Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Victorian Winter - the paddling part

It's been well over six months since I've been in a kayak but with water in the rivers it was time to get back into the flow of things. The trip was planned for the Jamieson, a beautiful remote river that flows out of the high country near Licola through pristine wilderness until it flows into Lake Eildon near the town of Jamieson.
Since the last time I'd paddled the Jamieson the bushfires had been through the area so things have changed a little, the water is no longer crystal clear as the rain runoff now contains ash and mud from fire damaged forest but the rapids are unchanged and the area is still pretty.
We drove up Saturday morning and I was brought back to the joys of Victorian paddling as sleet fell while we were driving to the put in. With a crew of nine on the river we quickly floated down the first couple of kms which are essentially flat before getting out to scout the first rapid - recent bushfires increase the risk of trees falling and logs across rapids tend to form nasty strainers. The first rapid was uneventful and as usual the gorge on this river crept up without warning and before we knew it we were between narrow rock walls negotiating closely spaced ledge drops and holes. The bottom rapid of the gorge is the hardest with the flow pushing into the right rock wall, I eddied out above it and Dan jumped out to scout - however at this point one of the upstream holes had got the better of Lincoln and his boat came floating down. I pulled out into the current behind his boat and followed it down the rapid, Grant followed me and a few hundred meters downstream we finally managed to pull Lincoln's boat to the side.
Everyone else paddled the gorge without incident and we continued down the 10kms or so of mainly flat river until the first 4wd access. Cold and tired, we took out and began the long uphill walk with our kayaks our to the car - part way up a few of us gave up on carrying out heavy kayaks - reasoning that either Grant could bring in his 4wd or we coulr walk back in paddle the kayaks out the next day to the road access closer to town.
Unfortunately Grantos decided on the 4wd option but the steep muddy road got the better of even Grantos' beast of a car and the whole trip started to take on slightly epic characteristics. And so we ended up camping on a muddy 4wd drive track overnight with the plan to get some wd enthusiasts to help us out in the morning. However even the random Hungarian 4wdrivers barely got themselves out with their winch when they attempted to help us and so we piled everyone and everything into the remaining cars and left the stricken vehicle there for a future recovery mission. (Grants car was retrieved with the help of a rather expensive winch two weeks later).


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