What a busy place it was when fourteen of us congregated at Callander for the SSOTM outing.
And we weren’t alone either, as the break in the weather had brought out kayakers and canoeists from other clubs too.
Those who are adept at figuring-out the logistical jiggery-pokery of our transport requirements worked their magic, then Len herded our flock of eager paddlers for a group photo, before we took to the water for a leisurely warm-up on the flooded Teith. (A few days previously, we could probably have paddled right from the car park.)
As we made our way downstream, there were other photo opportunities to wave back to envious onlookers (or more likely, a mother pointing out to her young child the crazy people on the river below), Then followed the usual opportunities for ferry gliding and eddy hunting. However, with the river being high and fast, some of the eddies ranged from slim to non-existent, which led to considerable bank-clinging from time-to-time. The challenge of squeezing umpteen boats into an eddy-for-two, reminded me of the craze decades ago, when adventurous folk tried to see how many of them could squeeze into minis or phone boxes. I reckon, had Norris McWhirter still been around, we’d have merited an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
We continued to sweep past a spectacular autumn riverscape, occasionally encountering some exciting lumps and bumps, to give us a hint of what lay ahead.
Before long, it was time for lunch and we stopped at a palatial fishermen’s hut. A welcome sight for the hungry paddler – until I spotted a couple of ‘accidentally’ discarded fishhooks strategically placed to snag an unsuspecting paddler’s backside on the bench outside. (Worth checking on future visits – that’s the bench, not the backsides.)
Back on the water, we continued on our journey, enjoying what the river in this state had in store for us.
Eventually, as our trip was nearing its conclusion, and the river gods still hadn’t claimed a human sacrifice, I dutifully obliged to become the chosen one. Of course, there wasn’t any choice in the matter… staying upright would have suited me just fine! I was actually quite pleased to have got that far, with it being my first outing on such lively water for absolutely ages. Anyway, paddlers’ white water rescue skills need to be put to the test and the sudden tipping of me and my boat brought that about. Not that I didn’t try to do something about it though… I wasn’t going to give in to the whims of the river gods quite so easily, and whilst rolling on calm water is usually successful, I’d never done it on the moving stuff before! I had sufficient breath for only one attempt though – and it failed. Still, a refreshing autumn river swim lay ahead. Dominic swung into action as he competently collected me and burned a few hundred calories as he powered against the current to reach the side. The other heroes of the rescue party managed to retrieve my boat and paddle (no mean feat – thanks Andy and Jim), and I was reunited with them some way downstream. Shortly afterwards, we paddled on to the get-out.
Altogether, a fantastic day out!
Thanks to everyone for the camaraderie, Jim for the lift back – and to the rescue team. I’m well-impressed!
Once I’d got back to my car, I discovered that my dry bags are not. Fortunately though, I’d double-wrapped my car keys in one.
The other had my sandwich box, so it wasn’t important, but I had to laugh out loud when I opened this supposedly airtight container and found the remaining contents floating inside. How does that work?!