Nepal Sun Koshi Expedition – Day 4 (4th April) by Darren Bohanna
It was easily the trickiest day of the expedition. The Harkabur rapids awaited. The day started out much like the others with a generally pleasant bob down the river up until the river bent sharply round to the left with the volume of the river being compressed through a small (small for Nepal) channel. Approaching Harkabur 2 you could hear the rumble of the river intensify as the guides raced ahead to make sure that we all got out way before this beast.
We left our boats while heading over to inspect. We did that thing, where you look at the death muncher far river right, the half river sized boulder centre river, the big hole near the boulder, and the route which tight ropes between all of the hazards. We all get together pointing out where you would go if you were ever to run it, pointing out that if you ended up far right that there was nothing anyone could do for you. Straight away I decided that I wasn’t going to run it, telling myself that you’ve got no insurance and it’s in the middle of nowhere. I hear that Keith had said that he wasn’t running it and that he hoped that I wasn’t either.
We then spent the next hour or so unloading all of the rafts and portaging the kit around the beast. Like a team of worker ants, we moved back and forth. The guides put us to shame carrying really heavy items, strapped to their heads, while bounding nimbly from boulder to boulder. We’re about to start putting on beneath the beast when Naresh (sounded Norris) says ‘are you running it? I’ve seen you skills, you are good enough’. The seed of doubt comes in and you fight with your demons, it would be the ultimate, but you’ve got no insurance, but the video will be awesome, what would Roy do? Aghhhhhhhg. I asked, ‘Norris, what if you ended up on the far side? His reply, ‘You must not end up on far side, you must make it’. That made my mind up, thank god that Roy wasn’t here otherwise the demons might have battled harder. I portaged with the rest, 3 of the guides ran it and made it, 1 made it look doable, the other 2 made it look a bit more desperate.
We all got out before Harkabur 3, I went a little closer with Steve to help him portage. By the time I got back to the top everyone else had already been taken down by the guide. I had a look at the line that I wanted to take, getting in the zone, Steve’s got my camera, it’s going to be awesome. Little did I know that most of the English group had swam and had been mopped up while I was in the eddy at the top. One final run through in my head visualising the line, and we’re off. I break out into the flow and instantly regret not carrying back up to give myself an easier run. I make it onto the tongue, but not the side that I visualised in my head, then what looks like a little ripple from the bank, now looks like a house sized hole to the left. Get away from the hole, get away from the hole, ohh f@&k. Water rushing past my head, hold on and let your boat settle; it’s not settling, I must be in the hole, when’s it going to settle, I’m not swimming, this is on camera, wait for it to settle, I’m bouncing round but it won’t friggin settle. Oh frig, eject, eject, eject. Sunlight, big breath, thank god I’m not in the hole (and was probably nowhere near it), grab what you can and swim to the side. Tail between the legs, I was gutted as I’d been paddling well up until the mind f@&k of these rapids. The footage looked awesome, but it took a couple of days to get my machismo back.
I told Keith, his words were ‘you don’t wait for your boat to settle in big water because it never will, you take a half roll to break the surface and then you go again’. I wish that he told me that beforehand because those words came in handy the next few times when I capsized and then rolled later in the trip. The Sun Koshi, the river that keeps on giving.
When we got to our next campsite on the riverbank we were well into our routine. The main difference this night was the mountains treated us to a tropical storm. The lightning could be seen flashing down the valley in stages as it approached us, the rain drops were the biggest that I’d witnessed anywhere other than Cuba. The lightning struck a couple of hundred meters away, it then passed over our heads as the flashes and thunder continued down the valley. It was a bit muggy but still boiling hot. Check out the Instagram and Facebook footage of those who came as most of us have got some great footage.