We were informed that the Coorg area had received some heavy rainfall over the past few days and the water levels in Barapole seemed to have risen. Now for a paddler, that is some brilliant news! When a paddler is made known of such a situation, it calls for an immediate planning of a trip. I had doubled check with our very Uncle and Aunty from the homestay in T. Shettigeri and once satisfied of the plausibility of a far more interesting river run, we tightened the straps that held our kayaks on top of the car and made the journey to the Barapole River!

We reached our homestay rather late at night on Friday, as planned. After the long and mostly continuous drive, it was time to hit the sack, only to wake up in a few hours for another action packed kayaking experience of a weekend. Our intent was to get good solid river time the following two days, trying to make most of the water levels here in Coorg, which was on its fag end of the season for paddling. My goals for this trip? Well I had managed to just about execute the eskimo roll in the last trip. However, like almost anything that you recently master, it always needs repeated attention and practice in order to increase consistency and in skillset. I was determined to better my roll. I knew I needed some work on it, perfecting the minute actions that can only benefit my performance. Having the opportunity to hit the same river stretch that I had got a sufficient amount of experience with in the past trips seemed beneficial for me as I would be able focus a lot more in bettering my paddling skills. Heavy with thought, I got myself to sleep, excited for the upcoming two days!   

I start untying the boats, as the other four members of the team geared up for the river run. We had a good breakfast that would sustain us for a while. As I put my spray deck on, I noticed that the water levels were not as high as we expected, having gotten word of the vast amounts of rain the area had received. But that is the fickle nature of well… Nature! Nature abides by its own rules and we must humbly follow it. Besides, the amount of rain received higher up in the mountains, close to the origin of the river is what matters and there is very little way of knowing for certain. But nevertheless, water levels were far more than before, giving me a new perspective of the Barapole River.

 Ready for the river run

Ready for the river run

We were all set! After some warming up and roll practices we made our way downstream. I tried my level best to focus on keeping a rhythm for my paddling, trying to ensure each stroke made the effect I desired and in the technique required in its performance. The technique is of utmost importance, for that is the key in ensuring the preservation of energy. It is all about the use of the core muscles, very little effort coming from the arms. We powered down the first rapid and eased our way through the flat section. Soon we were up against the Grasshopper rapid. I did not have any problems in my earlier trips, however, that did not seem to be the case this time! I hit the first wave that greets a paddler right at the beginning, the goal was to paddle towards the left where you catch an eddy before going towards the drop at the end of the rapid. However, my entry and subsequent paddling was not up to the mark and I flipped. At first I, tried to set myself up for a roll back, however having attempting this for the first time in a rapid, I could not find myself to be able to. I contemplated pulling the deck and detaching myself from the boat. I decided against it and stayed calm and braced myself with my paddle in ready position for a roll.

 In set up position for the roll

In set up position for the roll

After a few big blows on my arm I managed to find an opportunity to roll back up, only to find myself way past the rapid. I seemed to have come down the whole rapid, only with me being in the opposite side of the surface of water! The look everyone had said it all… I felt this incident was a lesson for me, as it really made me understand the thought process that one would have when flipped in a rapid, with an intention to roll back up or specifically termed as combat roll. However, I seemed to be far from getting it completely right for now!

 Rolling back up

Rolling back up

The remainder of the stretch wasn’t as eventful. I did have multiple flips from time to time, some I managed to roll on my own, and some I failed and required a t rescue. Overall I was quite content in being in the river again and getting to practice. I knew I would get some river time tomorrow to work on my weaknesses. The remainder of the team were intending on going further downstream. I practiced my rolls a few times and made my way back to the homestay for some delicious lunch. The plan was to go with Uncle later on to pick up the others. This time we had found a better takeout to avoid the leeches! However, having never traversed the roads to this new takeout, uncle found it difficult to find them. At one point we realized we were on the wrong side of the river as to them. While battling poor connectivity and misunderstandings, we finally realized that the four of them had found a way back to the homestay and it was pointless for us to wait/find them any further. Exhausted with such an ordeal which turned out to be a waste of time for us, particularly for Uncle, we made our way back to the homestay. Definitely prefer river related drama! Though the plus side of this trip was a delicious lemon + tulsi tea that I was graciously offered by a gentleman who resides in that area!

 The team finding an alternative route back to the homestay.

The team finding an alternative route back to the homestay.

The next day, only a team of four made the river run in the morning, Manik deciding on staying back. Very soon I was facing the Grasshopper again, this time determined on beating it. But not this time! I flipped again, needing to wet exit and detach myself. As I resurfaced I found my boat next to me and tried to push it down stream, only to painfully see it get stuck in the drop, wedged between the force of the water and a rock. I made my way there to try and pull it out, with no success. Finally we needed to attach the boat to our throwback rope and pull it with the greatest amount of strength required. The twenty minute incident is probably something I will not forget, owing to its comical nature! Finally I drained my boat, couldn’t help laughing at myself. The ordeal was done and we were on our way down.

I was pleased with my performance post the Grasshopper drama. I managed to nail the line for every rapid and had successful roles as well when required! I got out of my boat and said my byes to the other paddlers who were hitting the longer section once again. I tied my boat onto the car and drove back to the homestay. As I got out of the car and started drying my gear, Manik asked me if I was up for another run. It didn’t take me long to respond and the answer was yes! We planned on doing a quick run of the small stretch under fifteen minutes and I was determined to ensure I hit every rapid correctly without any flips, especially the Grasshopper that had managed to test me to my limits. But that was not the case this time! I managed to hit every rapid with authority, ensuring my success, including the Grasshopper. We ended the stretch in style in what felt like record time, even reaching before our mode of transport did. I believed this to be a very important lesson for me yet again. Failure is not an option in kayaking. Yes, you will fall (or in this case flip!), and yes you might get beaten. Getting back up and attempting again and again is the key to being successful. The feeling after accomplishing, irreplaceable.

 Manik satisfied with his beginner paddler's performance!

Manik satisfied with his beginner paddler's performance!

    

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