Saturday, December 12, 2009

rain rain go away

right: the Totara in good flow

So bryuce and me have done a few things since the last update. Less than we would have liked because it has basically rained every day for the last 5 or 6 days – 400mm fell in the whitcomb catchment a couple of days ago. This has meant, iroically enough that every river around hokitika has been massive – rivers that would normally be 5 or 10m wide were 30m wide brown wavetrains.

left: bushbashing is much more fun than paddling

After the first lot of rain we did the Totara which was fun – 12km of bouncy III+, a few chunky holes, some pretty gorge. The shuttle was fun too as it involved runnning 12km back to the car. The next day we went down to the Kakapotahi and did the upper gorge in the afternoon. The level was on the low end of runnable – its an entertaining trip all the same, and is more pleasant now that you can paddle through the cave below airmail instead of doing the sketch portage.

left: random drop. Non cash prize for whoever can guess where it is

We spent a day driving around once it really started to rain looking for rivers that were low enough to paddle – an ultimately fruitless mission, as the run to do when “all the main rivers are in flood”, Blue Bottle creek, was too low. The next day (yesterday) we hit it up. It didn't look too bad at the put in – kind of like an Australian creek really – about 5m wide, brown and fast flowing. We'd heard from from some people who'd done it the day before (too low they reckoned) that there was a log across the channel not to far from the start – I was up front and came upon a sharp bend that had a micro eddy at it's apex, which I decided not to grab... as I came round the bend I found myself presented with a log across the channel – managed to beach myself in the fork of a tree stump and get out thankfully.

left: airmail

The river kept ambling along at fun (brown) bouncy class III for some time and I was wondering when/if there were going to be any proper rapids – there were, and once we were in the steepest part of the run I was hoping for a return to the earlier conditions. The steep section would normally be a pleasant boulder garden I imagine. At this flow it was a a steep pumpy brown series of big holes. I looked around at one point to see our french mate in a hole, not able to do anything I hoped he'd get out – he caught up to us a minute or so later. This continued for longer than I thought it would until we reached the aquaduct we had seen the day earlier. There was a big eddy here, so we all got out and had a breather. The next km or two were fun and bouncy – moreso once we got to the confluence with the Kinare river and the flow trippled. At least there was room to move now.

left: bruce on postmans falls.

Bruce and me have been driving around today looking for things low enough to paddle – we went to blackball (too low) the crooked (too high) and the otira (too high/nuts), so we cruised over Arthurs arse and down to the Rangitata, which we had been told would take 1.5hrs to get to from the pass – its now 4.5hrs later, the days getting on and we've given up 'cause bruce has hooked up some accom/food in christchurch!

below: this was the takeout for bluebottle creek (on the Kinere river) - note the enormous riverwide wave...there was probably 100+ cumecs pumping through a relatively small channel....


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