On a beautiful day of spring, we all met at the parking near the Sea of Japan to share the descent. Two people came from Shikoku while 3 of us were from Niseko. Kai, Ran, Chihiro, Yasu and myself.
The weather and water level seemed perfect and the waves in the Sea of Japan were quite big. The small group got ready, we all jumped into a car with the kayaks and the adventure began.
Driving a few hundred meters only we could see the gorge and scout the waterfall from the road, everyone got excited, talking about water levels, best line for a clean run, and the other rapids.
The road still had some snow on it so we had a nice warm-up with the shovel to create a path for the HiAce. A slide here would end up lower down in the canyon…
We finally reached the put in, got wet and it all started really quick. 50 meters after getting in the water and the first break arrived. A long and curvy slide to get into the rhythm. With the beautiful morning light, the sprays of water, it was just sensational. The rapid in itself was not so technical, just pretty steep and impressive. The last hole was a bit catchy and few of us ended up squirting the stern. It all started really good!
The first half of the river is really continuous, the rapids follow one another and there is no time to rest. We quickly reached the first rapid that needed scouting. A scenic 3m drop. Chihiro, having run that river a few dozen times, went first and ran a clean line in the center. We all followed one by one while others assumed safety with ropes ready from the bank. All of us cleared the drop and smiled hard.
Again, the rapids came in quick succession one after the other until we reached one particular rapid, still etched in my memory. It was an impressive drop shaped like a horseshoe. I suddenly became anxious. A few years before, I got caught in the hydraulic at the landing of this very rapid, and ended up swimming. It was the last time I ran a river until today. Not a pleasant memory.
We took the time to search for the perfect line and one by one we ran the rapid. I took a beautiful line, centre right with my bow angled to the right, avoided the big hydraulic and cleared the rapid! The pressure was off but the adrenaline rush was high!
After another dozen drops and slides, we finally reached the flat water above the waterfall, we all disembarked river right to scout and prepare safety.
Again, Chihiro ran a perfect line, with a great boof right the center and again the pressure started to build. It was my turn to grab the paddle and run the fall. I went for the line I had in mind, and jumped. Boof!
Sensational feeling to fall with the water! I landed and cleared the way, great line! Everyone ran the waterfall nicely.
After the waterfall, only a handful of rapids were left before we reached the Sea of Japan. I slid through the last rapid and hit the coastal waves that were taller than me sitting in my kayak. It was fun. For a second before I got trashed in the rocks… ahahah kayak surfing, without any control due to the speed built up in the river mouth is not so fun! A few of us stayed surfing for a few minutes before heading back to the carpark.