After an efficient trailer pack, we left the sheds at 8:30 AM with 14 people in tow. We began to arrive at the Slalom Course a few hours, keen to hit the water. We began to inflate the three blue Sotars we had brought, only to find that one of them had a decent nick in the side. Regardless of whether she had any involvement in the incident at all, it was generally agreed that a certain R. Steel should be blamed. A puncture was a trivial matter for Luke, who quickly produced a puncture kit from his car and started patching the hole. It was just at this point the boys from the Hydro turned up to turn on the water and also to inform us that one of the cars we were still expecting was stuck in a pothole on the track in. Luke left to help the car out of the pothole and assist the Hydro boys in opening the gates leaving Will to finish patching the raft. Fifteen minutes later, all the cars had made it to the campground, the raft had been suitably patched and the water had been turned on, albeit to a rather high looking 19 cumecs.
With everyone suited up, it was decided we should go for a few warmup laps of Mellifont Street before running from the top. Three boats were taken down with Luke, Ben and Will guiding. The first lap was a bit rowdy at the higher level, but all boats made it down without too much issue. It was on the second lap that Will began to show promise of things to come, hitting the protruding rocks and ejecting two crew members. Everyone was then collected safely at the bottom. On the third lap, Will backed up his performance and hit more rocks ejecting a third crew member. On the fourth lap, everyone had worked it out and produced a very clean run. It was decided we were then ready for the Cruncher. Luke and Ben descended the top section very cleanly, eddying out above the Cruncher. Will descended the top less cleanly; forgetting how powerful the top stopper is, he slid in very slowly, got thrown around and very nearly had two swimmers. Everyone was dragged back into the boat ready to run the Cruncher. All boats then descended the Cruncher and the rest of the course smoothly.
On the second lap, the top hole was negotiated by all rafts, and everyone was ready to hit the Cruncher again. Will, leading the group, botched his entry and found himself perched in the left-hand eddy, with his crew staring down the drop in front of them. He then failed to exit the eddy cleanly and instead pivoted over the rocks and flipped right into the Cruncher. Ben, coming in second, was so distracted watching the drama unfolding below him, he failed to consider his own position. He too botched his entry into the Cruncher, being thrust rightward into the right wall. Hitting the wall, he too flipped. At this point, there were nine swimmers and two boats floating downstream. Thankfully, everyone was able to rescue themselves and swim into the eddy below. Luke, overcoming his laughter watching the carnage unfold, descended down carefully, picking up paddles. A helpful kayaker plying in Mellifont Street was able to pick up paddles. After all the chaos, only one paddle had made its way to paddle Valhalla, joining the many other paddles on the leeward shore of Bradys Lake. It was then decided lunch should be taken.
After lunch, all boats were determined to take a much cleaner line down the Cruncher. Again, leading the boats, Will was the first to arrive at the Cruncher. Determined not the be thrust too far left and into the eddy, he came in too far right and repeated Bens's act from the previous run, flipping the raft and sending the entire crew swimming. Two of the three paddlers were able to self-rescue into the eddy, leaving one paddler and Will remaining. Will was able to pull himself into the raft and started R1ing down, chasing the last swimmer. Will then managed to pull off the rare feat of going for the two-swim run. Hitting the hole below Camp Wave, he flipped again. Eventually, Luke was again able to pick up the pieces and everyone and their paddles were back on dry land. In all the chaos, Will had managed to put a moderate gash in his right palm. With Will out of action for the afternoon, Michael and Erin both stepped up to the plate and offered to guide. Erin was able to negotiate the Cruncher as well as the rest of the course very smoothly. Michael nearly managed the same but flipped on the boil at the bottom of the cruncher. A solid nine laps were run that day and everyone was happy but worn out.
With the day trippers leaving, the overnighters were left to their campfire, ready to discuss the always recurring Rafting Club question of “If someone were to drop a large rock on your head, would you rather wear a top hat filled with honey, or with water?”. After the efforts of the day’s rafting, most people left for bed around nine, leaving just a few to finish their conversations.
The next morning, the friendly Hydro boys arrived again to give us a much more friendly looking 19 cumecs. With fewer people, a range of different crews were taken with several R2 and R3 boats being run. With the much less aggressive flow, many people felt the urge to challenge themselves. Luke was briefly able to surf the hole above the Cruncher before being flipped sending the crew swimming down the Cruncher. Will, Michal and Talia attempted to surf Camp Wave, also being flipped in the process.
Lunch was called and most people decided they had had enough and were ready to get changed. This left Luke and Erin to do a bit of kayak and pack raft practice as well as Ben and Will to do some eddy hopping while R2ing. With this all done, we were all packed up and gone by mid-afternoon.
Despite the trip at times feeling more like a swimming carnival with rafting distractions, only one paddle was lost, and no major injuries were sustained. Everyone seemed to have had a happy time and was ready for more rafting action in the coming winter.
- Kindly written by Will Grant