Here is a photo of the River Wye:
Enjoy it while it lasts, as this is the only photo you’ll get.
You will notice that from now on, this blog post is sadly devoid of photos and, well, lacking any visual stimulus at all actually. There’s a good reason for this, but first let me paint you a word picture instead.
Why the Wye?
It was mid-July, the sun was shining and the TrekAmerica team were heading for the Wye Valley on the Welsh border for a couple of days of active team-bonding. This is one of the reasons I love my job – being able to take time out and see some incredible places is just the norm, and doing it in your home country is no exception.
This photo was taken at 9am, before we boarded our 6 hour canoe trip down the mirror-like river. The conditions were perfect. We slapped on the sun cream, loaded a couple of coolers of beers and picnic food and set off in pairs on the 16-mile voyage. We were full of beans, chatty, and looking forward to the day.
Little did I know what a disaster it would turn out to be.
My canoe buddy Jo and I took our first swift rows on the glassy river, testing out our skills by knocking out a couple of 360 degree turns, emergency stops, y’know that kind of thing. Feeling pretty well prepared, we zigzagged down the river, squealing in delight when the Canadian style canoe picked up the smallest of rapids. We were armed with a map of the river, showing us points of interest along the way, all of our water for the day, a waterproof butt containing our daypacks, and my pride and joy – a GoPro.
A couple of hours into our trip and I had tons of cool footage and was excited at the prospect of making a video of of our adventures on the water. I was just setting up a shot of us heading through the arches of one of the bridges, when I suddenly realised we were travelling a lot faster than we were used to. One of the canoes ahead had come a cropper and overturned, and I had a dreadful feeling we were next.
Sensing impending doom
It’s funny how your brain just knows something dreadful is about to happen isn’t it? It’s as if I saw it all unfolding in an instant, and I knew I was destined to take a dunk in the river. It was also a complete giveaway that this was a dodgy spot, as passers-by had pitched up at the safe left-hand bank to watch us idiot canoeists attempt to pass.
Jo and I furiously paddled to battle the rapids (note: the ‘rapids’ in this situation looked pretty tame, I would have said they were a category 1 or 2) and found ourselves squashed against the right bank in no time, right next to a horizontal tree which was growing directly over the water. As we moved to free ourselves, the tree decided to make an unfriendly leap towards my face – and that’s when it happened.
The whole world slowed down as if in a Matrix movie. My arm instinctively came up to shield my face and crashed into the tree’s trunk. This appalling blow sent me reeling backwards and my stomach flipped as I felt my centre of balance shift from safely over the water to very much in it. Jo followed of course, and the two of us were suddenly bobbing within the slippery waters of the River Wye; the entire contents of the canoe surrounding us somewhere, although completely out of sight.
‘SHIIIIIIIIT!!! THE GOPRO!! THE GOPRO’, was all I could scream.
As I clung to the side of the upturned canoe, I shouted a warning at my colleagues who were just approaching the same section of dangerous water. Then, as the River Wye is a bit of a shit like that, he swiped off and claimed one of my flip flops with his swirling undercurrent. Great. Those Havaianas which I bought four years ago in Brazil? Gone forever.
OK, so I reasoned with myself.
‘Now is the time to calm down, get your shit together and help to get the canoe to the left bank, where the water is calm’.
Did that work? Did it bollocks.
So there I am, floating downriver completely out of control, screaming obscenities and incoherent babblings about a lost GoPro whilst being repeatedly attacked in the face by a particularly frisky horsefly. I breathe… do a stock check. What else is missing?
Things that I definitely should not have lost to the River Wye:
- 1 x GoPro
- 1 x Havaiana flip flop (right foot)
- 1 x irreplaceable Alaska truckerhat borrowed from a colleague
- 1 x bottle of water
- 1 x black flowery top (yes, my top got washed away too)
- 1 x map of the River Wye
- 1 x bottle of sun cream, factor 15
- 1 x dignity
Things gained from the River Wye: A newfound respect for the River Wye.
As a further kick in the balls, when when I finally reached the side, I was subjected to dozens and dozens of hungry river fish feasting upon my foot flesh. Yummy.
I know I sometimes moan, but honestly I think I have the worst luck when it comes to a) being graceful and b) being attacked by bugs, animals and people. Remember the time I got a spider bite in Honduras, or got bedbugs in Nicaragua?
Anyway, there’s no real point to this story – simply that I lost my beloved GoPro and I wanted to get all of the ‘angry’out of my system. And I do feel better for it now. Thank you, kind internet person for being my ear to bend, my shoulder to cry on, my emotional crutch in my time of need. I shall now resume service as a positive, happy, travel blogger person.
And I somehow hope that one day, my GoPro will be found and the new owner will enjoy the moment which brought him or her to their new toy… all in full HD of course.
Have you ever been completely owned by nature? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!