Morocco Summary

Operation Cous-Cous has returned after successfully conquering Morocco.  More details and about a million photos to follow [ ed – see some photos here ], but this is a brief summary of our trip:
  • Day 1 – Get boats past grumpy check-in supervisor.  Land in Marrakesh and meet up with Sharif and The Van for the first time.  Head into central Marrakesh for food and beer.  RJ finds all you can eat restaurant.
  • Day 2 – Paddle the Ourika.  Bump heads and smear faces under low bridges.  Become tourist attraction whilst waiting for The Van.  Drive up the worlds most wriggly road.
  • Day 3 – Wake up in the middle of a desert film set.  Drive.  Arrive at the Dades valley and paddle top gorge.  Ben swims on low pipe.  Stay in hotel on river bank.
  • Day 4 – Get up early to paddle lower Dades gouge.  Load up The Van and drive further into the desert.  Get laughed at by policemen.  Rich meets a camel named Colin.  Get rained on while sandboarding in the Sahara.
  • Day 5 – Rich spends more quality time with Colin.  Everyone spends more quality time with The Van.  Stay in a random town full of Jedi and buy dodgy beer in a dodgy off licence.
  • Day 6 – Paddle the Riba.  Mark comes within inches of taking out a tagine on the cafe section.  Rolls from Mark and Rich.  Lisa dislocates thumb and has to walk out.  Eat chicken and beans with the locals in Beni Mellal.
  • Day 7 – Spend hours trying to get permits to paddle the Ouzoud.  Drive.  Meet other Bristol group near the get in for the Ahansal.  Spend about an hour faffing with the overnight kit.  Mike has prolonged inspection of the inside of a large syphon.  Wildcamp on the river bank and build an unnecessarily large fire.
  • Day 8 – Overtake other Bristol group due to extreme efficiency in breaking camp.  Get sunburned paddling across large lake for 3 hours.  Find hotel that serves more Cous-Cous than RJ can eat, cold beer and pastise.
  • Day 9 – Paddle Grade I ditch in 40 degree heat.  Main obstacle is man riding donkey down centre of river.  Drive to the Ouzoud.
  • Day 10 – Paddle the Ouzoud.  Awesome sequence of pool drops up to 40 feet high.  Get cheered by crowds of tourists.  Eat celebratory stew at get out and drive to Marrakesh.  Eat pizza and wind up the other group about the Ouzoud.
  • Day 11 – Walk round Marrakesh and get mugged by snake charmers.  Rich almost gets arrested for spying.  Mike buys some slippers and ends up in a beer shop.  Say goodbye to Sharif and The Van.  Fly home.
Overall awesome.  Where next?

Sunday the 13th – Unlucky for some..?

‘Twas a rainy Sunday morning at Almondsbury when five of BCC’s intrepid paddlers gathered.  The destination was the Clydach in South Wales.  Meeting the sixth member of the team (Harvey) at the top of the river, we soon noticed that it was rather bigger and browner than we were expecting, with an inconvenient tree in the first drop.  Girding our loins, (almost) all of us got on and set off down the river.
Things had gone well for the first thirty meters, with all paddlers emerging unharmed.  However the first tree soon stretched across the river and the paddlers decided on various different routes round it.  Ben’s route round involved paddling straight into the tree before throwing away his paddles which promptly disappeared downstream.    Whilst Ben blades were being recovered, Rich P (sporting a brand new blue shiny Sweet Rocker) managed to get pinned between a second tree and a small rock – and had to be winched out on the end of a throwline.  With everyone reunited with their kit, team muppet set off down the river once more.
Following a rather uneventful portage round a rather large waterfall, we all got back in and somehow managed to paddle the next thirty meter stretch without incident.  Sadly, the following drop proved too much for the BCC River God, who capsised on the eddyline.  Ben’s roll was successful, however the river had other ideas at this point a pinned him against the wall of the gorge, forcing him back into the river and out of his boat…  Once Ben had been successfully reinstalled in his boat, team carnage continued down the river.
The next obstacle the team faced was a pair of trees across the river.  I went first, ducking under the first tree and intending to do the same with the second.  However, it became apparent that the second tree was lower than the first and that I would have to think up a new plan that involved grabbing hold of the tree and pushing myself backwards along it.  Having seen my line, everyone else then took a different one and got round the tree without incident.  Except Matryn.  Martyn did exactly what I had done except with the added trick of losing his paddles when he grabbed the tree and then capsizing.  One swift T-rescue later, team tree continued down the river.
Following the first drop after the tunnel, Rich P masterfully directed everybody in the small final eddy before the slot drop.  With all the team safely on dry land, Rich and Harvey then decided to race each other into the eddy.  Sadly the contest between the two athletes was a dead head, with them both arriving at the boat sized eddy at the same time.  The laws of physics against them, Rich P fell out of the eddy first.  He would have run the slot backwards, but fortunately capsized before he did so.  He emerged at the base of the drop, with a rather large dent in his shiny new helmet (sound familiar anyone…).  Meanwhile, Harvey had also failed to get into the eddy and had lost his paddles before running the slot drop backwards.  Years of polo training(!) paid off as he was able to hand roll in the mush at the bottom of the drop.  Fortunately, Harvey was reunited with his paddles and Ben managed to recover from an upside down seal launch.  Martyn then ran the drop without problems (i.e. with paddles and the right way up) and the team continued down the river.
One final challenge stood between the paddlers and safety.  A large broken weir, which most of the team portaged through several back gardens to get round.  Harvey had run it hard right, and Martyn decided to go for a more central line.  This was not as effective as he had planned, however and after having been pinned in the center of the weir Martyn emerged safely at the bottom and the team had completed the first river of the day.
The cunning plan to nip across to the Grynwa was foiled back a lack of water, so we headed over to the Crail.  The book promised 10km of Gd II-III.  The book lied.  Following the Gd II bimble that was the second river, the team noted that it was beer o clock and promptly retired to the nearest pub.
A fantastic, if eventful day’s paddling, with much fun had by most.  Thanks everyone, same time next week?