50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 60

next to the tents and tentpoles in the back and he and Colin Mercer set off for the Umkomaas valley. On the way they were stopped by police ‘dagga check’ road blocks. Each one wanted to search this heavily-laden truck with its back wheels invisible under the loadbed and its headlights aimed at Venus. The last lot put sniffer dogs on it who get very excited at the thought of a meal from the Royal Hotel! The food was duly delivered to Old Buck campsite that night - late but sufficient. There was even ice cream and fruit salad left over. KCC noted in SA Canews: Oscar Chalupsky had his fill and was satisfied, which answers questions of was there enough; and as to quality: Well, Arthur Egerton ate his! On the way back the lighter F250 hit the tar and picked up speed only to disappear in a cloud of dust (this according to the driver of a following BMW). A loud bang had preceded a loss of control - right rear tyre burst. However, having Driven the Fastest Milk Cart - in the West, this was but a small challenge to our Ernie, Ernie, and he brought this cart to a safe halt where the wide-eyed Bee Emm driver helped him and Colin change the tyre. The KCC report also proudly stated: This must be the only race where competitors erect and take down their own accommodation after paddling 60km. *Bugsy enjoyed the distinction of finishing last with Basil Cary in the ‘83 Umko - in a time of 16hrs 13mins when the Pope and Tim Cornish won in 8hrs 2mins. Bet their story was more interesting than Pope’s and Tim’s! Organising and Paddling and Organising In 1984 Ernie only got back to his Musgrave Road flat in the wee hours of the morning, showered and changed into his paddling kit and drove straight to the start at Hella Hella. Yes, dear paddlers, remember who our sometimes-maligned and slandered officials are behind their official badges and uniforms: paddlers like you and me. So without a wink of sleep Ernie set off from Hella Hella on Day One in his Accord with his ‘paddling captain’ Greg ‘GT’ White sitting in front. This Day One just happened to be the longest-ever Day One of the Umko before or since: 91km*, all the way to Old Campsite. Even Oscar said as he pulled in at the overnight stop that day “Never in my life have I sat on my arse for so long!” *Reliable saucers (who are often in their cups) have put this first day finish at Old Campsite, Old Buck, Mpompomani and just above Bad Rapid, with the distance varying - by their confident accounts - from 80 to 103km! Any of these guesstimates still make it the longest-ever Umko single day. Mart and the barbel Once at St Elmo’s a local scout troop had been deployed to help out with lunch duties. Martin Loewenstein was standing with twins Marlene and Jenny at the counter getting soup and rolls when one of the scouts accidentally poured hot soup onto his hand. “I pulled my hand away and shouted out a loud “FU-UCK!”. The scoutmaster freaked out telling me not to swear in front of women. I tried to tell him it was an instinctive reaction to the burning soup, but he said if I carried on talking back to him he would ban me from supper. So taking up the challenge I told him to stick his supper - I would get my own. I had brought along a handline and some hooks and a sinker, so found a cricket and baited up and threw into the fast-flowing Umko. After only a short while I got a bite and had the twins holding on to me while I pulled in a big barbel. Marlene snuck into the kitchen at suppertime, made friends with the cook and fried up my barbel for supper. It was delicious. In hindsight I suppose I could have handled it differently but I had to prove something . . haha. “ (Aside: St Elmo is the patron saint of sailors and abdominal pain. That just seemed interesting). UMKO 50 Years Mart and the barbie Mart and Derek Howe confess: “We did get pissed the night before and could hardly walk back to the tent. Next morning Derek was still under the weather and had a fat barbie. We got into the canoe and rolled right over into the muddy drink . . . “ Owen Hemingway remembers the day thus: “Derek Howe hit the pub hard and got to bed late. The next day on the river Derek hurled onto his spraydeck, gazed intently at it and said “Boerewors! It must have been the boerewors that made me ill”. During one of the last official overnight stops at Josephine’s Bridge a young KCC paddler decided to take advantage of Ernie’s fully stocked bar. He was eventually bundled off to bed in terrible condition. In the early hours of Sunday morning Rob Davey was woken by a flurry of activity next to the generator which had been started. There was this same young man lying on the ground being attended to by our very own KCC cardiologist, Dave Gillmer. Turns out this fellow woke up having difficulty in breathing and, suspecting he was having a heart attack, summoned help. The good doctor stabilized him and to this day insists that he did not use the generator to shock the heart back into rhythm. The race committee took a decision banning the paddler from getting onto the water for day two as his alcohol level was still way over the top. But he had other plans, portaged a few hundred meters upstream of Josephines Bridge and then blended in with the batch before slipping past Ernie. Thankfully he made it all the way to Riverside. Rumour has it that Cookie’s wife would not hear of him naming his first child Honda, even more so as it was a pretty little girl. Mud We all want water in the river, but the rain that brings it also falls on the roads! One overnight stop Duncan Porky Paul remembers the Daily News Reporter (and Rob Stewart’s cousin) Evelyn Holtshouzen’s car was stuck in the mud. “We were pushing him out when the car was suddenly freed and the wheels spun off covering Dutch Timmerman in mud from head to toe as he was standing directly behind a wheel. All we saw was the whites of his eyes and white teeth. Dutch was really unhappy but we were all laughing our heads off”. Canny officials meanwhile, realising their vehicles would not make it up the muddy road out of the valley, ordered paddlers to push all the vehicles up to the top of the hill. Meeting with some reluctance to this form of physical labour before a tough day’s paddling, the heavies had to resort to threats. They announced that the race would not start before the last vehicle had been man-handled up the muddy slope! That did it! The vehicles were shoved to the top in short order. A slight delay occurred when the bombastic owner of a Chev Nomad (in Mr Umko’s brusque judgement ‘probably the most useless apology for an off-road vehicle ever to grace SA’s roads’) announced that no-one was to touch his car - it would make it out under its own steam. Well, very soon its spinning wheels had to be shoved out just like all the others! Mud In Your Eye, and other Official Capers At the 1972 overnight stop Paul Chalupsky’s eyes were itching and blurry. He thought from the constant splashing of waves into his face. He consulted Doc Curson who rolled back his eyelids and removed packed strips of mud! Doc then instilled eyedrops that stung like hell. “I usually only use 60