Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Norway video

The boys in procrastinate have put together some of the Norway footage from this summer, and its looking pretty sweet. Check it out:

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Fine Day Out

On Sunday (3rd) Hugh and I went boating early in the morning, like well early. Hugh knocked on my door at 06:30, and I didn't know what was happening; my body just spasmed and I took about 10 seconds to realise it just just Hugh waking me up. I felt quite ashamed, if this was an emergency, and a maniac had run in the room, he would have had his way with me and be long gone by the time I was capable of counteracting penetration - he would have shanked me good and proper. We packed up and got to the Nedd Fechan to see it was on a sweet level, with a quick message on Facebook, we had a group of Cardiff Uni boys on route to join us.

We jumped on at the top, and paddled down to the first notable drop. With a little bit of a tricky lead in, we spent a bit of time preparing for the line. I jumped on first and the drop went sweetly. With good runs by all, our spirits were high.
Me at the top of the drop
Hugh mid drop
Rapidly, the next drop approaches, and Hugh scouted and decided to hit it up. This is a fall onto a slab with nothing but millimeters of water skimming over the top. You could say only a mad-man would have seen this and thought it was a goer. We set up some ropes downstream, and he smashed it:
Hugh nailing it
Despite looking intimidating, it was sweet to see someone run such a scary as line. Following this, we kayaked down to the Pryddin confluence. We walked up Lady Falls and decided it was going. I was bricking in my trousers, one thing I am not fond of is heights, and the idea of dropping about 10m is about as appealing as licking a leprosy victim's wounds clean.

Chyavan took the hit, and agreed to run it first. However a forceful boof led to a flat landing on his side:
Not the greatest style
This didn't help with confidence in the group. Having already carried my boat up to the top, I was obligated to crack on. Now with my bumhole tighter than a Chinese Finger Trap, I got in the boat. The drop is actually one of the cleanest I have ever seen. A completely flat lead in, a perfect lip and massive landing (albeit rather shallow for the height), meant I had no excuse but to run it like a man.
I'm fu*king smashing it
With a waterfall where you actually notice being in the air before hitting the pool, this was an adrenaline rush. Landing it, I realised I was still alive, I cheered my ass off. The rest of the run was chilled out, bouncy water, and made for a great fun ending to the river.

The second river was on the Mellte, and due to a slightly rocky start, we smashed the river out with little scouting, only exiting the boat to look at the slot and drop (now tree free, inc. the lead in) and the weir. It was just under a 7 on the gauge, and was a fun level to round the day off.

A sweet start to the season, and hoping for more!

Thanks to Hugh Graham and Chyavan Rees for the photos

Thursday, 10 July 2014

French Alps 2014

Once again it’s another year in the French Alps, kayaking with a few of the Procrastinate team and camping alongside the Cardiff Uni Kayakers. It was a relatively tame year this year, but a few things of note happened. Instead of giving a long winded, blow by blow account of the fortnight, I have decided to provide some details of the highlights:

As this year we were a group of three in a single car, we decided to take out a bike to perform the shuttles. However on the first day Duncan managed to snap the chain during a ride around the campsite. To look at Duncan, one would not think his slight frame would be capable of laying down that sort of torque; however he has the might of ten Lance Armstrongs.
Yep, I see it
This now meant we were stuck without the bike on Sunday (as nowhere open had the right chain). So after we had run the river, I once again (much like in Italy) stuck up my thumb. This time however I felt more confident, being able to get by with my French. A guy pulls over and says where to. Crap! Even though I could hold a conversation, I had no clue the name of the village. However he took me anyway, and this was my lesson learnt. Always remember the get on name.
On another day, we got to the bottom of a river, I jumped on the bike and started off. I was only wearing my shorts, shoes and kayaking helmet; so didn’t look like your typical cyclist. This must had been obvious, as about 3 km into the cycle a car pulled up next to me and asked if I wanted to jump in. Having become, over the last couple kayaking holidays, more willing to jump into random strangers cars, I lept at the chance to get the cycle over and done with. So we try and get the bike in the back of his Discovery, which was already slightly full. The eagerness of this guy (called Franc) was quite disturbing now I think about it. Like, he really wanted me in that car, which at the time seemed friendly, but now only seems rapey! But he gave me a lift and pleasant conversation where he was eager to know about what I was doing and where I was from.

The Nature Poo
I do like using the toilet, I find being alone comforting whilst perched on a toilet and somewhat relaxing as well. Many an idea has sprung to mind during the few minutes of egestion sat alone, and this only one of the many benefits I find a toilet break can provide. However we were at the get on for the Upper Guil, and I was in need of a number 2, in the rather large layby/car park in which the run starts. There were also 2 other university groups at the get on when we rolled up. I was in dire need of voiding my bowels at this stage; with holding it in not being a viable option, I went in search of a prime spot, yet the distinct lack of tree cover made discrete defecation a problem. I minced around for a bit, until the pressure build up was too great, I skipped behind a decidedly unhealthy looking tree (more spindly twigs than greenery) and let the floodgates open. Due to the squatted position I was in (at least this is what I attribute the following to), the stool shot out of me in a similar fashion to a viper attacking a mouse. It was over faster than I could think, and a quick wipe saw me back to the boys without being seen by the two other large university groups in the layby. I had achieved an unseen nature poo, much like a stealthy ninja who had had a dodgy curry, and was proud of my achievement!

Toward the end of our trip we headed over to the Ubaye valley. There is a river here that has been on my To-Do list for a while and it is the Fresquire section of the Ubaye river. This is a class 4+ blast, and we had a group of 5 that were going to jump on. Having heard of people who had epics on the river, I was more nervous than Bindi Nicholls' sleepover guests.
Fresque's second (and more difficult) section
We jumped on, and I took the lead. It was about a kilometre lead in to the first difficult rapid, and at the top I took a deep breath, checked the team were behind me and headed on down. The run was amazing, and kept me on form for what felt like ages. Breaking out near the bottom (having seen one chap behind me break out) I was able to catch my breath. We had attacked the first part of the run. Now taking a back seat, I was more able to enjoy the rapids as I followed on. Then we got to the next crux section. About a 1 to 1.5 km stretch. Taking a breather at the top, I said I would lead the first section and then let Ant Morgan take over on the next part (and the only one we hadn’t actually been able to see!!!). It was exciting at the front, quick reactions were required, but being able to get a positive stroke and getting on line was the recipe for success.
In the meat of it
We neared the bottom and I broke out of the flow. Now Ant had taken over, managed to pick a line and we followed on down. Not really knowing what sections were coming up, we jumped out for a minute and the heavens opened with thunder to match. This reduced visibility, but in reality the thunder added a sense of dread to a run that really didn’t need any more dramatising . We jumped back in the boats and after about another km or two we were at the get out. Smiles all around, we had made it. A run that I will hopefully get on many more times.

One of the lads in the Uni group managed to burn his hand and therefore halt his kayaking for the trip. On one of the rest days, Stu, Duncan and I took him to Embrun and we went to McDonalds. About 10 minutes there, and Ed was on Tinder. What a quality game (albeit a serious dating app [ha]), and we spent ages judging French women and chuckling at the thought of Ed turning the two week kayaking holiday into a series of hot dates. Having gone through the ladies within a 30km radius, and not had our fill, we set it to 100km. The ability to make a snap decision is an amazing delight, and most of the time the four of us were in sync:
Franklin would
All in all a cracking holiday with the Procrastinate and Not-So-Substantial bunch!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Italy 2014 - The final days

Thursday started with everyone still feeling as though they had been beaten up from the previous days of boating. During discussions, we decided that either the Middle or Upper Sesia was the river of the day; the Middle being the easier option as we had done it before, and the Upper being the more difficult of the two sections. A trip to Campertogno showed the gauge at a 75, which is slightly lower than we've seen before. The Middle being the choice, as the four of us needed a chilled out day, just to avoid bottoming out. The run was fun, and this time every one of us paddles Piode falls, and each one of us missed the ‘boof’ stroke that would have avoided a complete submersion.

In the afternoon, we headed for a walk up the valley from the apartment we are staying in, to where an avalanche had decimated the tree line. After returning, we had food and an easy night of cards and getting the fire to heat the living room to unacceptably uncomfortable levels, which led to vast amounts of male nudity within the confines of the apartment (however by now we had embraced the communal bidet towel, and therefore the amount of "team bonding" had enabled us to be comfortable in this new situation).
Avalanche area 
Melt water snow cave
Friday, being our last day, was a late started and we headed to the Landwasser Fall. However a (supposed) 10m waterfall isn't actually that easy to find in the Italian Alps, where the steepness of the river makes it hard to really know where a vertical drop is. Driving up the valley, we had to ask fishermen where the fall was. With interlingual Charades being everyones latest skill (soon to be on my CV), we were told that the river we had driven up did not have a waterfall. Not believing a single thing we were told, we decided to go for a walk; and we lucked out. Jumping on, we hit up the drop:
An evening within the closest pizzeria was eye opening. Initially we were given a free pizza to chow down on, whilst waiting for our pizzas, were served litre beers and then given limoncello with the bill. These Italians sure know how to earn their tips!!!

The drive home on Saturday was OK, little bit of rain as we left the Alps, but smashed it out (door to door) in about 19 hours.

A good week, and ready for the French Alps in a fortnights time.