So, after arranging the shuttle (always a hassle on a 200km trip), with Nic's Blenheim whanau kindly assisting, we headed off over Jack's Pass (or was it Jollie's Pass?) and decided to start the trip with a three hour siesta and then decided the day was too far gone, we'd better camp where we were. This was the Molesworth Basin (home of a jolly good mountainbike epic). It's dry, dusty and big, and very hot, but better than very cold, which it is in winter.
Day 2: slept in, beautiful day, finished early and swam a lot. Was this cruisy or what. 30 degrees (we figured) and some of the finest swimming holes ever, in a beautiful grade two gorge. About forty rafters passed us at one of the swimming holes, but we decided to let them go. But they did mention something about some rapid further downstream...
Day 3: The Chute: It didn't sound too bad, it's a grade 2 river, all the rafters got through ok (no bodies or boats left anyway). How bad can it be? Well with four hot canadian paddlers, probably not very, but we scouted it for a good hour first, and then Nic and Lucy managed to do everything backwards and swamp spectacularly. Kate and Anna, however, hit the perfect line. So two good Canadian paddlers at least.
Day 4: Hey, weren't we supposed to be out by now? And we'd only finished day one according to the book. Unfortunately, the upper South Island caught the end of the cyclone affecting Dorklanders and it rained heavily in the hills. All tributaries were brown and pumping. Soon we weren't stopping at swimming holes anymore. This decision was hastened by an over-friendly eel, which decided to check out the inside of Anna and Kate's boat. I knew something was up when Anna squealed "oooh, eel" and jumped into big brown water. Of course I had to too. Half an hour later and the eel was free and we were reunited with our boat. Nic and Lucy thought this most amusing, except we were even more amused when they managed to wrap their (oops I mean the club's) boat around a miniscule rock and inflict significant damage (which, of course we repaired). However, since the other boat, captained by I can't remember whom, managed to do the same (but on a much bigger rock) we had to laugh a bit less hard later.
By this stage we couldn't remeber what day it was anymore. All that stood in the way of us and fresh food, however, was something called the `jaw breaker'. Well, its a grade 2 river, we reiterated ... two swamped boats, four wet paddlers and about three hours of scouting later, we decided its time to revamp the grade system. Cruisy grade 2 in flood for a canadian, we figure, is really grade 4+ on a good day, and we've got the broken wood to prove it. But before this sounds like a hard luck story, actually the river was brilliant (if 6 days long), excellent camp sites, spectacular scenery and good people, and even enough food (lucky we kept some for day 3 onwards). Highly recommended, but remember, grade 2 depends on your point of view.
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