Wednesday 24 October 2018

Likkewaan's two-day Vaal kayak event

I had an AWESOME weekend. I haven't had the whole weekend off for way too long and as this one was spent outside and active, it was just perfect.

My paddling club, Likkewaan Canoe Club, presented a two-day event on the Vaal River. It started upstream from Parys just below the Barrage wall in Vanderbijlpark and finished at our clubhouse in Parys; split in two two stages.

The first stage was 18km in distance and Celliers paddled with me. We were paddling our Mazowe double and we'd volunteered to sweep at the back of the race. Paddling a double, plastic sit-on-top vs fibreglass K1 and K1 kayaks, meant that we would be at the back anyway.

This section is mostly flatwater with only two features: the 'Benoude Boude' (nervous bottom) rapid, which is very rocky at the current low water level, and the Goosebay Canyon weir, which has an awesome slippy-slide chute.

You can watch the video of me and Celliers sliding down the chute on Facebook.

We had excellent sightings of a goliath heron (I haven't seen one for a while) and a giant kingfisher. And lots of other geese, darters and the like. After the extensive pollution of recent months, it is good to see the waterbirds returning.

Celliers struggled with his shoulder (due for an op in January) but even so we still made good time. We covered the distance in 2h18 at a moderate effort level (approx 8km/hr) and finished within 30-minutes of the last K1.

For Day 2's 24km stage it was girl power all the way. My friend Martie joined me and Karen and Cindy took the second kayak. This was the longest paddle by far for both Martie and Cindy and they totally rocked it.

Setting off.
This was superb section with many more features. There are numerous rapids along the way and a good number of braids and islands so the 'terrain' is interesting.

With Martie, my paddle mate.
Water is very low so the rapids were less rapid and more rocky. I enjoy picking channels and routes so I thoroughly enjoyed it; although another 10 cumec of water would make a big difference. I definitely plan to come out to paddle this again when the water comes up.

A brilliant sighting was that of two fish eagles in the trees right next to us. We even saw one effortlessly catch a small fish. 

Cindy & Karen

Our paddle was a bit more leisurely than the day before - but still smooth and solid. We finished about 30 minutes behind the last K1.

My shoulders and back definitely felt worked and my hands were tired by the end of 42km of paddling over two days. That is more paddling than I've probably done this whole year! I loved it and I can't wait to get back on the river, especially that Day 2 section (with more water).

When I got home on each day, I didn't even turn on my computer and instead I chilled in my garden and indulged in afternoon naps (on both days!). What a treat! I definitely need more weekends like this.

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