Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Whanganui River Adventures II: The Return to Pipiriki

 After our 6K hike to the Bridge to Nowhere and back, we boarded our jet boats for the return trip.  A few minutes out, however, the jet boat pulled over and unloaded all of its passengers with instructions that we were to navigate on our own -- by kayak or canoe.  Gracie, an experienced kayaker, received her own vessel and was the first to set off  downstream-- solo.  Amy and Roger, quite a bit less experienced, climbed into a canoe together and set off in not-so-rapid pursuit.


Victory over Adversity
Several kilometers downstream, a taniwha struck.  [For those of you who do not know what a taniwha is, see our entry of November 12: Kowhai Park (Wanganui)].  The taniwha took the form of rocks and rapids, toppling poor Gracie into the water.  As she and her kayak were swept away, Amy and Roger endeavored to maneuver their canoe to (a) catch the kayak, (b) get the canoe and the kayak to shore, and (c) do so on the same bank as where Gracie had come to rest.  Arriving the shore, Amy stepped out into what seemed like quicksand: the sand quickly swallowed up her leg to the knee, rendering her motionless (but still vocal, according to Roger).  Gracie appeared over the top of some rocks, a bit wet and sandy, but still clutching her paddle.  The vision of victory over adversity.  Grace and the kayak were reunited and she continued.  

A few kilometers further downstream, Gracie succumbed to exhaustion and agreed to accept a lift back the rest of the way.  It turned out that she made right decision. Although we had already traveled five kilometers, there was another five kilometers between us and lunch!

Amy and Roger continued in their little canoe.  The goal was to reach the lodge where a barbecue was awaiting.  Tiring with each stroke of their paddles, our heroes finally saw an end in sight: the other canoes pulling up at a sandy beach.  The critical judgment was whether to go right or left in approaching the beach.  Unfortunately, they made the wrong call, and while they were on the wrong side, the canoe was swamped by the wake of a passing jet boat belonging to another group.  The canoe, Amy, Roger and the camera slowly sank.  All survived except the camera died by drowning.

Which is why there are no more photos to entertain you today!

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