Lil’ Henty River- AKA: Franklin in a day
Stats: Participants: 14 Boats: 3 (Blue + Purple Sotars) Distance: 21km Time: 5.5 hours Shuttle: Long + 4WD requirement Level: 0.41
Report: Having escaped from work on time but knowing that the crew weren’t expecting anyone to arrive until 5:30pm, Luke and I made our way up to the sheds to begin the task of packing. Hauling the trailer alone and rolling all the boats, we had the majority of the trailer packed before anyone arrived.
With the trailer loaded with a few extra pieces once everyone arrived, we were set to go, all before the dreaded news that Talia was running late but without any way of contacting her. Luke and I made the hard decision to quit while ahead and departed back home for some much-needed rest before the long drive.
Leaving at 9pm following a restful slumber we made quick work of the drive, arriving at camp at 2:30am to find a rather unhappy-looking Liam tucked into his new bivvy bag, blinded by the Prado’s spotlights.
An early start at 6am, ensured many groggy faces but the gear quickly unloaded from the trailer to ensure a quick start to what could eventuate as a long shuttle. Tony, Luke, Josh, Alice and Jack headed out to Trial Harbour; with Josh, Luke and Tony continuing along the beach on what was a true 4WD track with large muddy holes and moderate drops. Fortunately, we had Josh on hand to direct the 101s of beach driving. Following an uneventful drive, the shuttle was finished by 830am.
A quick safety brief was held before embarking on the river; Josh trying to sneakily steal Luke’s already claimed blue sotar in a similar fashion to many trips prior
The river started off with some small grade-two features, including a fantastic Rock Island bend-like monolith in the centre of the river. From this point onwards, the river gradually increased in difficulty reaching grade 3+, with frequent rock gardens and boulder dodging.
6km in we reached the first main rapid which required scouting, a quick scramble revealed a nice, high-flow, S-bend rapid over 500m. Following this rapid, we quickly portaged to the right of the river and inspected Franz Folly. Although at first seeming runnable, it was soon identified the reason it is best to portage if in a raft, the large vertical boulder in the centre of the drop. The portage was surprisingly quick, with the boats floated and hauled along a low-volume chute.
Before we could even get back into the grove, we encountered the final main drop. Ben leading the charge, found himself in a position where he would have to go first (Safety Ben never goes first) and instead decided to park on some rocks and let others risk themselves first. Luke, not deterred from the drop, simply paddled on past Ben, cleanly performing what could only be described as a plop and drop down the rapid. Ben then followed, choosing a slightly righter hand line, with a light clipping of rocks on the way down. Josh, on the other hand, had watched Ben’s performance and decided that he also, could clip rocks, but that he could also do one better! Finding the biggest, flattest, closest to the drop rock, Josh thought it best to park his boat on said rock, before dropping down the rapid backwards. Lunch was held at a rather dismal beach, its fair to say we didn’t hang around too long. On reflection, it probably was the worst place we could have picked.
It was mostly smooth sailing from this point onwards, up until Luke decided that his boat was too quick compared to the others. In an act of solidarity, he decided to park his raft on a very large boulder well out of the water and wait. Unfortunately for Luke, loading everyone into the back of his small boat and pushing it directly into the fast current did not fit well with the ideals of stability, with the boat flipping and resulting in the first swimmers of the day.
The rest of the trip was somewhat uneventful, not ignoring the marvellous scenery and waterfalls. A quick tree portage, a double swim from Josh, an attempted eviction and casual swims lead to us finishing at Trial Harbour at 3pm.
More beach shuttling and 4WDing ended with the crew warming up at David’s house. Josh was quick with the BBQ and with help from Amber and Talia, a feast was enjoyed by a woodfire in the company of friends. - Erin (and Luke)