Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Without the sex scenes

Put in below Karuma falls

Murchison Falls Section (Put in 26 Oct 2010)

The days of the great explorers who walked onto blank continents and sailed into unending oceans are gone for good. People like me are wanabes, lucky that there are some places that have not had their mysteries trampled by previous generations feet.
The Murchison section of the Nile is one such place and epitomizes “wild Arica”. Few have heard it and even fewer have actually done it. 

If my calculations are correct, if completed, this will be the 10th decent. My seventh. Every descent with a different crew, every time by the skin of our teeth. It is a terrifying place to love but fear is the price you pay to be allowed into nature’s VIP lounge. .

In an attempt to sound brave some great white explorers might write extensively about the size of the rapids. They might even conclude that they are the biggest rapids on the continent, second only to the Black Gorge (I made up that name) on the Congo. Or they might point out the lack of access in remote wilderness. Some might even be so direct as to mention the densest concentration of hippos in the world (statistically the most dangerous animal) and the healthy Nile crocodile population. Personally I would not dream of using such childish tactics.

Basically the place is larger than life and what happens down there is straight form a Wilbur Smith novel, without the sex scenes and the reason i keep going back is because it makes me feel like Tarzan. To give you an idea, I copied a few short clips from past trips. 

... the most dangerous animal in the world..

Dr. Justin Venerrable
Red Bull mission 2007

“ I decided to use a hippo trail to get back up above the rapid and report beta to the boys still rigging above. I heard a loud grunt just ahead of me and looked up to see the jungle ahead erupt into chaos and begin shaking wildly back and forth. Something huge was bearing straight down on me very quickly. I panicked and realized that I could not outrun whatever what coming, so I looked up and grabbed the largest vine I could reach and clambered up hand-over-hand as fast as I could. Just as I reached about 8 feet off the ground and pulled my legs up, 2 massive bull hippos(they grow up 5 tons.. ed.) came charging straight underneath me on the same trail I had just been standing on! I clung desperately to the vine until I thought it safe enough to return to the river, hollered for Scott (who had managed to warn the boys in time) and got back to the boats as quickly as possible.”

Hendri Coetzee
Nile Source to Sea 2004

“Four different waterfalls plunge between island cliffs high above us. Reuniting at the bottom of the turmoil the converging currents ferociously oppose a ninety degree turn and creating a ripple of power in the air. Anywhere accessible, it would have had tourists from all over the world flocking to hotels built on its edge with postcards for sale at quaint cafe’s located in the spray of the falls. Instead it stands unmolested, sheltered, as un-spoilt as the day it was created and all the more beautiful for not performing to regular audiences.

Nile Source to Sea 2004

The eerie thing about a crock charge is the utter silence with which they happens. Not a word is spoken as we watch it approach. Dale and Marcus sitting in front are in the greatest danger as they calmly sit on the inflatable raft tube staring into the approaching row of teeth.  It is close enough to see the plaque on its teeth when it launches itself out of the water and at them. An explosion of sound shatters the silence that has given the situation the detachment of a movie scene.

The plastic yellow paddle blades swung by Marcus and Dale, make contact with leather, flesh and bone in mid air. Dale slightly miss-hits with a deflecting blow but Marcus is on the money. Flashes of its white belly and green scales twists in the air like a sporting marlin before splashing back into the water from the direction it came from. A 900kilogram Nile crocodile takes some stopping, especially in its killing lunge but perhaps it is the surprise of being treated so disrespectfully that did the trick. Stunned, we sink back into silence for a second before exploding into “HOW FUCKING COOL WAS THAT!!!!!!”

While the rest of us though it might be runnable, Tyler had other plans

Source to sea 2004

“In front of me, bigger than anything I have ever heard off and certainly bigger that any I have ever seen, is a standing wave, the standing wave. A sheer green cliff, as fierce and fragile as a gas flame, nearly eight metres tall. The speed and volume needed to defy gravity so blatantly is hard to comprehend even as the contest plays out before me. Defiantly the freak wave holds its form while tons of water pass through it. Just when it looks as if gravity will drag the mountain down, it jerks back up, like a punch drunk giant teetering on the edge of collapse.
It is too big for the raft, but in a kayak, oh my goodness, it might just be possible…..


Its important to make the take out

Solo Mission 2007

I increase my routine 360 degree turns to check for any incoming, but there is just too much water around to be sure. Stagnant and without speed after a turn, I see it only as an after thought. Some deep instinct drags my eyes back to where seconds ago they noticed only placid green water. In its place is a crocodile, 15 meters from me, at full charge, closing the almost irrelevant distance between us rather quickly.

In the hope that it slow the beast down, I throw a decoy. I have kept my helmet on my kayak deck for just such an emergency and lob it at the croc, without looking back I concentrate on making every stroke count. A few seconds later I steal a look at the croc still coming hard, I have maintained the distance between us. The race is still very much on, but at least it’s a race.