Returning from the pub around midnight last night, I retrieved my drysuit which was drying / airing outside our chalet and took it indoors. I was glad I did because it had frozen again – it could almost stand up on its own!
Waking up this morning we were greated with a thick layer of ice on the boats, cars and ground. The plan previously decided on was changed again, before we loaded up to head across to the Findhorn. The drive across was stunning – the many different colours of the leaves on the trees – the sprinkling of snow on the ground around us and the snow covering on the mountains around us.
Arriving at the get-in, we wandered down to inspect Randolph’s Leap. It was looking low,but slightly higher than when we ran it this time last year. There was only one thing putting us off hopping into our boats straight away and that was the cold. The majority of the group was feeling cold so an executive decision was made to head to the nearest tea shop!
Feeling considerably warmer following our hot drinks, motivation to run the river was much higher. A quick change later and we were sitting in the eddy above Randalph’s Leap, running through the required lines in our heads.
I peeled out of the eddy first, ran the first part successfully and broke out. The remainder of the group paddled down and joined me, with only Lucille having any issue. She had capsized on the first part, rolled up but failed to make the desired left-and line. Instead she them had to run the right-hand line into the Witches Cauldron. She managed to make it through without getting caught in it, but rolled immediately below before joining the rest of us in the eddy. The remainder of the rapid went successfully for all.
Dave S took a little swim in a hole further downstream when he dropped into it, capsized and failed to roll – despite an effort at a Palatta Roll! Continuing on again, there were some nice read-and-run rapids before we arrived at The Slot. With Doug on the rock providing cover, I ran the rapid but failed to quite make my intended line of starting centre and heading left, lifting the bow of my boat over the merry pile that was pushing all the water into the undercut rock face on the right. I didn’t manage to lift my bow over the pile, subbed out and was pushed into the rock face on the right almost upside down. Knowing that I really didn’t want to be upside down I fought to pull myself along the rockface whilst supporting myself from going over. After a few seconds I was successful in getting out of trouble and was able to escape into an eddy. The rest of the group, having just seen my effort, all decided to portage the slot. The remaining few rapids were again uneventful and the river soon opened up as we arrived at the get-out. Lucille decided to have a go on the rope swing into the river whilst Phil and I both decided to jump of a rock ledge about 5 metres up the bank into the river.
Once the other group had arrived and the hailstones, which had started falling just as we got out of our boats, had eased, we all changed, loaded up the cars and headed to the now compulsory tea room to warm up.