A weekend away up north (Part 1)

Date: Saturday, 31 July 2021
River: Mersey River (Alum Cliffs).
Water level: 1.52.
Participants: 12.

A weekend away up north

The rafting trip started with a Friday night camp out at a very very wet mole creek. We arrived in the sheds in two lots, the first at 5 pm, and then the later 9:30 crew. Those of us at 9:30 had the luxury of only having to grab PFDS, helmets, and wetsuits (thank you for doing the heavy lifting 5 pm crew - legends).

The 9:30 crew rocking up to the campsite around 1:30 am, driving in the pouring rain for most of the drive. We arrived at a very wet campsite with a muddy slip-n-slide style driveway, greeted by a shirtless Luke setting up his tent. This we were later informed was the flawless logic of “can’t get clothes wet if you’re you're not wearing them”. We all popped our dry gear for the next day in Andy’s car so the car shuffle could be run at 6 am. I was in bed and asleep by 2 am, attempting to maximize my sleep for the day ahead.

The rain was still pouring the next morning. Waking up we discussed just how waterproof various sleeping arrangements were, with Nik reporting he got 30 minutes sleep and that his tent leaked like a sieve - how pleasant! Ben informed us of his morning tragedy, spilling his freshly made AeroPress coffee and having to have instant coffee with cold water. I recounted my full 180 in sleeping position during my sleep to the gang and we all laughed crouched around hiding from the rain.

With Luke eventually up in his traditional morning outfit wrapped in a blanket, it was discovered that we had chosen the far get out, which would make for a very long day. Hiding under the protection of Talia's boot we decided to move the cars, adding faff time, but resulting in less flat paddling at the end. After a bit more faff we redid the car shuffle and were all dressed and ready to get moving! With the gang split between three blue sotars, James’ rubber ducky R2, and Andy in his kayak, got a move on.

Throughout the day we experienced the beautiful Alum cliffs. The river was flowing high and the water was moving. Before getting into the gorge section was generally fun small waves and features.

We elected to line the rafts down most of the main gorge section due to the powerful flow of water, massive holes, and undercut rocks. A good choice in my opinion - regardless of how fun well experienced kayakers made it look. Lately, we have been all about the walks, pretty fun. After getting back into all the rafts we continued down the river before finding our next fun feature. Will Percy described it, and two out of three boats hit it well. Nik's boat went in with too much power early, not able to get around the corner before the current punched them over the edge as they avoided being pinned on the large devising rock. They went over the feature and lost Nik out of the back, falling into a larger recirculation. He swam forwards and grabbed his boat's bowline, pulling himself out and them gently towards the large hole before Andy swooped in to help him.

After this, we eddied out and had some lollies for all involved before continuing down the river to find somewhere nice for a lunch stop. We ate sophisticated sandwiches, lollies, muesli bars, and then some chocolate. A great on river lunch. Luke’s half-finished baguette was placed in his hand whith his drink and chocolate loosely pushed into his PFD as he continued to guide. No surprises all of his snacks were claimed by the river gods leading up to and during the next rapid.

This then led to a rapid where the flow pushed the boats into a rock wall. This flipped half the boats, James going first and then Luke’s boat bookend the running of the rapid. During this James’ own T-grip did hit him in the jaw, leaving him a little saw and with a bump that night. As we recovered everyone we kept moving to make good time and from here.

My boat's earlier discussion of what to do if we hit a rock was extremely useful as we all instantly jumped to the front of the boat, high siding well and preventing a flip. Go team! We continued down having some fun as Ben perfecting his new guiding technique of Eddie hopping and caution/safety above all else. Our boat was the only one without swimmers or flips.

We finally came to the end and all finished up for the day. At the get-out bridge, we had some fun, Ben and Luke running a race on the bridge - Luke realising afterwards that he’d done his hammy the night before at soccer and had won but at what cost- ouch.

With the rafts nicely rolled and gear organised into one spot we reflected on our day together while shuffling back to our new accommodation.

James’ Ute decided that the journey was a bit lonely and the company of a tow truck was employed to add some excitement to their day. Not to worry as Monday afternoon the Ute found its way to the sheds to help us with the pack up. Our night in the scout hall - with a full kitchen may I add - included some fun with the cricket set, the ordering of pizza, consuming of many hot chocolates, a very warm drying kitchen, comparison of red faces, and laughing at James’ tan line.

All in all, it was a lovely night and I had a great time!

Thus ends my retelling of our weekend away, and Luke will give you the events of Sunday;

Cheerio,

Ruth!

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