Dave Biggs – we privileged paddlers

Dave Biggs – A Tribute to the River, A Salute to the Organisers and Two Wishes

The Umko marathon – what a special and unique canoe race that winds its way through a beautiful deep pristine valley often lined with red cliffs and wild fig trees. How privileged we paddlers are!

As all Umko vets know the untamed river is never predictable. On a low river the race becomes a serious enduro adventure thru a valley of a thousand hills, whereas in flood conditions (such as in 19__ when water level reached the _ metre mark at Josephines Bridge) the river turns into a non-stop mean brown wave train and is definitely not for the faint-hearted! (Far bigger rapids than Lava Falls on the Colorado!).

I personally miss the old format with rapids such as Mpompomani, the Waterfall side shute which is shootable on a medium water level, Whirlpool and of course Gully and No-Name Rapid. The new format is however a winner with good roads and the great Hella Hella campsite as compensation.

Finally, the race would never be what it is today without the dedicated organisers, timekeepers and world-class caterers! We paddlers salute you!

Two wishes for the race would be:
– To see more white-water boats on this special white-water river
– That paddlers and organisers support the late Ian Player in his efforts to promote the Umkomaas river and its catchment area as a wilderness area for future generations.
The Dave Biggs – Herve de Rauville saga
As Dave sees it:
We had just shot Goodenough’s Weir and faced a hot 15km flat water paddle to the finish at the sea. As old-timers know, there are not many emptying spots on this section with non-stop reeds and steep banks. When we saw a suitable small sandy spot I suggested we empty our boats. Herve was paddling against the bank and must have had ‘dead-leg’ (or perhaps was thinking how he could convert his next Merc into a mini?) and left me no space to reach the bank! I then decided to paddle on hoping to find another emptying spot but was unsuccessful and had to paddle to the end with a boat full of water and no pump!

add all stories by others so far

His will come sooner or later! (arrived 23 December! YAY!!)

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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