After sleeping straight through my alarm I woke to the sound of heavy rain outside and my phone ringing. Jamie's excited voice on the other end of the line snapped me awake pretty fast 'were you just asleep?! Get up, we're going paddling!'. After a bit of hustling and a quick stop at the Okere Falls Store for coffee we were on the road headed for the Wainui River. The boys have rallied the Wainui quite a few times this season but Pete and I were both Wainui virgins so keen as to see what all the hype was about.
Jamie stomping it
Despite leaving after us and having to drop the kids off at school Andi Uhl beat us to the river. German efficiency. We intersected him after he checked the gauge and followed him to the takeout where we found most of Okere Falls getting ready to rally the 4wd track to the put in.
Mike styling it with Ben filming him on his gopro-on-a-stick
As half the boys had been down the river during the previous week's heavy rainfall and knew the run pretty we were able to rally most of the rapids with just a few people getting out at each rapid and checking for new wood. I love the element of surprise when you're paddling a rapid you haven't looked at just trusting in the line you've been given.
Andi Uhl winning the against the hole
Sanga lining up the lip
Unfortunately about half way down the run Douglass landed a bit flat on a reasonably high drop and compressed a few discs in his spine. Luckily for him it happened right by a 4wd track and thanks to Greg Thomas' ruthless driving we were able to get medics and a supply of nos all the way in to the river. After a few deep breaths Dougie was away laughing to Tauranga hospital while the rest of us continued downstream.
Trying out the big waterfall for myself (Photo by Mike Dawson)
Paddling off a 60ft waterfall after there had already been a spinal injury on the trip felt a bit cheeky but the drop was so perfect looking and the portage was so steep that it would have been rude not to. My line wasn't as smooth as I'd have liked but plenty of room for improvement for next time. The only casualty to the drop was Carl's paddle with everyone reporting soft landings and Sanga had by far the most beautiful line out of everyone.
The rest of the run felt pretty mellow after that with just one short portage where the river decided to slam all it's weight straight into a rock wall. Sick day paddling in the Kaimais. Bring on more rain! Big ups to Andi, Ben and Greg for owning 4wds so we could get to the put in, chur boys!