Had a really good trip this weekend (photos to follow once I have them).
I hooked up with a couple of guys from my neck of the woods; Aiden and Hayden, later meeting up with Steve and Lee, friends of the rest of my paddling crew, and headed up to run the Tongarario releases this past weekend. On Saturday we ran Access 10 (after waiting ages for Lee to show), a fun grade III run with lots (70+) of fun boulder gardens. We had a bit of a mission; Aiden swam on some piddley rapid (his first in 2 years) and was warmed up with soup, then I broke my padde shaft while rolling in a shallow, rocky rapid. I rolled up with my remaining blade, then canoe-ed my way to shore while my mates collected the other blade. We had to saw the shaft down to get the blades in our creeker, but fortunately we had a split paddle along with us. The rest of the run was cruisey, with no major debacles.
We stayed at Steve's girlfriends' parents' house, and were treated to lots of food, a warm living room, and soft beds.
Sunday was Access 14, a grade III+/IV- section of the same river. I was a little nervous before we got to the put-in, as the rest of our team were in creek boats and I was in my little Rad. When we got to the river there were more playboats and I felt better. We did the run twice, the first time with a big group and the second time around with just the four of us. The first run took us two hours or so, while we did the second in just one. Things went pretty smoothly on the first run, bigger rapids, but all fun boulder gardens with nice, flowing lines. The second run brought some excitement when I dropped into a sticky pourover and had my hands full surfing and blasting my way out of it. I had my boat edged at nearly 90 degrees for a bit, but I eventually fought my way out. I was stopped in a couple holes in my little spud boat, but for the most part the rapids went by wonderfully. It was a really fun run overall, and I felt confident in class IV water in a creekboat, which was cool.
The take out of the run is above Tree Trunk Gorge, a big scary ticket straight to the white room; huge drops in a tiny canyon with lots of wood. Make the take-out eddy.
The remains of my paddle are in the shop, another $90 ($65 US) down the tubes. Oh well; at least I get a new carbon shaft and my choice of offset for the run next weekend.