Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big water

On Sunday I went out kayaking on my fourth river (I didn't post about my trip to the Clyde [a bit further upstream than the part that flows through Glasgow] a couple of weeks ago. It was a fairly tame bit of river, but that was fine as a way to ease back into river paddling after a summer away and even with the water being pretty flat I managed to swim!). The trip was meant to be a beginners trip (which I pretty much still consider myself as) and the plan was to go to the River Tummel. This was always going to be a more challenging river than the bit of the Clyde we'd done, but we didn't quite realise quite what the conditions were like until we arrived at the river. It was BIG. Not that surprising given the amount of rain there'd been and the fact the they were letting a lot water out the dam further up stream. It was decided that us beginners might risk dying if we paddled the Tummel, so a new plan was formulated. We back-tracked down to the Tay by Stanley where it was thought that things might be more manageable. There were loads of kayakers and canoers (spelling?) about on this bit of river - partly due to a canoe show being on in Perth, and partly down, presumably, to everywhere else being a bit to dangerous to do. The Tay was still pretty swollen, high, choppy and fast moving, but there were no major obstacles on it that were particularly hazardous, so we decided to go in. I'm still pretty unstable in a river kayak, so managed to capsize almost a soon as I got in the water, but someone was there straight away to right me again. After a bit of getting the feel of the boat and paddling around in an eddy I was more confident that things would be fine - although I still looked quite unstable. The largest thing to get over once we started downstream was a weir after which there were large waves for another fifty metres or so. I managed to negotiate all this fine and actually it's rather fun going through big waves - as long as you don't panic you can just ride the waves nice and easily. There were further bits of river with large waves, but I made it all the way to the get out without going over. It was definitely a far more fun paddle than the Clyde had been and was a good river to get some confidence up on. At some point I'll need to go on an intermediate trip, but at least one more beginnery one might still be what I'd prefer.