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The Indus River through the Rondu Gorge
Northern Territories, Pakistan V+

Episode Ten

   Having a campfire with breakfast made it harder for us to motivate. It wasn't mentioned, but in the air there was a feeling that we were near the end of this chapter of the Indus. Our desire to finish was larger than our want for creature comforts, and after the first splash in the face, downstream progress was our only focus. 

Phil Boyer and Chris Korbulic glad to be making downstream progress on our fifteenth day in Pakistan.

   Admirable progress was made through several miles of read and run until the team was perched above a distinguished cascade. From the Skardu Highway it looked to be one of the best rapids on the trip, a glance from above confirmed it's quality, but thorough inspection revealed a problematic final.

Phil Boyer soaking it in...

   Water ramped through a narrow section of river and pulsed over haystacks, plunging over a mighty folding ledge sending all surface water into the wall. Literally into the wall. Ten to fifteen foot deep pockets existed in the wall, and with a heavy heart we knew it was another portage. It appeared impossible to escape contact with the wall, and none of us desired to become a permanent feature of the Indus.

Nothing in this to set the scale, but from the above photo you can image how small a kayak would look in here.

   As we portaged over the rocks the terrain pushed us higher and higher, eventually near the road. Chris had been feeling ill again, and decided that some downtime would help his heath more than a lengthy portage. I wavered on the fence, but lacking a good excuse decided to continue downstream with Ben and Phil.

Phil Boyer fires away another classic.

   Thirty minutes of clambering over boulders and we could finally see the bottom of the rapid. Another thirty minutes of scrambling to find our boats and get setup. Phil chose to probe while Ben and I did our media roles. A three part, several hundred yard long rapid. In the above Phil runs right of a large standing wave, and below Phil runs the second half, where we were surprised to see a wave rise up and swallow him, forcing a quick roll.

Phil easily rolled in time, and sets up to punch the gateway hole.

   Zoomed out view of the whole rapid, a personal favorite of the trip. If anyone was in this photo they would barely be visible, the small looking feature at the top is the same that a few above Phil skirts to the right of.

All exits through the gateway were successful, canyon walls peeled away and classic led to classic; Phil Boyer in some big fun class III.

   Boisterous cascades continued in pleasant open settings. We enjoyed all the rapids and the feeling that ground had been covered, and in the early afternoon we pulled into an eddy within easy walking distance of our nights accommodations. We had skipped lunch on the river and welcomed a delicious meal with more variety than we had seen in a while.

Ben Stookesberry, Roland Stevenson and Mustaffa enjoy some traditional Pakistani fare.

Of course no meal in Pakistan is complete without savoring some chai.

   Repast history and appetites satiated, we made the most of the afternoons light to capture small town life on the Skardu Highway.

Phil Boyer sharing the love.

Home base for a few days.

Haramosh Peak

   Although much of the area has cell phone coverage, our current location didn't, and our driver's son was in the hospital, so we drove a few kilometers to Haramosh, which had a land line and a few small stores. While browsing the selection we were treated to more Chai by Mr Zarir, principle of a coed school.

Our gracious host.

  Mr Zarir said that although they teach English (Urdu and Arabic too) at the school, pronunciation was the hardest part, and he would be pleased to have us visit the school, read a book or two and talk with the students. We estimated that another day on the river and we would be near the school. We happily accepted his offer before heading off to our motel, looking forward to talking at the school in a few days.