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By Darin McQuoid

Rain started to drizzle down. Was in late in the night, or early in the
morning? Either way it didn’t matter, I had gone light and had no shelter.
During the evening I had scouted out an alcove in the boulders, and was glad
I had scoped it out. Under the dim light of my headlamp I squeezed through
the entrance and went back to sleep safe from precipitation.

Waking up in the morning, we were stoked to be greeted by beautiful blue
skies a rare treat on our trip!

With a strong desire to make the confluence, we wasted no time putting on
and some brief calm water led us to an extended scout over sculpted bedrock.

The rapid was tempting, but any mistake, or simply having a wave break at
the wrong time, would land the paddler in a pocket where the situation would
turn dire. Having made it safely so many kilometers we deemed it prudent to
make quick work of it and portage.

During the portage we had made contact with Roland via radio, and he warned
of us of a very long rapid downstream. This perked our interest, at this
point we knew that a rapid called "very long" must indeed fulfill that

From the top it was indeed long, and Ben led the group down a half kilometer
class III lead in. Once out of our boats we were all in awe at the length of
the rapid. Including the lead in, it was a true kilometer long beast.

Extensive scouting revealed several entrance moves, followed by, surprise
surprise, a large hole. I was daunted by simply the challenge of memorizing
the amount of moves needed to even get the hole, let alone the drive left
needed to skirt the Goliath of hydraulics. Along with the rest of the group,
I opted to sneak down the left side of the rapid, staying in my boat and
making easy progress. Living up to the legend, Ben decided he would mainline
the lengthy cascade.

Ben came down the middle looking strong, making move after move, but on the
final lead into the hole a boil moved him to the right side of the river,
and from behind the lens I could tell that his drive left wasn’t going well,
and he was going to hit the hole.

Quickly surfing to the right side of the hole, Ben proceeded to throw down
with a quick succession of ends. Often he wasn’t visible, but we could tell
he was getting air, then he resurfaced on top of the pile and drove back
into the pit and disappeared, resurfacing downstream of the boil. The video
should do this justice!

After our wide eyed moment, one or two quick rapids and we were out for one
more long walk. A rowdy lead in and a few big wave holes, but nothing too
sticky. If we had all been wishing for a finale worthy of scouting but good
to go, we couldn’t have dreamed anything better. We all fired away at the
best with no mishaps, and psyched ourselves up for more downstream.

With yet another large rapid behind us, we pushed downstream expecting more
scouts and possibly a portage or two. As the Indus neared confluence with
the Gilgit, gradient tapered off and we were able to stay in our boats, run
some big wave trains and soak in what we had just accomplished.

As we paddled through splashy wave trains we were all relieved to have
one-hundred kilometers of big water class V behind us. Emerging with no
swims and the most complete descent of the Indus behind us, we were in awe
of the river’s power and might. Certainly nothing had been tamed, and we
felt fortunate to have survived the dynamic force of the Indus, and reveled
a the splendid glory of its sights. Respect to all those who came first to
the Lion River.

Due to political unfriendliness downstream, our police escort advised taking
our above the next town, so we took out at an abandoned bridge a kilometer
below the confluence.

Our return tickets left us flying out in a few days, and weighing our
options we decided to make the relatively short drive to Kunjareb Pass, the
Worlds highest international border.

While a recent Time Magazine <> called Pakistan
"The most dangerous place in the world" our experience was the opposite.
Like anywhere in the world, Pakistan has dangerous areas. So does the United
States and every other country in the world. Traveling with a good guide and
using common sense, the most dangerous part of Pakistan is the driving. Get
a good driver, it’s well worth the money. We used Shani Tours.

Thanks to:

Everyone who supplied gear: Jackson Kayak,
Kokatat , Sawyer
Snapdragon Design, and Greg Garrison of Integral

The readers who motivated me to write this terribly long winded summary of
our trip.

Special thanks go out to Roland
the motivator, organizer and logistical master without whom this trip would
never have been possible.

Most of all thanks to our drivers and the wonderful people of Pakistan, who
made us feel at home and went our of their way to extend a warm welcome to
their incredible country.

Look for this trip in Clear H2O Film’s upcoming release: Hotel
Charley IV
. Hopefully the video can do big
water justice, because my words and photos can’t do justice to the size and
power of this amazing river!

Darin McQuoid

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