all Winter long, my October to Spring

It’s been some time since my monthly blog reports, so I will simply span October to Spring, and perhaps arrive in April on time.

The last of the Autumn light

Autumn quiet times in Slovenia & the UK’s very wet November, Lappland for Christmas, a dry and cold UK for January

We hit the ground running, brimmed full of caffeine, we got the trail to Nussdorf, picked Satu’s car, then my van and drove heavily weathered with jet lagged to Trnovo in Slovenia. It was great to be in your own bed after 2 months on the road through the Alps and then the Rockies and BC. Satu and I had 3 weeks or so to enjoy our house in the Soča, go paddling, biking, running, horse riding and get ready for the English Winter to come.

We had a few visitors, Satu’s friends from Finland have us a chance to going horse riding, a great day out in the cooler conditions. Trail running was as good as you can remember it, cool and crisp in the sharp morning air. At the end of October Gene17 ran its Alpine River Leader Training in late October, with excellent days. The UK boys were pushed hard, especially as there is a scene of wait and react for their standard paddling style. This is of course fine if you are on a 5 cumec creek with micro eddies, but when its a river the terrain has more of a say in the outcome, a strategy of wait and react has a little too much attachment to fate for my liking! Still after a few sessions, it’s pretty to easy to progress someone’s paddling to get their skills set fired up for more proactive paddling.

Heading left in high water

No sooner had the week been over, and it was time to head back to the UK. My route took me via North Wales before Devon. The new BCU Advanced WWS&R Provider’s course was hosted at PyB, and two days of great banter with Gezza, Leo and the crew, to underscore the fact that we’d not needed the course, but fun days out were diamond in themselves.

Dave Luke getting his medicine

Once in Devon, Satu and I were in our own house at the RDCP, sharing with Deb Pinniger. Our own spot is quite a luxury as as normally I am in the Coach House, mainly on my own, but the conditions can be student like as times. Still it was happy days to be in Devon, and as soon as I arrived it rained, so onwards to the Upper for the welcome home run. Great times indeed. I finally got to go to the Ottery Tar Barrel’s evening of excitement with Cheese, Linda, Ed, Kate and Nick. What a strange yet wonderfully odd evening in a fine Devonshire Village. To explain what it’s for, is to question why even bother, so no need, it’s a tradition and fun at the same time.

Ottery Tar Barrels

After two weeks, I went off to Ireland for the Colligan Gorge Games, and thankfully it rained, and the conditions were ace on this great 200m race course. The battle’s were tough, and the walk back up even tougher, and yet it was one of the best events I’d been to for a long while, great stuff. We hit the trails at Dave Carroll’s on our Mountain Bike’s, it was too wet and a little hair ball, better paddling conditions, so we went to the Claire Glens for a high water trip, my first on what is the best of what Ireland has to offer, and what an ace day out it is, numerous ledge drops, a few longer slides and combo moves, a great day out with the home town crew.

Boater X
Yianni Glens

By mid November I was back in Devon again, and it rained a lot, so much so my car died in a flooded section of road. Yet this only a minor personal short fall, as within hour’s of my Passat’s demise, I had learnt of the drowning of Chris Wheeler, a highly popular paddler in the UK scene, and regular face on the Devon runs. From my days at university in Plymouth, where I teamed up with Pete Vickers and Patch Bennett from Oxford, whom learned to paddle with Chris had I known him. An very likeable gent, always adding introspection to any paddling debate and always keen to paddle and inspire others to enjoy the river. Early the morning after, Nick and I paddled the Upper to clear the scene if required. A throw bag in a tree was the only sign of what must of been a harrowing time for the guys paddling with Chris and a fight that Chris ultimately lost. A tragic loss.

Image Mark Rainsley

As time ran on through November into December, the now very popular Gene17 Adventure Paddler’s Weekend brought some 400+ kayakers to the River Dart. It was a great weekend, never have I seen to many paddlers on the Upper Dart on Saturday, it was like a party on the river. All the freeride moves were attempted and some were styled. Dave Carroll returned to MC the evening, with a short presentation of images from Chris’s paddling brought the only pause of silence to the evening, Ewart played us out to dance into the small hours.



As if like clockwork, the moment I stepped on the plane with Satu to Finland it stopped raining in Devon. Now i am sure it’s nothing to do with my proximity, but lucky I felt. Into Helsinki for a few days and then Lappland, a White Christmas, and I got to make my very own house. Satu and I managed to nordic ski pretty much everyday, and clocked up 200km after 2 weeks, its was an ace time, lots of 25Km a day tours, with nice lodges in the northern forest. I went snowboarding once as I took the thing all the way there, it was bitterly cold, and a sign of things to come on our return to the UK.

SATU VÄNSKÄ-WESTGARTH

January 2010 in Devon was cold, dry and harsh for a Devon Winter. The paddling was infrequent to none excitant, so the weekend work was a little barren in places. I got a new car within 22 minutes of being on eBay. This is not a risking approach to car purchasing, but at least if you go straight away to collect the car, and its not good, you can simply turn away and not lose a thing. Still she was a fine purchase given the time scale. A Winter highlight was my wife’s joy in getting the Riverford Organic VegeBox every week, and what wonder’s she managed to make from the mixture of fine vege’s. It was like your main ingredients were already chosen for you, so you just needed to find the recipe to go with it. I had winder strew’s and soup’s made for myself, fine times indeed. On my birthday I managed to go mountain biking with the Ross’s of Tavistock, another excellent day out, and a sign that it was time to head back to Slovenia.


SATU VÄNSKÄ-WESTGARTH

For two months or so Satu, enjoyed the snow throughout the Alps. We went to St Anton for 4 days to join some friends from Finland for off piste action, with Satu’s highlight being the Welness centre with a Finnish Sauna. En route we went to the Rosenheim Kajak Film Fest, run my Olaf Obsommer and saw the very excellent Dream Result with Rush Struges. His new movie breaks the ceiling on the previous paradigm, we are now very much into bigger drops getting run all the time across the globe by a wide range of fine boaters. We hit the nordic tracks in Tyrol, and Ikea for more D-I-Y solutions, owning a house never is a complete stand alone venture, but a work in progress with no finish line.

Image SATU VÄNSKÄ-WESTGARTH


Satu Valburna
Heading into funville

Image SATU VÄNSKÄ-WESTGARTH

More locally, we have hit the ski tracks in Valburna in Italy, been boarding on the new larger Kanin-Bovec-Selle Nevea resort, which has finally connected the Slovenian Kanin to Sella Nevea resorts. Plus we managed to go to the World Ski Jumping Champs in Planica, where Satu of course cheered the Finns on. Winter has finally broken, and the Spring flowers are out, the warmer air is starting to bring the scent of nature awakening from the cold dark season.

Image SATU VÄNSKÄ-WESTGARTH

So its a shame that I am a little broken. A few weeks back I landed off a cliff in flat light on to a road coming off Kanin, and will be a man of leisure whilst my knee heels. Thankfully Deb is here and heading up Gene17’s Slovenia programmes and new boy Jakub Sedivy has just finished training and will be with us in Italy soon. The season is shaping up excellently, no Corsica next week, as above, but Greece at the end of April before another mega Valsesia season, and the final chapter in the guidebook writing saga. In the mean time, I plan to move this blog to my own server but all in good time, as there is a lot of web changes across G17 in the next 2 months, so something will come from this office bound time……….

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