Sat here on holiday looking out the window at the rain, semi-consciously willing it to lay off just for a short while so I can chance a quick hill run to keep my training schedule in check. A 100% turn around from a few years ago when I would be up North with my kayak praying for more rain and the chance to dive off exploring hidden highland gorges full of pumping white water, this got me thinking about…..
THE KAYAKER ……..
The Kayaker with his little plastic boat and paddle, dressed in his Helmet , buoyancy aid and dry-suit is amongst the most adventurous of explorers. Pitting against natures most unpredictable of elements. Fighting in the wind , the rain and often in dangerous almost inescapable places. The kayaker travels hundreds of miles in a weekend searching for the hallowed white-water. The Kayaker is on the river as much as is humanly possible during the short daylight hours of winter. The Kayaker finishes a river in the dark with only the light of a head torch.
The Kayaker goes to places that no one but fellow kayakers will ever be, literally flowing through the arteries and veins that feed the beauty of the surrounding Countryside. The Kayaker sees the moody magnificence of rain-swept mountains, hears the rush of remote rivers and the surge of crashing waterfalls.The Kayaker feels the power of the river both under him and within him. The Kayaker knows the fine line between the knife-edge of control and a beating..
The Kayaker lives for adventure!
In the UK a kayak day is a precious one, it will have rained heavy through the night , the levels are right for a favourite river or a recce run of a new section. Often involving several miles of rough hiking over hills and through forests to the river. Arriving at the access , an abseil may be required to get the kayak and kit to the river’s edge . A good team of strong kayakers will be trained in white-water safety and rescue , have first aid knowledge and ALL will be equipped with safety equipment. A trip into a flooded gorge will require a sharp, forward thinking and very aware team. Team work will be the essence of a smooth and safe trip. Navigating a fast flowing and extremely powerful environment where one mistake can cause chaos, the team must be capable of minimising the risk to acceptable levels.
Abroad there are well-developed relatively safe areas like the more common rivers of the French and Austrian Alps to hone the skills of the less experienced but for the skilled adventure kayaker the world is waiting. Fabulous river trips abound in Norway, Canada , India , Pakistan, South America to name but a very few of the destinations that offer real adventure to the Expedition kayaker.
Very few outside the sport of Kayaking will have heard of our top UK whitewater explorers , paddlers old and new like Mick Hopkinson , Dave Manby , Pete Knowles , Andy Jackson, latterly Sam Ellis , Daz Clarkson , Simon Tapley and many more unsung kayak explorers, the latter who in the past few years have travelled the globe . sought out and navigated some of the worlds biggest and most remote rivers including the mighty Stikine river in Canada yet even now get no more a whisper in the press ..
Adventure Kayakers due to the nature of the sport rarely get or want recognition. After all who without having spent time learning and fine tuning the skills to pilot a kayak in white water can truly appreciate just how difficult it is ?. Who can appreciate what a large Himalayan rapid looks like when sitting 3 foot high bobbing around in a little plastic boat. Who can appreciate the chaos in a maelström of fast moving heavy whitewater, the need to hit perfect lines in a long dangerous rapid. ..who can appreciate what the Kayaker sees and No-one but the kayaker can feel what he feels ……
A big shout out to The Kayaker ! King of Action Adventure !
Cheers to everyone in my pics , the makers of these amazing videos and good luck to all the Kayakers out there in the big water …