I couldn’t wait. A small VHS tape had arrived in the post. I was still at college – parked outside my parents house my Mums mini metro had my Dancer kayak on the roof, a dayglow ribbed pfd hung on the washing line.
I placed the VHS into the top loading tape player and watched in wonder as Shaun Baker and friends descended the Prysor, Gamlan and Llanberis Falls. Now almost 20 years later, I live at the back of the Cresta-Prysor. The Gamlan just a short drive away is enjoyed when the rain falls and time allows. But still the mighty falls at Llanberis have taunted me. On 27th May 2011 after a brief chat on social network sites we, Dave and myself, drove up the steep lane that parallels the falls.
Awaiting us we saw water levels on the high side of good, camera crews in position and blue bird sky.
Stories and articles about kayaking drops can fall short of getting to the feelings and depth of emotion. The calculated risk, the dynamic assessments we make, these cannot be from the heart. Although it is my personal view that the heart matters. For me, for the ride – this inner being more than anything is why we push ourselves.
The place of magic – the place of bijou- is on the edge, the thin chance – the moment that is passed before it arrives. The moment that you have planned for in the sleepless nights. The moment of no return, no second thoughts – no second chances. For those that have the ability to think in this way our natural world will hold spells beyond belief, it will hold you in its charm and welcome you for the ride.
To see the film please click the Vimeo link.
Images by Pete@chargingarc.com & Chris Headleand@xsportmap.com
The straight facts are simple. Whilst not without risk this descent was a calculated affair. It was a graph of probability and possibility. Years of kayaking had brought us to this point. We were not some guys on a whim, cast adrift in chance. We would not have been able to tackle the fall if we did not understand the subtle ebb and flow. We knew too well the moves we had to make and the choices we had. We knew what games the mind could play and what emotions would come and go. Behind the scene we are not reckless or crazy fools who endanger our lives, just for the bit of fun. It is, and forever shall be, a settled and risk assessed scene that we play out time and again.
For my part the equipment was important, A creek boat and full face helmet were standard affair. Elbow pads, paddles, dry top and wetsuit vest top are perhaps obvious. But once in the boat the most important features for me were the padded shorts and the Z2 Chaco sandal. The latter thick sole acting as further cushioning if I needed it. I chose gear that I knew would work not because of some team deal or spot light promotion and for the gear that never fails, I thank all those involved. Pyranha, Lightning Paddles. Sweet Protection. Chaco and Nookie.