Friday, November 16, 2007

Hot and Cold

Brian here, welcome to virtual Scotland. Have your mittens handy, ‘tis a wee bit nippy’. We’ve been blessed with nice weather for the last couple of days, with the sun poking through and the wind and rain taking a rest. I didn’t expect to see glassy water but I’ll take it.

Without the wind the water is quite clear and you can see just how much kelp and seaweed grows here. There isn’t an overwhelming abundance of sea life, but we have seen a variety of seabirds (cormorants, shags, oyster-catchers and a few more whose name I don’t know) and a few seals and otters.

Paddling here is reminiscent of the Northwest, with steep slopes and rocky shores and lots of pines. Take that image and then imagine those hills being shorn of their trees with just a few patches here and there. The hills and mountains out here in the Western Highlands have a massiveness to them that is quite different than I’ve seen before. They are tremendously steep and yet rounded at the top, as if someone had thrown a wool blanket over an elephant and fastened it tight back to the ground. They almost look like they’re about to awake and move on.

One new experience paddling here is being both overheated and bloody cold at the same time. Wearing a dry suit with layers of fleece and thermals gets you quite toasty, and those suckers don’t breathe too well, so the heat stays in. Then feel the wind and water on your face and neck, and your hands are wet from the drip. It gets a little chaotic.

So I got my arse handed to me on our first day on the water. Mind you we decided to head straight for the Falls of Lora and get into some tidal races. The water wasn’t flowing at full bore, but still about 5 knots. Makes for some fun eddies and moving water. Rather new to me, but I definitely gained some new knowledge. Like don’t try a stern pry on the upstream side. Felt like a mermaid grabbed the paddle blade and just pulled me right over. Steve said I had a couple of seconds before I went over, but it felt instantaneous. I’d like to say I rolled right back up, but…

That’s all for now. Enjoy the pictures.

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