Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Farewell Scotland!

I have had an amazing week of paddling here in Aberfeldy; Thanks mostly to the generosity of good friends like Steve Macdonald of Beyond Adventure.  They are true professionals and river experts.  If you are ever up over this way, check them out.  You will not be disappointed.

Steve and his two oldest boys are all fantastic paddlers.  It was a true pleasure to be on the water with them for my last trip down a Scottish river for awhile.  (Hopefully not too long though).  The last time I was here was 3 years ago.  In that time, the boys have become giants.  I have a feeling I will be back for another visit soon enough.  Hopefully before Steve's youngest lad becomes taller than me too!

We had a friend's wedding to get to later in the evening, so we opted for a short run on the Lyon.  The Lyon is a quintessential river in Scotland and is one of my favorites.  It has a little of everything.  It's tight twisting gorge provides enough entertainment to keep you on your toes without being too threatening.  The banks are lined with beautiful autumnal colors and the shuttle is an easy jog or bike ride providing a great one car option close to town.

We arrived at the river just as the morning light was warming the hill tops.  The air was clam and the water glassy smooth.  The morning fog still hanging low over the river provided a touch of mysticism and intrigue.  The stage was set for an amazing day celebrating life and good times with friends and family. 

We slipped downstream deeper into the gorge.  Struan, Ben, and Steve followed behind hopping in and out of eddies with slalom like precision.  It's so fun to watch these guys ripping through curves and carving their way down the river.  I have always and will continue to maintain that slalom paddlers make the best paddlers, but perhaps I am biased as a slalom paddler myself.  

While scouting and setting support along the bank I stumbled upon this cauldron of swirled rock.  It's amazing to think how long it must have taken the pebbles and swirling water to carve out these pockets of granite.  The special things we paddlers get to see are part of why I continue to explore rivers.  I may never have seen this special spot had I not taken the time to get out of my boat along the bank.  It's something that no hiker, hill walker, or mountain biker would ever have experienced.  

The crux rapid was too low to get through so we made the short hike around and ended the day with a fun seal launch into the silky pete colored water below.  

I will miss the rivers here in Scotland, but I will miss the friends I have made here far more.  Aberfeldy will always hold a special place in my heart.  I know I will continue to travel and explore other amazing places, but it's the people here that will keep me coming back in the years to come.  Thanks Macdonald family and all the new and old friends I've made during my visits!  I couldn't have done it without you.  I will be back!    

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