50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 93

“Duct tape is like : It has a Dark side and a Light side and it holds the Universe together” UMKO RAPIDS INTERNATIONAL SCALE OF DIFFICULTY EXPLAINED Class I: Easy Fast moving water with small waves. Swimming is pleasant, riverbank easily reached. A nice break from paddling. Most gear and equipment is recovered. Boat is just slightly scratched. Class II: Novice Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Swimming to eddies requires moderate effort. Climbing out of river may involve slippery rocks and bush-induced scratches. Paddle travels downstream requiring lengthy walk. Some unimportant gear missing. Boat hits submerged rock leaving visible dent. cartoon by William Nealy - reprinted with permission of Menasha Ridge Press Dad’s First Umko - at 72yrs-old - by Tim Biggs My Dad was a tough old farmer but not a canoeist. Well, that year David, Dan and I were all racing the marathon so Dad decided he wasn’t going to be left out of the fun. He had done the Staebraes to Josephine’s section in an old Gordon Rowe white-water boat once or twice and so thought he’d be fine. No amount of cautioning from his boys could change his mind. The river was flowing strongly on the first day and we all got to Riverside in good time. Hours later Dad was nowhere to be seen and we started to get worried. But he finally made it - that day and to the end of the marathon last man home. Turns out he had been busy en-route. As stragglers started trickling in to Riverside in their boats with miles of duct tape and acacia branches holding them together they told of this old guy who had stopped to help them spent an hour or so helping them patch, then gone to help the next boat in distress. In between he would get out at every irrigation pump to check out what crops the farmers in this neck of the woods were irrigating. That was old Pops! Age-old propositions In the late 70s two legendary Dusi and Umko winners teamed up for the marathon. It was a full year and at a point roughly halfway between Riverside and Mpompomani where the river flattens out and widens the Pope was passing the time of day in isiZulu conversation with some of the scantily-clad and well-endowed maidens washing clothes on the riverbank. The conversation was interspersed with much mirth and ribald laughter and as they paddled off Charlie asked what had been discussed. “Oh” said Graeme, “the Dolly Parton look-alike wanted me to spend some time with her and I told her I was far too young for that kind of thing.” Oh, yes? said Charlie. “Yes, and then she asked, ‘What about you?’ and I told her you were far too old for that kind of thing.” Oh, thanks very much, replied Charles. Class III: Intermediate Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid. Water is swallowed. Legs are dragged against sharp rocks. Several eddies are missed while swimming. Decision to stay with boat results in moment of terror when swimmer realises he’s downstream of boat. Paddle is trapped in small hole upstream. All personal possessions are floating in different directi ons. Paddling partners run along river bank shouting helpful instructions. Boat is munched against boulder hard enough to leave deep cracks. Sunglasses fall off. Class IV : Advanced Powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise swimming in turbulent water. Swimming may require ‘must’ moves above dangerous hazards. ‘Must’ moves are downgraded to `strongly recommended’ after they are missed. Sensation of disbelief experienced while about to swim large drops. Rocks are clung to with death grip. Paddle is completely forgotten. One shoe sucked off. Paddling partners running alongside look genuinely concerned. Boat nowhere in sight. Climbing up river bank involves acacia thorn tree. Helmet camera missing, contact lenses are moved to rear of eyeballs. Class V: Expert There is no swimming, only frantic movements to get a breath from time to time. That hole that looked like nothing when scouted, holds you under the water until your lungs are close to bursting. Terror and panic set in as you realise your paddling partners have no chance of reaching you. You surface to see you still have most of the rapid left to swim. Swim to the eddy? What effing eddy!? This rapid sucks - shoes, socks, sunglasses, hats, camera, watch and clothing are sucked off. Paddling partners on shore are frantic. Their horror is reflected on their faces as they stare at how you are being tossed around! They are hoping they remember how to do CPR. Class VI: World Class Not recommended for swimming. Adapted and Umko-ised from Dave Petterson of Calgary Paddlers ‘International Scale of River Difficulty’ - thanks! 93 UMKO 50 Years