Friday, 8 February 2013

Caving and kayaking

My brother have a tradition where we buy each other Red Balloon vouchers to do something active for Christmas and/or our birthdays. As both of our birthdays are around Christmas time, this invariably means that we're frantically trying to use them before they expire. This was one of those times.

I bought my brother a full day Caving and Kayaking adventure for two people which we used on the weekend. After an early start driving tyhrough torrential rain (never a good feeling when you're doing something outdoorsie) to pick my brother up and then head to Wonga Park for the kayaking, we arrived to shambles. The company organising it really weren't organised and it was a hit of a shambles. We eventually got going though, and found kayaking to be pleasant, if a little boring.

The rain had cleared up and we paddled along the river, surrounded by Aussie scenery and trees. We went through a couple of Stage 1 and 2 rapids, which really aren't rapids. Because it was the middle of summer the water level was low so we would constantly get snagged on rocks, and being a large inflatable two-person kayak meant that they would lodge themselves and stick there.

The highlight of the kayaking was getting tipped into the drink at a rapid which we approached from the wrong angle (we were a little rubbish).

Scenes like this always make me happy
After a really average and soggy lunch we drove to Yarra Junction for the caving section. Heading up to the caves through rainforest made me feel right at home. The earlier rain had made everything smell divine.

Kayak and Cave 3rd of February 2013_18
The group, a rag tag mix of Aussies, Canadians and Brits

We got suited up in helmets with head torches, our old clothes (they really should stress that more) and went into Britannia Caves. The caving system opened up a couple of years ago and is a great beginners cave. As someone who is mildly claustrophobic I can contest that it's good for beginners. Knowing that everyone else is able to get through, and people do every day (two groups a day) meant that I felt pretty comfortable doing it.

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Coming out of the section of terror
The photo above is me coming out of a section where I almost panicked. To get through you need to submerge in water and make your way along until you reach the end - only a couple of metres. However, when you're covered in water with rock above you, it's pretty easy to get a little freaked out. The smile on my face above was a very relieved smile.

The final bit we did was named after 127 Hours, where you basically need to chimney yourself down more than 5mt to get to the bottom. I went last, and despite everyone who went before me doing it, man, it was a little scary. You need to use your arms and knees to brace yourself and just use that pressure to slooowly move down the rock. My brother called out "Just tense your bum and use your butt cheeks!", which strangely wasn't the first time he said that on the day, but that wasn't as easy as it sounded (also I didn't want to completely destroy my jeans...). I was again trying not to freak out which meant I was going really slowly, thus making it harder on my muscles to move down. When I started getting further my brother called out "Just slide", which I did, and it turns out I was closer to the ground than I thought.

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Me with some caving peeps. The lady was hilarious
We ended up wet, filthy, covered in mud and silica (which isn't coming off my clothes after two washes), sore and very very bruised. It was awesome. I don't think I'd do it again in a hurry, but certainly as a once off I enjoyed it. And the instructors were pretty cool. All in all it was the highlight of the day.

We ended up in Warburton and I had the most amazing crack turkish bread. Seriously, I don't know what they put in the avocado dip but it was pretty much the best thing I have ever tasted. Good work cafe, good work.

As an aside, when i was contorting myself through the rocks I heard my bad knee crack a couple of times and it's been sore all week so no running. I'm hoping anti inflams and ice will help, but it's not looking good

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