Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tard Luang

After paddling the Mae Klang we headed back to Chiang Mai for more awesome Thai massages and Noi style french toast (cheap, tasty, heaps of bacon and banana and huge serving size, yum!). Lou was still sick and had to do homework and Josh was sick and broken so Tyler and I left them in Chiang Mai and headed East. Three English guys, who we met earlier showed up at our hotel room all stir crazy from not paddling so they came for the mish too.

Unrunnable waterfall no. 7

The first day was spent looking at waterfalls which either landed on rocks or had sick lead ins which then went through strainers. We then spent a good amount of time following signs that said rapids this way then dead ended in random small towns. We also almost got lost in the mountains, executed way too many U turns, drove erratically while stalking people on scooters, and, as always in Thailand, ate heaps great food.

Scooter stalking (p. Tyler Fox)

Finally we ran out of daylight and started looking for a hotel. Some random Thai guy on a scooter felt sorry for us and led us to an awesome resort. I used my mad bargaining skills to bring the price down to $4.50NZD each including buffet style breakfast. Score!

Tyler chillaxing in our fancy resort room.

The next day we aimed for an early start, missed, and got to the river at around midday without any U turns. Amazing.

Thai dude checking out my paddle

Tyler making my boat watertight for the river.

Tyler on the first slide

Me, this is such a fun drop!! (p. Tyler Fox)

Tyler checking out the probably not so runnable crack/slot rapid
Me on a sweet little drop (p. Tyler Fox)

Tyler demonstrating the boof

I'll fill you in on paddling big waterfalls, nearly getting arrested, and hanging out on tropical islands later.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mae Klang

After our varied success on Mae Pan we headed round to the other side of Doi Inthanon National Park to check out the flow on the Mae Klang river. We arrived at dusk to find the river was running at a paddleable flow. The next day Lou was mega sick and Josh's shoulder was unhappy from Mae Pan so Tyler and I put on the Mae Klang river just below the Siritan Waterfall.

Tyler checking out Siritan Waterfall

There are some cool rapids in this section as well as a wicked mini gorge death crack where the water all funnels down a steep mini gorge first under one wall then bounces back to go under the other wall then into a recirculating hydraulic. A cool but not so runnable feature.

Tyler dropping the first slide

Me on the first slide after Tyler told me he'd seen a snake slithering out of the eddy towards my kayak! (p. Tyler Fox)

A cool boof drop (p. Tyler Fox)

Tyler boofing the flake

We got out to portage Vachiratharn waterfall and tried to sneak past the park rangers to put in just below the waterfall but apparently green and yellow kayaks and brightly coloured river gear is not so sneaky and we got told 'mai mai mai' (no no no) so we drove a few km down to road away from the guards and put in down there.

Me on a small slide on the (p. Tyler Fox)

Tyler getting creative...

On the lower section we found an awesome fisherman who followed us down the river casting his net, catching fish, and telling us the lines on rapids (he was speaking Thai and using hand gestures but he managed to convey a pretty good idea of the features).

Tyler on the last drop even though the fisherman told us not to paddle it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mae Pan Waterfall Riding

The first time we visited Namtok Mae Pan on our way into Chiang Mai we were gutted to find that there wasn't enough water for waterfall riding. After a week of exploring other rivers we decided to check it out again.

Overnight rain was enough to bring it up to a reasonable level. We quickly geared up keeping an eye out for park rangers. Carrying our kayaks along the track to the waterfall attracted the attention of some German tourists who thought we were crazy but stayed to watch.

Tyler first up (p. Josh Neilson)

Tyler and I were up first, we roped our kayaks up to the top of the ridge then abseiled down the other side. Such a crazy awesome place to be with the wind blowing buckets of spray on your head, the waterfall roaring in your ears and super slippery rocks. I had a bit of a hard time getting into my boat in the tiny eddy up top trying to hold on to the slippery rock without letting my paddle blow away while the water was surging up and down and the wind was blowing heaps of spray into my kayak.

I love waterfall riding!!! (p. Lou Urwin)

Dropping off the lip is such a sick moment, flying. More tourists arrived as we sent the boats up for Josh and Lou's turn. One was a crazy Thai guy who wanted us to run another drop twice as high as this one which landed on rocks!!

Josh sighting the landing (p. Tyler Fox)

Josh had a pretty hard landing and lost his gopro on impact so if anyone wants to go snorkling in the bottom of the waterfall and find it we'll shout you Pad Thai for dinner!

Lou lining it up (p. Tyler Fox)

Me (p. Josh Neilson)

After the waterfall there is a cool little run out with some sweet slides and nice drops. I went a little bit too far left on the first slide and broke my boat which sucks a bit but Tyler is about to weld it up with his portable blowtorch so all good.

Tyler on the leadout slide

Lou standing out with her pink helmet and blue boat

Me boofing away from the tree (p. Josh Neilson)

Tyler jumping like a Fox (p. Josh Neilson)

Another cool slidey drop (p. Joshua Edward Neilson)Me on the last drop (p. Man Fox)

As we were walking back to the car with our kayaks Lou and I were stopped by some park rangers who apologetically told us that we weren't allowed to kayak as it is too dangerous. Lou convinced them that we were just taking our kayaks for a walk through the bush and all was good again.

Mae Wang and Cobra Falls

After a day of unsuccessful waterfall hunting (all too low or landing on rocks) we were about to head back to our base in Chiang Mai, defeated, when we noticed that the river we were driving alongside had disappeared into the jungle and seemed to be dropping a bit of gradient.

Josh, Tyler and LU on the Mae Wang

Mae Wang was a lot more swollen than all the other rivers we'd been disappointed by that day so despite the limited daylight we decided to have a quick go at it. The section turned out to be good fun and saved the day! It was no suprise that our day was such a mess as we had gone out the night before for a couple of quiet beers and a few bottles of Rum. So getting to paddle in the evening was a nice way to finally get rid of that last bit of lingering hangover.

Easy shuttles in Thailand, just flag down one of the millions of scooters (p. Josh Neilson)

Back in Chiang Mai we looked over maps once again and spotted a creek even closer to town that Mae Wang that could also be swollen from the recent rains. First thing the next day we slept in a bit then got up and had French toast and other assorted breakfast goods under $2 and finally loaded the car and went searching. Within 15 minutes we were driving up the river and it seemed to have a bit of water but not that much. Eventually after no success on most of the river we found a sign to Tat Krok Nam Tok. 1km the sign said, so even though there was a lack of water we ventured up the track. Almost at the top we were startled by something moving up the track.... It was a black forest cobra. small but scary all the same!!! At the top we asked a couple of locals "Nam Tok Te Nae?" They pointed down the other side of the hill and to our surprise there was another river right there. This one had water and it also had a bed rock lining perfect for producing waterfalls!!!

Tyler hitting up the funk lead in to Cobra Falls

We quickly headed back to the car and scurried back up the track to the drop and one by one attempted to style it. This was a lot harder than it looked with varied success over the multiple runs.

Josh getting all artsy on me dropping Cobra Falls (p. Josh Neilson)

After a few runs we decided to call it a day after Josh hit the wall and landed on his head. We decided to name this drop Cobra Falls as it looked like a snake and we saw a snake so it seemed pretty choice.

Josh checking out the cave behind the waterfall (p. Tyler Fox)

Anyway since then we have rode some sweet waterfalls and hurt just a little bit now so we are off for a massage for an hour and it only costs $4!!!! Bye for now!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Waterfall Riding on the Mae Sa

Two sections of the Mae Sa were first run in 2007 by Josh Sam and Will. Falling asleep to the sound of rain pouring onto the roof of our hotel in Chiang Mai we decided to hit it up the next day. Lu had to stay in the hotel and finish uni assignments so Josh, Tyler and I headed for Mae Sa. We arrived to find the river brown and charging. Stoked. As we floated down we passed a few guys waving at us and pointing downstream and saying 'nam tok' (waterfall), always a good sign.

First drop of the day (p. Josh Neilson)

Tyler in a mini gorge on the top section

Me on my favourite drop of the day (p. Tyler Fox)

Josh hitting a sick boof check out the bamboo huts overlooking the drop

Me after just managing to retrieve my paddle from a bamboo plant at the start of this drop (p. Tyler Fox)

Tyler on a cool slide

Josh styling it

Me on another cool slide (p. Josh Neilson)

Elephants by the river!!!

We weren't sure what we would find in the middle section so we decided to save it for the next day. We put in below the elephant camp at a slightly lower level all excited. What would be round the next corner? Would we be paddling a flat stretch? Would we be portaging through the cobra infested jungle?

Tyler on a mini slide in the new section

Lou on a crack rapid - the line was to boof past an undercut ledge, would be better with more water.

Tyler probing a rapid on the new section

The rock at the bottom makes this one not so runnable at this level.

Please don't play water in this area...

Josh leading the way

Tyler dropping in

Me on the lower Mae Sa pre getting kicked off the river (p. Lou Urwin)

I've never been asked to leave then escorted away from a river before but there is a first time for everything.

The new section turned out to be sweet. Cool drops, easy portages and I didn't see any snakes. Unfortunately when we started paddling the lower section we were stopped by a park ranger and told to go back up the river as we hadn't paid our entry fees for the park. Seeing as this wasn't possible he then escorted us out of the park and up the road, waited for us to run shuttle, then when we still wouldn't give him any money he recorded our number plate. Stink.