Written by Paula
I had previously been on a multi-day river trip in morocco with raft support – 5 star luxury when it comes to multi-days, you can eat well, sleep well and paddle light boats! But the adventurous spirit of a self supported kayaking expedition is what led me to attempt two self supported missions. The first, a 6 day trip from source to sea of the Clarence river on the eastern side of the top of the South Island in NZ. The second a 4 day trip on the mighty Coruh in Eastern Turkey.
Team Coruh (Photo: Time Burne)
The banks of the Clarence
My team for the Clarence were 3 guys passing through Murchison (where I was working), who had only just learnt to kayak. They had done 10 days worth of lessons with the best of the best, NZKS. The river is class 3 and relatively lowish volume, it snakes its way through remote NZ wilderness. If things were to go wrong, it takes 3 days to walk out of the river. That gives it the adventurous element – you, your friends, the rivers, the mountains and that is it – stretching for miles and miles around in a breathtaking panorama.
The steep sides of one of the gorges on the Coruh (Photo: Tim Burne)
My team for Turkey consisted of a very much more experience group of ex-university club paddlers. The river is a 30 hour bus ride east of Istanbul, and is also a (somewhat more complex) class 3, but has a medium volume. The Coruh is often close to a road and thus ideal as the first ever multi-day for some group members.
The worst part of a self supported multi day trip is most definitely packing your boat full of all the clothes equipment and food that you’re going to need for the next hours days and nights. Invariably you will always have to leave things behind that you really would like to take – NZ my shoes got left behind, which I lived to regret. In Turkey, based on the previous week of 40 degree heat, I decided to leave my long sleeved cag at home. From the first day, the temperatures started to drop right down and the wind and rain started, and gradually I realised what a big mistake I had made!
Me tackling one of the rapids in the Yusufeli Gorge section of the Coruh (Photo: Tim Burne)
Having a boat full of kit certainly changes your outlook. That line that you might just push yourself to do if the boat was empty probably becomes a portage. In NZ particularly when faced with a 3 day (hungry) walk out if a boat was lost or broken, I became a much more cautious paddler! The other factor in your decision is that the extra weight in the boat will make that line considerably harder. In particular I found crossing the river much harder as can be seen from a particularly interesting line through a river wide hole on the Coruh in Turkey. However, as a light paddler, I noticed that my ability to punch those holes increased considerably with the extra weight behind me!
Lunchtime on the Clarence.
Evenings are spent – huddling around the camp fire at night wondering why you never realised that pasta with tomato puree and garlic powder is the most delicious thing in the world. The darkness is so complete and the stars that I never see in London are out shining bright.
Undoubtedly the best part of both trips was the sense of adventure, breathtaking view from the boat and that feeling of remoteness from everyday life.