Sean Mc on Skynet

Back to Queenstown

We went back to Queenstown on 12/2/08. We did some sightseeing that day
but it was all scenery, much of which we'd seen on the journey out to
Milford, but good scenery all the same. Back on the Dogleg run... what a
section of river, probably one of my favourites runs in the world. After
the tough journey into Milford we need new brake pads on the van,
everything is tourist prices in Queenstown, including mechanics but we didn't have much choice. Up bright and early and off to the mechanics to get the brake pads changed on the van, not wanting to be late we arrived a few minutes before 8am,
and they weren't even open yet! The boss man didn't show up until nearly
8:30, but we can't complain because they did fix up our van even though
they had other work to do. It was a little pricey but it the only option
we had. As we had stayed in Queenstown another night we had made plans to go
paddling again. We met the others back at their campsite (i.e. Dogleg take
out). Because it was Alan's birthday the previous day they were having
pancakes for breakfast, how fancy is that for greenfield camping? Being my
birthday they gave me some pancakes too. Off to the Dogleg again, taking our time playing on some waves, why not?
It's a sunny day after all. After getting off the river we did the usual
thing and got some lunch. The John the Swede had the bright idea of going
off to do the Citroen rapid later on. Sounded good, a nice ClassIV rapid
and that would only take an hour at most and then hit the road out of
Queenstown... little did we know what was in store. As Clare and Aisling
weren't going to run the section we had agreed that they would do shuttle
for the 4 of us, Alan, John the Swede, Alaska John and myself. We floated
down to the rapid, took a look and decided where to run it, some went left
and some went right of the big cottage size boulder that splits the flow.
I went right of the boulder, it was an easy enough move to make, follow
the green tongue at the start of the rapid then cut through the edge of
the tongue to be lifted onto the cushion wave that forms on the big
boulder. Then sit there side surfing for a few seconds to see what's
happening, put it 2 strokes on your right and shoot off around the corner
to safety. All went well on the rapid, some went upside-down for a little
longer than expected but it was all good. More flat stuff after the rapid
until the take-out. Paddling along on the flat stuff when we start asking
"where's the take-out?" Only the two John's had run the section before but
neither of them were too sure of where to get off the water. To cut a long
story short we came to another rapid... "I don't remember this rapid" say's
the Swede "but it looks ok" Not taking chance's I took the first eddy I
could get and started walking, over a few big rocks where I see the Swede on
the water waving furiously to tell me not to run the rapid and to tell the
others not to run it. It's little wonder he didn't remember the rapid, we
had missed our take-out by a few km and had wandered to a rapid know as
'Retrpospect', a seldom run classV rapid that's not in the NZ whitewater
guidebook. It is withour doubt the most heinous river hole I have ever
seen, it can only be described as a horiztonal whirlpool that will
swallow what ever comes near it. On the plus side we figured that if you
were to paddle into it the experience would be quick, violent but quick.
Unfortunately not one of us had a camera with us to take a picture of it.
Know that we had missed out take out we eventually opted to paddle back
upstream a bit an look for an alternative take-out. With a flow getting
stronger and no obvious paths out to the road which runs near to the river
we figured on going through the bush at the nearest point to the road, a
distance of about 50m. That 50m took us nearly an hour of fighting briars,
brambles and trees. Eventually we made it to the road, the Swede opted to
run back to where the girls were waiting for us. There we were, 3 of us by
the side of the road in our smelly paddling gear with branches and
brambles hanging off of us. Being optimists Alaska and I starting hitching
a lift... you can imagine my surprise when a Porsche 924 pulls in to give us
a lift…. All the bush whacking was worth it just to get a spin in a
Porsche on my birthday. BY this stage any plans on leaving queenstown that
night had been well and truly abandoned, especially as it was now getting
dark. By the end the section of river that should've taken about 1 hour
had taken us almost 2 1/2 hours. Nothing much happened for the rest of the
evening, just some food and beer around a campfire... what a life!

posted by SeanMc @ 12:15 AM,


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