Monday, 14 July 2014

White water kayaking trip #3 (11-13 July 2014)

Just came back from a white water kayaking trip on Selangor River in KKB, Malaysia. My friend CK was kind enough to invite me along for this trip and also to loan me all the necessary equipment. This would be the third time i would be kayaking in white water. The first trip was 7 years ago in Nepal where I lost my nerve after experiencing multiple capsizes bow over stern. The second trip was in Slim River also in Malaysia earlier in the year, also through the invitation of CK. This time round, we were fortunate that the local government had opened the dam and were releasing water at a rate of 15 cubic meters per hour. This was most definitely good news. For the past few weeks, CK had been rowing on this river with another friend but each time they had to exit the canyon early due to insufficient water flow preventing the kayaks from completing the full 7 km of the river. With the river flowing at this rate, the river run would be fairly technical and would be from Class 2 up to Class 4+.

For this trip there were originally supposed to be 3 of us. CK, his Italian friend who worked in KL and myself. Unfortunately, the Italian guy pulled out as he had decided to try Taman Negara instead. Two consecutive weekends of insufficient flow and the resulting portage meant he didn't want to risk a 3rd time. Tough luck for him as on this fateful weekend, the dam was opened with water being released! Tough luck for me too, but more on that later. On our first run, we found out that there was a rafting group which set off just before us and well having only the two of us, we wanted to catch up to them as the rafts would provide us with some additional safety.

There were quite a number of sections along KKB, First Canyon, Chicken drop Hydraulic Sandwich and Second Canyon were just some of the names which I could recall. This was definitely a much more difficult river compared to Sungei Slim, also due to the lower volume Pyranha boat i was using. At Slim I was using a Titan creek boat which was like a bathtub. On the Titan, all you had to do was bash through everything. Even edging was difficult on that boat. The Pyranha on the other hand was a smaller and lighter boat. additionally, it had a lower volume stern which meant it got caught in suctions easily and if I forgot to boof, I'd be flipped within seconds.On this first run I did swim twice, but thanks to the rafts which we caught up to, my kayak was easily picked up and I was rescued from the water. 

After the first run we had a lunch of the durians which we had bought in the morning while driving up to the camp site run by Pie-rose, operator of a rafting company, which was also the same group rafting today. Despite feeling tired, I thought I'd still be up for a second run. Pie-rose gave us a lift up to the start point and as it was already 4pm, we did a fast run. CK would go first and I'd follow keeping about 10 meters behind and trying to stick to the same line. In fact, we cleared half the route in about 20 minutes. Well we did skip the pre-rapid "recces" as we had just run it in the morning. And this was where disaster struck. At the sandwich section, I wasn't able to follow the line and got swept into a hydraulic. Totally panicked, releasing my grip on the paddle. I was really disappointed as I had been reminding myself not to do so throughout the 2nd run. ( Made that mistake the two times I swam during the first run). Alas, after reaching the next eddy with my boat, my paddle was nowhere to be seen. Without a paddle, there was no way i would be able to kayak the remaining half of the river. After 2 failed attempts at seeing if we could find where exactly the paddle was in the riverbed where i thought i had let go off it, we gave up. Good thing too as on the second attempt, CK was sucked into a hole for a good 10 seconds or more despite having a rope on him. Life is more important than a paddle. The remainder of the 2nd run was a nightmare. I'd hold onto his kayak during the easier rapids and CK would try to steer us (generally unsuccessfully too) away from the more dangerous sections. For the big rapids, we'd beach and i would haul my kayak through the forest and up/down some extremely steep slopes and meet him at the end. On one of those slopes, I almost gave up. as even without carrying the kayak, for every meter i climbed, I slid back easily 70 cm on the loose soil. Thankfully CK came over and gave me a hand and we hauled the boat up and lowered it down with the help of a tow rope. It was only 2 hours later that we made it out of the rapids with both of us sore and bruised.
Durians galore!

View of First Canyon from bridge above

CK on First Canyon

Remnants of the Ophion paddle

Pigging out post kayaking

Protein loading before returning to Sg