This was supposed to be a fun, relatively easy paddle to get us warmed up for the Saru gorge section further upstream the next day. Right off the bat, however, this so-called ‘beginner-friendly’ section of the Saru was rowdy.
It all started peacefully, however, as we got ready to paddle, under dark and moody skies.
The riverside, in typical Japanese style, sign told us to keep our ears out for the warning sirens should the dam release a large amount of water in a hurry.
The crew consisted of Haidee and I (Rob), Mari and Greg, and Taku paddling solo. We were all thrilled at the condition of the river. Not too high, not too low. Just right.
We had three vehicles, so we took care of the shuttle fairly quickly. We scouted what we could from the road, and were happy we’d done so. There were a couple of rapids that we were able to run without scouting once on the river, due to their proximity to the road.
One such rapid was the one right next to the road, separated from the road by a high concrete wall. Center to start, moving to the left part way though, for a great wave train finish.
There was one rapid we spent more time scouting from the riverside. It was a relatively shallow entry, with plenty of rocks threatening to spin a canoe off course. Once in the main flow though, it was straight forward.
Another was the nasty chute downstream of Ikeuri Bridge. We spent a lot of time walking up and down the shoreline, trying to spot any canoe-breaking rocks in the final drop before the wave train. And there was also the concern about the concrete blocks on the river right – it looked as though the water was pushing mostly to that side.
In the end, we all ran it well, with no capsizes.
The remainder of the paddle was easy – just a few swifts, and some nice Autumn-esque colors on the trees.
For the final shuttle back to the put in, we channeled our inner Kayak Shuttles of Doom to get all the canoes back to the put-in in one go.