by JFP04 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:00 pm
It was a lovely crisp sunny Sunday morning when we gathered in the Callander car park. Three canoes and six kayaks. We attracted some attention on the banks, especially Tracy when a passing dog took some interest in her breakfast sandwich…and no she didn’t share it with the poor pooch!
I was doing fine until Paul told me he had brought his drone for some aerial shots. Personally, I thought he was planning to use it to search for me downriver at some point on the paddle. We all got in and myself and Stevie opted not to do the ‘wet seal’ entry (I think that is what Stuart called it). I was very grateful when told Stuart would be my shadow for the day and some of the advice and training I got helped me loads as I enthusiastically paddled down the Teith. Dougie and Len were also there at the right times to guide me through some of the rougher stages with plenty of encouragement from all…advice like “Breathe now John” and lots of “Paddle, Paddle, Paddle”. There were plenty of stops along the route where we stopped to play in the eddies. Robert’s skills in the canoe impressed us all as he manoeuvred as if on still water…he must have been and Indian in a past life!
I was very impressed at the sight of all the canoes, manned by Andy and Tracy, Andy and Joan, and Robert (solo). Running the eddies and avoiding the rocks with ease. Andy and Joan managed to keep Paul’s drone safe and dry on the entire journey. And I am not sure how Stevie managed to win the blogger of the year as he certainly didn’t look as if he was going in at any time… very smooth and calm paddling in his new boat. Paul was even more impressive as he spent a lot of time travelling backwards so that he could catch our efforts on camera. After a couple of rougher stretches, where the adrenaline started to kick in, we stopped for lunch and next on my Xmas list is a wee stove and cup to heat up some soup…I think we were all a little envious when the aroma of Stuart’s lunch started to waft around.
Back on board and this was when the river taught me a valuable lesson. Nice and full, and really not thinking yet, I followed Stuart into the main flow but unlike Stuart I didn’t edge (at all). Len said later I was out the boat before it was over…I have practiced that move a lot in the pool. The water was cold and I was glad of my dry suit, on its first outing too…now I know it works! My shadow, and now rescuer Stuart, was there in seconds and I was grateful to hold onto the back of his boat. However, my little adventure was not over as I suddenly saw Stuart’s boat shoot off and realised my hands were not on the back of it! Celia’s tree had claimed another victim as I passed it. A root under the water snagged my spray deck and pulled me away from Stuart’s boat. Little bit of scrabbling and I got free with everyone there to help me and thanks to Andy for getting me back on the water again after emptying my boat. Apologies to Gavin for the scrapes on the bottom of the new club boat but it is pretty tough. Once everyone was sure I was ok, that’s when the wind-ups started. I was officially christened on my first river trip. Watch out Stevie, coming after your crown this year!
A few more rough stretches and one in particular that took my breath away as we skirted left off an island and a very large rock. Appreciated Dougie positioning himself between us and the rock…very brave. Apologies I didnt see much of the others during that stretch (had my eyes shut!)but we all made it through. Then to the grand finale, the Torre Falls. This was where Paul got his drone out and it was an impressive drone. A local buzzard thought so too as it emerged from the trees to have a wee look at this starnge creature in its skies…and the even stranger ones on the water. What a glorious sight seeing the skills from the canoes as they took the Falls with ease. Dougie gave me some encouaging words and set of first, followed by a very smooth Stevie. I then followed Stuart. Nobody told me about the ‘wee’ drop. What a thrill! I know this is not the biggest most of you will have handled but I was so chuffed to get through in one piece and was actually buzzing. Then Dougie told me to breathe… again!
I could then watch everyone else come down, more elegantly and smoothly than I did of course. We put in a little further up and I suddenly realised how tired I was.
I will blame Dougie’s paddle that he loaned me for my tumble but it did help me a lot. I was so glad he loaned it to me at the start as the other one I had weighed three times a as much and I am certain I would have had more mishaps than just the one. I was a bit upset though when I had gone in and heard him shout “someone grab that paddle…then we’ll get John”!
Thanks to everyone for a fantastic first paddle. I am well and truly hooked and it is great knowing how safe beginners are when surrounded by such great club mates…if you haven’t been on the water yet then go for it. It is the best thing in sport I have experienced so far.
Looking forward to the pictures and drone action Paul.