I was never any good at making decisions, always the last to choose a chocolate bar at the corner shop, and the first to change my mind. Most decisions on this trip seem to be made late at night after several hours of worrying about which decision to make. So it isn’t surprising that it was after midnight in Busy Bee’s Bar in Pokhara that a chance meeting with raft guides lead to a complete change of plan from accompanying Beth Morgan (who arrived to an email explaining the change of plan (sorry Beth!)) on warm up rivers, to yet another trip down the mighty Kaligandaki, the best trip yet…. the most dancing, the most play time, the most sunshine, and the most buzzing clients – Love it.
After the trip I finally gathered a troop (thank you Ganesh) to siege the Upper Seti. Saturday 29th September saw me and all the younger raft guides from Swissa up early for a dawn raid on a lower, but still medium leveled Seti under the gaze of Machapuchare (as is just about visible in this photo) ….
The siege was a success despite more back loop action by the guides than I have seen in a long time (it should be added that they were paddling boats including a pyranha storm – what a beast!). The Upper Seti was beautiful, apparently all the rapids have changed since last year leaving about five, really nice, clean, fun, creeky, class four playgrounds – Happy Happy Happy!
Seven hours of somewhat painful minibus action (in the seven hours of practice I can now conclude that Mr ‘guy sat behind me’ cannot sing or clap in time and shows no sign of ever learning!) and I arrived in Kathmandu to meet Miss Beth, fresh from the Trisuli, and Chrissy, Maila and the british guides from GRG for Japanese food.
If you want one piece of advice for free, I would recommend never trying to freight anything to Kathmandu….. EVER! I will never get the 5 hours I spent in Kathmandu cargo airport, or the 200 or so signatures given to endless officials back…… but we did finally make it back to the hotel with Beths boat – Success!
The next day saw the two of us setting off on a local bus to paddle the Upper Sunkosi. It was the sort of paddling that is just fun…. but not long enough fun… in fact not long enough enough that we missed the take out at Sukote beach after paddling for less than an hour…. Hmmm
When I was in India there was a guide who (in a slightly crazy sort of a way) repeatedly said to me….. ‘you must go Belephi Kola’. I think he probably recommended it at least once most days, giving me a strange fascination with it. I really wanted to paddle it when it was high, but the guides in Kathmandu said that it was too high to take Beth on as a warm up paddle. So after an hour on the Upper Sunkosi (a reasonable warm up!) midday saw me and Beth hatching a plan to make it down the Belephi Kola by in time to meet the rafts the next morning. We commissioned a little car, which passed us on to a big bus due to the road not really resembling a road….
Finding that the road now goes about 3km beyond Jesbire and after a bit of a walk we ended up about 3km from the top of the Belephi Kola on a beach – Success!
Many momos (vegetable pasta parcelly things) later and we set up camp for the night – knackered. Now whether the villagers having a bit of fun trying to scare us, or whether the villagers were trying to scare us enough so that we ditched camp and ran away so that they could rob us is debateable…. but either way they succeeded in scaring us enough so that we swapped our nice beach for what was essentially a rocky prickley tree…..
I am not sure that I will ever have a more uncomfortable nights sleep than that night, but morning time saw us returning to our boats… with our valuables (thank goodness) to all ours stuff had been ransacked, and then stuffed back into drybags so that it looked like nothing had happened. All in all we set off down the belephi lacking a couple of river knives, all tape from 1st aid kits and repair kits, all our pens, all our suncream, a bottle of shampoo, Beths razor and a packet of biscuits…. could have been worse!
The Belephi made it all worth it…. it was unbelievable….so so good! Still pretty high the section above Jesbire was pushy; I inspected most things, we ran a couple of chicken(ish) shoots…. Beth has now been added to the little book of nails, and I think the morning maybe makes it into the little book of silly. 17km on the Balephi, 28km on the Upper Sunkosi, and we were only 10 minutes late meeting the rafts at Dologat at 11am – good skills by the girly dream team…
After a few somewhat mental days, the Sunkosi was sweet. Nothing stressful, nothing too scary, lots of floating and lots of laughing. Of course we had a mission of a raft capsize on Jaws, yes the gear raft ended up in dead mans eddy; but thats part of the fun right.
I’ve uploaded a somewhat blurry video of one of the biggest rapids, Harkapur, here:
After watching the only other kayaker paddling the rapid get a spectacularly special line, I was nervous…. but as soon as you are in there you just buzz – Love it!Each night we camped on one of the endless white sandy beaches, made campfires explored villages and drank the dangerous Nepali roxi!
Had a wash at least twice……
I learned to paddle the gear raft (and in doing so became bucher than ever… Hmmmm)….
And discovered the joys of the dream machine: The Rainbow Zulu….Yes I felt sorry for ditching Couroshiani (who was very much enjoying playing with the boys)…. but the zulu was immense…. yes, at moments she reminded me of a topo sailing dinghy, but everything just became more random…. and I like random! In fact I like random so much that when we headed off on a mission to the Tamur…
We paddled the final section of it from Muglat to Tribeni. Finding high water and so many awesome grd 4 ish rapids we me and the rainbow (and the rest of the dream team) buzzed our way from start to finish…
The final morning on the Sun Kosi and it rained…. a lot! On the way out we stopped off at a famous Hindu temple with a magically heavy rock; before packing up for the 18 hour bus ride back to Kathmandu.The bus ride was, I think, almost as exciting as the river, with crazy driving, stops to pick up 10 large pigs, a chicken, endless locals, and I think the worst daal badt to date – live and learn.
Now back in Kathmandu preparing for the 3 days on the Marsyandi starting tomorrow, possibly accompanied by some catarafting Russians….. the adventure continues 🙂