Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 16 - 'Lava Falls'

Up early again we make sure everything is fastened down super tight as today we are going to be running the biggest rapid of the trip 'Lava Falls'. As we are cruising down the rapids, debating and discussing who is going to have to take the rafts down Lava we approach what we think is a warm up grade 4. Only thing is there are about 20+ rafts and several kayakers parked at the top of the rapid! We quickly realize this isn't a G4 this is it this is Lava.
The calm before the whitewater storm
The rafts park up and the kayakers jump out to have a scout . Most are scouting high up on the right but me and Anne decide to Scout from the left and within seconds we have our lines. Hard right, cut through the diagonal on the entry hole, punch the corner fold of the main hole and then keep crushing left to avoid the big fold behind the massive wave and the big undercut/siphoned boulder at the bottom. 
Claire O setting of into the top of Lava Falls
Away we go to the sounds of a big cheer from the bank. Pushing hard at first and then slower as I get online I punch through the rapid closely followed by Anne. Completely focused I don't look back until the bottom of the rapid after paddling through one of the biggest wave faces that I have ever seen. When I do look back I notice something is wrong. At first I can't see Anne. Then I see her helmet floating in the water 'that's strange'. I quickly realize that's not just her helmet, it's Anne closely followed by her boat. She's swam! We quickly work together to get to shore it takes awhile through the big billy eddy line and wide rapid but Anne's super calm and a strong swimmer and we soon make it to shore. Turns out Anne's using borrowed paddles that she hadn't practiced rolling with. So after going sky high with a massive back loop in the 2nd hole she couldn't roll backup whilst going through the massive wave set so had to bail.
Rob takes on the heart of the rapid with a sweet line in the 18 foot raft. Claire O hangs on at the back.
Claire O and Anotine Surfing the big wave as Rob punches his way through
Next up its JB, Chuck and Andy (in the raft) who absolutely nail the line. Then it's Antonine on his first of 6 runs! Then Ted P, Rob (in the raft with me sat on the back) and then Scout. We play the rapid for quite along time trying different lines and different boats and trying to catch the final wave. My final run Andy's Astro is quite entertaining as I punch through the top hole too hard then have to cut back really strong, before flipping in the second hole, flipping on the big wave and then catching the final likely wave for a cheeky surf before paddling out of the rapid. 
Its not all plain sailing Antonie goes skyhigh in a big hole in his playboat
Hanging into the Dorys
Opps ... men over board
Antonine defiantly wins the overall prize for most runs and most time spent upside down (even beating Anne and her swim) with numerous flips and falls. We finish the session with an awesome tail squirt session on a whirlpool filled eddy line. 
Anotine lines up for one of his many runs

Andy surfs the big wave at the bottom of Lava
The rest of the day is spent basking in the sun. Making up some miles towards Diamond Creek. The weather is gorgeous in fact bordering on too hot. It must be insane to be here in the summer! As the day gets later we all jump on the raft. Rob, Ted and JB are ahead with one raft. Everyone else is on the other. We have great fun reflecting on the day as we push out the last few miles to camp. 
All aboard
When we are almost there we pass the Minnesota group again. Laughing at our overloaded raft they chuck us some beer. Antonine jumps in to salvage the cans. His second rescue jump of the day. The first was for the frisbee with his dry suit down round his waist at lunch!

Night Life
Other cool things that happened today include young 10 year old Natalie running Lava Falls twice (in her dad and Toms raft). JB and Rob cooking an awesome steak dinner. Everyone surviving several snake attacks from the plastic snake. JB finally putting his glasses on at night and for the first time seeing quite how many stars there are out at night. And getting an early night!