Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wara Marl

Waking up the next day we didn't really have too much of a plan, Shan and I could attempt the lower gorges of the Simbu (below where we hiked out the day before) but we not that keen as it was very committing and with just two of us not the best idea. So after a little lay in and a typical PNG breakfast of biscuits, which are flavoured crackers, we figured we might try our luck in the 'Granite Valley'. Driving out over Karanule Creek we realised there we quite a lot less water than our last trip out here but we ha heard there was a river about 2/3 the size of Wara Simbu that poured into the Wara Wahgi, down by a town called Gumine. Two hours later we arrived at Gumine, and before long some local had climbed aboard our rig and was directing us to Wara Marl. We caught the odd glimpse of the river and it looked pretty damn good, but one thing we noticed is that the further you went... the further you would be isolated and hiking back out. Once we arrived at a bridge that crossed the river we hopped out and eagerly inspected the river. There was a gorge upstream of the river that looked like it may go, but we figured that we should keep it safe so we only committed to a 1-2km section down to a small creek that we could use to climb out.

Mama and her white-son's (p. Reuben Paul)

As we were getting ready some disgruntled locals approached us and requested payment to use the river. Up until this point we, and our local contacts, had maintained that it was setting a bad precedent to pay to use rivers but for some reason one of our guide strongly suggested to us that we should pay them something. They requested 200kina and we ended up giving them 42, silly mistake. It turned out that the men requesting the money were from a village further upstream and that the true locals would not of charged us. But yeah, we just wanted to get on the river and made a trivial mistake. Nevertheless, we were ready and on our way to first descent number 7!

The locals that didnt mind us paddling the river (p. Jordy)

Shan making his way down to Wara Marl (p. Jordy)

After the first 100m, unbelievably, the river dropped straight into a box canyon and for some reason I got the urged and bombed straight in. Fortunately there was only a class IV+ entry and then the gorge was flat, but we were reminded that we were in the Chimbu Province... gorges everywhere. After emerging from the gorge we were into a section that had a character like the lower section of 49-Bridgeport, granite creeping in from the edges of the river and some great moves. The take-out creek came to fast and we were sure that there was even more good downstream, and upstream for that matter. Once we had clambered back up to the truck our good day got even better...

Shan entering the box gorge (p. Jordy)

Inside (p. Jordy)

Oh so sweet (p. Barny)

It kept getting better (p. Barny)

Shan right before all the lateral's (p. Jordy)

Gold (p. Barny)

Shannon at the end of the section we done, much
more downstream for next time (p. Jordy)

Barny was doing a little jig and Reuben Paul was on the phone finishing a conversation with the local villagers who had found Barny's boat with the 'blue-bag' intact. So we quickly packed up and made our way to Kundiawa, where the kids were waiting for us with the blue-bag, and then headed up to Benebi Corner. Upon arrival, much to our suprise, we noticed the kayak was all good. Apart from some major stone chaffing from being in the undercut, the boat was as solid as when it went into the undercut... just a bit lighter now! We gave them the 100kina reward, listened to the gringe worthy story of how a man swam under the rock several times to locate the boat and then get a line on it to pull it out and then left with big smiles as we knew we'd all be on the river the next day!

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