KAYAKING THE WAIMAKARIRI

“Paddle, paddle, paddle!!!” comes the cry from Hollie in front of me as our yellow tandem kayak enters into what looks like the inside of a washing machine. Moments later, we’re engulfed by swirling glacial, water – water I could have sworn was blue just a moment ago… but now all I see is foaming white.

THE ‘BOULDER BEACHING’

Five minutes before entering this mid-river washing machine, we had managed to get ourselves wedged on what are are dubbing a ‘surprise’ boulder, which ambushed our boat somewhere upstream (we swear it came out of nowhere). Naturally it took us some time to get ourselves free as we shifted micro-millimetres backwards and forwards, awkwardly wedged, with our rudder on the boulder and the front of our boat on the bank.

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At one point, I gave in to the idea that we were going to head backwards down the rapids, such was the struggle to free ourselves from the boulder beaching, but lo! There we were, facing forwards, hurtling downstream, trying desperately to catch up the main group who were… oh look… over there… to our left… why were they to our left? If they were over there, and we were over here then… oh no! My head snapped forwards and I tried desperately not to focus on the fact that we appeared to be headlong into a steep, rocky bluff. Continue reading

A 6 month journey to ‘the end of the world’

Greetings from Ushuaia: ‘fin del mundo’ – the end of the world!

The next land mass from here is Antarctica, and we don’t fancy going there (not yet at least). After 9,000 kilometres travelled, three countries, ten border crossings and over 103,000 metres ascended through the Andes Mountains on bikes — now seems like as good a time as any to stop.

Where in the blazes do I begin with the summing up of a six month journey? I’m going to start where you should always start when feeling a little overwhelmed— where it is the most marvellous.

MY FRIEND FAYE, AND I 

Faye and I were putting up our tents for the final time last night when she paused, mid construction, a tent peg in one hand and her ground sheet in the other:

‘Anna…’ she said.

‘Yes mate?’ I stopped wrestling with my own pop-up-palace, and looked across at her.

‘I think we’ve done really well, you know. I don’t mean the cycling, I mean… well… us.’

I smiled. ’Well?! I think ‘well’ is an understatement Faye-bomb! It’s not normal, living the way we have. It’s enough to drive you bananas. And we still very much like bananas.’

There was a moment of silence.

‘I think it’s been the best thing, you know. Us two.’ Faye continued quietly.

‘Me too mate, me too.’ I replied. We smiled at one another, and then went back to putting up our tents, just as we have done almost every night for the past half a year. Continue reading