Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Got water! Must kayak and raft.

The Vaal River here in Parys is at its highest level that I've seen it in two summers. With gates open at Barrage from late last week, we were topping over 200 cumec. And a long weekend ahead too.

While Celliers tripped the river solo on Saturday, I joined him on Sunday morning. As I haven't been in my Bazooka sit-in whitewater kayak since November, I played it safe on the fast-flowing water with the sit-on-top Do It Now whitewater kayak. It handles white water like a breeze and the bonus, for me, is that if I fall off I can just climb back on.

Our boats on my roof. Car shuttle already dropped; now just to take our kayaks down to the river. No other photos... my hands too busy paddling.
We put in from the historic old suspension bridge in town, which is a block away from home. While getting ready on the big bare rock, a huge branch broke off from the nearby weeping willow tree and went cruising down the rapid. Goodness!

The river itself was just divine. We made it safely through the in-town section, which included a small weir and many channels and islands until we got into the river proper. The fast water and higher level sped us along the flat sections.

As for the rapids! Fabulous! Many super wave trains and a big water push down Big Daddy. Although I'm starting to learn the rapids and what is where, the river looked so different being so low on the water and also with all the usual rock features covered in water.

With Celliers briefing me on the lines, I made it beautifully through 'Theatre' and without landing in the two tricky holes at 'Look Sharp' and surfed through the big wave at Gatsien. What a rush!

Our paddle time was two hours and two minutes.

With the river still high on Monday morning, we were in for a family outing on the big oar raft, with Celliers at the helm. My mom came along and thoroughly enjoyed her second rafting outing at this higher level. We also took Inke's mom, who is visiting from Germany. This was her first time on a river.

Bertrand keeping us company.
Inke styling in her kayak.
The party raft with me in front and Celliers on oars with my mom, Liz, Kyla, Ruben and Inke's mom, Ingrid.
Here's me.
Starting young - Ruben on oars
Bertrand enjoying the river scenery.
On both days we saw loads of rafters in the two-man rafts on trips with local commercial operators (there are many). If you're looking for something different to do, I can definitely recommend a trip on the Vaal here for a spot of rafting. Or even head North and trip the Crocodile River near Hartees. I hear the water is up that side too.

The water we're getting is not much affected by the Vaal Dam, which doesn't have any gates open other than their normal release. We're getting water from Barrage, which is a reservoir rather than a dam or weir (kinda in between). It is affected by water coming in from the Vaal (from Vaal Dam), Suikerbos, Klip and Taaibosspuit rivers.

The river is still up but we're back at work. We're not sure how much longer we'll have this high level - I hope until after the holidays.

If you're interested in knowing where Jo'burg (and surrounds) water comes from, read this interesting piece on the Water Wise website "Where does our water come from?". It looks at early Johannesburg and growing water demands and building of dams in a neat article.

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