5 turned 6 day Ganges river Ramble...
Here's a long story to hold over the buzz till ski season really kicks in.
I arrived in Dehli India in Early November, got picked up by my new employers Yash and Abhay of Ravers Rivers. I'd done just two days of safety kayaking for Ravers Rivers www.raftingganga.com
on the Ganges "Ganga" Out of Rishikesh, India but my friend Nesto had been scheming this 150 km raft trip down India's holiest river Since him and Annie had arrived two months before..
Nesto helped me negotiate my work terms as well as talk Abhay into letting the 3 of us rent a raft for a 5 day self-guided river trip on the Ganga.
"Do we have to take the Nepali guy with us" Nesto Pleaded...
"You must take one guide cause if other company see's you with no guide, company's will complain. they do not allow...You do not pay for guide, only raft."
1000 rps a day to rent the raft and 2200 for jeep shuttle...a good inside deal!
You can take Ketan he go with you no problem, Ketan is Guide.
...He'll just be our "cultural consultant"...ok...we ponder.
we will borrow from other companies and get all equip for you.
Nesto and Annie buy 5 days of western-ish food and we gather our camping gear. With borrowed raft and miscellaneous items, not so dry drybags, a nearly seatless oar-frame, 3 paddles but no extra oar, we jeep out up the canyon, super winding road. 3.5 hrs later they pull over in a town and point down a steep set of stairs 150' down to the river.
"You start here!" Ajay says.
"3.5 hrs is surely not 150 km (not at all in india),, We go up farther,,no propblem, we'll find another place to put in."
...the river is just starting to look real consistently fun III...
nearly an hour later and already late in the day the road joins the river in another town...
"ok we start here, no problem."
Consistent but manageable class III for a couple of hrs and we pull out on a nice big beach.
A cold night sets in quick and we scramble to find only the tinest bit of wood to make a fire..This was my first first-hand eye-opener as to the effect of india's sprawling population on its resources... although we weren't near any large villages local demand for wood for cooking fuel left not even a piece of finger-sized driftwood on the huge beach and gravel bar.
"Ketan, you have tent?...You have sleeping bag?" --"No, No, I ok.."
WHAT! We can't believe they sent our "guide" with no sleeping bag even though they said he had all his own stuff. our cultural consultant had a small drybag that consisted on a plate, a pair of jeans, a sweater, and a cell phone!
15 Indians see us off from the beach in the morning. after a cloudy, cold couple of hours of twists and wave trains we pull off on a beach and scrounge fire wood, make a fire, strip down and warm up. this turns into a full lunch stop, and Nesto and i break out the booze in true river trip fashion. shots of rum and charras. the suns comes ourt and I'm back rowing. good fun waves and boulder gardens. One wave chute narrows to a river-wide hole and ejects Ketan and I as I push the raft through. I take a nice bruise and scrape falling on the propane tank but we climb back in no problem. Nesto decides he should take a turn at guiding for a while, and we pull over to scout a long confusing rapid., "You want me to guide this one?" No I'll do it, you just got ejected and you're half-drunk." Annie made one supportive comment, "well Mike did prove himself as a black-out oarsman in blossom bar on the rogue in Oregon." anyways, Nesto spins us through just fine. (we were overly nervous). But I'm back in the drivers seat shortly as the horizon lines start coming quicker. A tricky slant hole catches the raft and we are surfing back and towards the meat of the hole, ohh man i think, but then a well timed blade stroke and a lucky surge of the hole pops us back out. "We were totally surfing that hole" Nesto exclaims boastfully. Our confidence in the unknown section of river rises! We are getting splashed and having a good time.
A thunderous wave train leading into a narrow gorge beacons a scout. Annie waited patiently by the raft while we scrambled a 1/4 mile of talus along the wave train trying to look into the meat, already into the steep walled canyon. It was straight forward. power strait down the 1/4 mile of overhead rollers and cut hard left through a surging lateral to make the narrow "gate" channel without getting pushed right into a huge rock with adjacent "room of doom" swirling Eddie river right. What we couldn't see was that the rock was super undercut and most of the water was pushing right into it and into the "room of doom" (obvious Westwater reference)
"Ok we see the move lets just do it no need to over-anaylize"...I say reassuringly. I look at Nesto smiling, "You can take it if you want to..already knowing his answer.." Nesto takes me aside for a brief 'man to man'
"You know you and me if we flip or swim, we'll be fine, and get over it, but if ANNIE has a bad swim, she's not gonna want to go on ANY more river trips, and then we're screwed...ok"
I swallow a lump in my throat and smile. "Challo" (Lets go)
Nesto, Annie, and Ketan clinch staps and dig their feet under the tubes. I power down the wave trin hard, straight on and then turn the boat slightly and pull hard backstrokes away from teh rock shooting for the gate. Our fwd speed was overpowering and the raft slammed straight into the rock in an instant crushing pin. Ketan dry exits right onto the rock, Annie gets spat into the "room of doom" and Nesto and I get tossed left making the gate. Nesto farther downstream yelling back at me "Where's Annie, Where's Annie" I swim fast to river right and catch our "food bag" drybag as it floats by. I can't see the raft but know it's just 60 ft upstream on the rock. Horrors of Annie pinned inbetwe4en the raft and the rock flash in my mind, as i shimmy upthrough a donut hole in the rock and climb to the top. I gasp in relief to see Annie and Ketan on the rock as well. Nesto's way down stream but is fine and will find a place to climb out of the canyon eventually, I explain. Examining the raft surge and pinch on the rock with our remaining attached dry bags being tossed violently in and out of the raft shuddered my skin. I Immediately acted to push the raft off the rock, and Thought Ok helmet-cam on time...(See Video but read rest first) I get the throwbag off the raft and run it through the chicken line on the raft handing both ends to Ketan, who stood there confused.
"hold this, don't let go of raft"
(Story continued in next post)