10 September 2008

A Crooked Experience

Well... after a long time waiting to actually get to the stage that we were game to get on the Crooked, we finally got our shit together and made the not so long drive from Chch to the river that is the mighty Crooked.
After leaving Christchurch at 7.30 we took the drive nice and easy, getting to the farmers house only to find it empty. This made getting the key to the gates pretty hard so we just sat, waiting, hoping that we didn't have to head back to chch with no tales to tell. This is when we heard the sound of the farmers bike rip into the drive and save the day!
The sentriz made us proud on the drive in and the weather was perfect! We started the hike that is reknown for its knee deep mud and elusive track.
first glimpse of the river and we were pretty excited as the flows looked optimal, not that we knew any better.
The walk wasn't quite as bad as we were expecting after hearing stories of wallowing in mud the whole way, however it still had a dirty hill we had to go up and over. Sanga and Jamie were leap frogging to make sure that we didn't lose the track and didn't leave Gussy too far behind. The walk was still taking its toll on us even though it was pretty dry.

As often seems to be the case when we tackle new and challenging runs, someone was hungover... No points for guessing who.

Gussy's harness didn't last more than 5minutes so the walk was taking even more out of him...this had a big part to play in our adventure it turns out..

We got to the river without any mishaps on the track and got on the river by 2.30 with an awesome view of the mountains upstream and the mysterious gorges downstream.

From here we moved on down the river knowing that we had enough time to get out but not enough to take any risks. We were moving quite well down the river when we got to the crux.
Bent and Twisted was obvious when we got to it so we got out to have a good look and scouted the three drops that made up this section. By the time we got to the last drop, Sanga and Jamie liked the look of the second two of the three drops and then turned to Gus who had his mind pretty much made up. His answer was, "no". This was understandable because we had just tackled a two hour walk on not much food and the section turned the corner into another gorge.
It was 3.30 now and we had no real way out except for the river without potentially getting lost in the dark. So we stuck with where we were and decided that we would try and make the move in the morning.

Due to the nature of the coast (remote rivers and unpredictable weather) we were as prepared as we could be with as little gear as possible. Out of all of the stuff we were carrying, what was important this trip was the stuff that usually never gets used - matches, food, and the extra layers. Luckily the weather was fine and dry which made it a lot more bearable. Nevertheless a moro bar and a one square meal between three people doesn't go far

So we got out everything useful that we had in our boats, started a fire and gathering wood. Spirits were pretty high but we knew there would be some sreious stressing starting to happen back in Christchurch....

Then it got dark..
With darkness came the cold, without the fire, we would have been a lot worse off and staying the night wouldn't have been such a good idea. Even with the fire we could only stay warm when we were about a metre away from it, this lead to some interesting sleeping postures.
At about 3am spirits were low, the fire was low, and sleep was not happening. So we cranked the fire and from now on we kept it cranking! Jamie also had his own little hot rock system which involved stacking as many rocks as he could fit around the fire and then cuddling them in a rotational policy like hotties.

Drying and keeping on any gear that would help us stay warm was key.

By the time 4am came about sunrise was a major motivator. When it finally came it wasn't as glorious as expected so we waited for the fire to die down a bit more before we got going.
When we finally got on the water we didn't waste any time, because in the back of our minds we knew that there might be a full on search deployed for us.
We arrived at the car with a little note on the windscreen informing us that a helicopter had been organized for that morning and to call 111 asap to prevent the search getting into full swing. As soon as we were in reception we let everyone back home know that we were safe so they could relax.

A big huge thanks to Chee who was a major player in initiating the rescue process and everyone else that was supporting him! Just as well this time it was not a serious situation because it just as easily could have been.

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