I woke early and emerged from my tent to a cool morning with mist in the jungle above me. I seemed to be the first up so I took my rod and wandered off downstream. I wanted to go beyond the water I had fished yesterday and explore new water. I clambered over boulders and imagined tigers and leopards eyeing my hungrily from the woods behind me. I fished for a couple of hours with no luck and then wandered back to camp for an early breakfast. Back at camp, Sanjay and Tazir had taken some small Boca (Chocolate Mahseer) on spinners which had been brought back for supper. The plan was to take some of the mahseer caught on the trip to supplement the meager meat supplies that we had with us (four chickens and a load of eggs).
We packed up the camp which took forever. Nino and the crew were learning to work as a team and we watched in bemused frustration as they wandered clueless around the various bags and containers. The rapid by the camp was a big one (probably a grade four at least) and Chris decided he was not going to raft it. He was still smarting from the dunking he got on the Mahakali earlier in the year so set off to walk down to the next beach where we could pick him up. Everyone else was up for it so each raft set off one by one to shoot the big rapid. I was in the first raft and we smashed into the huge wave formed at the base of the ‘V’ where the river accelerates rapidly from a slow glide into churning water. The wave engulfed the front of the raft and we all screamed like girls at the icy drenching we received. We screamed more and laughed and got soaked down the rest of the rapid before the river turned left and eased in strength as we approached a sandy beach to pause and collect Chris. Chris was sitting in the rocks and looked ashen-faced. We beached the rafts and fell onto the sand laughing. Everyone had enjoyed the rapid but Chris was convinced we were going to flip or something and urged caution going forward. We spent an hour drying clothes and enjoying the sun before setting off again.
We rafted for about 12km and shot a few smaller rapids but couldn’t find a suitable beach to camp overnight. During one rapid, Amit sliced his heel badly on a sharp rock and needed attention. We beached the raft and I attended to his foot with my first aid kit. While I bandaged him up, an old man arrived at the river wearing a cap and a red jacket with medals hanging from his breast. The medals were for services to the country and community. He saluted us and with a toothless grin muttered something. Apparently he was the village elder and someone had alerted him about us rafting passed his village. He had hurried to the river to greet us and wanted us to come for tea. We politely declined his generous offer and feared that this was probably going to happen at every village we rafted passed downstream.
We continued down the river as the day started to fade trying to find a suitable beach to camp on. Eventually we saw a place that wasn’t perfect but would have to do. A narrow strip of land was covered with thick coarse grass that would be our makeshift camp for the night. We set up tents as best we could and got a fire going to warm up while the rafters prepared a late lunch. The temperature drop was noticeable when the sun went behind the mountains and if one had taken a soaking in the rapids, then shivering cold came quickly. Depending on the camp’s orientation, the sun would sometimes not touch us until late morning so those wet clothes were uncomfortable the next day too.
I fished for a few hours downstream after lunch but had no takes. No-one else fished much as the main focus was on getting the tents set up as best they could and warming up/drying clothes. Over supper Chris got completely wasted on rum and beer. I mean utterly wasted. So much so that he simply fell into a drunken heap and gibbered inanely as we goaded him. He tried to get up to go to his tent and fell sideways into the grass. We were howling with laughter which provoked a string of profanities from him. He was wearing a head torch and all we could see in the darkness was a light wobbling about and then jerking sideways as he fell repeatedly. Another tirade of abuse would pierce the night air as he lay there desperate for his bed and to be away from the unsympathetic hyenas around the fire. He eventually fell onto his tent and became entangled in the guy ropes. Bob had to go a rescue him, largely to ensure Bob had a place to sleep as he was the unfortunate soul that had to share with Chris that night.