my short career of paddling, Pakistan wins the prize for the lowest
cost of living in country. Being a notoriously cheap kayaker, this
motel was right up my alley at thirty cents per person. We never spent
a night in a heated building while in Pakistan, so as an added bonus,
this one was warm.
Over cups of chai in the morning Chris decided his stomach
up to par, so he would go media from the road with my old camera. Down
at water level we got into the mix of things right away.
Myself hiking down to put-in. Just
like one of the locals...well maybe
not, mutual goodwill was shared.
Ben Stookesberry leads the charge
under ideal lighting.
While on the trip I really thought so many days of similar
would blend together, and I would write about them in one big summary.
Each day had its own challenges and stand out rapids, and on day
sixteen one of the most memorable came early in the day.
Ben Stookesberry - the look says it
The river split around a bedrock island, and rejoined into
of waves, holes and folds, all leading into a fifty foot wide hole that
could potentially surf a kayaker into a pile of boulders. After that it
was simply a hundred yard long run out of monster breaking waves.
First off though, a stout boof
We would come down the alley way, wait to pass a lateral
drive far to river left, completely avoiding the monster hole. At least
that was the plan.
Ben Stookesberry gearing up to cross
The Indus set the example for the complexity of scouting
big water, and
Ben quickly realized he wouldn't be going left of the hole. He squared
up and dropped in, disappearing for a tense moment but resurfacing
clear of backwash.
Ben Stookesberry in the run out.
Phil Boyer decided to go next, but
opted to cut left earlier rather
The large horizon downstream is the
big hole, Phil Boyer gets setup to
Phil emerged from the hole unscathed, so I told myself it
just a big class IV...as long as you don't screw up. I gave a thumbs up
and hiked back to my boat, knowing that it would be big and a lot of it
would have to be figured out at river level. On a river of this
proportions, features constantly change and luck can play a large role
Oh shit - the author
I came into the boof hot and got enough of one to be
stable and in
control through the alley way. I knew the rapid was too long to paddle
at full speed the whole time, and this seemed like a good time for a
break, when Phil made the move through the lateral folding hole it
looked pretty mellow.
As my bow dropped into the fold I realized it wasn't going
to be mellow
at all, and I should have a lot more momentum but it was too late. I
went deep and resurfaced upright but facing upstream. As I turned
around a wave broke over my head and knocked me over, forcing a quick
roll. I told myself it would be ok as I rolled up. While scouting I had
liked a right of center line where the big hole looked more like a
wave, so I lined up for the wave train. To my displeasure the first big
wave broke as I came into it, and with no speed I was surfed to the
left and once again, not facing the right direction and the hole was
approaching too fast.
Already short on breath I spun my boat
around and got ready for the
It felt like dropping into the base of a big waterfall,
remembered what I had heard from big water veterans, tucked in tight
and protected my skirt and paddle.
The author with some big water play
The hole quickly had its way with me, typewritering me to river right
where I had planned on going originally.
I felt immense relief as the hole
released me to finish the rest of the
rapid, where two more waves knocked me over, but I stayed in my boat
and sought the haven of calm water.
Humbled yet again by the power of the
"Lion River" we continued on. Ben
Stookesberry, Phil Boyer and the author.
Our next cascade had looked very questionable from the
Highway, but from river level it looked friendlier than expected. Or
perhaps the last rapid had just put things in perspective.
Ben Stookesberry approaches a boulder
garden of Karakoram proportions.
A quick scout and there was no doubt the right side was good to go, so
Phil Boyer fired away through the beautiful garden.
The author on the same spectacular
One truly breathtaking section of whitewater...
Happy to have two huge puzzles behind us, we split off
from the road.
Chris and Roland drove downstream to speak at the school while we
finished up the section. The corner revealed one more long scout, and
my eyes widened but mouth
stayed shut as Ben routed Phil through a big rapid.
Phil Boyer showing his experience and
having no problems.
The walls opened again, and gradient eased off, letting us
lots of read n run with the occasional quick scout from shore.
Ben Stookesberry and Phil Boyer
enjoying some of the more relaxed
whitewater on the Indus.
Sometimes we had more spectators than many freestyle events.
At take out we met our new Police
escort. We had just moved from Skardu
police district to Gilgits zone, and the new officers were very
They knew there wouldn't be lodgings for quite a ways
downstream, so we
returned to our cozy accommodations of the previous eve.