Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Kokatahi of the Summer Season

Fresh after the mission on the Whitcombe and a quite night in Franz Joseph... well quite for those young bucks that left Barny and I at the bar before 1am! Barny and I decided that we should hit up the Kokatahi after our Sunday of rest. Little did we know while we were hanging out at the batch and then B-Rains house there was enough rain in the hills to bring the Totara in at 5pm that evening, for those who don't know the Totara is a low elevation 'flood' run that requires a lot of rain. Even without this knowledge while we were waiting for the helicopter Barny mentioned he thought it was "up a bit", I wasn't so sure and even flying in we thought it was just going to be another day on the Kokatahi... we were wrong. At Crawford Junction we put onto the Kokatahi Branch for the 100m down to the confluence and there was definitely more water than either of us had ever had in there. As we ran the first couple of things we really felt the power of the Kokatahi and both our thoughts went to a trip a group of our friends had in there at a high flow. Barny decided to fire a really staunch drop early in the day (photo below) and got big beat down. In true fashion he took it like a pro, got in a stable position and I was able to get him to safety... I portaged.

Barny charging but to no avail

After this our paddling rhythm changed somewhat to a more, but not entirely, survival mode. where we inspected some things we would normally bomb into, though there were some long periods where we knew what was coming and figured it was 'all good'. After we portaged the big drop it began to rain, Barny and I had a moment where we looked at each other and could tell we were both thinking the same thing. Fortunately this rain never really set in and after getting through Carnage Gorge unscathed (its still clear for anyone going in there) we were in good form and both fired some amazing white-water. Barny forgot his camera and due to bad light many of my photos were rubbish, but here are some of the better shots I got of Barny in what is becoming our home run.

Barny running the lead into the mushroom drop below Carnage Gorge

... and over the barely recognizable mushroom rock

Barny playing on the Skate-Park

The new boof below the 'Twin Towers'

This was an awesome trip, and afterwards became my favourite trip down this river yet! Just a small word of caution, the Kokatahi is an amazing river and a relatively long day usually. Extra was in this river really spices it up and it was really good that both Barny and I knew the run well. That said, pretty much everything is scoutable/portageable (pretty much, not all :-D) and could be broken down by a solid crew. Kokatahi is value for money... remote, scenic and stout white-water.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Whitcombe from Prices - A first for many.

After 9 days straight on the farm I was more than due for some sort of paddling blowout. With Barny on logistics, an ever interesting phenomenon, I was rallying to hoki after a 4am start milking the cows, with Simon Davidson and his friend Gerard close behind. This would be a split trip with Gerard and B-Rain (Brian Urmson) flying to the Cropp put in and Barny, Simon, Kev, PC and myself flying to Prices flat, we wanted to go into Prices River but high winds foiled that plan. With great water levels most things on the river went and the upper section was as Barny put it, "Pretty fucking sweet, way better than I remember... a portage-fest". This was my first trip from Prices Flat, Simon and B-Rain's First trip in the Whitcombe and Gerard's first heli altogether. Here are some photos from the beautiful upper section.

PC running the lead out of a pretty serious bit of white-water

Kev trying to sneak a look

Barny boofing so hard he broke his seat

PC "run(ing) it like it looks".

Big boof, soft landing... Exactly what we love (p. Kev)

Blue boat, paddle and helmet. Simon is dressed to impress... and does so (p. Kev)

Si and PC deciding the lead it lead straight to a beatdown of some description

After paddling the boogie water below Prices, and the bit before Colliers Gorge on the Cropp section, we found B-Rain and Gerard chilling out on some rocks. Little did we know Gerard had just had a swim, lost his paddle and had to wait for us to arrive with a split paddle. Regrouped we routed Colliers Gorge pretty quickly giving B-Rain and Gerard the lines and making sure they had a great time. Fortunately a group ahead of us came across Gerard's paddle and he got it back!

B-Rain charging on his first Whitcombe (from Cropp)

Such a beautiful river

Gerard's boat... someone say "nice parking"

Kev England - doing how he does

Shooting the boot... keep things balanced with the river gods

The Whitcombe is a great river with now four alternative put in's. Its more of a river compared to the rest of the coast so be prepared for a bit more water, push and a whole lot of fun, enjoy.