Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Orchy in Flood

It just kept raining!  All night I could hear rain drops pelting my window.  I had been hoping for some more water before I left, but this was getting out of hand.  The boys at Splash, one of the local rafting companies, were up for running a scouting mission on the Orchy and they needed some safety kayakers along just in case.  I knew I should jump at the chance, especially since the green van is having mechanical trouble.  Who knows when I would be able to find shuttle and another group to paddle with.  I was a little nervous about all the rain, but we would have to try.  Biscuit came to give me a lift to Splash HQ.  His car is out of commission, so his girlfriend Laura's car would have to do.  I crammed in my stuff and we were off.  

Once at splash, I introduced my self to the crew and helped load up.

On the drive out, we were continually amazed at every little creek and tributary.  EVERYTHING was cranking out of the hills. All the fields had standing water.  We started to wonder if we would even make it down the shuttle road before it flooded out. Once we saw the Orchy, we all knew we were in for quite an experience.  We decided we better check the road condition before we get geared up.  Bail-out points large enough for the 10 person raft were also needed.  We drove all the way to the end of the run and I have to say I was not feeling too good about things.  The river was at a respectable flow and rising fast into the realm of ridiculous.  Check the two photos below and you will see what I mean.    

          The Orchy at a nice medium flow

The Orchy today

Several locals gave us some pretty funny looks.  One guy even asked if we were headed down stream.  Upon hearing our response he let us know, "You are off your heads!"  We decided to put on and get a feel for her.  We established several places where we knew we could stop on the drive to the top.  Although a little scary, we knew it wouldn't last long.   We suited up and inflated the boat.  There would be seven of us total.  Five in the raft with Nellie at the helm; Brett and my self as kayak support.  

Nellie "pumps up" the boat... Work smarter not harder!

There was very little opportunity to stop and take photos along the way.  Just know that I found some classic big water in Scotland.  Usually you are scraping down everything here, but not today.  I did manage to get one shot of Easan Dubha looking down stream into Sore Tooth rapid.  (all one continuous rapid at this level).  

We looked at this one for a LONG time.  Check out the little person on river left for scale

During the group picture, nellie tossed a throw bag into the main flow to feel the power.  He almost got pulled in!

Never a good sign
We had a great time on the river, with no carnage to speak of.  The river was still on the rise when we took out.  Once back to the top of the road, we found that it had been closed behind us.  It was a little strange driving up to the wrong side of the sign and cones.  We had a good laugh before heading to the pub for some celebratory pints.  


Jay said...

Yowza -- that water does indeed look big. How did it feel in you kayak? The "Road Closed" bit at the end of the trip is priceless :)

John Kuthe said...

Wow!! Who woulda thunk it? That kind of water in Scotland!!

Better you than me, Paul! I'm a WW wimp anymore. Of course you ARE the crazed paddler that paddled The Saint at 15 (or was that 17) feet over D too!

Rock on dude! Look forward to seeing you at Thanksgiving.