Monday, 19 April 2010

Freestyle road trip

About 2 weeks ago myself and Kevin decided to do a few freestyle features around the country. We started in Wicklow where we intended to try kevin's new OC1 out on the Avonmore but unfortunately it was completely dry
The plan was then to head to Gower but we were told (wrongly) that it wasnt working to headed to the sluice instead for a session. The sluice was much lower than the releases website said but was still at a reasonable level. I wasn't too impressed with the OC1 as it was not outfitted and I fell out. Was doing reasonably well in the C1 though, however the wave was quite flushy so sticking moves proved difficult.
Following the sluice trip we headed to Clifden, arriving just in time for the evening session. This was a little too difficult to get into in C1's and I had to resort to dropping in for much of the session.
The next morning myself and Kevin were back on the water at 7 for the morning tide. The hole was at a much nicer level, getting in was easy and the hole was pretty decent so I could concentrate on trying to get my offside moves more consistent. Strange being off the water and ready to go home for 10 am!
We then went to try out Toome, however it wasn't working correctly so we had to give it a miss and just head back to belfast.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Glenarm High water

On Friday Eddie, Peter and myself decided to run the glenarm. On arriving at the river we found it was at a nice high level, the normally scrapey first rapids were running fast forming a nice technical Grade 3 section all the way to the first large drop.
The river continues like this for a few kilometres with nice continous sections followed by large pool drops, however there is a mandatory portage about halfway down thanks to a large tree right across the river and completely impassable. Once we had reached this portage it was raining heavily and the water was rising fast. In the time it took us to reach the 2nd last drop on the Lifford tributary the river had risen by about 2ft. This meant the drop was incredibly retentive with Eddie's boat recirculating for 10 minutes in the stopper on the waterfall, only coming out in the end because we live baited it. Eddie and Peter both took nasty swims here, but thankfully all the gear was recovered and noone was injured apart from a lot of water swallowed by everyone!

We then decided that it was time to consider walking off the river as the water level was getting stupidly high. We finished the Lifford tributary and walked off where it met the Glenarm proper. This confirmed that we were indeed right to get off the river as by the time we had walked to the first drop the river level had risen by 4ft! This made every one of the drops on the Glenarm completely unrunnable with large holes all over the features and massive amounts of water going downriver. The main falls looked particularly scary, normally it is a double drop with about 10ft between the 2 steps, at the time it was a single drop with a massive terminal hole at the bottom!

Having walked all the drops, we decided to get back on the water on what is normally a flat,boring and scrapey 3 kilometre stretch. Bad idea! It looked fine at the getout but the whole 3K had turned into a continous 3+ section, which was brilliant craic till I managed to find a large hole and got really badly beaten down, it's the first time I have been alternately vomiting and coughing up water after a swim. Even after I left the boat the hole decided I was going nowhere fast, the boat didn't help either as it came back in on top of me and pushed me even deeper into the hole.
We decided that finishing the river even if there was supposedly nothing else on it was a bad idea and walked the rest of the section, approximately a 7K walk out overall.
We got off the river several hours late with it getting dark. An very scary and testing experience all round, however it is great to see that our group seems to work well together despite everything that went wrong. I think we all learned something from the day and will be far more careful creeking in the rain in future!