Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hawkes Bay Represent!

co·er·cion (noun)
co·er·cion[ kō úr'n ]
1. forcing of somebody to do something.
2. force used to compel somebody.

I like this word.

It covers all sorts of scenarios; It is a classic technique of students used to persuade others to drink on weeknights, to spend money on toys instead of essential items (like food) and to guilt trip people into thinking they are carrying kayaks up a terrible razorback ridge with no water in sight because you have to do it "to pass my course bro".
However on this occasion, my intentions had no ulterior motive other than to run some shit.

On Saturday night while having a peaceful night in with the family (due to funds being absolutely non-existent), while watching the weather, I heard the words which make the ears of any self respecting kayaker prick up. "Heavy rain warnings for the Hawkes Bay ranges, expect 150mm inland and up to 80mm down lower". In the Hawkes Bay, this is pretty much unheard of so all of a sudden, said kayaker was paying intense interest to weather websites, flow websites, rainfall websites and every other website vaguely related to these topics.

Sounds a bit fanatical I know, but there was a good reason for it. For three years I had been slowly gathering info on the creek which I basically grew up next to. Usually a trickle, I had heard it took about 150mm to flood. Hence the intense scrutiny of rain guages etc.
On the map the creek looked like it had good gradient and was quite a tight gorge. In the words of Ping Lawrence - the local farmer "No, you dont want to kayak that, its full of big boulders" The ears pricked up even more.

So with frantic recruitment (facebook is marvellous), I convinced Ryan Hunt to make the drive from Rotorua to Hastings - not a drive usually associated with kayaking (unless its going the other way), hence the coercion part. I had to sell it to him but full credit to the man - he was committed, leaving Taupo at six in the morning and arriving at mine with another recruit Matt, who he picked up on the way down, to come and hopefully get on the first descent of the Omahaki stream.

We got to the put in after doing the standard shuttle drama and she was looking good to go. We got on and ran some fun, (if quite shallow) grade three stuff which was ticking along nicely. About twenty minutes in Ryan realised he had left the key to his car on the front seat of my car - everything had been going far too smoothly.

The put in to the unknown and unrun - mean!

The gradient started to pick up a bit as we entered what I knew was the steeper section. Just how steep I was unsure because, despite all my intentions to do so I hadn't quite got around to scouting the gorge in the summer....

Ryan on one of the first little drops

However it all worked out sweet and we discovered a fun run with some technical grade four rapids and grade three boogie in between. The rapids themselves were reminiscent of the Rangitikei at low flow but not as long. The cool thing about it was that although it was probably a little low and boney in places, it looked like it would be a mean, non stop freight train at high flows with nothing bad to cap the runnable levels.

Me crankin' on it

The end of a tricky little off-edge-S turn-boofy kinda thing

After the gradient sat down again, it was a run down to the main Ngaruroro river which was charging, and a fun big water muck aorund to the take out. Massive thanks to the Beamishes for lending us a car to go and run our shuttle with - it would've been a long walk otherwise....

Matt coming through one of the last rapids.

It wasn't huge, it wasn't super steep, it didnt have any mean waterfalls, but its the creek that runs through my place and it goes. And in the Hawkes Bay, that is definitely saying something!

Now I just have to sit and wait for 250mm of rain in the ranges......