Written by Chris Bucksey
Well this past weekend I had the joys of heading down to beautiful Dartmoor to spend time in The Rocker hitting my first English Creeks. The simple joys of getting out with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, enjoying the stunning green moss you only seem to find in England, you feel like hobbits are about to jump out at you.
We hit a classic run on the Erme on Friday a nice short 15mins run, which we just ran up with our boats to run again, it was a tight little creek with breathless beauty. Saturday we headed to hit the classic of all classic class 4 runs in Dartmoor the Upper Dart, an enjoyable run and perfect lead up for the East Lyn, our final stop for the weekend.
After a nice drive across the foggy and rainy moors we ended up at the take out car park, water levels looking fairly high we got changed and drove up to the put in, we put on and started heading down stream, seeing many friendly walkers enjoying the view just as much as us, with there cameras out taking snap shots of us hitting some nice little rapids. We stopped of to check one drop, Paula was questioning whether to do it. I gave her this pep talk, which I hadn’t realised I was going to need to use myself later in the day.
After spending the previous day with Paula on the Upper dart I was impressed with her boating, I knew she had the skills to style this rapid, I simply asked her, “ Are you not feeling your mojo or are you nervous, or is it a bit of both?” She replied both, I simply said, if its your nerves knocking your mojo and you feel you can do it, then push yourself, trust yourself, nerves will always make you question yourself. If you feel that you have that feeling of being game and you know you’re good enough go for it! Paula did and she did well.
We headed on down and got out just after the bridge before the class 5 gorge, a 300m run, you can see the run from high up and see the lines, my heart was pumping just looking at it. I’ve been in this situation before, and walked, I was going through what Paula had just experienced. I would of happily of done it if I was following someone that had done it before, but to go on my own, remember the lines. Was I asking to much, I knew I had the skill to do it, I knew I had the perfect boat to help get me through, but did I have my “mojo”, I had just told some walkers I wasn’t going to run it alone and they wondered down to the coffees, which were getting cold at the bottom. 5 mins later walking back to the boat I asked Pete to set Safety which he had offered, one more heart pounding walk to check the lines and then into my boat.
This was a feeling I hate, but love so much at the same time; this was the feeling of pushing your mental and physical limits. I put my hands in the water, prayed to my river gods “I don’t need a clean run just a safe one.” A splay of water in my face and then think, “come on Pikey you got it’ I then start my descent into the gorge, I remember my lines, I remember seeing Pete and the nasty rapid, I don’t see him going bye, I hear Boring James and Paula screaming up top! I hit all my lines and make it out the bottom.
I knew that for 2 minutes walkers by weren’t having a peaceful walk, I was screaming my head of with enjoyment, I got out with a gleaming face, thanking my buddies for being there, was nice to see them just as proud of me as I was for myself. We headed down stream and enjoyed the rest of the river.
Finally topping off the weekend with “Cream Tea” I had hot chocolate instead of the tea! It was only in the car park Paula made me notice I went through what she did at that first rapid. For me it was a stepping stone in my paddling, One of my most intense ones but there the best ones.
Happy boating and stay safe.
P.S I love the Rocker, having faith in a boat is a true confidence builder, that itself helped me push myself and run the gorge!