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‘The Flow State is being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter: Every action, movement and thought flows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, you're using your skills to the utmost and the result is a feeling of spontaneous joy.’ - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Live2Flow is the concept of a man trapped in an unfulfilling career who decided to pursue a life of Flow.  This blog is documents the activities of a man who swapped a desk for the great outdoors, dedicating himself to better his personal performance in his chosen sports and to pursue his passion of coaching and training others; the objective is to literally Live2Flow.  This is not a selfish obsession, Live2Flow aims to take these experiences to others and through passionate coaching and guiding help them experience Flow for themselves.

Don't Stop Raining Now… CCC Weekend in North Wales

Go Pro shot in the heart of the Aberglaslyn Gorge
Go Pro shot in the heart of the Aberglaslyn Gorge The start of a superb day in North Wales Pinned boat extraction practice anybody? Matt resurfacing in the Aberglaslyn Gorge

It was due to be my first full weekend back in action, the Chichester Canoe Club whitewater trip to North Wales, and there was rain forecast… on the Thursday.  How long would the water last for? I kept my fingers crossed as I pulled together the final arrangements for the weekend.

We managed to get away early on the Fri in the hope of getting to paddle for three days and headed straight for the river Elwy. I had not paddled this river but the guide books seemed to rate it and it was the right sort of grade for the group. We had a look at the proposed get out at Bont Newydd but there wasn't much room to park and a few signs and stares from locals gave us the impression it would be a fairly 'hostile' get out. This, the fact that the second car had gone AWOL and rapidly dwindling daylight hours led to a change of plan for Matt and I to run the section from Llanfair Talhaiarn to St Asaph where Wendy would pick us up.

Water levels were pretty high and although the run was fun in places, I feel certain that with a little less water there might be a few more features on this run to make it more entertaining. There were a few play waves, although not many with eddy service, but otherwise, in high water, the only real obstacles were strainers and the weirs. The last of these, close to St Asaph, looked quite nasty at this level meaning a quick portage in the fading light before the last short section to the get out in the town. It was pretty much dark when we got off, reminding me just how few hours there are to play in at this time of the year.

Moelwyn Cottage in the grounds of Plas Y Brenin was to be our home for the weekend and proved a cosy place to gather and discuss options for the weekend. Fri night then disappeared into a blur of Boot Liqueur and banter before a sound sleep…

I develop a very bad Rainchasers habit when leading these weekends so waking at dawn and instantly checking the website for an update is now my normal river leader behaviour. It became clear that levels were dropping off and if we wanted to catch the Glaslyn we needed to head there first. My next role as trip leader is to switch to cat herder mode and try and chivvy everyone along with their admin and get them out the door and into cars as quickly as possible!

The shuttle was run and the whole group got on for the Upper Glaslyn, a gentle paddle from the lake down to Beddgelert. A little bit of coaching took place on this section as everybody settled into the weekend and there were even a few improvers having one of their first cracks at surfing river waves. Tensions rose on the run in to the gorge but everybody kept their cool and the group all made the final get out just above where things get trickier...

My approach to the Aberglaslyn Gorge was simple; let people look, make the decision whether to run it and then support them as best I can. Sometimes this support can simply be looking with them again and helping them see why their decision to run was ill conceived!  However, on this occasion everybody who wanted to paddle on was worthy of the opportunity and as paddlers and as a group I think a lot was learnt on this stretch of water which at this low water level was technically challenging but not high consequence. There were bad lines, swims, a pinned boat to rescue and another with an interesting reshaped bow nose but also, more importantly, nailed lines, combat rolls, big grins and whoops of joy over what for a few were two runs of this section.

The group got off the water exhilarated, either by the paddle itself or by the efforts to support, provide safety cover, rescue friends and boats or record the whole episode for posterity.  We then headed to the Llugwy to take advantage of the remaining daylight and water.  Another fun section from PYB down to below Cobden's Falls with very few 'incidents' of note until the falls themselves.  There Matt, who had been studying an alternative line on the falls for the duration it took the rest of us to sneak down the left hand side, tried a central line that I had pulled off the year before.  However, either there wasn't enough water or his line was slightly off resulting in a big rock impact, a paddle shaft blow to the face and an immediate black eye.  Oh the irony, he was the only one in the group to own a full face helmet but didn't wear it as the Llugwy was straightforward….

Another great social was had in the PYB bar with much banter surrounding Matt's purple eye looking suspiciously like an attempt at a new 'goth' look. Sunday dawned and what must have been the weekend's 30th check of rainchasers (I have admitted I have a problem ok…) revealed few options for the day.  God bless the Tryweryn!!!!  Often under-rated by those who become too familiar, this gem once again provided the group with a great day out with some paddlers running the Upper for the first time, others being introduced to the joys of the Lower for the first time and many successfully tackling Bala Mill Falls as the finale to a great weekend.

The drive back was long but full of stories, banter and promises to return to North Wales for more of the same as soon as possible.

A short video of the highlights of this trip can be found here.

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Created on 31-Dec-2012 at 14:28