Mike's brainchild, the first descent of Liza Beck had been in the planning for the past 5 weeks. Mike had been up and down Gasgale Gill scouting the beck, moving rocks and spotting the best lines down the rocky riverbed. All we needed was water.
|Mike and Tom|
On the day Mike was determined to paddle the beck, the amount of water just wasn't enough for me but for Mike who was intent on his quest to paddle the “previously un-paddled” it was a great confidence building experience. For me, although I hardly paddled and lugged my boat all the way up the Beck to then not paddle down, it was still a great adventure. We were also joined as ever by Tom who is the most experienced boater of the group and his knowledge of whitewater safety and rescue was used to safely anticipate the most daring section of the descent, Double Drop. A set of two reasonable sized drops in a narrow channel with interesting landings.
To get ourselves and our kayaks to the top of the beck we used rucksack like straps attached to our kayaks, constructed by Mike. These proved great for Mike and Tom however mine needed some further development to be made more comfy for long steep hauls, so I had to shoulder my boat and endure the strain. Whilst moving up the gill we inspected interesting features whilst having breaks from carrying the boats a few times. After we reached the starting point, distinguishable by the flow of water uphill of us dispersing into smaller and smaller tributaries like branches of a tree, Mike and Tom adjusted their boats and packed away their carry straps whilst I readied my cameras.
We were off very slowly and bumping rather then paddling down the Beck. This wasn't what I was expecting. After enduring five minutes of hearing the rocks of the riverbed gouge new scrapes into the hull of my boat I opted from then on to get out and just film and be safety officer. So again I shouldered by boat and hastily skipped back down the path we had just come up, to a position below Mike and Tom to film them bouncing down. The Beck surprisingly, has a number of good features that if there was more water would be fantastic. The most noticeable Mike has come up with names for, like the most memorable one Double Drop. As Mike continued to bump down the Beck I continued to do my best to carry my stuff and film his efforts. After arriving back at the most paddle-able point at the foot of Gasgale Gill the sun came out and beamed down as if to praise Mike for his effort.
I think more water is a key factor if this descent is to be achieved by us or anyone else wanting a challenge. But, Mike has achieved what he set out to do, complete the first descent of the Liza proving it can be done. When we had packed away our stuff back into Tom's van I presented Mike and Tom with my first pieces of Whitewater Aptitude apparel. T-shirts I had printed with my logo on. Tomorrow I'm off down to Mike and Tom's house to go paddling again and show them the footage I took on the day and hopefully help Mike piece together a short video to Mike's specifications.
Below is also a snapshot of me taken from a video, captured from my GoPro mounted on my rear kayak mount whilst I was carrying the kayak. I rotated the image and made it black and white for dramatic effect.