Sunday, November 21, 2010

A few videos!

A few videos of me paddling over the past few months!

The Zam, video by Sandy Douglas

Sluice, video by Len Kellaher!

Autumn in Ireland

Back in Ireland after traveling I've started working, but I've still found time for some paddling, that despite pretty low levels.
I entered the Sluice Rodeo in October. Freestyle isn't normally my thing, but I reckoned it would be good craic, and it was. Adrian Durant and his crew put on a great show and the turnout reflected that. I entered the men's sport class and wasn't expecting much, so I was pretty happy when I placed and came third in what was my first ever freestyle competition! There was also a no deck boater-x through the sluice. I was one of the few who had opted to not wear a drysuit, so it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences!

Me at the Sluice Rodeo

I've got a few river trips in, mainly club ones on the Boyne and Liffey, but also up to Wicklow. Last weekend a crew from DCUCC traveled down to Waterford to compete in the Colligan Gorge games. It was another great event. The Colligan is a nice stretch and is perfect for botercross. Once again results went my way and I finished 2nd in the Mens Sport class.

Racing on the Colligan

On the Sunday after the Race we explored some more of the paddling options in the South-East and went to do Pollanassa Falls near Mullinivat and the Barrow. Both nice options when in that area of the country. I did get some fotage of the weekend on my GoPro and put together a short video of the weekend!

Colligan Gorge Games and Pollanassa Falls from Kenneth Hynes on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

USA 2010

I'm finally getting around to updating the blog about two months after actually doing this trip!

After leaving Zambia and taking 72 hours of traveling I finally made it to Charlotte, NC, where I met up with Ronan, Waggers, John Judge and John Moore. We were planing on paddling and partying our way through the US southeast.

The Irish Crew in Gauley, Waggers, John Judge, Me, Ronan and John Moore.

After one night in Charlotte (where It took me several more hours to actually get to bed), we headed towards the world famous Green River Narrows. This is a cracking run. The next morning myself and Ronan borrowed creek boats from a local shop (we were in no way inclined to use the play boats we brought with us) and we put on. A slow start then picks up into some technical III-IV rapids. We took our time scouting most things and making our way down until we were met with the option of a either a rocky looking 15ft drop, or a sieve ridden boulder garden (we now believe this rapid is called boof or consequence). Luckily for us two locals turned up and went straight for the 15 footer so we followed (all of us made the boof!). ! few rapids later we were met with a similar dilemma. Thankfully another local group caught us here. They seemed a bit shocked that a group of out-of-staters would just put on without a guide, but they were perfectly willing to tell us the lines down the rest of the river. The rapid we met them at was called "go left and die" so we all opted for the right hand line!

Ronan on one of the big slides after Gorilla on the Green.

The river continues in this vain of technical IV-V rapids. I had an incident on Zwicks falls. After dropping into a hole near the top, I received quite a beating, I hung on for what felt like ages, it was long enough for the lads at the bottom to realise I wasn't coming down, for Waggers to climb out of his boat and come back up. Unfortunately he didn't bring a rope so I ended up swimming. Thankfully both myself and my boat made quick exits from the river as the next rapid up was the Gorilla!

Portaging Gorilla I got back in a bit shaken (and as I realised later a bit concussed too, judging from the bruise on my nose and lip, I must have hit my face during my beating, but I never noticed it happen!). The rest of the river was still epic, some big slides and drops and some fun rapids.

John on one of the many drops on the Green.

After our run, which we only just completed in time as water from the dam runs out after a while, the Locals who showed us the lines very kindly invited us back to their place saving us a long drive to what we later discovered would have been a dry Chatouga (the river from Deliverance). The next morning the lads had another run on the Green and we packed up for the long drive north to the Upper Yough in Pennsylvania.

The next morning we discovered some good and some bad news. The bad news was the dam on the Upper wasn't releasing, the good news was that a falls right in the centre of the town of Ohiopyle which was previously illegal to run would now be open for just one day. So we went of to run that!

Myself, Waggers, Ronan and JJ scouting Ohiopyle.

The falls itself was nice and clean and was followed by a few km of easy rapids which looped around and brought you back to the put in again. So we did it twice. Most the lines were clean, but Ronan did manage to receive a beating at the bottom! We also met up with Lucas from Colorado, who we traveled with for most of the rest of the trip!

Ronan at the bottom of Ohiopyle falls!

Over the next few days we didn't have much to do, there was no water in the dam, so there was no release on the upper Yough at all. We passed the time by hiking and driving around the place, We decided a few days later to head on towards the highlight of our trip, Gauely fest 2010 in West Virginia. pausing on the way to run Vally falls. They look easy but apparently there is an undercut there which swallowed a capsized Waggers and resulted in many photos been taken.

Waggers after Vally Falls.

Then on to Gauley. A massive whitewater festival with people driving from all over the states to go to it has to be experienced. The river Gauley releases for a few days and much carnage is had. Unfortunately after about 6 weeks of paddling almost every day my shoulder had pretty much given up and I never got a run of this river in. Next year!

Waggers on the Pillow Rock rapid.

After the weekend it was back to Charlotte for some beers and our flight back home to Ireland where after traveling for two months I had the depressing reality of employment waiting.

Myself on Ohiopyle Falls.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Leaving Zambia

After five weeks here I am finally leaving. It's been a good five weeks here, despite everything working on Africa time. My boat may have been a week late, and some days were write offs just because they were, but T.I.A! Only downside to this trip was my inability to sort out my head cam (laziness and it refusing to work being the main issues), so I don't have as much footage as I'd like.

I still got plenty of paddling done, the Zam is without a doubt the best river I've ever seen. It did give me a hard time and I did take the odd swim, but it every day on the river was still great. At the moment I'm back in Lusaka waiting for a taxi to bring me to the airport. Next stop is Gauly Fest in the USA and hopefully it can be as good as here.

Colin Wong and Myself on Number 4 - Photo Will Clark

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kayaking the Zambezi

If I haven’t mentioned it before this river is epic. Definitely the best I’ve ever paddled. It’s been a while since I last posted here so plenty has happened since then. I’ve got a good few runs from rapid one (the boiling point) normally getting off at rapid 7 ½. It’s a great section still very intimidating, but loads of fun. Rapid 7 ½ has one of the best play waves I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately my shoulders acting up (as is usual) so I’m keeping the playboating to a minimum.

A group of us also did a run all the way down to Lower Momemba one day last week. Normally this is run over two days on a multiday trip, but we did it in one, needless to say it was a long and tiring day, but it was great to see and paddle the rapids beyond 25 which a lot of kayakers never go down too. This section is not as good, but still contains some fun rapids (Upper Momemba being particularly fun)

Time has flew and it’s now into my last week here so I’ll be doing as much paddling as possible over the next week. Unfortunately the headcam is not working out too well. I’ve yet to obtain a stable mount that actually fits (and stays) on and gives good footage. I’ll keep working on it and hopefully get some good footage by the end of the week.

Droping into number 5 - photo Will Clark

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Swimming on the Zambezi

A few days ago I took a swim down rapid number 3 on the Zambezi, not much fun! Number 3 is a huge wave train, much bigger and longer than the Silverback rapid on the Nile which is the closest thing I can compare it too. Capsized on the second wave and couldn't manage my roll on such big water. I've looked at a video of my roll since and am shocked at how lazy I've got doing it! Definitely needs improvement, it generally works (only being let down the once!) but on big water like out here it is much harder than at home.

This river is truly massive. It's definitely a step up from the Nile and I'm definitely being challenged here. Rapids are longer, bigger and more consequential than anything I've ever done before. Number 3 is one of the easier ones!

Not to be deterred I took one day rest and went paddling again the day after. Rest days are important out here. My swim was after 5 days consecutive paddling and I should have taken a rest. No issues for me this time, however there was a bit of a epic when two paddlers decided to walk of at rapid 18 after one of them lost a paddle. 18 supposedly has a path, but the lads didn't find it and eventually ended up climbing up vertical rock face! We spent a few hours driving around the bush looking for them, luckily finding them (with the aid of a local farmer) just before dark. We arrived back in Livingstone after 7pm when the original plan was to get back in time to watch the New Zealand v South Africa game at 3.00!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zambezi fun!

I'm Finally beginning to get plenty of paddling out here, still only getting from 10-25 though. It's a fun section with rapids 12/13 and 15/16 particularly good. Unfortunately the paddle from 19-25 is a long slog without much to say for it but it's the first take out after 14 so it must be done.

There are not that many people here paddling from one to ten, as of today only 4 people have done it this year and none of them have been doing it over the last few days. Sebastian and Jack did get a run in this morning but I had picked up a bit of a flu so gave it a miss and just paddled from 10 again. Possibly just as well as they discovered the body of a local who drowned a few days ago tyring to rescue a tourist who went swimming under the falls, which was not a pleasant experience (The tourist survived.)

However a few more paddlers have arrived in the past few days (all UK based) so the plan is to run it tomorrow! Hopefully it will be fun!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't stop paddling and stay away from rafts!

I finally got my gear two days ago so I've been able to get out on the river at last. Paddling here is very different to anything I've ever paddled before, even Uganda! There are massive boils and whirlpools everywhere! Added into that there are many floating undercuts (rafts) to avoid too. Got a bit of a beating on rapid 14 yesterday. I was paddling about 20m in front of the raft when I got stuck in a whirlpool, surfed it out and ended up right in front of the raft. Trying to avoid it I ended up in another whirlpool and had to roll a few times getting out. About 30 seconds later I was out of it but somehow still beside the raft! trying to avoid it again put me into a 3rd whirlpool which held me for ages and I couldn't get a roll. Eventually I felt myself being pulled under the raft so I put my hand out and was able to grab the rope by the side to prevent myself going under and managed to right myself! not a pleasant experience!

Other than 14 though this river is great! Logistically it's difficult here though, the river is a bit away and the choices are go with the rafts (which are not out every day and involves getting up at 6.30am) or pay plenty to get guides and porters and such, you cant really just go down and paddle like on the Nile due to the distance away. But the river is definitely worth it. Hopefully I'll get lots of runs over the next few weeks!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Still Kayakless and first day on the river.

The bad news is I still haven't got my kayak and equipment, the good news is I finally got on the river in some borrowed kit.

My gear seems to have got lost again. It arrived in Lusaka on Sunday and was sent by Fed Ex on Monday morning (i.e. it should have arrived Tuesday morning) but it is now Wednesday evening and there is no sign of it. Fed Ex don't know anything about it and Ethiopian cant seem to be able to give me a reference number so I can track it. Everything takes longer in Africa (I spent 2 hours in a bank withdrawing money yesterday) but this is getting ridiculous I'm here a week now and they have had it for 4 days. It cant be that hard to get it here.I'll continue to badger them, not allot of spare gear going around here so its not a case that I can just borrow some other stuff. Should be able to get a boat, but nobody has spare decks or paddles around.

Nevertheless I did get on the river today. I rafted rapids 10-14 and than swapped into Jack's Kayak and paddled the remaining rapids to No. 25. These rapids are not particularly difficult, the occasional large wave is the main obstacle. However this is a big volume river, and there are very substantial boils and Whirlpools! Swimming is pretty much out of the question on a few of these rapids. It doesn't look like I'll be able to get out again tomorrow, so I really hope my gear shows up soon.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I've finally arrived in Livingstone. Got in late on Saturday night. The bus journey down from Lusaka was very long. we were 7 hours on the road and I was stuck in a seat with a mother who decided not to book a separate seat for her child (and not a small one mind, she was about 10!), so I had to share with two people instead of the Campsite/hostel here is nice, has a good pool/bar area and seems to be pretty busy with backpackers. There are not a whole load of paddlers here, 6 in all including Jono and Jack who I paddled with last year in Uganda.

It appears that Ethiopian have found my boat in London and sent it on to Lusaka, so hopefully I'll get it down here soon. They are trying to get it on a plane here, but apparently its small so they are not sure if it will fit. If it does I could have it by tonight, if not who knows when?

Hampered by gear, high water levels and other logistical issues, I still haven't managed to get paddling yet. Apparently the river is much higher than normal for this time of year. I need to get out on some of the lower sections and shake of the rust before I can start paddling the more well known rapids. Unfortunately that seems easier said than done. I should be able to hop in on a rafting trip, but there was none today. Hopefully I'll get out soon and have some pictures and videos to show for it!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kayakless in Lusaka

Yes, I'm on a kayaking trip and I no longer have a kayak. or a paddle. or my camping gear. It's Ethiopian airways fault for that, as after charging me €40 for my paddle they promptly lost it. Don't know what I'll do now. Will probably head to Livingstone in the morning as planed and try and wing it form there, Ethiopian reckon that it will come on tomorrows flight and that they will send it on to me. However I'm not sure if I believe them, either about the sending it on or it arriving tomorrow as they have no better idea on where it is than it probably never switched planes in Addis.

So I'm toren between staying here (in Lusaka) for another night and waiting for it myself, or going on to Livingstone and trying to wing it. They also have my first aid kit with my Malaria tablets, so knowing my luck I'll probably catch that now too!

Only (small bit) of luck I got today was getting the last bed, in the 3rd (of 3) hostels in Lusaka. It seems nice, opened today judging by the smell of the plaster and paint.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Zambezi bound

Tomorrow I leave for the Zambezi, similar to last year in Uganda I opted for the cheaper flights which were way more hassle. I said last year I wouldn't do that again, saw the price difference and changed my mind and am beginning to regret it already.

I'll be leaving tomorrow morning on the most charming Ryanair, facilitator of much stress in previous trips, to London Gatwick, making my way across London to Heathrow, and flying with Ethiopian Airlines to Lusaka. I'll be attempting to find accommodation there for the night, (Kuomboka Backpackers don't seem to respond to e-mail, so I'm not quite clear if I'm booked in there or not!) After that it'll be a six hour bus journey to Livingstone. It seems to be recommended that I go with the "Blue bus", hopefully Lusaka Bus Terminal is nothing like the one in Kampala, or else I'll be looking all day.

But once all the logistical stuff gets sorted It'll be some of this!

Zambezi - Gopro HD Hero from Peter Csonka on Vimeo.

I've purchased a similar camera, so watch out here for some (hopefully!)epic footage!

Monday, July 05, 2010

DCUCC in Slovenia!

For the first time in several years, DCU Canoe Club officially went foreign. Steve Fahy, Andy Cahill, Joe Downes, Catherine Farmer, Orla Croarkin, Ger Gleeson, Steve Quinn, Emer O'Leary and Myself based ourself on the Soca in Slovenia for a week.

Myself, Steve and Mateja preparing to run the Slalom course

Our flight out was far from easy, with Ryanair insisting that we move our stuff around until each individual piece of luggage weighed an assigned amount (even though what we put on the plane ultimately weighed the exact same anyway.) Things got easier on arrived, where we picked up our rental cars and van, packed our stuff away with a lot more ease than on previous Alps trips and set of on the two and a half hour drive to Bovec. When we arrived seven hours later (some of that extra time was spent showing extraordinary restraint in Decathlon), we were able to pick up some rental boats for the week and set up camp in between the rain showers :(.

The River at our campsite

Our campside was nice, located right on the river it even had a covered drying rack so we could dry our gear even when it rained.

Lifesaver - our gear was dry all week!

Over the next few days we got several runs on many sections of the river. The levels were perfect for most of the week, aside from one day, where heavy rain caused the river to rise over a metre and double in volume! This meant that the river became much pushier and faster, much to the shock of some in the group! Nonetheless, the Soca is the perfect river for learning, it's safe and clean, with plenty in the way of features, with runs ranging from 1-4.

Myself, Steve and Mateja on the Slalom course

There is more to Slovenia than just kayaking however! As well as stunning scenery and other adventure sports (such as Canyoning, Biking and mountaineering) the Soca Valley was the location of 13 major WW1 battles as well as Battles from the Napoleonic wars. This all means that the place is full of history, so we visited some WW1 trenches after the river one day.

Slovenian Scenery!

World War One Trenches

Catherine mountain biking!

This was a fantastic trip in a perfect location and with luck the Soca valley will see DCUCC returning next year for another alpine adventure!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Galway polo comp

June bank holiday weekend is the traditional home of the Carrick on Shannon polo competition. However that got cancelled a few years ago so we had to go to Galway instead.

The DCU polo team, Catherine, Ciaran, Orla, Alan, Myself, Joanna, Ashling and Eoin.

Not that any of us were complaining, Galway never fails to come up with the goods when it comes to weekends away!

It was almost a year since I'd played polo before this weekend so I was looking forward to getting back in a polo boat. I was playing with the DCUCC team in Division 3. The weekend didn't start well when the slowness of my car. (It cant do above 90kmph any more :( ) and the severity of the Galway tragic led to us abandoning our plan to go to the beach, so we went to the pub instead.

The next morning encouraged by much funny bunny and memorable quotes we were all fresh(ish!) for our half nine start. We had a good time playing polo, qualifying for the semi-final by wining two, drawing two and losing two games. Our semi was a hard fought game against Galway Kayak Club, but we just couldn't manage to break down their zone, and three breakaway goals saw us lose 3-0.

Our 3rd/4th play-off game, was against a team who had just lost some players, and it was starting to rain, so we generously offered to play a game of rock-paper-scissors instead of polo to settle the tie. Most ungenerously of them they won 2-0, ensuring that we finished in 4th.

The 3rd/4th place play-off got caught on camera.

The plan at that stage was to move on to Easkey for some surfing, but lack of surf put a dampener on that one, so it was back home to Dublin in the hope that the rain had hit Wicklow.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Back to Paddling and Lv. 3 Instructer!

Haven't updated this in a while so here's a rushed version of what I've been up to for the past few months!

Apart from studding and working on college assignments I've got a bit of paddling done. My shoulder seems to have finally fully recovered and I've got out for a few club trips on the Boyne and Avenmore. I also got one good day up in Wicklow with Oisin and Ger from Wild Water, where we ran the Annamoe at a perfect level and than paddled the bottom section of the Glenmcnass at a very high level.

Oisin got a video of the day, not great quality, but an idea what levels were like.

I also got my Level 3 Instructor assessment last weekend and I was quite happy to pass that. The assessment was though, two tiring days. Day one was all about rescue skills and personal paddling at the sluice. The second day had us leading a group down the Liffey and training them up in Level 3 skills. Was a good two days to take a break from the monotony of study. Next up now is my exams, than hopefully a summer with plenty of paddling!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kayak Intervarsities 2010

This years Kayak Intervarsities were hosted by NUIG in Galway. DCU went as defending champions having won last years competition hosted by UCD. Unfortunately due to my shoulder still being injured I was unable to participate myself and had to be satisfied with taking pictures!.

Me with the Varsities cup and the white-water cup that we won last year

Due to the early start to the polo, we were up bright and early for a 8.30am departure for Galway. In typical DCU Canoe club style we left closer to 9.30. Still we weren't that late arriving and shouldn't really blame that for not showing on time for our first game against UCD. Fortunately for us, UCD were sound enough to give us a replay later on in the day. Therefore our first match was against Maynooth and their Div 1 Kilcock players. Not to surprisingly we got beaten by eventual champions. Our second game was against UCD and we drew 2-2, putting us through to the quarter finals on goal difference to play UCC. UCC had a very strong team and despite a good performance we went out in the quarter finals for the second year running.

DCU in action against Maynooth

The Friday night party was in the college bar and than on to Karma nightclub! so it was a tired morning when everyone turned up to the Long Distance for an 8am registration time! we had participants in almost every class, but unfortunately the only medal position was Ashling Conway who secured a top 3 finish for the second year running, this time in the Women's HP class. Comic relief was provided by Ger, who capsized metres from the finish line!

Men's GP start in the Long Distance

After that it was of to Clifton for the Rodeo. Participating for DCU was Ronan Matthews, Ger Gleson, Ashling Conway and Ciaran O'Sullivan. The lads put in a good performance, particularly given Ashling and Ciaran had never done freestyle before. Ronan Matthews put in a good run and Ashling secured a unexpected 3rd place with the tried and tested fall over & swim combo! UL dominated the event however securing 1st in the women's event and all top 3 positions in the men's freestyle.

Ronan Matthews playing in Clifton hole

The final event was on the Sunday, and was the white-water race on the Boluisce in Spiddal. DCU's team was Ger, Ashling and Ronan. Unfortunately for us the river was low and rocks impeded on our ability to finish the race! The final shootout was made up of UCD, NUIG, TCD and GMIT Castlebar, with Paddy McGovern of GMIT wining ahead of UCD.

Paddy McGovern of GMIT on his way to wining.

Overall the event was won by the University of Limerick who put in strong performances in every event to take a thoroughly deserved victory. DCU came a disappointing 10th, but it was always going to be hard to defend our title with a number of injuries and absences to contend with. We'll be back in force next year though with the competition to be held in Cork.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Uganda Video

I have finaly managed to get the Uganda video that Chris made online. (I'm studying for exams right now so finiding ways to avoid study is well up my list of priorities)

Uganda 2009 from Kenneth Hynes on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

WUDC Turkey 2010

This years Worlds University Debating Championships were hosted by Koc University in Antayla, Turkey and I was lucky enough to get to go along as a Judge to this magnificent event.

Koc spared no expenses in hosting this tournament, with the entire delegation (of about 1,500 people, making it the worlds largest student event) put up in the 5 star Maritim Pine Beach Resort. This fantastic venue was made even better by the fact that everything was free! Including the hotels many bars, a service which was availed of frequently by the Irish contingent.

Aerial View of the Hotel Complex

The Social events organised were amazing, the highlights being the Full Moon New Years party hosted on the beach including with a spectacular fireworks display to boot, and the closing night white themed "Atlantis Party".

Not all the nights went without hiccup though. One night we were brought to what we were promised was "Turkey's best nightclub", only to arrive at a converted industrial building with an interior that reminded me strongly of the Palace. Drinks were priced at a suitable rate to compensate for the free bars at the hotel. To top all that though it soon proved to be in fact a mafia club, and the mafia of at least 3 different nations later showed up complete with armed bodyguards.

The only regret I have was that despite spending over a week in Turkey, I got to see very little of what I'm sure is an amazing country. Free 5 star hotels are amazing, but they could be anywhere. I'll definitely be returning sometime in the near future to see more. I would have stayed for longer afterwords, but for the scheduling of my exams in January (this blog post is an attempt to postpone study!) Sadly I have a lack of Photos for all this as I have mislaid my camera, hopefully I will either find it or get a new one before I go somewhere interesting next time.

As for the debating, DCU's teams did very well. Adam and Derwin (DCU A) finished on 14 points (a very respectable score) while Declan and John (DCU B) finished on 12, that despite Declan having to miss 4 rounds with a nasty bug that was going about. I got to Judge good rounds throughout, and even got to be a chair judge which I'm happy about.