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Date: Saturday, 23 October 2021
River: Collingwood River.
Water level: 0.9.
Luke’s Collingwood river trip started well organised as all his trips do, with Josh Talia Will, and I getting to the sheds in Joshes car, packed to the brim. At the sheds, we found ourselves a Tim, with all his gear and no car. After having helped us pack the trailer for an hour, Tim volunteered to head home, and come back at 9:30 with the second crew rather than squish in with all of us.
Our drive up was tight, with Josh driving to his usual pace, giving his suspension a bit of a workout with the mighty Zook full of friends and gear. We arrived at the bridge and set up camp, lit a fire, and started to make dinner. Josh offered the three vegetarians he’d brought with him to have a share in his sausage dinner as Ben, his food buddy, had pulled out last minute with (another) infection. A night of stargazing and chatting left us all in good sorts, eager for the run tomorrow.
The next morning at 7 am found a crew of friends gathered around the ashes from the fire, eating breakfast, consisting mostly of leftover sausages from Josh. We packed up the tents, and all got our gear on, we worked out the car shuffle and got started.
As it turned out, finding the initial get-in proved a bit tricky, and all the creeks we crossed seemed very dry. So instead we opted for a short clamber down a cutting grass, deadwood, and a blackberry-infested hill. Thankfully the hill was short and we never complain. Our car shuffle arrangements meant I made the mistake of going in the first crew and having to pump up the boats, a classic mistake. When Josh arrived back he saw his packraft pumped and went to check on it, attaching his special pump to check the pressure. “Nah, nah, that’s about right” - only the best for you Josh, we know how you like your rafts pumped.
We got onto the upper Collingwood, with two incepts and three packrafts. Will, Talia, Grady, and I in one incept, ready for some fun. The 10 of us made our way down the rather shallow section caught on a fair few rocks. All in all, the upper section was nice fun, fairly chill, but a bit shallow, as we got caught on quite a few rocks. Still a lovely small section and good fun. We paused a few times along this to walk 50 meters up various creeks as Josh claimed this meant new black dots! Very excited. Tim showed off his rock skimming while Talia and I did not have the same skill. Getting back to the bridge somewhere between 1:30 and 2 ish we had some lunch and chatted about the next section.
The lower section is stunningly beautiful, and the river is at a much better level here for us. With us all appreciating the lovely geology and running through the fun and beautiful river. Will guided my boat down in style, unfortunately, the lack of bum grip pads on the new wetsuits allowed me to have a refreshing swim, but overall we had a great time and chatting and laughing as we admired the beauty of the river.
At the rapid sticks and stones, Luke managed a wrap. Having wrapped the wrap kit and tried the old heaven on the raft, it didn’t budge. At this point, the throw bags came out and after about 45 minutes, and some great gestures and communication all around the boat was unwrapped. We ferry glided and lined past the stick section of this rapid and then continued on.
The rest of the river was fairly chill and we spent most of it cautiously admiring the hills on either side of the river. Coming out of his packraft Tim demonstrated to the group his excellent swimming ability WITH his paddle in hand - a skill Ben will have to learn.
Having got to the confluence most got changed, rafts were rolled and put into bags. Josh claimed another black dot, the upper Franklin, and we all got on with the walk.
The walk-out was on reflection not that bad, but definitely tough. Truth be told, I didn’t love it at the time and the heavy bag digging into my shoulders definitely pushed my love of rafting. Thankfully the lovely crew we had formed got me through, and the view was definitely worth it. I would highly recommend gloves and fewer layers than I wore for the walk-out, and Talia would recommend not carrying the paddles.
All in all, I had a lovely camp and day on the river.
It was a stunningly beautiful trip, with a tough but doable walk out!
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