2015 Lakes Trip (The one when the bus and half the club returned in pieces)



Kent, Crake
Leven, Lune (and the tributary at the put-in)
Yuri “Captain Asia” Merla                             Willem “I think it’s in now” Hilbers
The Mo Parah duo                                          Ally Cott
Joash "I have a car" Lee                                 Sharah Loolley
Elijah “Dick Cheese” Choi                             Noah “Weirwolf" Smith
Matthew “Treehugger” Chan                       Owen Jordan
Millie Tswam rolled                                       Ksenia "Solovieva
A multicultural bus left with high hopes to the Lake District. Catalysed by the excitement of whisking the Duo out of White City and Para’s Bombay Mix, we powered the long journey. Welcomed by generous lashings of rain and a lost Joash, we arrived at a decent hour in Spark Bridge Village Hall to unpack and unwind. The lack of a pool table lowered everyone’s spirits briefly before some members of the club realised they could fit into Para’s 60L dry bag.
First day of paddling saw some members hit up the Kent for a morning mission. The river being on a medium level ensured good fun for everyone, especially Ksenia, Noah and Para for whom it was their first descent. After finishing the river with no swims and minimal delays, the team decided to open an ice cold can of Fafta on the club’s ass. Due to the lack of a shuttle car, El Presidente had to hitchhike up to the put in, where he found the minibus parked in by the kayaking club of a university that will not be named. In an attempt, to reduce faff, Willem decided he couldn’t be arsed to strap his Titan down and proceeded to insert said Titan in the rear of the minibus. The minibus grumbled to Willem “is it in yet?” to which Willem says “yeah man” and slammed the backdoors hard, breaking the emergency window in the process. It wasn’t in the whole way to Willem’s dismay. Willem proceeds to regretfully (and slowly) clean up the mess of his slamming the minibus. After covering up the hole with a towel, the team gets into the minibus and happily trundle back to Spark Bridge.
After an arduous cold wait – albeit in the dry – the club in its entirety set off on its first river. General weather conditions for the weekend proved favourable for Mo, who always liked the Lakes for its reliably miserable weather ensuring good levels. The Crake is a pleasant little river; there’s a flat section at the beginning that contains a few quaint sailboats nestled in the reeds. However, alongside the heavy precipitation, we struggled through typhoon conditions that transformed what could have been a calm warm up paddle through a picturesque lake into a game of “shit I’m getting blown into a buoy”.
Having escaped this treacherous lake, the real paddling began. A good performance by all generally with minimal swims, apart from when a particular tree (amongst many) took out a bunch from Team Asia. Having rolled upright, Millie was so ecstatic that she hadn’t quite noticed the carnage that had ensued. Great warrior Yuri, in the quest of saving her, himself fell in and in an innocent whim of following the troublesome two, fresher Matt was flipped over by this same tree. Amongst the other group, led by Willem, paddling was surprisingly efficient with the odd capsize but a quick speed ahead.
Further down the river there’d be more moments of sketchy tree dodging and a swim from Millie having been stuck for about 10mins by the bankside. This was resolved quickly though with an efficient taxi service from the Mo Duo. Towards the very end, there was a final whitewater rapid that proved not so difficult for the members. However, it was the section immediately afterwards where Elijah took his first (and only) dip, which caught the attention of local farmers nearby.
After a cold wet first paddle, we settled into the warm Chilli congee that would heat us all up. Sarah decides to make the most undemocratic vote of whether to use the travel worn pasta or rice, in which half the members did not participate. To Para’s, Millie’s and Willem’s dismay, rice apparently won, and so mushy rice was served to the starving legions of the ICCC. Piles of cheese and spinach made for a lovely meal. Courtesy of Yuri & Mo, not one but both toilet facilities were left unavailable, leading to perhaps some drop trou moments during ring of fire later that night (and some inappropriate Strohking action from Elijah and Para).
Mo’s determined efforts to get as much wetness possible from the trip led to a second mission involving Mo, Para, Willem, Yuri and Noah on Sunday morning on the River Leven. A fantastic river with a few weirs in the beginning (and no rolls/swims) before the dreaded Backbarrow bridge appeared in the foggy distance. After getting out to inspect the feature, the team decides that “it’ll be fine”. And it was. Mostly. Noah decided that the advised line (middle to hard left) was crap and goes hard right and promptly gets wrecked in a hole. He swims. His deck “popped” apparently. 200m downstream of Backbarrow Bridge is a grade 5 weir to which the team said “nope” and promptly portaged. A second weir was reached in which a clear line of “go straight through the middle” was advised. In addition to probably being mildly racist, Noah once again proves his affinity for the Right and doesn’t follow the middle line. He promptly pencils it into a hole, attempts a roll, which fails and then swims (apparently a safety check of the rest of the team’s rescuing abilities). Due to the nasty towback (~1m), the team screams “GET BACK IN THE HOLE AND DO IT CORRECTLY!!!!” Noah says “NO!!!” and somehow overpowers the towback and swims out safely. The GTX proved to have a larger stomach and decided to have a nice 5 minute rumble in said hole as Mo anxiously watches from downstream to see when it would escape the towback. Enough was enough. The GTX was having too much fun, and Willem decides that it would be a good idea to share in this fun by hurling himself into the hole to live bait the boat. Fortunately, the GTX decided not to share the fun and escaped the towback before this happened. After finishing the river by 9am, the minibus gods decided that there was too little faff and flattened one of the tyres. After an extremely long wait, in which Yuri, Para and Noah discovered some local touristic opportunities (a clock tower), the team headed back to spark bridge for some burnt sausage. 
With a bag of glass shards, duct tape and some plank of carpeted wood cordially borrowed from the local pub, it was time to goodbye to Spark Bridge Village Hall and begin the 2nd river. Unfortunately the intended river of choice for Sunday was deemed too high, what with sheer amount of rainfall that had happened all weekend. Willem and Mo took to the Lune tributary (a tree filled ditch), for some of the most dodgy paddling ever seen. Mo and Willem proceed to do much of it backwards, with Willem beaching himself onto a rock. If he goes backwards, he gets insta-backlooped by a hole. He can only go forwards. He makes eye contact with Para on the side of the river, who’s doing safety, with the most terrified expression on his face. He successfully thrusts himself forwards out of harm’s way and bumps his way down the rest of the tributary. Millie, Ksenia and Para join them for the main river. With some fantastic weather (there were rumours of a sun poking its head out), the team bounces down the river on some great wave trains, with Willem happily cartwheeling along and generally leading Ksenia into the worst possible sections of the river. At the only major feature of the section being paddled, “Constriction”, the team splits up, with Mo leading Millie down a sneaky left line, Ksenia portaging down the side, and Willem and Para braving the right line, with a chunky hole. Willem avoids the hole and gets in a far right eddy. Para decides to get more of the meat and goes straight into this hole, instaflips and rolls back up. After a few rolls, breaks and faff free paddling, the team gets to the bridge takeout. Ksenia decides that the only way to escape from club’s horrendous hobbies of paddling was to take refuge in a portapotty.
After some confusion over which bridge the takeout was and a few frantic phone calls later (for future ref, group shelters are a good shout for conditions like these), all was well and rapidly we got ready to leave. It was during this time that Sarah & Ally enjoyed some time floodlighting Para as he got into his dries.
All in all, a decent trip with varied amounts of kayaking. As the broken bus bid farewell to the Lakes, we were returned with a glimmer of sunshine and a beautiful double rainbow to end our trip (the only tranquil weather we would experience!)…as well as a stomach bug that would hit half the members back in London.