Upcoming: JCC Upper Klip Race 24 September 2014

Upper Klip Trip

Race – Buksies (near Lido hotel to Henley) on Weds 24 September (Heritage Day) +- 35km exciting challenging river enjoyment.


A small but merry group, including novices to the upper Klip section of the river enjoyed a superb summery day on a fabulous piece of river that is not well known to most Klip paddlers……previously a highly tree infested section with numerous tree blocks, the work of Franz Fischer and Gavin Steyl & Crews have made a huge difference opening up this section of the river to make it not only paddlable but enjoyable……in the words of a couple of young development paddlers: “This was the best river trip ever….”  “Lets rather trip this section in future and teach novices how to help doubles to turn around tricky tight corners”….
I remember clearly sitting perched in trees helping paddlers getting stuck trying to sneak through the Klip above the Heidelberg Bridge in previous years, and was amazed at the way the river has been opened up making it so much more enjoyable and safer!  Still full of winding tight twisty curves, overhanging trees which in full foliage will block views of whats ahead, lots of drops big and small, bubbles, corners, small shootable weirs etc – a really exciting and different busy little stretch of 20km+ to be enjoyed at the race scheduled for 24 September.

Others may also be interested in seeing pics of how changed the section is, especially those who have never enjoyed it before – its very manageable – quite a few portages but short and easy.

Herewith is an account of the obstacles along the way – all of which were manageable although there was a couple of silly unnecessary swims.

So at the start of the trip (Buksies Pleasure Resort, Klip River near the Eye of Africa), the river was obviously flowing quite strongly considering its almost end of winter months, but calm and placid….the first few 100 metres were tight turns / uturns and Sbends through trees in a narrow stretch with overhanging branches – it was important to leave gaps and give the boats ahead time to manoeuvre especially the doubles, but no difficulties in the group led by Franz Fischer who has spent months on this section opening and clearing it up.

Off we went like a snake of canoes through the winding turns, with high banks in many places and reeds elsewhere – sometimes caught offguard by fast currents around sharp tight corners, but enjoying the occasional bubblies and little wave trains, even a few nice enjoyable drops and our first swimmers were taken by surprise at Gawies Gat,  some 35 minutes later but no difficulties getting back in ! TIP: if you are going to put your paddle IN to the turbulent stoppers at the bottom of drops, when it gets caught and sucks you over let go the other hand QUICKLY to release the hold it has on you and RECOVER!!

Less than ½ hour further on we portaged the first waterfall – which was shootable during Two Day Klip in January full water river, however managed to park nicely on the rocks at the top of the drop they used at that race, and portage along the side of the right river bank…..CARE – park STRAIGHT not sideways – paddle hard to land nicely as once the nose is up on the rocks, the rudder of a double, could still be in the fast flow and swing around to go down the waterfall backwards – hopefully the back passenger is out timeously!

There were a large amount of dead cows / goats parked on shallow rocky spots all along the trip and we managed to avoid imploding any of the swollen festering carcases which warned us of rocky rapids…..one was even below a little weir on a rock which could have broken our noses so we paid respects as we passed by.

It was only 3 kms along that we headed to the right bank, after a few bubblies which led to a pool, to portage before Devils Toilet…..one of our lads slipped on the muddy bank and fell back into the river, tried to make a grab for his boat and lunged after it, losing his grip on it, but managing to get a grip on another rock to pull himself up the side boatless, but safe, and there was barely noticeable damage on the boat although the damage to his ego as the others teased him merciless was more of a problem….. having a good look at the turbulent Sbend between rocks, the boys all felt the rapid was shootable in a K1 and Archie, the beast decided to test it out for the photographer (anything to be posted on Facebook) he managed fine, but landing in the turbulence below, the back of his K1 was pulled under and hit a rock hard, damaging the rudder and breaking the back of the boat – he admits that he will never shoot it again after feeling that strong pull and suck down at the back of the boat and was very relieved he stayed in the boat!  So the hero used ductape to lift rudder out of water and managed the rest of the trip without any incidents and still made it on to Facebook…

Another 20 minutes slow leisurely paddle saw the next waterfall horisonline, with a nice little stream channel above it on the river left, easy safe parking for a portage but the group ensured gaps and one at a time ramped up to the mud bank and portaged another short easy portage to put in below the treble drop known as a double waterfall.

A few small weirs and bubbly wave trains around more corners brought the group to the R59 where the pipes under the bridge must be badly blocked up as it is now a dam type effect and easy to paddle on to the concrete slab on river left, and portage across under the highway – care the algae is growing in the spring warmth and it was very slippery.

The usual very tree blocked section to Everite bridge was impressively open and clear with a few overhanging branches and logs that were easy to slip underneath at the low waterlevel and the Everite bridge was also open and clear without trees, but without a strong flow either and portage options on both left and right were available…..

After the Everite bridge again it was surprising to see how much more open the river was compared to previous years, but the foliage growing back on overhanging willow and tree branches will definitely affect views ahead by end of September – go wide to the ends of the willow tree branches and duck – helmets are always a good idea on tree infested rivers….as at the beginning of Fish as well…..but there were no major obstacles nothing to fear while head butting through the willows as there were no surprises on the other side – just a few sharp tight corners and turns.

Throughout the trip, the back paddlers had to work hard to turn the K2’s which was very satisfying for them and a great learning curve for newer paddlers.

The trees overhead thickened somewhat as we approached the Morgan Corner section which used to be almost deadly in fast current with major tree blocks everywhere, but the river has washed a S bend very tight path around some rocks and broken staircase, easily managed by K2’s going slowly, with a sneak on right river bank after the Sbend, as the river has a floating tree block almost right across.

Thanks to the crews who have worked tirelessly to open up a stretch of river from near the Lido to the Vaal River which is navigable and negotiable – approximately 60kms….I remember just over 10 years ago, we could only shoot Sportsground to caravan park – the rest of the river was blocked….we used to do it twice…!!  and we STILL had some tree blocks to contend with!  The river has become a miracle and proof of what hard working environmentalists can do over a few years.

Because the river can flow more freely now, there are less pockets of polluted infected areas with dead animal bodies and the canoeists have been regularly reporting any sewerage or waste dumping from local farmers and business so the river is so much cleaner than before, and provides excellent immune development for the Dusi in due course!

Jennie Dallas