It's been an awesome weekend. One of those weekends that just feels good, doesn't involve stress and just seems to go, on the whole, pretty damn well. I like weekends like that. I reckon I need more of 'em.
Saturday night was Pie Night 2011. Like previous years, there were 3 varieties of pie on the table, with mash and peas - I like the traditional 'Pie & Pea Supper' idea, it's nice and simple - plus a few beers/wines/drinkies, whatever people brought or nabbed from the fridge. This years pie selection was:
- Steak Forestiere (inspired by our meal on the way to the GRP)
- Spiced Pork and Apple (suitably autumnal/wintery, I thought)
- Seared Tofu with Gingered Veg and Watercress (because I have to think of something to feed the veggies...)
'twas a small gathering, very enjoyable and fun, even if (as usual) the paddlers disappeared off into paddle-talk and everyone else wondered what the heck we were going on about. A small select batch then headed along to East of Arcadia for an extra wee bevvy.
Sunday morning was a bit of an early start, picked up by Matt and Maria at 8:45 to head up to the Middle Tees to meet the YUCC crowd. Levels looked pretty good, there'd been a fair amount of rain up in the headwaters, so the river was medium-high, 0.85 on the gauge. That translated as "High enough for the stoppers and holes to appear threatening, but not so high you can't punch through them". The second hole on Abbey Rapids handed out a couple of small spankings and a backloop or two for those who didn't keep their weight forward (not me. I must be learning...), so a bit of chase work in the gorge below, but the normally kicky little hole in the middle was pretty washed out so no major dramas. I'd not paddled with most of the group before, but it was good to see a couple of the apparent 'intermediates' take some initiative and lead through sections. Notable mentions for the day have to go to Kimmy for holding in there for a second roll attempt on Abbey and to Sam for upping his game after an early ducking.
The rest of the river was really nice. Whorlton Lido drop looked pretty horrendous at the river right end, so we portaged people around it to avoid any incidents. A couple of people were suffering with the cold - wetsuit and cag plus a couple of swims on a day when there were snow flurries on the river - so we bailed them out to one of the cars at Whorlton bridge before heading on. The section from Whorlton to Winston was fantastic bouncy hole-dodging. Whorlton Weir demanded a little thought and attention, and the theme continued from there, with a good bit of work on line choice and technique, but without having to worry too much about getting it wrong. The last sequence of drops above Winston Bridge was a one-by-one lead-through with some nice little surfy waves and big boily patches, just enough to stop you getting complacent. The sun even came out on the lower part!
All in all, an excellent weekend for the mojo, good company, good food and great paddling. Let's hope for more of those to banish the S.A.D over the winter!