Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas creeking

Last week our household decided to roll with Jamie on one of his trips around lake Waikaremoana in the Urewera national park. It's a four day walk around a sick lake - especially when you have a boat to carry your packs/beer/wine and other assorted vital supplies from hut to hut. We had a mean time and with weather which wasn't amazing but fine for walking we happily started the drive back to Rotorua where we had missed a rather savage bender (by all accounts) for the xmas at Kaituna party.
Anyway, it just so happened that it had been raining the whole time we were away and things were starting to come alive in the Kaimais...
After being home for five minutes. I was sitting on the couch checking the guages (looking promising) and trying to get constructive conversation out of Josh (not so promising), when I saw a certain dark green Subaru with a full rack of boats fly up the road. Emergency measures were taken as a quick phone call established a Tuakopai special was in progress. paddling gear was fired in the back of the car and without further ado, team stinky took off to meet the other crews heading back towards the wairoa.
The put in found it on the low side but still good for a 12 person twilight bomb down one of the funnest (is that even a word?) creeks you can find anywhere.
With more rain being forecast, plans were made to keep the ball rolling for the next day and get back amongst it. The Waipapa was next on the list and with a slightly smaller crew we headed back over at the crack of morning tea for a run down a creek with some of the sickest boofs in the Kaimais.

B firing 'jism falls' - a 20 footer with a super super tight landing which launches you straight into a sick slide.

Me just about to maim the slut boat on the entrance to mojo gorge - there was about a 50-50 split of dented boats whether you ran the rapid or the seal launch right next to it...

J dog running some in between mank

Berno experiencing his first taste of the Kaimais on the second best boof of the day - the exit of mojo, a glorious 20ish footer with a sick entrance-to boof-to kickdown. Happy Christmas.

All in all a mean five days and a good bit of luck getting some creeking in a week before Christmas! As I'm writing this the lifestylists of Okere Falls (who haven't used up their get out of work free cards) have gone South to chase the rain; possibly near Taihape, possibly the Tauranga Taupo... watch this space.

Waihi First Descent

At the end of October Myself and Tyler rallied down to the Hawkes Bay to try and tick the Waihi stream which Matt Danes found a couple of years ago. without any real idea of the scale of this thing we arrived to find it pumping - a section of big wide bedrock about 900m long which lost 100m in gradient... Anyway here's a video shot and edited by the esteemed Mr Neilson who was on camera due to a broken wing. Epic times.

Southern Underground Productions: Waihi First Descent: "Waihi Stream First Descent 2010 from Southern Underground Productions on Vimeo."

Anyone want to argue about waterfalls now??

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Big. Water.

Over the last few seasons the crew from up here have slowly been ticking off the creeks which run off the eastern side of the Kaimai ranges in Tauranga. The established classics like the Tuakopai and the Mangakarengorengo have turned into after work/school bomb runs and people have been looking further north for adventures into seldom or unrun drainages.
These runs are characterised by big slides, lots of vert and then usually a big beast of a drop down the bottom where a hard band of rock must run the length of the Kaimais, creating for the most part, a big portage.
After a wet winter, the boys had ticked off lots of runs, some new, some old and some revisited. The Rataroa, Te Puna and Aongatete (try saying those fast) all got checked out along with the Waipapa which is turning into the 'go to' when it's raining hard. I got back to the falls just in time for some horrid weather which fully soaked the ground to the point where the water was just running straight into the creeks - ideal.
A day off on Sunday and a Northerly front cemented the plan on Saturday night - get to one of the reputedly 'best creeks in the Kaimais'. With only one descent a few years back, we were keen to check it out after hearing the stories and seeing the odd photo of super cool drops and slides, not to mention 'the big one' a suppposedly clean, unrun 90 footer....
B and Ryan (along with Wills who got lucky having another week of uni because of some earthquake) were the instigators of said plan and we woke up early on Sunday to some doubt about the conditions (not quite as much rain as hoped) but decided to go anyway.
After all the usual stops (bakery, navigation, scouting, farmer, other farmer, toilet etc) we finally made it to the put in super fired up about what we were going to find downstream...

And what a find it was! Horizon line after horizon line, all big, all clean, no manky boulder gardens just big drop/slide combos which kept coming. Constant rain stopped most chances of pics etc but we got a few...

B running the second part of a rapid - a similar sized drop above into a slide into this. Sick!

A wee way in we came to a drop we had been waiting for. Scouting missions along with a tiny little thumbnail in kayak session from the first trip in here had us frothing about it. The drop had a tricky little entrance into a beautiful 25 foot drop. Right about now the rain stopped so we got cameras out and after some deliberation ("Bro what do reckon the line is?" "Well I dunno about you but I'm gonna boof the shit out of it!") young fulla sent it first. Everyone had sweet lines and the smiles got even bigger.

Bayly getting it done again - mean

Below the drop we carried on down for a little bit, off a sweet little eight footer and then eddied out above one of those horizon lines that looks like it's dropping off the face of the earth. Yup, the biggy - supposedly 90 feet but undoubtedly a monster.
Getting out on the deck on the left we got to the lip and found ourselves looking a long way down at a narrow spout which looked to be throwing pretty far out. Not 90 but still a big drop - dubious glances were exchanged as we tried to talk ourselves into the line.
Ryan was pretty keen but wanted to check it from the other side so more to keep him company than anything else I went over to check it with him. B and Wills were portaging by this stage not liking the view from the left. We spent a while discussing lines etc and then I think the conversation went something along the lines of; "Bro worst case scenario is landing flat and that's not going to happen - and that portage looks savage", "Yeah shall we just send it?"
So the scene was set. Ryan was fired up to go first so once B and Wills got there to set safety it was game on.
He pulled out of the eddy, took a stroke off the lip and then tucked, where I lost sight of him it looked like he had a perfect line. Turned out that he had gone pretty sideways and separated his paddle on impact. Then it was my turn. I gave the old whistle then drifted down the eddy line, I pulled out into the current and as the lip went under me I felt just a tiny touch of rock on my hull - not ideal. Luckily I was already pulling on my right blade which straightened me and lifted my nose just a little. As I tucked I saw the landing and was pretty sure I had it sorted. It ended up being a super soft hit and I rolled up to the ubiquitous Ryan Lucas scream.

Ryan sending it on the first D - 60 to 65 we reckon

My turn, getting ready for the hit.

After the big one we asssumed the river would have run out of gradient and we just had some boogie to the takeout. We were ever so mistaken. Big rapids just kept coming at us, all super cool and surprisingly clean. Including the biggest slide of the day..

"How deep do you reckon the bottom is"?

Wills probing

Ryan at the bottom giving some scale to it.

More rapids led us to still more horizon lines where we came across this gem.

Happy times

Me about to fly

Some low angle slides and fun boogie (not the usual Kaimai boulder gardens) finally got us to the take out tired, sore and super stoked at the sick day we just had. Definitely one of the best runs in the Kaimais for sure. Cant wait to go back!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HB Gem

After a very cold stint in Wanaka/Christchurch I made it back to the Hawkes Bay on the back of a storm (and in front of an earthquake) so all of the rivers were up nice and high. I'd already recruited my little sis Harry to paddle with as she was on uni holidays. We scavenged a couple of boats and made our way up our road (the Napier/Taihape) to check out a section on the Tutaekuri river (unfortunate name that, means dog shit...) The Tutaekuri is one of the bigger rivers emptying into the Bay and for most of it's length is super shallow and braided. However right up the top it's got a bit of gradient where it drops off the Kaweka ranges.

The reason this section hadn't been run was because of two waterfalls marked on the topo map - an 8m and a 5m, which given the nature of the gorge they're in would be pretty full on to just bomb into. We'd already scouted the section prior to our Cali trip though and we were surprised to find no big drops, either the topo map was wrong (gasp) or they had been filled in with shingle from a big flood.

Anyway, Harry and I set the shuttle and walked the 15 knee destroying minutes down the Mackintosh track to the put in.

This is the first view you get of the run and the put in - pretty choice!!

As soon as we got on we found ourselves committed in a super deep and pretty inescapable gorge. The rapids alternate between little bouldery 3/4 numbers and some super fun little slides and bedrock sections.

Harry on her first creeking outing on a cool little slide with a bit of an undercut to keep the heart going

The bedrock section in the middle is super fun and waterslidey and will be sick when we get in there when she's pumping. There's a cool six foot sloper...

The point and shoot not quite up to the old 'hold the button down and get more than one shot deal'

and not coping very well with moving kayaks and lack of light. Harry testing the depth - it's deep.

The end of the bedrock section is the crux of the run with a boulder garden enticing you down and then swinging left and tightening up into a very Waihohonu-ish box hole complete with a recirculating eddy. This alone will be the deciding factor for super high water runs - not sure if it will get worse or wash out. You can't really scout or portage it either so it will be interesting...

Harry about to discover the joys of paddling upstream out the back of an eddy. It's steeper than it looks in the photo and the right hand side had a bit of a cavey pockety thing.

After this rapid there were lots more boulder gardens and another cool grade 2/3 gorge where a big side creek comes in from the right.

Harry soaking it all in in the super cool gorges.

This run was super fun and ideal for someone just getting into creeking with nothing too hard and minimal sieves/wood to deal with. Any less water than we had would make the boulder gardens pretty average. It's a mean run for us to have on the back doorstep and adds that little bit more to the area.
Not really sure who reads this stuff but if you're from the HB canoe club it would be a mean run for you to use. I've got a more guidebook type write up I can send you.

As for now I've moved back to the falls and straight back into epic spring conditions for the Kaimais. The boys have been going hard with Tuakopai, Waipapa and even a Whatakau run. To top it off we jumped on the Wainui the other day and had one of the sickest days boating I've done in NZ. Can anyone say 60 footer...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wake up!!

Here's a little vid from our clear lake mission a while back. Shot off Josh's gopro, sorry some of the old action shots are a little shakey due to our extremely advanced filming technique (hold camera in hand while trying to balance on bouncy ass boat) Anyway, enjoy...

Next week I'm off to the other end of the spectrum - below zero temps and snow at the Burton NZ Open. Should get some mean photos. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Money shot

I used to think that if you were going to make a river it would basically be like the Kaituna with maybe some more waterfalls; warm water, easy access, sick rapids and german beer at the takeout/put in.

I was wrong.

There are some places in the kayaking world world which attract dirtbag gypises like moths to a flame. Places like the Nile, the west coast, Chile and California are notorious for the lifestyle and whitewater on offer.

However, there is one river in particular and one section of that river which holds one of the most photographed and iconic drops at least in Cali if not the world. Ever since I started kayaking I remember looking at photos and video of people flying off in a locked in granite gorge and thinking "if I ever make it to that place I will be a happy little chappy"
That place is Cherry bomb gorge on the Upper Cherry creek.
This run doesn't give itself up easily, with a 12 mile walk and a 35kg hunk of the most unergonomic plastic it is possible to engineer on your back, it's pretty much a given that you're going to be hurting by the time you reach the put in.
Once again we found ourselves at a trail head with a huge crew of nine kiwi boaters, three trail support/professional shuttlers, 15 cameras, our chief strategist/ball of enthusiasm/live guidebook and a dog.

I won't bore you with a description of the walk other than to say we started at 5:30 in the morning and it took 5-6 hours. Average.

The put in was awesome though - a huge granite valley with no dirt in sight and miles (literally miles) of low angle, super chilled out slides.
When we finally made it to the cherry bomb entry I believe the quote for the day was "Everyone's running it, it's mandatory, I won't allow anyone to portage!!!"(Garcia, 2010) With that decision out of the way we rallied into the upper cherry bomb gorge. Some cool slides and rapids get you to a lake in the gorge which then gets you to a portage right above cherry bomb.
Cherry bomb itself is a sick slide to kicker that drops you straight into a sick gorge with another ten or so drops back to back. One eddy and then it's into the jedi slides - awesome slides which lead straight into the teacups. Words don't do justice to this section of river at all so I'll leave the essay here and put some pics up.

The walk from the bottom of the teacups, I have no idea how many times we did this walk over two days but it was lots.

Twelve people rolling into the Jedi slides - sick

The bottom teacups

From the other angle... Our camp is on the left of the big pool

The money shot - cherry bomb, glorious.

On a slightly different note... some culture - Mum wedged under the tunnel tree after we all got out and she lifted a little... Not pictured - driving back under at twenty miles "pin it we can fit!!!" ish nerve wracking..

What would you write as a caption here?? Seriously? Heavy petting can lead to unplanned pregnancy? I just don't know.


Lauder - Conspicuously absent, Roil - average to poor, Neilson - fair to above average, Bayly - glorious

*All pics for this post are from Rach and Brad. Cheer Cuzzies.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Belated update

Seeing as I have been busy/lazy and haven't updated anything for a while I decided that you can just read everyone else's blogs for our Dinkey/West Cherry/Hospital rock trips and I will post stuff about our extra-curricular rest day activities which are highly entertaining, informative, all in one, drive in, pre packaged, americanised national park experiences which we then proceed to demolish with a characteristic combination of New Zealand charm and Kiwi mongrel. This can include but is not limited to; Climbing all over delicate rock formations which took millions of years to develop, driving through pristine meadows with the doors/windows open/down playing obnoxiously loud power ballads, stalking wild bears in fields which then turn out to have cubs up the tree you just walked under, drawing a face on a watermelon and carrying it on a public walkway and then making fun of the person in front of you who has their ridiculous pomerian rat dog in a carry harness on their chest....

Oh and we had a fully sick, punky brewster day on the East Kaweah yesterday with a perfect flow. Redemption was achieved after our last misadventure in there at high flow. Here's some photos of all of the above. I have lost my mind with all of the rubbish coming out of my head onto this page.

Garcia styling triple drop. Fancy that.

Sanga boofing in, pre rolling in the boil and doing the second drop upside down

I'm going to eat you!!!

Mr Bayly cruising into the drop that got me the first time around

'Double drop. Excellent.

James Anthony Garrod backflipping off a bridge in Yosemite. Shortly after this several rangers in short shorts felt the urge to tell us this was actually illegal and we were setting a bad example for the "children and families" The same rangers then noticed we were parked illegally and our registration on mum was out of date. Peace ensued as we talked our way out of a fine. See what I mean about the charm/mongrel dichotomy?

*On a side note to this, note all of the rafts in the background. They will put thousands of people down this stretch of river in rafts all year but we get arrested if we kayak in the Yosemite national park. This is America! We're Americans! Retards.

Bayly. Craaaaggggggssss.

Casual mum bear deciding we were too close to her cub and we should probably leave...

Biggest trees in the world apparantly. 1300 tons that fella. Good firewood though.

Team kiwi with token american. And a dog.

Oh and all of the photos were shamelessly taken from Mr J Mitchell's camera. Nice work nug.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Royal Gorge

This has to be one of the most anticipated runs in the whole of California. A sketchy put in, super remote location and some HUGE rapids make it one of the runs which gets spoken of in reverent tones in beaten up cars and dingy bars all over the state. Stories of epic trips come out of Royal every year which only serve to fuel the gossip mill.
This season, like everything else, Royal was flowing 5-6 weeks later than normal and we had been eagerly waiting for the flows to drop into the runnable window (of course this differed for some with a super early trip going in super high and walking all of the big stuff).

It was like waiting for a Christmas day which kept shifting further away and I was getting stressed that I wouldn't get it. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. With a little kiwi crew of Brad and Toni we joined up with Evan Garcia, Will Pruett and Drew Duvall. Evan wanted to wait until flows were a little lower becasue he was hatching a plan - more on that later.

Ok bear with me here because I have to set the scene a little bit.
The put in for Royal is on private land and even though it's only for 5 metres the owners/manager are known for stopping kayakers getting on and even having them arrested for tresspassing. For this reason you have to be cunning and get your boat all loaded up and your gear on before you get there. We did all of this at a pull over further up the road and it pretty much just served to make us more and more nervous about the run.

We got to the put in and it was a mad scramble getting boats off, running to the river and putting on before anyone came and tried to stop us. We had a 200m flat to warm up on, a portage around a dam/weir and then it was all on.
Royal gorge didn't muck around with any lead in rubbish - it was straight into some pretty steep, very tight, low volume creeking. With Evan and his photographic memory leading the charge we made good time through the steep, semi mank into a cleaner section (which was still steep). An hour and a half saw us at the first of the biggy's of the run.

Heath one from the lip

The heath springs gorge is the first staunch part of Royal. It starts off with a burly lead in then a 35-40 footer - Heath one. It then carries on to Heath two, a 40 - 50 footer into a pool with a slot 15 footer to exit. After this the river enters the lower Heath gorge which is a staunch set of 5+ rapids in an inescapable canyon.

Me running Heath one.

We all ran Heath one with good times except for Brad snapping his paddle. Evan and Drew were fired up for Heath two so we set safety/cameras everywhere. Evan went first and greased it (funny how he seems to do that a lot..). Drew went over the bars and his deck imploded and he only just made the eddy before the slot drop which would have been savage to run with a full boat. The boys then ran the gorge while we portaged around it.

Drew running Heath two

After the Heath gorge there were some fun rapids and slides until the rattlesnake entry gorge. This had a portage and then a rapid with a rather retentive hole in it.

Evan boofing clear

This lead us straight into our campsite for the night and possibly the sickest campsite I've stayed at on a river. Rattlesnake falls - a 50 footer is right next to it and the boys were fired up to run it as soon as we arived. They all had nice lines and we had a super chilled time at the camp that afternoon.The rattlesnake campsite - sick!

Brad on the rattler

Me sending it.

Day two kicked off with me and Toni firing the rattler up, she greased it and I went over the bars a little but it was still a pretty soft hit. Lots of choice rapids lead us slowly (or actually quite quickly) to the biggest drop in the run. Scott's drop is the stoutest thing I've seen over here so far, a 30 foot drop into a big hole into a slide into a 20 foot drop. It's unbelievably big and scary. Evan was fired up to run it so we quickly portaged around it and got out the throwbags and cameras.
Evan came in and styled the top of the drop but got kicked over the bars at the bottom hitting a rock in the landing and getting ejected. It was a super impressive line and unlucky that he didn't clean it.
Drew's line went a little diferently however.. He went over the bars on the first part but rolled up in the pool, he then had to work hard to get left and he din't quite make it. The same rock that kicked Evan threw him into the wall where he proceeded to get the equivalent of a curb stomping on the wall losing four teeth and getting a concussion just for good measure.
Drew just about to eat it.

This made things a little more serious, being so remote walking out was pretty much out of the question so Will and Drew decided to just bomb out in one day to get Drew to the dentist - no mean feat when you are concussed and juiced up on candy.
We carried on down to the last big drop on the run where Evan wanted to cap off his grand plan - run all of the big drops in Royal in one trip which hadn't been done before. Funnily enough he greased the 70 foot Wabena falls in the same freakish style he had done the rest of the run with.

Evan getting ready to take it deep on Wabena

After Wabena we cruised through some more rapids and stayed at another sick camp where we were mercilessly savaged by mosquitoes until dark.

Sweet as lazy boys even!

The last day was a bit of a slog through about 25 miles of easy rapids to the takeout where the ever reliable MUM was waiting to take us to the closest available fast food outlet.
Next up we are off to Dinky creek and the southern drainages which are coming in left right and centre. I'm fired up!!!!! (in dirty southern accent)

All pics from this run are from the esteemed Ms Toni George, chur!!!

Golden Gate

The last couple of weeks here have been pretty busy, there were a lot of different plans happening at once so it was a bit of a juggling act trying to figure out what to do. After a cheeky run on the Lover's Leap section of the South American with Nick Wimsett and a bunch of Americans I finally managed to catch up with the old boys (they like to call themselves the masters team but we can't let them get too carried away) after a lot of missed communication via roaming NZ phones which don't work that well.

The call was for golden gate - another run on the South American which is supposed to be a long day of super cool rapids.
We got to the put in and found Mr Johnstone dozing peacefully while the others ran shuttle and it slowly transpired that we were going to have ten kiwis on a run in California - sick!

The run starts off pretty chill with everyone cruising down all over the show and then we got to the first scout. After this the gradient just stood up and didn't let up all day, sick boat scoutable boulder gardens interspersed with bigger rapids which precipitated scouts (or probes by John and James..) Everything for the day was ran except for F-111 which has a pretty terrible hole and no one could be bothered because it was right at the end.

Check the photos - this was my favourite 'river' run so far in Cali.

T Pickering on the runout of the first big rapid of the day - drainpipe

Snook probing 'Taco Bell - the last place you'd want to be'

Now I know this is semi bad form but apparantly this is a rare image - Mr Keith Riley getting a little mixed up and going over the main drop of Taco Bell backwards and upside down...

Me on my favourite rapid of the run, I'm not 100% but I think its called 'All Fucked Up'??

DJ in the midst of All Fucked Up

After a sick day we made a plan to do the upper Silver fork of the South American. We lost a couple of people and gained one so we still had a big crew. We had another cool day on another cool run - no photos but that's ok. It was mean catching up and paddling with more crew from home - B is coming soon which will be awesome but in the meantime... shiver.. Royal Gorge was in...