THE HARD­EST DAY

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - with Arthur Yeo

I slept and slept on the way home from the most ar­du­ous day I’ve ever had. The kayak was strapped to the roof of the van and the driver never woke me the whole way home. It was the 90’s and I had been con­vinced by a fel­low pad­dler that the Man­ga­hao river was re­ally cool when the elec­tric­ity depart­ment opened the gates of the dam way up in the hills. He said, ‘we will fly in by he­li­copter and run the grade 4 rapids. It will be a piece of cake and you’re up to it!’

It wasn’t and I wasn’t. How­ever, I did en­joy parts of it and learned so much about my­self, in­clud­ing the strength of my de­sire to live.

We flew to the get-in point and got our­selves sorted. I asked if we should take our craft to the wa­ter’s edge. My mate just smiled and said, ‘It will come to us.’

Next minute – BOOM. An ex­plo­sion of doom em­anated from the base of the dam and a rush of dirty brown wa­ter spewed out from the tail­race. It quickly pooled around us and very soon we were in the boats and away. Grade 4, I think not. Grade 5 plus rapids were wait­ing to de­vour us from that point on. For­tu­nately, I man­aged the top third of the river with rel­a­tive ease, but then came the chutes. We waited in an eddy at the top and went down one by one.

When it was my turn, I had no choice but to let it take me. I spent most of my time at­tempt­ing to avoid the rock walls, to no avail, and was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously vom­ited into a pool up­side down, two thirds of the way down the chute. I had not long learned to Eskimo roll, a skill I ex­er­cised right then. I looked up and an Olympic qual­ity kayak­ist was on the bank writhing in agony as he

I re­mem­ber the feel­ing of help­less­ness and had to make my­self NOT panic. I knew I would have to use all my wits to get out of the sit­u­a­tion alive and whole, so I steeled my­self for the rest of the run. Back into the bot­tom third of the chute saw me suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ate some tricky ma­noeu­vres and I rested for an hour in the pool at the bot­tom.

had slept and slept on the way home from that point I re­alised I was out of my depth in more ways than one.

The run to the get-out point was sup­posed to be the eas­i­est part, but in my weak­ened and ex­hausted state I re­ally strug­gled. At one point I ended up in a hole be­ing sucked back out of my ca­noe. I had good floata­tion and I swam hard to get out three times with­out suc­cess. I re­mem­ber think­ing at that point that if I wasn’t suc­cess­ful the next time, I doubt I would have the en­ergy to try again. I made peace with the world at large and swam as hard as I ever had in my life. Just as I was about to give up, I got out and the river washed me to the edge.

The rest of the trip and the pack up is a blur now. I re­mem­ber drag­ging my­self out of the van and into my bed at home and slept for 24 hours. The les­son I learnt was that there was more to me than I re­alised and I could per­se­vere when things got tough.

Th­ese are the qual­i­ties we draw on when we teach your chil­dren. We are look­ing for the best way to solve your chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion prob­lems.

For­more in­for­ma­tion, call us on 3543211.

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