As Autumn swings into Winter, I was lucky enough to head out to Nepal with a group of paddlers from Adventure Dolphin in Newbury. These chaps who are all young apprentices have been on a number of G17 courses and trips over the past 2 years as part of their professional development. So this DofE Gold trip near the end of their training was like a graduation test, and needless to say they passed with full honours.My trip started in Bristol with a train ride to Heathrow, getting the boat on the train is also interesting, and at the first hurdle My Jobworth train manager was not going to let my kayak go in the guard carriage, in fact the carriage was totally empty. Still with the trains departure held up, the manager came and looked into the guard carriage and saw that the kayak took up so little space, he let it on. Once on the train the manager found myself in first class, the ticket was in fact cheaper than standard class, and apologised no end!
At the airport I was a little nervous as this was the first day of British Airways kayak/surf board ban, no problem off it went. For those who know I spend a lot of time outside the UK, so when any English media is at hand I consume with all my senses. I watched 4 films back to back en route to Delhi, great stuff. The transit hall awaited myself in Delhi, this is not a pleasurable experience, and the way the airport deals with transiting passengers is amazing! No you are not allowed to go straight to the transit hall, no you must wait for an airport staff member to record your ongoing flight details and collect your baggage tags. When I met up with the boys, I was told we had an e-ticket for Kathmandu through Wise Miser. As it transpires our e-Ticket was totally useless, as this route is paper tickets only, so we needed to use all our US dollar cash to buy additional one way flights, no credit cards could be used. Our carrier Jetlite, took the cash and the kayaks and we got to KTM 4 hours late!KTM was certainly livelier than during my last visit in 2003 when the Maoist insurgency was a rising threat. Within a day we headed to our warm up on the Upper Bhote Kosi, which was a little high for the season and the boys were excellent. So back to KTM and then a night bus through to the trail head on the Tamur. Our timing in spite of the 20hrs drive was prefect, the Hindu festival of Diwali was in full swing, fireworks, bright colours and dancing going on through the land. We were warned that getting porters after the big night of partying might be a problem. Thankfully we started at 11 with a few slow porters, one of who had clearly fallen over a bunch on the trek, as Jake’s boat was completely covered in mud!! The next 2 days trekking along a ridge with massive peaks before is a prefect prelude to the Tamur river. The Teahouses were very good, expect the Sonam Tashi Hotel, which is to be avoided. If you have the time on the long decent get to the Hidden Valley camp at the putin.
The next 4 days was excellent, straight forward Class III/IV boat scoutable. The Upper run was full of fine alpine style WW, nice volume pressure with some cool moves in your loaded boat. Campsites on the way are isolated beaches, so our routine was up at 0530, breakfast and packed by 0800, paddle until 1500, dinner and camped by 1830, some rum under the stars, and asleep by 2200, peaceful and delightful. The middle days has some flatter water, yet is moves along very swiftly. The last days in full of bigger rapids, sharper features and more pressure. Some stopper surf by myself at Hell Hole kept the enjoyment level up and the scene arriving into Chatra where the mountains give way to India Plains is striking.A day later we were all in KTM and off to the Rodeo again on the Bhote Kosi. Entrance were down, but there were many paddler’s around, we did a trip on the Upper section with 14 new friends!! An en mass descent had its ups and downs, Dan managed to test his Sweet helmet to destruction and was packed back off to KTM early. On the Sunday we went down with a raft trip, a little bit of a clown show, as their safety kayaker swam at the Wall of China, lost all his gear and needed medical treatment, all in front of the onlooking raft customers!! Back to KTM, int he bar with Al, Mikey and Sam Pacman and on to Delhi and London beyond. At KTM you always get hit for excess baggage, my lot weighed 25kg, yet 5kg excess was paid. Its cheap per kilo, yet you always get hit. Delhi Airport was a pleasure again, its interesting that you need to show your boarding pass to about 20 different people.
Once back in the UK, the outstanding amount of office work was unbelievable. For the next few days, I got on top of that lot, moved in at the River Dart Country Park and ran 2 back to back BCU Level 3 Training courses. On Monday morning I flew to Helsinki for a rest and time with Satu. Before I left the UK, I received the latest copy of Kayak Session, this edition has an interview with myself and amazing images of Olaf’s trip to Pakistan. It used to be a strange feeling to see your words expressed to the world, yet with the explosion of blogging its much the norm now. Still it is with a smile on my face that I am in print and in such a great publication. Cheers to Nick Horwood for some great images. Thus these days I do feel very lucky, may be its a great feeling when coming home to the arms of your loved ones, still luck indeed makes more luck and the momentum of G17 certainly is hitting new heights. Successful year after year, the introduction of new programmes and excellent friends to work with has added to the vibe that underpins this air of luck. Plus rain, significant rain in the UK finally due, and just in time for the Adventure Paddler’s Weekend in Devon on the 8/9th December, indeed lucky times.