And the forecast today is blizzard snow, Easterly winds blowing cold air from Siberia, highs of zero degrees in North Wales, but with the wind chill factor this will feel like -4.
What exactly does -4 feel like? Oh great, lets find out.
On Sunday, we set off for the Dee, AlisonH, HelenH, Kaylia, KatieL and Penny. Lately, we’ve been doing a kind of “paddling for softies” progression (Penny is strengthening her shoulder, while Alison and me are just plain soft), so this January we’ve been to Chester (yes, the flat bit) and Trevor (there’s one rapid) with Kim, as well as a few runs of the Burrs last week. So, this time, in the spirit of easy rivers, we tagged on several miles of the flat section of the Dee above Horseshoe as a warm up.
The section was very pretty, we saw heron, dippers, and some men with a nice bonfire who shouted at us a lot. The sun shone down, occasionally making to us at the bottom of the valley, but could not counteract the biting, miserable, face-exfoliating wind. We soon lost all feeling in our fingers and toes, expecially Penny who bravely struggled on with no gloves.
By the time we got to horseshoe falls, two of us had hypothermia but still enough sense left to stop paddling and jog back towards the car – thanks Manchester for the lift! – while the other three were obviously further gone, beyond thinking rationally, and carried on paddling.
Before serpents tail, my left hand was a disembodied object, no connection for the messages I was sending it, and no response in movement. Luckily it was curved into a hook shape to grip the paddle, hey ho. I went down serpents fine, keeping left and skimming happily over the shoulder of the stopper, aiming for, and making, the nice little eddy river left.
Which I then found I couldn’t leave… Oops.
Kaylia was next, and as she headed on line, perfectly aiming at me and shouting “Get out the way! Get out the way!” Sad to say, swerving to miss me was her undoing, and the resulting swim cooled her down thouroughly, in case she was feeling too warm. Katie, the one we were supposedly “looking after”, bobbed down the rapid easily like a little duck, and didn’t even get her hair wet.
Kaylia had experineced the pain of a whole body instant chill, while by now, I was actually beginning to feel much better – probably the adrenaline – and my hand had become mine again, rather than an alien lump of chilled meat. The rest of the river was fine, and at Town Falls, we all made the line we’d planned, left of the slot, despite all the “helpful” advice from the pub balcony encouraging us to “Go right! Go right!”
At the bottom, hooray, dry socks have never felt so good. A quick phone call to find out about the uni, who were over at Teeside slalom, getting the brunt of the east wind and gales. They had come 7th! Wow, what a fab result!
Now for the shuttle. There is a picture I want to put here, but someone won’t let me. Suffice to say, the lady at the house by chainbridge wants us to write to the council and ask for bollards to be put in – apparently this is not the first time cars have ended up at a jaunty angle in the evil ditch there with their back wheels shoulder-height off the ground and their exhaust pipes pointing at the sky.
Hooray for farmers with towbars, we love you.
Next we retired to the Sarah Ponsonby pub, and made our resolutions to take a bit more notice of the weather forcast next time.
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