The club ran a trip to the Upper Wye last year, annoyingly I couldn't make it, so it was awesome to get the chance to run the river on this pre-xmas trip. Tales from the last trip of big waves, general amazingness and avoidance of a certain section of the river (Llangurig to Rhayader) as the water levels were over the gauge board had got me excited... The torrential rain and floods on the drive heightened the anticipation and helped keep us awake after our 5.30 start. Jen was driving her new car on its first big journey and she safely got us to the river where it turned out the water levels were even higher than last time and rising at a fast rate.

Despite the high levels we stuck to the original plan and decided to run the Llangurig to Rhayader section. We met up with 3 really friendly local paddlers; Si, Jules and Will, who had good knowledge of the river, it was going to be a good day.

The water was moving quick and we did the whole section (17km according to the guidebook) in just under an hour and a half! From the get in we bounced our way down through some big wave trains, through trees and warmed up catching the sporadic boily eddies. Things picked up as we reached the Letterbox, the whole rapid was underwater, but we still had work to do picking our line through the big waves formed by the submerged boulders.

Passing through the Glyn Gwy Gorge the next landmark was the convergence with the Afon Marteg, this extra water picked up the river's pace even more and we were soon at Gamallt Falls. Again the actual falls couldn't be seen, but big curly waves were everywhere and strong forward paddling was required to get through. Moving on we reached Cwmcoed falls, one of the bigger features on the river. Having read that taking the river right line is best in high water I followed Jen down, bumped into the same boulder she'd just hit and then flipped over sideways into a munchy stopper. After my first roll failed I made use of the trusty hang-upside-down-and-wait technique, it didn't let me down and after waiting a while I rolled back up out of the stopper and into the boiling eddy at the bottom.

Heading off downstream we were treated to more big waves and some nice surf spots before reaching the grade 4 Town Falls. Things were moving very fast now and we shot the first part of the falls, through the big white water and regrouped under the bridge. As the others set off I hauled Si out from a small chute he was getting sucked backwards down and then headed off to run the second part of the falls. There was a lot of water and after getting flipped over again by a big wave curling in from the right, I was glad after hanging upside down for a bit, rolling up and then putting in some strong backwards strokes to escape another stopper, that I'd spent all that time on the Thames practicing rolling!

Jen and I had massive grins on our faces when we got off the river, we'll definitely head back to paddle this section again and hopefully we'll meet up with the 3 other paddlers again sometime soon. We passed through some beautiful countryside, saw an elf house and had another amazing day of paddling, it was an epic end to the 2012 paddling season.

- Joe