January 26, 2007

Two Day Perth

The two day Perth is a trip I have been looking forward to getting on for some time. The run consists of two days of committing kayaking settled amounst some BIG country that is the Southern Alpes.

The scene was set, three days off from work in Murchison, a good weather window on the westcoast and a team keen to search out some adventure (well it was only Zak and I atleast). Our trip started where all good trips start on the coast, at the 'poo pub'. With beer in our bellies and spirits high we formulated our plan to fly the next morning. We meet up with Lou Tapper from Wellington and managed to tag him into the team. "Don't worry Lou mate, it'll be a cool 2 days, ohh did we mention the last couple of times Zak and I boated together we've had to walk out...""You've got nothing to worry about."

westcoast shuttle image. zak shaw

The hour drive from Hoki south to the Perth gave us time to rehydrate (red bull) and down some last minute nourishment (steak and cheese pie). A quick change and $100 later we were heading for the 'put in'. Inspiring, amazing and intimidating all spring to mind when looking around at where you are. It feels as though you've flown into the heart of the main divide. Drop the net, unload the boats, bid farewell to James the pilot and then silence. Three kayakers, 2 days and about 16km of hard paddling to the safety of the car....

slack jaw splashing down image. ben jackson

We were lucky and had about 150m to warm up before things really started to get going (this is good for the coast). The steep nature meant we were boat scouting (checking the line down stream from the boats) almost immediately. The gradient also meant that the paddling was very continuous in nature and not allow you to drop your guard at all.

me giving the centre line a nudge i. zak shaw

There were definately a number of bigger drops and rapids in the Upper section that requiring extensive scouting on foot from the bank and plenty of deliberation on ones longevity in some of the rapids. We walked a few times on rapids that were 'manky' (not very nice) or were looking for more 'committment' than we were willing to offer.

Zak on double drop i. ben jackson

"I can see my house from here" i. zak shaw

Nestled amounst all the good paddling were a number of super classy drops that had us scambling for the camera and back up the bank for a few more laps. We only had 4km to Scone Hut, our overnight stop so we took it pretty easy taking our time and soaking up the paddling and landscape....

3pm had us in the hut safe and dry where we settled into an afternoon of sleep and hazyness.

"It was this big, honest" i. zak shaw

Day two had us hitting the water at the crack of 11am. We thought the water level was a bit high but it wasn't long until our susspisions were confirmed. With boats loaded with overnight gear we were definately feeling the full force of the Perth. I remember a lot of the moves from the previous week but they were happening much faster and on occassion with a lot less control. We were glad we hadn't decided to push on through as we had discussed on the first day. The paddling in the section from Scone Hut down was much cleaner than the Upper section due to the ease in gradient and with a bunch more water from Scone Creek.

running hard left i. zak shaw

The added water made for a few different lines which meant we were a little slower through the 'upper' section. There were still classy moves scattered through-out the section but nothing of the calibre of the previous day. All was going well until the very last drop.... really. The line was out of the eddy start centre and fade left over the obvious 8ft river wide drop. However this proved a little difficult. I got knocked around a bit. Zak stuck his line and Lou didn't quite have enough pase. The end result was a Big beating and swim for Lou.... We almost made it.

Whio at home. Awesome i. zak shaw

The lower section (lower gorge) was as beautiful as ever and different enough with the added water. A quick portage around a river wide tree (almost) and we were free all the way too the car at the take out - only an hours paddle away.

All in all a great trip was had. Its bloody good getting out and seeing new parts of our country.... Nice 1

January 23, 2007

working to play

Well its been along time since I managed to knock out a blog entry. Things have been pretty busy here in Murch land. We are currently striding through our busiest time of year meaning that work has been in great supply and time off has been a little hard to find.

Christmas was a pretty low key affair. Champa's, fine food, great people, beautiful weather and a day on the golf course made for good times.

We managed to squeeze a course in at the kayak course between Chrismas and New Years and then I broke out of the Murchison eddy and headed west to Inagahua for a New Years event know as Phat 07. Three days, two nights of great music settled in the beech forest clad foot hills made for one of the better holidays I have had in recent memory. Lots of partying, dancing and a distinct lack of sleep and way too many things that are bad for you had me crawling back to Murch tired and happy.

A few days of rest a recovery were needed and then I headed south to Hoki to catch up with some friends and get some paddling in before work started again.

I got into the Upper Perth with Dave Ritchie, John Snook and James Griffin for what proved to be a stella day on the water. We flew high up to Scone Hut about 14km up river. From here it was all down hill as we embarked on a day of very classy paddling. This section of river is relatively open which makes for easier portaging (walking around) and scouting (looking at the rapids). With a good flow in the river all but one section was runnable making for a group of happy boys.

James Griffin. Doing it skeletor style

The Perth River is situated about an hour south of Hokitika and joins forces with, and becomes the Whataroa River for its short trip to join the Tasman.

The scenery is stunning and makes you feel very small as the southern alpes stand tall over the you and the team. As the run starts very high it means that there is a lot of river to descend to make it safetly back to the car. This gradient makes for tight and technical paddling amoung the giant schist boulders that litter the river bed.

Dave doing what he does best - the study of
liquid in motion

With a tight team we made short work of the upper section and met up with a group of friends waiting at the lower put in. A bite for lunch and back on the water. The first few k's remain open before the river descends into a beautiful schist gorge and this is were the paddling heats back up. Classic moves in a stunning landscape. Alaskan Mary gave us a bit of a fright when she took up swimming part way down the gorge but after a few anxious moments we sorted things out and got the show back on the road and headed for the cold beers at the take-out.

John Snook trying to avoid 'the hand of god'