Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Film Mission


-SHARN - Team Videographer/Photographer

-SAM SUTTON - Kayaker



-JAMIE SUTTON - Safety/ Photographer

-MIKE DAWSON - Kayaker


Since i was in Thailand i have been back in nz relaxing, hanging out with family and enjoying the good new wine. That was until i needed to earn a few dollars to keep me going for summer. I got a 2 week job teachin kayaking in wellington. Unfortunatly i missed out on the first week of a New Zealand Kayak film mission directed by a guy from Australia who has a sick series of completed contracts filming freestyle motocross, surfing etc etc. Week one of the tour saw the boys paddling nevis bluff twice, Citeron, Retrospect, the Turmbull River, and saw Sharn harnessed out of Dandos helicopter filing the boys bomb down the Kokatahi River on the West Coast of the South island.
After one last huck session on Maruia Falls the boys boarded the ferry across to wellington. With many txts back and forward i was picked up at the terminal in wellington and i was off on what was to be one the most epic weeks kayaking one could dream of! It was 1 am in the morning and Sam was on a mission to get us to the put in of aratiatia rapids or huka falls by sunrise.

-Josh Neilson in top section of Aratiatia Rapids

Keeping his word we set up a tent at 6.30am and had an hour sleep in taupo before heading out to scout Aratiatia.
With a crew there to run safety we played 'paper sissors rock' to see who would go first, second and third. I was first with a clean line through the top and boofed straight into the boil at the weir and took a roll but no worries. Sam and dylan Stomped it and we ran the rest out to the bottom with no worries.

-Dylan flying through the Weir, Sharn getting the close up shot

What a sick bit of water! Many have commented on being glad o tick this one off the list but we wanted more! So after a relaxing day off paddling a few waterfalls in the waikato region we returned to be the first people to go back and paddle Aratiatia for a second time! something we thought was interesting because of how amazing this rapid is! Everyone had more sick lines through an amazing crack in the earth.

-Sam Styling the weir....AGAIN!

With a lot of enthusiasm in the air we headed south to try run a 50footer on the whakapapaiti river but with a few car troubles we decided to meet at callums for many a beer to celebrate. On wednesday we headed to Bliss-Stick HQ for the christmas party and picked up the new MINI MYSTIC!!!!!!!

-Josh getting a feel for the new Mini Mystic!!!!

Outstanding! this boat is wild! Small, light, responsive, fast off the mark, boofs like a charm etc etc. So with the party in full flight I voiced my enthusiasm to the boys about a trip on friday to 'Tree trunk gorge'..... Eyes lite up and we had a team. Sam, Dylan and myself and fellow Bliss-stick team mate mikey dawson would drop into the gorge on friday afternoon.

-Sam trying to get a glimpse of the water in Tree trunk Gorge

With Jamie Sutton there for safety and 4 video cameras manned by shran, 3 still cameras above the gorge and one head camera on my head we were in and committed. I stomped the entrance rapid which for me was the crux and mike followed. Dylan hit the wall and went into a pocket and was part of our only rescue of the trip.

-Sam and Jamie pulling out Dyl and his kayak

Sam and jamie Pulled his boat up and out of the gorge as well as him and he nailed it the second time. So with everyone safe and happy i rolled off the 45footer into the darkenss of the gorge folllowed by sick lines by the rest of the crew. one more 25footer and we were out. A very small section but consequences that are unthinkable!! Probably the most amazing, beautiful and breathtaking place ive ever been.

-Josh hitting the line on the big falls

Back at the kaituna Sharn was busy loading up footage and we even got a few runs down the kaituna one time we took down blow up pool toys which was fun. Another Christmas party and the tour was over. Sharn has the footage he needs, Dylan has returned to dunedin, Sam and jamie are still livin the life in okere falls and I am back in the bay preparing for the next adventure.
Huge thanks go out to everyone who helps us with these trips!! Especially Jamie Sutton, Phill, Jamie, Chee, Sam, Evan For your safety efforts on this trip!!! Kenny Mutton and others for photos and additional film, Callum, Fe and Tim, Patti and Neil for letting us stay at your house and amazing food!!!!
Much respect to all of u!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Upper Mae Klang River- Final First D for Thailand trip

-Sam on Mae Klang slide

-Will on Mae Klang slide

The day after we paddled the Mae Pan I got one of my notorious migraines so i decided it would be silly to paddle and so I was film and photographer while the boys ran the road side section on the Mae Klang which we had been told about.

-Sam on the top drop

There were a bunch of cool slides and it was a good day rest for my head. While driving round in the park we checked out a higher section that Jason told us about which started at the base of Watchirithan Falls and goes to where the boys put in earlier on the Mae Klang. This looked good but we wanted more. We drove higher and found Siritan Waterfall which was a huge 80footer on to rocks. Below this the river dropped and was the section we were looking for. The next day with my head felling better we put on to run the whole river.

-Me on the lower drops
Drop after drop we made it down and a classy section it was. With a huge porgage round Watchirithan falls and back in right below.

-Will Below Watchirithan Falls

-Me below Watchirithan Falls

From here our first descent was over but classic water for sure. After many hours we took out at a small creek and hiked to the road. I met a family swimming in a pool and gave them my kayak to try. They loved it and were stoked. As they were leaving i asked if i could climb in the back of their ute and get a ride to the top about 12km up hill.

-Me and Thai boy

They were more than happy to and were insistant i tried their home brew whiskey while clinging on to the back for my life. At the top I was thankful we didnt have to run the shuttle and they were stoked to be able to help us out!

-The shuttle seat!!!

From here we loaded up the car and returned to our set up here in Chiang mai.

This was the last serious river for our trip and maybe a nice creek to finish with tomorrow before our journey by train to Bangkok then flight back to nz.

-Ice cream at the lower Mae Klang take out

It has been TOTALLY worth it. Thank you to all the people who have made this trip work out so well!!!!

Doi Intanon, Mae Pan Waterfall section

Josh Neilson- Mae Pan Waterfall

-Will Clark-Mae Pan Waterfall

It was about a year ago when i first heard about anyone paddling in Thailand when Ben Brown, Steve Fisher and Eric Southwick filmed a show for MSP and then didnt hear much more. There was a short clip on Ben's site but it mostly showed the drop be broke his back on and not much else. So when I was asked to go to Thailand 3 months ago to explore new rivers I was unsure what to expect. Ben sent me some photos and I did some research on google images to see what it may have to offer. I booked my flight with the hope to paddle some cool whitewater in the rainy season but was really on the edge of my seat when I saw a shot of Fisher at the lip of Mae Pan waterfall. A clean roll in 50 footer which I was determined to find.

With maps of the area and good beta from Ben, Steve, Wick and Jason Younkin we were set for a great trip to the park.

-Sam on the Second slide

We arrived at the Mae Pan waterfall early and met up with Jason who was running a canyoning trip down the lower gorge and started our mission to get our kayaks to the top of the falls. We set a rope up from the top and pulled our kayaks up and then used that same rope to abseil off the backside of the ridge into the pool below the 100m waterfall and just above the lip of the 50 footer. I set up first and was stoked to be finally above the drop that motivated me to come to Thailand. A few strokes and I was falling a few second of freefall and i hit. Low volume ment I hit hard but came out with a smile on my face! STOKED!
Will fired it up next with a sick line and we got some cool pics and footage.
-Me catching some air on the second slide

-Me on lower drops

Sam opted out of the big one because of a previous spine injury but fired up the next slide with style and precision. We paddled out to the bridge leaving the lower section till next time which has got some more cool stuff on it apparently.

With it being Will's birthday we drove to a small town called Mae Chaem and enjoyed a few cold beers and yarned on about the day and trip adventures.

-Park Ranger curious to what we were doing


-A couple of sick montages from Will Clark

Paddle safe-


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Border Run and Scouting far north of thailand

- Temple up Doi Setep

Last week we had been in thailand for 4 weeks and our Visas only allowed us in for that amount of time so we headed to burma to renew them. After a long night of celebrations for... something for sure, we loaded up the car and headed out about 4hours late. Sam and I took the car and Will stayed behind because he needed a new passport which hadnt arrived. Sam and i made it just in time to cross and got our new Visas. Will came the next day while Sam and I scouted out some creeks. We found one super deep gorge with no access and Huge gradient which we missed out on but will be back again one day for that. On the way home we checked out some more but found mainly super high falls or manky low volume ditches.
-Will and I below Kuhn Kahn Falls
-Sam and I below Kuhn Kahn Falls

-Chiang Mai at rush hour

Back in Chiang Mai we planned our final trip to Doi Intanon National park.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thailand First D no.8 Unknown

Since this was writen we have found out the name of this river on a new set of topographical maps we now have. These would have been very helpfull 5 weeks ago when we arrived and may have saved us some time but at least we have them for next time now
-Me checking the depth of the main drop = 2 foot into sand

So far on our mission in Northern Thailand Sam Ward, Will Clark and I have had a huge success in finding new rivers to paddle. This area is very unexplored in kayaking but there is HUGE potential as we have found out. Today we were a few days off being here for a month and have paddled 8 first descents, a 120km multi day and a cool rafting section. We have also had many much needed days off and have checked out a bunch of the areas amazing temples and scenry.

-Will catching some air

Last night we saw a sign sayin there was a waterfall 10km up a small road so we turned around and went to inspect. on the drive up we saw more than one waterfall and a very tempting gorge! The main waterfall at the top of the river was Tad Mork falls but we do not know the river name. Today we set off early to run the drops we had seen and enter into the deep gorge that was extreemly steep!

-Sam on the best drop on the run

At the top we found ourselves portaging a lot because it was mankly and sieved out. The drops we had seen from the road were absolutly un-paddlable and the top drop into the steep gorge was about 150 feet long and a recipe for broken boats and bones. The next drop down showed potential and we were finally running some cool water. From here down we got some classic drops and some more sieve infested rocky creeking.

-Me on the Main drop- About 2 feet deep

At the bottom we decided that there was some cool stuff paddled but will not be coming back to run this one. Anyone thinking of running this should be warned.. It is like paddling a creek through a rubbish dump as every tree, pool, rock and drop is covered in trash from villages above. Also the top section is manky and lots of trees and the bottom is the same. the middle section has some sweet drops and definalty worth doin once but again is definalty questionable.

-Me on the Last of the good stuff

Below Tad Mork Falls is a section still un run with a 200+ foot long granite slide and a few drops so keep it in the books and qeep an eye out to see if we get enough water while we are here to catch this one!

-Sam on the first of the good stuff

We are off to Burma tomorrow to renew our visas and then probably more sweet creeks.

Paddle safe


Thailand First D no. 7

Yesterday we were on a mission to find a small class 4 creek just north west of chiang mai which we had been told is a good 10km run to do. On our way we found ourselves gaining a lot of gradient with a creek right next to us with a good amount of water in it. Earlier in the trip we got a first descent on the Mae Sa river which was a series of 10 waterfalls before the river dissappeared higher and higher into the mountain. We had now found the upper reaches of the same river in a new village. After a few hours of trying to find the river we were trying to look for we gave up the search and returned to this section of river beside the road. We found a put in at a small bridge and began the descent of the upper Mae Sa river.

-Me at the top of the big slide
Quite early on we came to a big slide that we had to portage and we put in above a tight drop with a fast lead in. Sam ran it first and got down ok, I followed and had too much speed and went deep and pitoned into the bottom but came out ok but i knew there was something bad under the water. As soon as i resurfaced I was out of my boat to try stop Will from running the drop. It was too late and he was coming down. Will tried to catch the eddy above the drop but it was too shallow and dropped in backward. He went under and did not come up, I was out of my boat and looked for the best option. I could see his hand reaching for the surface but there was no way to access him from the bank. Will was wedged between the wall on each side and under water. With sam waiting in the pool below for safety I jumped for Wills arm and my feet out to try dislodge his kayak. Success! As i jumped Wills kayak and body came unstuck and he was out SAFE!!! It was a very intense situation and we were very happy to see Will out on top of the water as he took in some much needed Fresh air!

-Will on the 20footer

We chilled out on the side for a bit and Will everyone was keen to keep going.

Not long after Sam landed hard off a drop putting a crack about 50mm long in the hull of his boat and decided to get out and take photos and do the shuttle.

-Me on the first big drop

Will and I kept going and came to a nice 20foot drop. With a good inspection on the landing we decided it was deep enough and we hit it. Both came out with good lines.
This was where the gradient increased.

-Me on the Middle boof

The first drop was followed by a small boof into a tight pinball slide about 90 foot long and then a small pool before a 60foot slide into a nice pool which was a super fast ride.

-Me on the bottom drop

From here down was some cool class 3-4 slots and a nice gorge before we took out at Mae Sa Elephant camp.
There is still the section from out take out to where we put in on the 10th waterfall on the lower Mae Sa which is yet to be explored but definatly has potential for some big drops!

-Will flying down the last drop

Take care out there

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Nam Wa 120km Multi day

-Nam Wa put in

To add some variey to our trip we decided to plan a trip on the Nam Wa river that runs north to south from near the Laos border. The normal section takes 3 days and is 80 km long. With a fit team and high water flows we dedcided to try make it a 2 day trip and add an extra 40kms on the the end of the trip by paddling through to the national park south of the take out.

-Sam in the action

We put on at 1pm on monday the 8th and paddled for 3 hours before stopping at a nice camping spot by the river. With a short day we knew we had to get up early and paddle about 100km the next day.

-Our Camp site by the river

After a mediocre sleep we put on the river at 6.30 am and started the missions out. Within 2 and a half hours plus the 3 hours the day before we had completed the 3 day section. From here the river slattened out a bit and we muscled our way out the further 40km by mid afternoon. This trip was great as we were right in the middle of a storm and in a beautiful jungle!

-Me on day 2

We passed many Bamboo rafts and fishermen on the banks who all had smiles for the uncommon plastic kayaks and a tired crew of farungs(white people) that pushed on through.

-A local Child giving us respect for being older, and a traditional greeting