Blind-sided by the Blyth (Part 2)
Date: Sunday, 1 August 2021
Water level: 2100 Ml.
Following a successful day on the Mersey River, the crew were excited to tackle a quick river before returning home.
With a recent kayaking report having been published and flows of ~2400Ml everyone was excited for the day ahead.
The get-in at Camena bridge was quickly reached and the crew went to work getting ready for the day ahead. The get-out was rather difficult to find as a number of 4WD tracks all led to a maze-like challenge in reaching the Weir. Eventually, it was found on river left.
After a safety brief, the boats made their way down the river through flattened farmland. The majority of rapids being shingle-like with minimal drop. As the landscape became more heavily wooded, the drops began to increase in size.
We passed a blind corner into what appeared to be a two-channeled drop. On first inspection, it was clear that the first channel was blocked but the second appeared clear. Unfortunately, this was not the case with the second channel also containing the same tree. The first signaling the others to eddy out attempted to catch a small eddy prior to the drop. In the confusion, one paddler accidentally continued to paddle, pushing the boat back out into the current. The boat came to rest precariously against the log with the crew quickly clambering onto it. The boat then caught its edge against the water, tipping it upside down but moving it under the log. This process knocked one punter off the log and into a moderate rapid ahead.
Fortunately, the boat had already been tied off and was able to be quickly righted and paddled to reach the swimmer. The other boats continued and we all caught up.
Ben scouted the next series of drops, before directing one of the boats to take the right-hand line. To Ben's credit, this was the best line, just not an ideal rapid. Having not scouted the rapid, the two drops were a surprise not just to the guide, but 4 out of 5 paddlers, now swimmers, who had just swum a rather nice drop. The two boats behind made the decision to portage these two drops and the boats continued downriver.
At the next 4WD track, some of those who had swum made the decision to walk out and meet the group at the exit after warming up in cars. The remaining river after this quick departure was rather pleasant with it being mostly grade 1 - 2 with an occasional tree to dodge in the slow flow.
The exit was carefully navigated to river left with no boats even coming remotely close to overshooting.
Even with a number of swims, this was an enjoyable river. However, with its limited features and long drive, it won't be one I will be pushing to paddle again any time soon.