Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What a cow? not a cow!

"You guys can't paddle that, you're idiots! don't you read the newspapers?" This is how our latest creeking foray into the Kaimais started.
For the last wee while rumours have been rife around here about a new creek that was sounding like it could be our answer to the Styx on the west coast. Almost natural flowing, nice and steep and super easy access.

But the story doesn't start with that. Last Friday, after I did a late night mission to Te Awamutu to catch the Mangawhio (and then missed it again), I got back to the falls only to hear that Brad, Ryan Lucas and Petey had gone to the Kaimais to run this new creek - the Whatakau. At about seven o'clock rumours started trickling in that something had gone wrong...
Slowly all the pieces came together and we heard the pretty sobering news that young fulla was in Tauranga hospital with a broken back after running a big slide. This news, while pretty bad, only served to get the gossip really flowing, "It's a first D", "It got ran the other day", "It's even steeper downstream"....

Naturally we had to check it out. With the weather coming to the party and filling it up a little, Big dog Bayly and I decided to go and see what the fuss was about and what the bottom section held. After the usual logistical organisational hiccups (get lost in Tauranga trying to find a topo map, stop at bakery, etc etc),we finally got to the top of the creek where we met a little resistance in the form of a farmer who was convinced he would be the last person we ever saw, "Look if it was able to be done we all would have done it", "I've done some kayaking myself ya know".

Anywho, we decided we might just back ourselves on this occasion and off we went. The put in is just below a massive, savage, unrunnable beast of a slide and we kicked off straight into some cool little slides and drops. A little way down we decided that the "Almost natural flows bro!" call may have been a bit optimistic.

B about to get on

Contemplating a terrible slippery portage. The other option looked like fall off - to piton. More water and she'd be sweet.

Everything would have been mean with another couple of cumecs to pad it out. Anyway eventually we came to Ryan's slide (don't think there'll be any challenges to that name) and both decided we were quite fond of our backs so we got our portage on with the help of a pipe which runs down the side of the rocks.

Ryan's slide. The top two thirds look inviting but the bottom has a few rocks. More water? who knows.

After that it was the inevitable, kayak eating, elbow pad needing, Kaimai boulder gardens which Definitely needed more water. Just as we were starting to hate on said boulder gardens, we came to another horizon line into a gorge which precipitated another scout. The entrance rapid loooked a little rowdy with rocks inc, and then we got a look at the exit drop. Money. A perfect twenty footer with the roll in - to boof - to stomp type deal that most kayakers slobber over. My boat decided to run it without me as I was portaging the first one so B got to send 'er first to retrieve it and get it back up to me.

Sending it.


This drop definitely made the day - more boulder gardens another portage around another unrunnable beast and she was all over.

Another Kaimai creek ticked off, not quite in the same league as the Tuakopai etc but definitely worth a go with some more water, and, funnily enough we didn't die. Go figure.