Saturday's river trip was attended by myself, Mags, Graham, Max, Tim and Ian. The plan was to go to the North Esk.
By watching the river level as I always do, I saw that the night before it was at about 0.42m which is scrape and in the morning when I woke up it was 0.67m which is high. Upon reaching South Queensferry, I took the opportunity to check the level again and was a bit surprised to find that it had gone up to 1.29m which is huge.
After making the others aware of the situation and checking the levels of other rivers, we found that the choice was Tummel or North Esk. Mags and I were a little wary about going to the huge North Esk but the more adventurous Graham wanted something different from the Tummel we paddle every other week. After some much needed assurance from Graham and Max that we would be fine on the North Esk, we were on our way there. I was still a little nervous to say the least for I had never paddled the river at this level. But at least I was surrounded by very experienced paddlers.
The early rapids were more bouncy and pushy than usual, enough to give me an early swim. But on the bright side, they were a good warm up for the rest of the river. Soon we reached the S-Bend rapid, where unfortunately Mags and I did not quite make the S in the pushy water and went left at the end over a pourover, where she rolled and I swam.
We approached a main rapid called Triple Step or Rocks Of Solitude, which is considered to be the most difficult rapid on the river and one that I have never done. I was told it was easier at this level and it did look somewhat easier. But for me it still was a portage as usual and a chance to watch some successful descents.
We later came to the last main rapid called Fishladder, where the fall itself is relatively simple but the lead in can sometimes be problematic. I wanted to get in just above the fall as I have done before but unfortunately that was not possible at this level. Admittedly, the lead in is a lot easier at this level because another line opens up on the left. My decision was a close call but in the end I decided not this day and portaged while again watching some successful descents.
In the end it was nothing like the torrent that I had imagined for a river that is on huge. I enjoyed the trip and I am sure everyone did. Thanks to Graham for running the trip.