Last weekend was the GUCC annual Etive weekend trip (see here for last year's post, which it also appears took me about a week to post) - this involves a weekend camping in Glencoe and kayaking down the Etive. Last year the weather was gorgeous, which made the camping pleasant, but meant the river was very low. This year the weather was pretty awful, wind rain and wind for most of the weekend, but it did mean that the river was higher. I also didn't have to drive for the whole weekend this time, which was nice.
I've seen the Etive quite high before, but never when I've gone to run it myself, so it was quite daunting looking down the first section (in the middle part of the river) at Triple Falls. [In reality the water wasn't that high as many people said it could be a lot bigger.] On the first day it took a bit of convincing myself to take the plunge and take on Triple Falls, but once in the boat things were fine. I got down the first two drops fine, but then had a really stupid swim before the final fall. Last year, due to the low water, we spent quite a while redoing Triple and then jumping from the rocks into the pools (very nice in the sunny weather), but this year we where easily able to paddle between the main rapids and drops (without having to scrape our boats over rocks), so traveled on straight away. We took on Letterbox, Ski Jump, Crack of Doom (where I swam down the waterfall and got a few bruises to boot), Crack of Dawn (well none of us ran this except for Chris on the second day, due to a new boulder being in the way), Waterslide (can't remember if those are in the right order) before reaching Right Angle. With more water Right Angle looked at bit more daunting than last year, and again it required a bit of thinking about, but most of us decided to take it on. This year I managed to make it round the dog leg at the top of the main fall without swimming, and after going off the fall I came up upright and again didn't swim. It was great to do! After Right Angle (where we had to get out last year) there was more river we could do - in that section I managed to have a couple of really poor swims (giving me a total of either 6 or 7 swims for the day). After the days paddling most of us went straight to the pub back at the Kings House to get somewhere warm and dry.
For the second day we had quite a few more people join us (I think there must have been about 20 of us in the water at once, and there were other non-GUCC paddlers out to). I think that the water was slightly higher due to the night of rain, although other people maintained that it was lower, or at least the same as the day before. This time it was the third drop of Triple that got me and I swam at the bottom, but I made it the rest of the way to Right Angle without any more swims (there was a close thing on the small drop after Letterbox, but I managed to roll by pushing off the rocks on the river bed). This time most of us decided Right Angle looked a bit too dangerous to run, but the more experienced guys made it down fine. Most of us then just got out as the coldness and general knackeredness was getting a bit too much. I was quite, quite horrible having to get the buses and load up the boat in the rain and wind, but as ever it was so nice to get back into dry clothes afterwards. Luckily I didn't have to drive back to Glasgow as I was half asleep for most of the journey. Two days of kayaking and not much sleep can take its toll.
Despite the weather it was a great weekend. Two consecutive days of kayaking (despite being knackering) is a great way to gain experience and confidence. I might try and get out boating sometime over the summer, otherwise it'll be the new academic year before I see a river again.