More fun on the T with Ruth
I admit it, I was supposed to write a piece on the May trip to the Tryweryn (“T” – I’m a barrister I’m allowed to define terms!) I’m a bit late with that. Sorry. I haven’t forgotten. I’m double barrelling it with the August T trip.
I faced the two trips with very different feelings: in early May I was towards the end point of training for the Hackney Half. Spriggs made me do it but she got shin splints sprinting around in the way she does (3 hours nearly bang on but I ran all the way and it was my first time so I was pleased, thanks for asking [we didn’t]). I had previously done my ankle on the upper Graveyard (i.e. the bit above the proper Graveyard). So I was worried. I had trained for long hours up hills going into Hampstead and I did not want to waste them with a paddling injury. The result was: I had a good lower, although I rolled in the Bala Mill Falls eddy and then without choice or control took a line far left on the drop that didn’t really run and swam. The next day I cried in the eddy above Ski Jump and got off before Stone Bridge. This did not seem like excellent preparation for the Alps. But nevermind. The bluebells were beautiful.
Fun was had by most people, perhaps not Jolyon, who did his shoulder and tore his pretty green drysuit on the Graveyard.
Fast forward three months. Spriggs, the hero, has sensibly booked us into a B and B and there is a Tempest arriving at the camp site. Wane is having a total ‘mare. He ran out of petrol in Bala in the expectation that the petrol station was one. Wales 1 – Wane nil. The petrol station is open less often than a French supermarket, but Super Karen (and Rob) are there to rescue him. Did you know she secretly did the Ubaye Racecourse when we weren’t looking? She’s a hero too.
But Oh No! Wane’s tent has blown away, and by “his” I mean “his sister’s”! And his car is wet because the window got left open overnight. Don’t worry Wane. Bad lucky comes in threes.
There are three “tents” down on the campsite. Belle’s pole has broken and she’s moved in with Dan Scott and Liza had a bivouac which has collapsed into a puddle on her face! She kept sleeping under it.
I was on the camping trip at the T three years ago when it was literally minus 1 and I got a cold which lasted 6 weeks. Who said camping was a good idea? It wasn’t me. But Steady Eddie is keen as mustard and he wants to paddle the ditch behind the campsite!
I’m travelling with Belle and when we hear we are paddling the Conway she describes a river which sounds like a continuous grade 4 shit show. Apparently, there have been multiple calls to mountain rescue because people didn’t make the get out and they have installed a bar you can hang onto for dear life before disappearing into a grade 5 waterfall. I’m seriously considering not getting on. I really have the fear. But so many people laugh at me when I say this that I’m calmed.
I get on. Why does my Machno feel like a poorly constructed handmade corical? Why have I not been to Lee Valley more since the Alps? Someone points out that the answer to that question is that I’ve been going on so many Bumble dates it is virtually a second career. I can tell you that it’s not as well paid (got any single friends? Don’t forget to set me up – kayaking skill appreciated, must have GSOH).
It starts to go better but then I get pinned on the gorge-y section before the grade 4 rapid. Jane is pleased. She thinks I acted as a buffer so she didn’t get pinned and I got out of it and I self-rescued so that’s ok. Glad I wore the drysuit. And Ed swam too so I feel a bit better about it all. Then Liza asks me if I want to lead. And I say yes. What has happened to the real Ruth? Can I have her back please? Perhaps she stayed in the cosy B and B and let a monster get on the river instead! But then I engage in the most cautious leading on a grade 2 stretch of river anyone has ever seen, maybe it was the real Ruth that got on after all! And the get off was fine (thanks for asking, again).
There is still time to do the Upper. And by “do” the Upper I mean go down the Graveyard backwards. I don’t swim. I’m surprised. It is sunny and the rafts are out in force. Damn them. One knocks over our knew friend Iain from Marlow over in the eddy above Ski Jump (the rafts aren’t the only thing bowling Iain over, he’s never seen so many women on a kayaking trip, forget Treweryn man, we are Treweryn woman!) Back to the rafts – they have driven Jane and me mad. We fail to make an easy ferry across to Liza on river left and we are off down Ski Jump. Don’t worry Jane! “We’ve got this” I say. I’m in control. I know the line. I’m going to the little eddy river left. Bang – I’m in. Ideal. Eddy the Eagle! And Jane has followed me. Great.
She’s hard left. She catches Mythical eddy. At-a-girl. But now she is going backwards into the hole. And now she is swimming. And I don’t know how to get out of this eddy. The stopper is so big. Surely I shouldn’t break out into that. But Rachel and Liza are still at the top of Ski Jump because of those blasted rafts. Luckily Kate is in the big eddy and she is saving Jane, all I have done to assist is to shout “Help Kate!”
I roll on Fingers – I was too centre and, as Liza describes it, I “flew through the air” when I was buffeted right. Wane punctures a hole in his knee on the Graveyard. He superglues it back together, if only Humpty Dumpty had thought of that. Belle moves into the floor of the B and B. The twins Swim and Claw are back from their travels. Gnar looks so happy! Even though he forgot his paddle! He’s probably not forgotten the elbow pads. I feel like it would not be PC to describe them as the Gnarettes [and yet you have].
The second day is less dramatic, things are going surprisingly well. I’ve tried to boof on the upper Graveyard. I’ve made my first eddy on the proper Graveyard and Mel has inspired me into so great cross-moves. I’m at Fingers again. And again my breakout hasn’t gone right. I can’t get across far enough under Café wave. Why? But this time it’s different. That stopper isn’t going to munch me. My line is now so far right it is probably associated with the BNP. It’s bumpy but its good (unlike the BNP) and I’m done. I’m out. I’m buying cheesy chips.
And Wane is behind an accident on the M6 in a traffic jam. Better luck next time Wane.