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Pinball alley paddlin

So! The car was packed the night before and an early start for the day. Anything before 12 on a Sunday is early, so this was stupid early. Twenty past eight and into the car for the quick sprint up to the Avonmore river at Annamoe. Well! all the way up to the Wicklow Gap I was thinking I wasn’t in the mood and all the way down from Turlough Hill I was contemplating turning around to head back home, but I didn’t and standing beside the river on this warm winter morning I decided to just go with the flow. Guys, it was warm you are all just soft!!

This was a skills education day and with our transport parked up at Trooperstown we got the motivational talk. We all know Chris likes to talk so maybe this was his way of getting it out of his system, or maybe not? All I heard was enjoy yourselves and your boat is going to get a hammering. The flow was low!

From the bank we slid down one by one, left edge up and charge down the narrow channel to the first Eddie. Eddie is a guy we are going to get to know well on this trip. We were to catch many and make them our own on the descent. The other important consideration was to avoid the trees and bushes which overgrew the banks of the river. Who said that would be easy. They are like a naked flame to our impression of flies, but we resisted.

Our first challenge was the Guinness rapids at Avondale house. With a reading of .9 at the bridge it would be passable. Time to scout to assess the danger, I mean find the best way through. There was only one channel for the first drop and not many very good channels for the second but again single file. The line was to keep right of the big boulder. It’s always good to keep a distance from such big boulders, if you hit them, they are not going anywhere but you are, and it may not be somewhere you intended. Then it was keep left into the flow, lift the left edge and at the bottom of the drop power out with a good right stroke. Do not do what some fool did and lean back, relax too early and nearly take a drink of good Wicklow water. The second section was more akin to being in the rock opera Tommy and Rodger Daltrey throwing you from rock to rock like a pinball in a 1975 pinball machine, but we all made it either front ways, backwards or even sideways. You know who you are. “So, does anyone want to do it again?” was the question.

Bugger, I have too, the camera wasn’t running.

Again, no drama, everyone remembered their lines and we all made it through safely.

All of this was interspersed with practicing our ferry gliding technique, hello and goodbyes to Eddies and the odd brace to save face. A few more pinball rapids allowed us to take part in some rock ballet. This involved charging at a suitable piece of scenery and with the appropriate final stroke we would either fly over said rock or take a spin in an attempt to complete a 360 rotation. It didn’t matter if we got it right, fun was had nonetheless and now it was time to exit stage right at Trooperstown. No injuries and no gear lost so it was another successful adventure at the hands of Balto Kayak Club. A big thanks to all involved for making the runs so enjoyable.

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