Freshers Trip - Wales!



Destination: North Wales (posh hut)
Members: Will 'too cool for blades' Eldred, Cian 'why paddle?' Leow, Sarah 'inside voice' Woolley
Massively oversubscribed and after an epic shop we met at the union on Friday evening at 5pm. Taking all the kit we could find, we left with surprisingly little faff for Wales. Two minibuses and a Fresher car meant the hut was at full capacity and after Friday night beers some decided the floor next to the oven was preferable to a room with a snoring Joe Bibby.
Joe had decided that the Saturday morning mission would be on the Glaslyn Gorge. Hence Alex R., Ally, Jamie, Joe, Mark, Mo, Patrick, Tom and Will did several entirely faff-free runs with a few cheeky rolls (I'm looking at you Alex), Jamie explaining the difference between puff and buff to Mo and we all got back in time for breakfast made by Alex H. and Jake who prepared all the very delicious meals.
After everything going over so smoothly trouble was bound to happen. We were greeted at the put-in for the Conwy with the best weather Wales has to offer: sunshine, rain and whipping winds all at the same time. The morning mission people were happily sitting in the minibuses while the rest had to get changed in this environment. While assigning kit, we realised that the number of paddles was definitely smaller than the number of people who wanted to kayak, and as anyone who did the maths knows, that's not a good thing (well done committee!). Also Alex decided to paddle without a BA; setting a good example there Mr. President! When the buses left for the shuttle they revealed a BA the wind had blown under them, so at least that was solved. We set off regardless of the significant lack of paddles, with Will using no paddles at all and Mo and ?? sharing a split.
The river started off calmly with a few nice rapids and temporarily improved weather; still Cian decided that this wasn't his day; which *SPOILER* in retrospect might have prevented this day from ending in complete catastrophe, because that meant only Will wasn't using paddles and everyone else was properly equipped.
After a super smooth surf-wave, faff ensued after several swims in a first drop with some challenging currents afterwards. The Welsh weather had something new in stores for us as well: it started hailing. Two tree infested drops made Mo's, Mark's and Joe's group merge, with leaders and kit being engaged in rescuing a pinned boat. (Memo: buy more throw-lines) Will's group kept clear of that by not swimming and reaching the take at approximately the time the epic started. (Remember everyone: best way to avoid faff is staying upright).
Now everything gets quite chaotic as the river raised by over 20 cm within half an hour due to the continued rain/hail; so here are the events described from several different perspectives (notice the lack of interaction)
- (Mo) I went down the main drop of the rapid to be in a better position for chase-boating which there was much of. Descending most of the rapid quite quickly chasing several boats I found myself at the end of the gorge that concluded this rapid with a few freshers and Sarah, who made it there through varying combinations of skill, luck, and swimming, Ally and Patrick. While waiting there for a while and keeping ourselves busy, saving the kit which regularly floated past, napping and ferry-gliding, the sun started to set. When a group of paddlers arrived, new groups were formed and we went further down the river. After the next swim I left the group to Patrick and chased after Raph's boat. After getting out his boat (with an improvised playboat-technique, which involved hugging a tree) and finding a pair of paddles which had one of my gloves on them I was too far away from anyone else to communicate so I hoped they had made the sensible decision to take-out somewhere close and the rapidly setting sun convinced me to do likewise. Once again next to the road, I carried the two boats up and was about to get the paddles and wait for the minibus to (hopefully pick me up) I saw another boat float past. I grudgingly got my kayak again and did something I hadn't done in a while: I set chase to a kayak (this one did not seem to contain any properly inflated air-bags – well done Bosun, oh wait...). When I finally had this one rescued as well, not knowing whether I had already passed the take-out or not, Will turned up. I told him where the other boat was, he got it, and met me on the river again. We then paddled back to the take-out, with the last rays of sunshine lighting the river.
Well, at least that was the plan.
In a stroke of genius I had not closed my bung after emptying my kayak, so after the first major rapid my boat's bow started raising. With the bung no constantly submerged the inflowing water put even more strain on my (already limited) ability steer. Having somehow managed to empty the boat in an eddy under a tree, we reached the take-out.
Somebody else add there describtion of the epic, Saturday night (I went to bed early and only heard rumors about an axe being embedded in Raph's pumpkin helmet and remember Sarah being remarkbly quiet when going to bed), the Dee