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Ronan's report


Tuesday 22nd September, 2009

Everybody makes mistakes. It is part of being human.

Sometimes, though you can avoid those mistakes with a little planning.

Last Wednesday a co-worker and I decided to float a local river. Nice river to float, a couple Class II+ and a Class III rapid (at higher flows), but for the most part a "sit back with your feet up" type of river.

That was the problem.

The trouble started in the morning. My co-worker needed to pick up some fishing gear before we started. The shop didn't open till 9 so we waited. Then, on the drive up we encountered work that could not wait. Directing a company to stop work and directing them to clean up a mess on the side of a river takes time, but we thought we could still make the float.

The float was only 10km. We were on the water and ready to go by 2pm... sunset was at about quarter to 8... we could do that!

We couldn't.

Of course, we fished for an hour... too long on the marginal water. We knew the best water was on the last half of the float. That one hour of fishing moved us 1km downstream... we had to pick up the pace. Another hour later and we had only moved 500 metres due to an excellent looking undercut (guarded by a hornets' nest). At this point we realized we needed to high-grade the fishing holes and start moving fast.

We hadn't taken late summer low water into consideration when we planned this. Now we were dragging the pontoons down riffles and bumping every boulder. We couldn't move fast and had to give up on all the fishing!

At this point it was getting dangerous. The sun was low, the temperature was dropping and we still had kilometres of river to go. Everything on the pontoons was secured tight and the hard rowing commenced. There was no cell phone service and we shared one dim headlamp between the two of us. As we drifted into the dark canyon with the worst rapids ahead, we recalled all the little mistakes we had made. We were out of food. We only had one light and the sun was setting. One lighter (hopefully we could find it). There are no public access points to the river besides the put in and take out and no permanent residences.
We were stupid!

Obviously we survived an hour of paddling our asses off in the dark before we finally reached the take out. Luckily the take out was the only bridge across the river for 10km upstream and down so it was easy to spot in the dark. We made it with only blisters and shame! The worst part was yet to come- the angry wives to face once we got home.

Next time... well hopefully there won't be a next time, but if there is... at least we now know some great fishing holes to stop at when we set up camp for the night.

Stay safe,
Harps


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