Huddled under the tarp, the Trangia boiled, steam rising from the pot. Sheets of rain pushed their way under cover, lapping at our wet camp shoes and splashing mud onto everything at ground level. “Ten minutes and it’ll-ave blown through” I yell from one end, barely heard by her skeptical face looking directly at me from the other. Peering away toward the rain and wind, she rubbed her hands furiously together, attempting to regain some dexterity. Every wind gust, as if a arm reaching in and under, trying to untie any tethered rope on our tarp, like a mischievous boyfriend trying to unhitch a girlfriends bikini top in a pool. Wind pushed. Wind pulled, and the whiskey passed around. Once. Twice a circle and soon the bottle empty.
Powdered miso soup went down a treat, bringing the belly up a few degrees, and tempering tempers. Main course consumed not far behind. The rain did eventually let up a little after the initial front pushed through, but didn’t stop completely until early morning. Waking in a tent, roof and walls lined with condensation, any gear left outside now covered in pools of water. Not exactly the most inspiring to pry us from our sleeping bags. Slowly the Sun coaxed us up, as we brewed the coffee, a bite to eat and got on with the day.
Packed up and on water by 10 o’clock, we hit up our first rapid straight away. River level maintained constant by rain overnight. Our packrafts handled well, gear stored snuggly, dry and secure within airtight raft chambers, burly waterproof zippers standing guard. Lunch and accessories strapped to their bows for easy access. Day two a more casual float trip, the occasional minor rapid, our flotilla of Alpacka Raft’s having excelled on the larger white water the day prior.
Often it is man’s failures within nature, that so starkly highlights our very existence, our marks on the natural world, and how conflicting our fundamental values are upon it. Our group ponder this thought over deconstructed sandwiches, eating lunch atop broken dam wall. Impossibly large stone blocks, quarried from the hillside nearby, stacked high to form a wall to retain the rivers flow, the majority of which now scattered below within the rivers path. Nature hath no fury.
Finding a rope swing on the lower river sections, we stopped to sample it’s trajectory. A cluster of packrafts quickly lined the bank, and a queue to swing and release. Simple pleasures are often best experienced amongst friends.
We unzipped the rafts, let the hissssssss of air release and split down the paddles ready to head home. Packrafting isn’t always about hardcore missions into epic wilderness. Yes a packraft can take you there, if you so choose. They will also allow you to fit three days gear rolled, folded and stacked into the back of a small vehicle, plus the friends to paddle them. All five of us, gear packed and we were back on the road to retrieve our shuttle car from our river put-in.