Because da jungleistmassif
With only a couple of days left in this unexplored area, we decided to move on and see what else we could find. With time getting on we choose to get on a river, a tributary to the Sithawaka, and meet Mahesh downstream at the local tea factory. This didn’t quite go to plan....
A fairly bouldery start and quick portage saw us arrive at the first clean drop. After throwing some rocks into the plunge pool and hearing the satisfying sound of stone on water, it was game on. It was a difficult move to style, but gave us hope of what was to come downstream.
The river continued with a series of fun moves interspersed with the occasional obligatory portage. However as we progressed the river got steeper and steeper, becoming choked with boulders, before long it seemed we were portaging more than we could paddle.
After spending an hour portaging through thick jungle around a heinous drop into an unpaddleable chasm we were running short of time and energy, thoughts of spending the night in the jungle in wet thermals in our head. The river changed from green to bright orange and back to green as intermittent downpours flowed into the river.
With half an hour of day light left we finally spotted the beginning of a tea plantation river left, the first sign of civilisation all day. Rounding the corner, we had never been so relieved to see a stretch of flat water ahead of us. We paddled across as the sun set and, clambering over the next boulder found to our surprise a narrow path heading up the valley. After stashing the boats in a clearing we fired up the sat phone and headed up the path. Before long we came across a house, and carrying on up a path met some helpful locals who lead us up the winding path to the road. Reaching the road and having had no luck with the sat phone we wondered how we would meet up with our truck. However it wasn’t long before we saw Roshan our fantastic local guide and Mahesh following in the truck, they had been concerned that we might not make it to the get out and had spent the afternoon walking up the river hoping to find us, we couldn’t ask for a better support team.
To complete the mission we started early the next day with a long hike in to get our boats. Mahesh had walked up the river bed in search of us and said he'd seen some nice rapids later on, so we powered on with aching muscles this time being led luxuriously by path, by some locals. He was right. We managed to finish the section with a couple hundred meters of smooth, clean slides. All in all, a pretty amazing adventure!
We managed to finish our day and exploration of the Sitahwaka valley with a tour of the tea factory in our favourite child filled village. Once we'd shaken the children of our boats we had a lovely, chilled few kilometers of clean bedrock fun.