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 due to its size.
Over cups of chai in the morning Chris decides his stomach
up to par, so he will get media from the road with my old camera. Down
at water level we get into the mix of things right away.
The author hiking down to put-in. Just
like one of the locals...well maybe
not, mutual goodwill was shared.
I really thought so many days of similar
would blend together, and I would write about them in one big summary.
So far each day has had its own challenges and stand out rapids, and on day
sixteen one of the most memorable rapid comes early in the day.
Ben Stookesberry - the look says it
The river splits around a bedrock island, and rejoineds 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. We will come down the alley way, wait to pass a lateral
drive far to river left, completely avoiding the monster hole. At least
that is the plan.
The lead in alone is intimidating.
Ben Stookesberry leads the charge
under some better than normal light for the Indus.
Ben Stookesberry gearing up to cross
The Indus set the example for the complexity of scouting
big water, and
Ben quickly realizes he can't get left of the hole, squares
up and droppes in, disappearing for a tense moment yet resurfacing
clear of backwash.
Ben Stookesberry in the run out.
Phil Boyer decides to go next, but
opted to cut left earlier rather
Phil Boyer getting left earlier rather than later.
Phil emerges from the hole unscathed, so I tell myself it
just a big class IV...as long as you don't screw up. I give a thumbs up
and hike back to my boat, knowing that it's going to be bigger than it looks and a lot of it
would have to be figured out at river level. On a river of these
proportions features constantly change and luck can play a large role
in lines. I ome into the boof hot and get enough of one to be
stable and in
control through the alley way. I knew the rapid is too long to paddle
at full speed the whole time, and this seemed like a good time for a
break and catch my breath. When Phil made the move through the lateral folding hole it
looked pretty mellow.
As my bow drops into the fold I realiz it is not going
to be mellow
at all, and I should have had a lot more momentum but it's too late. I go deep and resurface upright but facing upstream.
As I turn
around a wave brakes over my head and knocks me over, forcing a quick
roll. I tell myself it will be ok as I roll up. While scouting I had
liked a right of center line where the big hole looked more like a
wave, so I line up for the wave train. To my displeasure the first big
wave brakes as I came into it, shunting me
left and facing upstream as main event approaches too fast.
Already short on breath I spin my boat
around and get ready for the
It feels like dropping into the base of a larger waterfall,
remember what I'd heard from big water veterans; tuck in tight
and protect your skirt and paddle.
The author play
The hole quickly has its way with me, typewritering me to river right
where I had planned on to go originally. I feel immense relief as the hole
releases me to finish the rest of the
rapid, where two more waves knocked me over, but I stayed in my boat
and seek the haven of calm water.
Humbled yet again by the power of the
"Lion River" we continue on. Ben
Stookesberry, Phil Boyer and the author.
Our next cascade had looked very questionable from the
Highway, but from river level it looks friendlier than expected. Or
perhaps the last rapid had just put things in perspective.
The author in the same spectacular
Happy to have two big puzzle peices behind us, we split off
from the road.
Chris and Roland drive downstream to speak at the school while we
finish up the section. The corner reveals one more long scout, and
my eyes widen but mouth
stays shut as Ben routes Phil through.
Phil Boyer showing his experience and
having no problems.
The walls open again, and gradient eased off, letting us
lots of read and 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 have just moved from the Skardu
police district to Gilgit, and the new officers are
They know there wouldn't be lodgings for quite a ways
downstream, so we
return to our cozy accommodations of the previous night.