50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 69

Riverside and joy of joys, a vehicle (thanks to Colin ‘Ballie’ Roets) and a club trailer (thanks to KCC). “There we found the spirit of free enterprise in the store being open on a Sunday with a fridge full of bitterly cold Castle, Ohllsons and Carling.” A few hours of hot sun and cold beer later they left on top of the trailer in a canoe with fifteen other victims of the river. This excess weight on the trailer was too much though, and a wheel stub sheared. So their next walk was on! “Setting off in good spirits, four of us managed to get a slow-moving 19-footsack Nissan 120Y to give us a lift to Highflats.” The rest of the clan arrived shortly afterwards in a 7-tonner ‘going like the wind’. This lift was followed by 15 paddlers being bundled into the back of a yellow police van to Jolivet which was the konstabel’s boundary. From there a lift to the National Road at Pennington with a very kind Indian man who took them way beyond his house. Now came the true test - “Who would stop for a motley crew of smelly, unshaven, semi-dressed canoeists?” The answer wasn’t long in coming - the entrepreneurial informal sector to the rescue again in the form of a Hi-Ace, lured to the side of the road by a flapping R20 note! 25 passengers in a 16-seater were soon rocketing on their way to the Umkomaas turn-off where a last lift was needed. It came in the form of an elderly Italian gent who thought he would only take five passengers but the other ten wouldn’t take no for an answer. So - six vehicles later - these intrepid paddlers, thanks to a good mix of free enterprise and charity, got to the prize-giving just in time. Where they didn’t get a prize. Hugh’s Lessons of the Valley: 1. Don’t break your boat! 2. Take some money in case you break your boat! 3. Free enterprise rules! Paul Chalupsky & Eric Clarke’s well-deserved walk: “Eric and I broke the boat above Riverside. Again. On the second day we started last in correct time so we had the river all to ourselves. At Riverside we met a number of paddlers with broken boats waiting for lifts. Being novices at breaking boats we decided to walk out of the valley. Bad decision! After walking for hours we were picked up by the transport that collected paddlers from Riverside. We provided the locals with a lot of amusement. The next two Umkos I managed with a bit of help from Eric to break the boat in the same Micky Mouse no-name rapid! Can’t recall (very convenient attack of Alzheimers) how we got to the finish!” But Owen Hemingway remembers. He was asked by race organiser Pete The Pom to use his 4X4 to ‘Mount’ a rescue at Riverside that year. On the way down they spied two paddlers trudging along disgruntledly, paddles in hand. Paul Chalupsky and Eric Clarke. They offer the pair a lift. “No thanks” says Paul determinedly. “We Break, We Walk”. Owen loaded up a bunch of about 18 merry paddlers who had been sampling the Riverside store’s wares (the store is heavily branded Carling Black Label) onto the poor Toyota Stout-type 4X4 and drove out slowly about an hour later. They got behind a bus, the bus stopped and who should dismount but Paul and Eric! “Now we know why they always say noone wants to sit in the back of these busses” they grunted, glad to end the bouncing ride. Schoolboy walk Chris Volbrecht and Jono Booth did the 1999 Umko in a K2 - they were 15 and at Hilton College. “We ended up being at the back of the field, breaking our boat on No.4, hiking out the wrong side of the valley, spending the afternoon in a kraal (where they gave us the main hut to sleep in and fed 69 No. 1 - 2005 - Charlie Mason & Geoff Caruth ©Jon Ivins us pap and spinach) while waiting for a bush taxi to take us back to Hella Hella. (We paid the driver with Chris’ T-shirt and my shoes). All this while - unbeknown to us - the race helicopter was searching for us. Back at Hella Hella we found a farm house and called our schoolmaster. He came and picked us up and took us to the overnight camp, where we arrived well into darkness to be crapped on from a dizzy height by John Oliver. People were starting to think we had drowned.” Dodgy K3 manne make the local cows nervous Warren Mackenzie, Gordon Bridger and Vaughn Steven from Florida Lake Canoe Club had repairs in the Approaches already, so they portaged No.1. They hit No.2 like pros but at No.3 the pilot was high up in the sky, the rear gunner underwater and the K3 gave up in the last stopper. The walk: “We spotted some cows and the theory was that they must have a home that they go to so we followed them (how urban is that?). We started looking for paths and footprints that we could follow. Hope flickered when we found an empty quart beer bottle that we took as proof of habitation. The five cows seemed to be getting nervous as they walked ahead of us. Eventually they came to a standstill at a wire farm gate, with a cattle kraal beyond it. This gave us hope that we were nearing civilization. We ended up at a lodge. Nobody was home so we filled up our water bottles, helped ourselves to the left-over coke in the fridge and went to reception. Closed. An hour later we arrived at Hella Hella bridge – our very relieved second came running towards us with three bitterly cold beers which went down very well. He had been fielding calls from wives and race organisers looking for us. Our 9km walk out the valley took us 3hrs 30mins and cost us a K3, a GoPro, 4 paddles, repair kit and two sets of pumps. We will be back next year.” A late night walk: The Ladies and the Lamps Dan Crosby and Ron Moir were feeling good having successfully negotiated rapids from Hella Hella to past the Old Cape Road - the point of no return. That’s when disaster struck at ‘Junction Rapid’. “That canoe disappeared never to be seen again and with it our drinks, padkos and those Li-Lo’s that we had so cleverly stowed in the boat so that in just this sort of predicament we could blow them up and casually float down to the overnight at Riverside. There we stood in our tekkies and life vests, clutching our paddles.” UMKO 50 Years