Written by Jamie Crichton
In Clive's absence I thought I'd pop in a trip report or at least my account for Sunday's River Tees paddle...
Us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed river goers arrived early at LOPC to load up on a dark December morning, and straight away the teamwork that would set the tone for the day was clear to see. I mean honestly, you've never seen 12 boats and gear and snacks and people loaded in the dark so fast it was clinical, we even checked the trailers, paddle storage door was closed and everything... eventually.
So, we set off for a smooth drive by Captain Macken and the "SS determined not to faff" and it's jolly passengers, one quick no-frills-no-faff breakfast and wee break and we were ready to gear up at the launch point where we all seal dropped in to our eddy to warm up and brief. One faff-free shuttle later and the full team was together, so on we went in our two groups.
I was part of Group A with Sean, Shaun, Fay, Tony, Scott, Mitchell and Jacqui. We moved along the river, eddying in and paddling out as a team, reading the river as we went. We learnt lots at each feature and from one stretch to the next and just had a jolly old time as we headed towards Abbey Rapids, on a 1.1m level.
With safety checked and the noble Scott recording from the bridge above, we headed on through the rapids and under the bridge one by one. Wow, just wow, the biggest rush for me as possibly the biggest/roughest I've ever paddled. Fay and Tony can tell you how my face looked afterwards when I resurfaced after my "little blip" at the bottom of the drop.
After Abbey rapids the excitement wasn't completely over with more chop and drop and bubble and boil.
Not to mention Mitchell's heroic impromptu eddy out to rescue an entangled sheep at the river side, freeing his woolly friend. Some say it wasn't their first meeting.
As we drew towards the get out and regrouped with Dean, Niamh, Elliott, Rob, Anne, Naomi and Nathan; the spirits were still high, and I had a sense everyone had enjoyed the day and learned even more for next time. Drying off and changing at the roadside in December was nothing for the happy gang, high on adrenaline and/or Haribo.
So, fully reloaded, shuttles complete and we are green light for a fish and chips stop - in a private room no less, nothing but the best for PaddlePlus. Bellies full and we’re ready for home, not long after leaving though (and before we could get to the bottom of such complex conversations such as do we play dubstep or Taylor Swift and why Mitchell was stroking Nathan's ear), we had to pull over with a flat tyre! Tony was quick to the rescue but alas AA/RAC man was required, Mitchell told him he loved him and the sheep was old news.
The highlight of the day for me was when Sean and I kick flipped over the last wave of the Abbey Rapids in style (I may have dreamt that part on the minibus, check the video). But seriously the whole day, the company, the teamwork and cooperation were brilliant and such great fun - I'm still smiling about it now.
Video: https://youtu.be/rbEh4xs_zrc Apologies for the nervous laughter and one expletive, I've never seen a wave that big that close before. Some bits were left out due to water spots on the lens but kept the last shot as it's funny how it covers the river shot I was going for, on the bright side though it did blur out Tony's bum (sorry ladies).
What a great day - can't wait for the next
Thanks to everyone involved