everything was good apart from the sheer amount of trees in the river and the main interest was over so we bumbled onto the take out where a few other paddlers were thinking of getting on the water. They were a bit unsure though. However, I'm not sure what their final decision was because we were shooting off for our second river; Troutbeck.

This was the first time that I had been on the Troutbeck, so you could say it was a day of personal first descents. We got on the water quickly, once we had got our kit back on and headed off downstream. Again trees were a problem and at times it felt like everything was going terribly fast and we were more surviving, than descended the river in control. However, it was good and unusual at the same time. It didn't feel like Lake District boating. However, just before Pipe Bridge Gorge, on trying to make an eddy so that we could inspect downstream one of the group ended up out of their boat because of a run in with a tree. Thankfully they managed to get themselves, and their boat out of the flow, however their paddle went floating off downstream. I chased it briefly, but gave up as I was starting to drop into the gorge unsure what was coming up. I quickly made an eddy and got out to regroup. Luckily the car was not that far away, where there was a spare paddle. This was quickly retrieved and we carried on downstream.

Looking up into Pipeline Gorge, from the Pipeline.

The descent of the gorge went well. It was impressive and we carried on downstream in a similar vain. Everything was going well until we were descending the last couple of rapids, after managing to make a quick inspection. There was a swimmer again and I found myself upside down for a while getting a good old beating. I took a few blows, but managed to roll up and begin the chase of the swimmer and their kit. The chase went on and on and on. Luckily the river had eased off and with the swimmer happy on the front of my boat we just floated downstream until the ideal opportunity cropped up to get them out. The boat was left to its own devises and was found later on pinned to a tree just before entering Windermere.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

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