November 9, 2006

First Decent of the 'Stoney'

Good things come to those who.... seek them out

The past couple of weeks have kept me busy working and gathering information on a river called the Stoney. Having poured over maps and talked with a few locals in the know it was time to see for myself. I made the trip into the lower reaches of the Stoney to find out if all the promise would live up to my expectations.

After driving a few dusty back country roads I found my access point into the river via an old 4wd track. Taking to the mountain bike and bashing my through the scrub and gorse (felt like 40mins of acupuncture each way) into the lower reaches of the run. Dropping the bike and heading up river for a few kilometers I was happy with what the river had to offer so turned heel and headed back to Murch to relay the info and start to rally a team.

After the disappointment of the Mackely some were a little harder to motivate than others, but eventually a team was formed.

Due to the small catchment of the river weather forecasts were watched closely and with a major front passing through we were primed.

A few phone calls to the local helicopter pilot who didn't weild our same enthusiasm, "you want to fly where?", "theres really big boulders up there and it gets a bit steep", "ohh, I dunno, there are lots of rocks up there".

After convincing our pilot that we were'nt in fact lost sea kayakers a time and place were made for flying in.

Thursday November 9th 2006

The Team

Mick Hopkinson, Leeann Leedbetter, Cheese ey, Jess Brown, Joe Bousquin and Ben Jackson (me,big surprise there) we would be aka. Team NZKS - well sort of.

We rallied at the kayak school just after seven. With sleep in our eyes, gas tanks full and red bull at hand counter effects from the night before, we made the short trip (one hour from Murch is pretty good for fly in's) to the take out. After some more miscomunication we finally meet with the pilot a little after ten instead of the origional 9am. A breif altercation and near death experience later (don't ask - unless you're buying the beer) we found ourseleves being whisked towards the confluence and our landing site taht lay 10km upstream. Having spoken with the pilot he flew us pretty close so I could check things out - which as some of you know, is pretty tough from 300m up at 80km an hour.

With the team assembled at the put in we had a pretty mellow first few k's of bumping ,crashing and knuckle dragging amounst the braids leaving us plenty of time to marvel at the scenery and rescent flood damage.

The probe checking the line while the team takes in the scenery

Gradually things started to come together as the river narrowed and begun to increase in gradient. The beautiful and scenic class two developed into nice and technical class three which then continued for a few more k before things started to really hot up.

As the gradient increased, so did the quality of the rapids and drops. There were so many good drops and moves all stacked back to back only the very best stand out in memory.

Boofing. good clean fun

Mick, left but not too far left

As the bellies began to rumble we were greated by the hardest rapids of the day so far. Fairly solid class four had everyone grinning from ear to ear. Either that or heading for the bank in search of a safer lifestyle. Only temporarly of course. Due to the lowish level of the water (around 8-10 cumecs) we were kept busy with the usual pins and getting stuck in unusal postions. As you do.

Leeann on her West Coast induction. Not bad

The crux section of the run had most of the team electing to run some of the junkier rapids from the safety of the bank. A number of the drops had unrealistic entry moves and shallow and nasty landings so with longevity in mind good calls were made. However, this particular section did show amazing promise with another foot of water and would become class 4/5 paradise.

Shit and Run rapid. Light weight is good. You work it out

Refreshed after lunch and back on the water we paddled yet more continuous class four for a few kilometres before things began to ease off. The timing was perfect as some of the team were begining to grow weary from all the fun, excitment and continuous nature of the run.

The last hour on the run turned into more of the crash and bash we had at the top as things began to spread back out.

Tucked neatly into the back of the Paparoa's the river was made up of beautiful granite boulders (as our pilot had suggested) and the banks lined with amazing untouched beech forests for the entire length of the run.

We spent five and a half hours on the run and dropped an estimated 240m over about nine kilometres. No gorges, everything portagable and bugger all wood made for bloody good fun and a sure classic in the future.

Mick, Joe, Leeann, Me, Cheese and Jess
The team is stoked after a hard days 'professional developement'

November 5, 2006


red is good. Rain!!!

Things in murch are finally starting too warm and get going here. Life has has been a little bit low key as of late as it often cared is good. rain!!!n be in the shoulder seasons.

I've been keeping myself busy exploring the greater Murch area looking for new places to paddle. One river of note was the Mackely which flows into the Buller form the river right between Inagahua and Berlins. After chatting to the locals and getting hold of a key Mick, Cheese and I went for a 4wd mission in to check it out.

15km later we arrived at the Mackely and to our surprise we found a fairly sizable river with a pretty decent flow (about 15 cumecs). Some more consultation with a few flok and some mapping software it looked as though we had some potential good paddling lined up. Some one had tubed or bugged the run about 20 years ago and thought the run to class 3/4 so hopes were high.

The crew was organisedfew days but the rain gods had other ideas so I pulled the pin and we headed back to Murch for some big!! water action on the matiri, glenroy and lower matak.

Allowing a few days for things to calm down with headed back in reading and eager to get into action.

Sadly, the Mackely didn't forfill its promise and we were left with a pretty mellow day on the water.