Weekend Trip - Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th May 2011
We had a long six-hour drive to Mangaweka, the base for kayaking multiple 18 km segments of grade two white water on the Rangitikei River. Sandra was our experienced guide; the rest of us had not been there before. Massive cliffs and overhangs made a spectacular journey, with plenty of water pumping into the cliffs.
On our first run we had five can-outs in a small area with boats colliding against both each other and a large cliff.
Brent and Dave, and their kayaks, were seen to be in a particularly intimate embrace. Ian got a scare, being tipped out and then dragged down by his skirt. As the skirt braces had been removed, he was able to wriggle out and surface, to his delight and that of his wife Kathy. Sandra had rudder problems and admirably worked her way down the rapids in her multisport boat without steerage.
One participant turned up with a paddle leash (a long rope tying the paddle to the kayak), acceptable in open water, but bad practice in a river where there are potential snags. He refused to remove it, even after several requests by several people, and put both himself and the rest of our group at risk. I got grumpy. Max nearly drowned in the Mohaka last year being caught under water with a branch through his skirt loop, and we should all be aware of the dangers of loose rope, both to the user and to others who may collide and entangle. Paddle leashes are unsafe in white-water rivers!!
On the third and last run of the day, there was a very loud clatter and a rock fall hit those behind me. I was glad everyone was wearing their helmets!! Early on, Simon had rudder problems and had to stop, hoping to catch Max the driver for a lift back.
It was late afternoon and a small group of us continued on before night fell. Our dearest driver, chatting to others at the lodge, was late at the opt-out exit. We were glad finally to be picked up, cold and in the dark. Simon, who missed the car, had waited considerably longer up-river in company with the super-friendly local sandflies. We were happily reunited, having had some excellent kayaking that day. The power at the lodge had gone off so it was off down to the pub for those not on the water. When we kayakers returned, the power was back on, the imbibers back from the pub, with a yummy boil-up and liquid festivities under way. Only one hangover the next day - not bad.
The sun was out but, ironically, the river was up by about one third. We knew the cliffs, boils and rocks to watch out for, and also played around choosing riskier lines to practise on. Tony (previously nicknamed the underwater cliff inspector) showed vastly better balance and fell out only twice. Once was near the end and I was able to practise using my new tow line. It worked very well!! It was Simon’s first ever white-water experience and he amazed us by doing two Eskimo rolls in a beachcomber. A star who has the makings of a fine one-day Coast to Coast competitor. Max and Ian both seemed to thoroughly enjoy a turn in the double although it was extremely wet being in the front. Kathy, Mike and I made solid descents with no spills. All up our group took only fifteen swims which was a vast improvement on other trips where we seemed to spend our days towing and baling out. Another weekend of enhancing skills and fantastic fun company. Thanks guys, particularly Max, Ian and Johrn who drove the shuttle vehicles, and Kathy who prepared the evening meal.
Carol Exton (leader and scribe), Max Clark, Brent Rose, Dave Cray, Mike Hindmarsh, Sandra Stevenson, Simon Bucknell, Tony King, Kathy, Ian, and Johrn Engelbrecht, Jim Taylor