Sunday, February 7, 2010

Summer creeking

Its Sunday afternoon. I've just finished work after the early shift and head straight home to check the guages. The weather sites had been saying there was going to be heavy rain for the Kaimais the night before (this is no cause for excitement believe me. They call heavy rain warnings for every front these days - post OPC debacle) so I wanted to check the flows. It has been a pretty dry spell for creeking so we were all pretty fevered about any rain.
Reports started filtering back from the recon team on site (the people paddling the Wairoa), saying it was pouring down there with all the little tribs emptying brown muddy water into the main river...
"Sounds good" we say to ourselves, and proceed to rally a crew who are keen for a cheeky Tuakopai bomb.
We decide to wait for confirmation from the scout team about whether it was on or not to drive over. Unfortunately, said scout team consisted of three notoriously excitable characters for whom communication via cell phone falls a long way behind such things as flooded rivers and journeys to Mcdonalds to wait and see what level the flooded rivers will reach....
Anyway, to cut a long dribble short, the entire Kaimais got savaged by a rain bomb which made all the creeks/rivers/ditches go mental. The Wairoa was a metre above the seal launch rock (for those who don't know this is about 5-6m above normal release flow). The Tuakopai was too high to get on and Messr's Bayly, Sutton and Martin were almost ready to give up and come home. The Okere falls crew stayed put because we heard it was too high to run anything. The boys had one last check of their guage stick and found the Tuakopai was dropping so they persevered and were rewarded with a sick high water run on dark.
Anyway this rain set the scene for the next day. We spent the evening scheming and getting thoroughly over excited about what to run, finally coming up with a list of options depending on levels.
Waking up early we found lots of the creeks had dropped out leaving us with only a few options. B, me and Wills rallied with team cascades (Timmy, Pete and Scotty) over to the Wairoa to see what the levels were looking like. The Ngamuwahine looked ok so the call was made to roll into the upper. This meant a long day so I had to rearrange priorities for my afternoon.. My boss is choice - she lets me have time off to go creeking.
We set the shuttle and got our walk on into the very top of the Kaimais. The run starts right up on the plateau just meandering through the forest leaving everyone to wonder what was in store. Then it sits up into some cool read and run grade four that we had fun bombing through..

Scotty getting into the action - one of the early rapids

After a short while we got to the horizon line which signals the start of the money section - a sketchy slot into a 20 footer which we didn't run, then the biggest drop 'Handlebars'..

The lineup from downstream, handlebars is the biggy with the first drop above.

Scotty kicked things off by pioneering a new seal launch which saved us a shitty portage and set the scene for some good entertainment.
A name like handlebars inspires a lot of thought as to the possible consequences of a drop. And yes, it is perfectly named..
It's about a 35 foot-ish slide to not-quite-vert with a kicker halfway down which launches you out to hopefully clear the last part of it. If you don't quite clear it and your tail reconnects guess what.... Thats right, 35 feet, to violent kick, to land on your face. Dream scenario.

Me just about to take off. I had the benefit of watching nearly everyone else's lines and so managed to send it and clear the reconnect for a nice soft landing.

After handlebars had claimed its share of burning faces, it was down to the next eddy for a scout of the double drop - back to back 15's with a tricky entrance.

Timmy and me discussing the line for the first one (the line for the second one doesn't matter - you resurface and try and get a boof in before going off)

Double drop from below, we didn't get photos of anyone going off but there is some video which I'll try and get up.

After some stellar (and not so stellar) lines along with a couple of dented boats off double drop it was more fun grade four boulder gardens with only one portage out to the cars.

B lighting up a sweet little drop

Tim about half a second before his second brand new Ty Warp snapped clean in two..

We got to the cars and had a Korero about what to do. It was decided that three of us would carry on and do the normal Ngamu run and then out into the Mangakarengorengo for some nice clean big water, while the other three ran the shuttle.

Me and Wills cruising down the normal Ngamu run.

In true fashion I managed to take a roll in a nothing rapid after all the hard stuff on the day was over and had my thumbs/fingers remodelled by the ever obliging Kaimai rocks. This pretty much killed my buzz and I limped down the Mangas trying to stay out of trouble.

This is the very first move on the Mangas. Mean.

The boys, (Pete and Wills) had no such issues and were loving the big bouncy rapids.

The abyss from below

They both fired the abyss and had sweet lines, (a sweet line on the abyss consists of boofing into the guts and managing to stay upright for the rest of the rapid)

Mr Pete Lodge being blunt about things. - What a pun.

Sick day, sick crew, now it's back to laps on the Tuna until we get some more rain...

Here's a little vid, just shot off the boys' point and shoots.