Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving on the Madi Khola

First off, let me address the extreme amount of time between posts.  Apparently you have to work at keeping up a blog.  That being said, here is a trip report for the Madi Khola my friend Todd and I did on Thanksgiving Day in Nepal 2011.

The Madi Khola
From just south of Lamarkhet to Karputar
Class 4 (5), 15 miles, 100 ft/mile
3 out of 3 stars for both whitewater and scenery/wild?

Our ninth day of kayaking out of 10 started at 5:30AM.  We met with Charley at the Ganesh Kayak shop at 6am to meet the jeep that would take us up the 4-wheel drive only Nepalese mountain road to just before the village of Lamarkhet. 

He was late and had to stop and check his battery.  It was maybe a two hour drive we amazing views of the Annapurna Range.  The driver literally stopped in the middle of this mountain road to where we could see the river about 300 feet below us and said we are at the put in.  Any further up the road and we'd need trekking permits.

After carrying and dragging our gear and boats down to the water, we packed them up with dry bags full of dry clothes, cash, medical supplies, spare paddles, and river safety gear.  Putting on the river at about 10am, all we knew was there was a blue bridge across the river and that was the take out.  We didn't know it would take over 6 hours to get there.

Todd and I both agree that it was the most continuous river we had ever done and the winner of the best river of the trip.  The rapids just kept coming.  The longer, steeper ones got into the IV+ range and some were V, like where Todd swam.  It went about as well as those things can.  He didn't get pulled into the undercut rock and  I collected all his gear minus a water bottle about few hundred yards from the ledge that flipped him. 

I lead most of the river and ran almost all the rapids.  I'm really starting to feel as good as I did before my shoulder injury back in 2007.  I can't wait for this spring, especially living a block from Chester Creek in Duluth, MN.

The river opened up into a valley after the small village of Thumsikot with a temple on the left and mellowed out to easy class III with a few trickier rapids.  Then all of a sudden, the walls closed in around us and we were into a boulder garden like nothing I've seen before.  I don't think there was a safe line through it.  We walked around that one on the wrong side of the river.


Class V+ rapid

Inside the canyon another tributary entered on the left and monkeys were playing in the trees along river right.  It then opened into another valley and this time it was for the village of Karputar and our long, exhausting day was over.

We spent the night in a tea house where they fee and sheltered us for the night for less than $10 each.  There had been other kayakers staying there not two day before us.  For Thanksgiving dinner we had a traditional Nepalese meal of Dal Bhat, which is lentils over rice with curry potatoes.  We also got the best fried eggs I’ve ever eaten. 

Next morning we caught the 8AM bus out of the valley and above the clouds.  It was the most violent experience I've ever had in a vehicle.  There was a 50 lbs propane tank bouncing around the back of the bus where we were sitting.  You had to be careful not to hit your head on the window.  Class V bus ride for sure.  

Three hours later we were back in Pokhara and Todd got a massage and I had my hair washed by a Nepalese girl.  It was an intense, epic, amazing 30-hour Thanksgiving experience.

To the River,

Not even a quarter of the footage we got of that day: