18 December 2007

Big Gear

Well, what to say. We had another mean weekend on the 8th and 9th. The plan was to drive up the Napier Taihape road over the gentle annie and hit up the infamous Waihohonu river on Saturday, stay in or near taupo (but not within walking distance of town) then make the pilgrimage to Kaituna again. Like most of our plans however, it recieved some modification along the way to make it bigger (much bigger!) and better.

The crew for this mission was Sanga, J dog and Ev going north and Chee coming south to meet us at Kaituna on Sunday.

The Waihohonu turned out to be an awesome run - cold, clear and with some cool 3 - 3+ rapids. The start of the run was met with a lot of humming and haaaing at the roadside grade 4 drops in a side creek with no eddies. The call was finally made to leave these for another day as no one was keen to warm up for the run by boof to face grind on shallow rocks.

J dog running the first canyon rapid

About halfway through the run was the infamous Waihohonu canyon which consists of two rapids which are very narrow and have holes at the bottom. The second of these has what we like to call the devil hole because it was pretty savage and had a drawback of about three metres. None of us felt like a swim so we all portaged (the next day we met a dude who dropped his boat in by accident once and it didnt flush for ten minutes - yuk).

Jamie refreshing himself in the first hole

The devil hole

The run finished with some more cool rapids and a crazy cave with springs coming out of the walls.

We stayed in Kinloch on Saturday night (no pubs there) and this was where the much bigger and better plans kicked in. Josh Neilson, Sam Suttom and Dylan Thompson were coming to Taupo on Sunday morning (1 o'clock ferry anyone) and word was that an early morning run of Huka was on. Pretty big I hear you say; Not for these boys, turned out they were going to run Aratiatia instead and asked us to run safety for them. For those who aren't kayakers, the Aratiatia rapids are on the Waikato river about ten minutes out of taupo and are right below the Aratiatia dam. The dam gets released four times a day and the rapids fill up and turn into some of the hardest whitewater in the country and possibly the world. It's big and scary and serious. So for us to get to see them run and to run safety was a pretty cool opportunity. Chee changed his plans and came down to Taupo for the midday release which was when the run was planned for.

The rapids without water

Filling up

and nearly full

For the run we were going to be at the weir which is the crux of the rapids and is basically just a massive river wide hole with a heinous drawback. Chee and Jdog abseiled down to just below it and Sanga was on the other side all with throwbags in case something went wrong (gulp)

The boys scouting the weir

Chee abseiling in

At 12:15 after the rapids were cranking, Josh pioneered the way down the top half of the rapids and came to the weir, he took a roll just at the bottom but luckily came out ok. Sam was next and got in a massive boof and skimmed straight through. Dylan was last, he bogged a bit but managed to paddle out safely. Whew!!! sighs of relief all round.

Josh on line and styling the top section

Sam on the weir with a sweet line

The boys got to the bottom section of the rapids and scouted it then paddled it ok with a couple of beatings apparantly but they all came out fine.

The team above the bottom drop

Dylan lining it up

It was awesome to see rapids like this being run and run cleanly and it was a rush just seeing it done. If anyone wants some lessons on manning the f**** up they should talk to these dudes!!

After getting out of the gorge we took off for Kaituna on our original mission and Ev had his first taste of waterfall central which he loved, so this ones for you bro... Show your mum.

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