Thursday, May 25, 2006

Kat has a close call (but she's ok)

Well getting to work at the start of the week is usually pretty uneventful but this week I had an email from Kat waiting for me. She said she had concussion and a broken boat after her weekend's adventures... no more details!! Today I finally got the whole story -

"Mmmm pretty serious carnage with a dent + hole in the nose of my playboat,broken helmet (well, it's cracked so I guess I need a new one),concussion, black eye & 3 chipped teeth for me, and I nearly lost my paddle... geez things can turn bad quickly, and I don't even have any photos to show for it! I was doing some park and huck off a 8m waterfall just by the sea which has a reputation for being safe (but not at low tide which I found out the hard way).

There was loads of water from all the rain we had so when Igot caught up on a boil and couldn't make the ferry all the way across the river to run the river right line I settled for plan B (left of centre) which I'd scouted and still looked good to run... My first run was sweet, I ran it clean, made my line, nailed the landing and walked back up to run it again...Second run... All I remember was ferrying above the drop going for thesame line... then waking up downstream out of my boat, I guess I was offline, hit a rock at the bottom and got thrown out of my boat (?).

Apparently I floated down the next bit of rapid and got some downtime in a pourover. My boat had floated into an eddy upstream of where I was and Tim was pulling it out for me once he saw that I was getting myself out,so I swam to the bank and ran off downstream to find my $$ AT2 paddle, my vision was pretty f**ked up (seeing stars) so I nearly didn't find it (it is black)... pretty damn scary in hindsight, but the crazy thing is all I was worried about at the time was finding my paddle, I guess that's adrenalin hard at work. So off to hospital to get checked out, thankfully the doctor had done some paddling and even knew the drop so I didn't have to explain what the hellI was doing.

I attached a pic of the drop at high tide, it's anothermetre or so higher at low tide with a pourover and more rapids downstreamthat would be in the same shot. Now I'm back in town with a sore head and thankfull I was wearing a decenthelmet - pity it was such a shitty end to an otherwise awesome weekend (Igot 6 runs in over 3 days)" - Kat

So we're all really glad to hear that our Kat is ok. While she was off trying to kill herself we had a huge trip up to the white-water course in Penrith. It was a great weekend with Steff flying down from Brisbane and from Melbourne we had the usual crew - Kylie, Myself, Ruth, Ruthy, Kate, Michelle, Kimmy and a couple of boys to make the group up to 10.

Due to the low water levels in the lake at Penrith the bottom drop was steep and kinda munchy which provided a fair bit of entertainment a few swims. I floated into the middle of it to see what would happen and ended up surfing for a fair while with about three power flips and rolls in there as well!

Didn't get any photos as I was too busy paddling but here's one from an earlier trip. (Check out that paddle twirl!).

Anyway so that's all the action for now, Uganda plans are on track with six chicks signed up. Marj and Steff from Brissy have been convinced so along with Kyles, Ruth and Kat it's looking like a formiddable team ;-)

:) Scarah

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Easter Creekin' in Nova Scotia

Well due to exams on Saturdays and the unseasonable lack of water, it’s now been 2 weeks since I’ve been paddling :( – but I guess I made the most of it while I could with last time being some of the funnest boating I’ve done :)

With a long weekend for Easter and no water in New Brunswick it was decided to head to Nova Scotia for some creeking. Sometime on Friday morning 7 paddlers from all over Atlantic Canada found ourselves sitting in Tim Horton’s drinking coffee and discussing the water levels & paddling prospects for the day. It was decided to run a branch of the Chiganois, a first decent straight up promised an exciting start to the weekend.

After a short bush bash in we found the river, and exciting was not what we found. After several kilometres of dragging ourselves over rocks, things weren’t looking any better. Then a few horizon lines appeared, some tributaries kicked in, and the water level picked up. Clean was not how you’d describe the lines though. Most drops were shallow slides that landed on rocks or turned abruptly at the bottom sending almost everyone who was game flying into the rock wall forming the opposite bank. Since I was already out of my boat to scout I ended up portaging most of these.

Just before the confluence with the other (previously run) branch was a clean, friendly looking 7m waterfall. I was a little nervous as I’d never run a drop that high before, but I couldn’t see any logical reason to portage, so I hopped in my boat, scraped down the lead in, put in a couple of strokes, and all of a sudden I was flying… then boom! The biggest shock of my life as I landed flat, cleared the hole and pulled of my first real boof! Lucky the water was nice and fluffy at the bottom

(Kelsey on the top bit of the waterfall)
After the confluence there was some fun continuous easy-ish stuff then there was a gorge that would be the last bit of excitement before the long, flat paddle out. The gorge looked challenging from high above and after a lot of umming and ahhing, 3 of us decided to portage. But then 2 of us had a change of heart and decided to run it. So we ran the first couple of drops, boof right then boof left – oops missed the boof, good thing that hole wasn’t sticky, eddy out and scout again. The view from the rocky ledge was a different story and all of a sudden we found ourselves in a grade 5 gorge with no easy way out. The slide-pool-waterfall became a slide with all the water pushing into a wall, with a couple of decent sized holes to punch through, then a 3m boily pool followed by a high, shallow slidy drop with a couple of piton rocks to avoid, again with most of the water pushing against the right wall, an abrupt turn, then all the water pushing up against the left wall at the bottom. We could then see another horizon line/ waterfall shortly after that.

I don’t know what possessed me, maybe it was a combination of the daunting portage, the awesome setting of cascading waterfalls sending mist up the high gorge walls, then green forest lining the skyline, and knowing that not many people get to experience this, but I was feeling pretty good and after a bit of thought I could see a tricky but doable line down the gorge and I was all psyched up and ready to face my first grade 5 rapid. I was actually gonna do it – craziness! But then I watched someone else go first, end up upside down in the 3m pool, then roll up just in time for the next drop. So after I decided to join in on the epic portage, something I don’t regret!

The long, flat paddle out made it a long, tiring day with us getting of the water late and doing the shuttle in the dark. One of the guys lives close by so we headed back there, ate dinner then crashed.

(The best 'walk in' ever!)

Saturday saw 5 of us off to run the Bass River, another long day with a big walk in & another big day on the water. After we’d walked for a while a friendly local on a 4 wheeler came along and towed our boats the rest of the way which was pretty cool.

The run started off a bit shallow, but unlike the day before we could actually float down the river so that was good. The first real drop soon came and beckoned inspection. It was a 3m narrow slot drop with a sticky hole at the bottom and a good few metres tow back. One of the guys missed his boof stroke, flipped on landing, couldn’t roll because it was too narrow, swam, then disappeared for a long time, getting a serious thrashing in the hole, never finding our throw lines. He eventually flushed and lost his paddle – good thing we had a split! Needless to say the rest of us portaged.

(Kelsey about to get a beating and lose his paddle)
There were lots of steep technical rapids on this river, plenty of big slides and lots of waterfall practice. Apart from the strainers which made for some big, steep portages, most of it was totally manageable, so except for the first drop, I only portaged one drop that the boys ran.

(Ian [left] and Erick [below] tackle waterfalls on the Bass)

There were a couple of interesting moments of the day for me. The first being one drop where we were told to go right, then told that right was no good so when I ended up left of centre after the first bit I thought that was a good thing. Turned out it wasn’t as I pittoned onto rocks spraining my ankle a little. The other was the second last drop. I couldn’t really see anything while scouting from high above other than a munchy hole on the left to avoid, which is where most of the water went, and that it was a reasonable sized drop. Part of me felt like portaging as I was tired, and couldn’t see the drop, but the portage would have been epic so I just ran it. I made the right line fine but got such a surprise at the lip to find a 10m waterfall that I managed to drop my paddle. So of course I went upside down on landing which made my only roll for the day an interesting one. Lucky I found my paddle again and rolled up with it backwards and upside down, the boys didn’t know what the hell I was doing!

The paddle out was a long and flat and for some reason we decided to take out after the bridge instead of at it so we had to paddle through a whole bunch of trees, strainers, log jams and even over a beaver dam – not fun any more!!

The next day everyone was pretty tired and sore so we opted for a nice short run on the Folly which we ran the weekend before – a classic run with easy access, some really nice rapids and practically no flat water. After portaging it last time I ran the first rapid this time. I felt a bit nervous about just jumping straight onto a grade 4 rapid with no warm up, but I survived the 2 rock slides followed by 6m clean drop fine. I did walk the last drop (ironically called Faceplant) after I smashed my face on it last time though… but that’s another story!

(Me on a random drop on the Folly)
(Ian on the drop part of the first rapid on the Folly [left], and then on Faceplant, the last rapid on the Folly [below])

All up it was an awesome weekend, but after 3 solid days of creeking I was absolutely wrecked, slept soooo well and could hardly move the next day! Unfortunaltely I didn't get many photos as we were often pushing to get off the water by dark each day, but there's a few there so you get the idea