Improvers – Hitting Lines 2

Date: 10/10/2020 Paddlers: Simon L, Julian, Pete G, Emma

Location: River Lune, from Crook of Lune bridge (Beck foot) to Rawthey confluence Water level: 0.6m

The Lune, was at a perfect level 0.6.  We weren’t the only ones who thought so.  There were about ten people getting on the river around the same time as us.  One brave man in a shiny Royalex Nova Craft canoe (with spray deck).

Despite its grading (2/3) the Lune has some pretty challenging rapids.  A reasonably long stretch, remembering each is a challenge.  We started slowly, inspecting pretty much everything from the bank.  It’s worth it, the Lune offers a plethora of options and eddies.  Hitting the one you intended requires decisiveness.  We entered the main event warmed up and looking for a challenge.

Dropping into the first major rapid, hitting my chosen tricky eddy and feeling rather pleased, I caught the tail breaking out and flipped.  Quicky rolling back up I hoped it had looked intentional!  Signalling the others down, Pete managed one of many impressive rolls of the day.  As we made our way down, entering progressively bigger and trickier rapids, everyone looked comfortable and enjoying the reward of an eddy well earned.

As the river narrows, the waves get bigger.  Julian heading confidently down first, through what was probably the biggest feature so far, managed to tip in with what I can only call a pure, momentary loss of balance.  He found the shallows, uncharacteristically missed his roll, and took a brief bath, quickly swimming to the side.  I was following close behind and managed to hover up his paddle and boat before long and signal the others down.  Julian didn’t look shaken, which was a good job; we had a bigger rapid just ahead.

The start of the gorge below can be easily inspected, but not the bottom rapid. Any swimmer in the first will likely swim the second.  Heading down to setup safety at the bottom, I messed up my line, flipping in the second rapid and bodged two roll attempts.  Gladly up on the third attempt, I signalled the others down, one by one, hoping my failure hadn’t scared them off.  Emma made it look rather easy, with a perfect left line where I had gone wrong.  I was glad of Pete’s bombproof roll as he flipped at the middle.  Julian powered through without issue.  This was the toughest rapid out of the way.

Stopping above John’s stone, remembering the difficulty on inspection and poor view from the bottom, Emma and I set off first.  Surprisingly finding it far easier than remembered.  Ah… this isn’t John’s stone!  Well, it was a good way to run the rapid anyway.  We later found John’s stone and ran it the same way.  Useful having the dry run earlier.  Pete rolled again, Julian bashed his way through in the Machno, but otherwise uneventful.

We were walking the Strid today.  It’s not much loss, there are so many other great rapids to play on, so many lines to pick, so many challenges to set yourself.  Julian hadn’t paddled the bottom section from Killington before.  It’s not exceptional, but worthwhile I would say.  We just portaged the two weirs. They’re not much fun anyway, and easy portages.  More eddy hopping, one final rapid by the confluence, a bit of egress spotting, and we were carrying back up to the cars.

With around five hours on the water, we certainly got the most out of our trip.  Focusing on picking and hitting your line on every rapid is tiring, but everyone, including me, was paddling better at the end than the start.  Deliberately working on your skills is something we seldom do when just having fun.  It was worth the sore shoulders.

Driving back up to get the cars, we came across first, an ambulance, then kayaks propped against the bridge wall, then the water rescue team van.  It didn’t look like training.  We didn’t stop to ask, but not a pleasing sight.  Fingers crossed everyone was OK.

Simon

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