BLACKWOOD RIVER PADDLE AND CAMPING TRIP November 2022

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The Swan Canoe Club’s annual November camping and paddling trip, attracted ten paddlers this year, but what an enthusiastic group!  In particular, the newer white-water paddlers, Kelly, Vicki, Trudy, and Margie were very enthusiastic, while Ross and Steve showed manly reticence.

 

We all camped in the group camping area at Chapman Pool, close to Warner Glen Bridge, with most of us arriving early on Friday to set up our camp in daylight, especially those who were new to camping. It was disappointing that the gas BBQ’s at the site were gas-less, but with a roaring campfire and a couple of gas stoves, we all managed to have a hot dinner. Friday night was cold, but sitting around the campfire telling tall stories, while enjoying a beverage or three kept the cold at bay.

 

Saturday morning dawned crisp and blue-sky-clear, enough to encourage Kelly to go for a morning run. The rest of us were focussed on waking up, followed by breakfast. With breakfast done, paddle gear collected, and Geoff’s briefing done, we were off down Denny Rd to Sue’s Bridge where we dumped kayaks, paddle gear, and the non-drivers. We drove all the cars back along Denny Rd and down to Hut Pool where we left most of the vehicles and used a couple of vehicles to ferry the drivers back to Sue’s Bridge. After all the driving, we were on the water about 10.30am, with one of our warmer paddlers deciding to have a cooling dip. It was a magnificent day, and we all enjoyed cruising downriver, pausing at each rapid. We were fortunate to have several keen paddlers, new to white water but eager to learn, and we had a good team with Geoff leading, Colin as tail-end Charlie and Des and Elena giving tips and supervising. It was great to see Kelly, Trudy, Vicki, Margie, Ross, and Steve paddling through each rapid with confidence and skill that meant none of them capsized. Unfortunately, the only capsize was instructor Geoff, who was attacked by a bush and a turbulent eddy line, while playing in a rapid. Unable to roll up, Geoff exited the Dancer, and tried to pretend that this was an intentional example of what happens if you grab hold of bushes in rapids.

 

After about ten or eleven kilometres of paddling, we stopped for lunch at our usual inviting beach on river left, where Kelly supplied a dessert with her fantastic port and fruit cake. Batteries recharged, legs stretched, and the calls of nature answered, we were soon back on the water and working our way downstream through small rapids, a couple of which were challenging. Along the way we saw several canoe paddlers and an intrepid dog squatting low on the foredeck of one boat as they went through a rapid. After paddling for a total of about eighteen kilometres, we made it to the weir at Hut Pool around three thirty in the afternoon. Then it was car shuffle time again, to recover the vehicles left at Sue’s Bridge and return to Chapman Pool camp. Back in our warm, dry gear, we relaxed around the campfire and told tales of derring-do. Geoff was strangely quiet.

 

Sunday dawned a cool, beautiful blue-sky day, and after breakfast we broke camp and moved our vehicles down to the Day Activity area at Chapman Pool. All ten paddlers were soon back at Hut Pool and paddling downstream, with Colin leading and Geoff as tailender. Trudy was taking each rapid seriously, while Margie, Vicki and Kelly seemed to be having fun. There were some tricky bits to negotiate, and Des and Colin did a great job in getting each paddler into an eddy and around one tight corner, where a tree waited to trap the unwary paddler. After about six kilometres, we made it to Morning Tea Rapid and Colin, Des and Geoff had a little play, until Geoff realised, he was carrying Henrietta’s morning tea carrot cake! It ended up with nine of us having morning tea, while Des kept playing on the rapid. Kelly and Ross had a mud sliding competition while back in the rapid, Des capsized, failed a roll but made it up on the second attempt. Nice work as usual Des.

 

After morning tea, the longer sections of flat water began to wear on the short boat paddlers, Des, Colin, and Geoff.  Des was wishing he was in his new slalom boat instead of his Diesel, and Colin and Geoff just wanted to get there. After around three and a half hours of paddling for twelve kilometres, we made it to Warner Glen Bridge and Chapman Pool by one o’clock in the afternoon. Steve was so pleased he did a victory roll to celebrate. Margie’s husband, Pat was kind enough to drive the three drivers back to Hut Pool to collect cars. Unfortunately, we met a kangaroo on the way along Denny Rd and neither the kangaroo nor Pat were happy. Back at Chapman Pool we had a bite to eat and then hit the road. It ended up being a long day, with Steve, Trudy, Kelly, and Geoff washing club boats and putting them away around six thirty that night. However, despite the tired bodies and the chills and spills we all had a great time, and it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm and skill of the newer paddlers who hopefully will be future leaders.

 

Geoff Emery 10/11/22.

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